High visitor traffic can make highway travel dangerous during both the summer and winter months. Extreme weather conditions we experience include high winds, thunderstorms, torrential downpours, along with heavy snow and white-out conditions that can only make things worse. You could easily get yourself into trouble on any roadway in Mono County, be it a state highway or dirt road in the backcountry. It is essential that you keep your vehicle fueled and equipped in case your vehicle is disabled.
Mono County has numerous roads and trails for various off-road vehicles. There are maps available from the National Forest Service. Please adhere to the rules of the road and protect the natural resources of Mono County so you can enjoy yourself.
All vehicles that are operated on public lands must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The OHV fund is used for acquisition of new OHV areas, development and operation of existing OHV areas, enforcement of the rules and regulations, and protection of the natural resources.
DMV will issue a green or red sticker for off-road vehicles. Vehicles that can be operated both on-road and off-road will be given a street legal license. In order to operate any type of motorized vehicle off-road on public land, you must have one of the following:
- Street Legal License Plate - If you want to operate a 4-wheel drive vehicle or dual-purpose motorcycle on-road or off-road, you must have a street legal license plate.
- The Green Sticker or Red Sticker - If you are going to operate a motorized vehicle off-road only, you must have either a green or red sticker that has been issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The green sticker allows vehicles to operate on public land all year. The red sticker is for motorcycles and ATV's model year 2003 and after that do not meet the emission standards established by the California Air Resources Board. If the vehicle has a 3 or a C in the eighth position of the Vehicle Identification Number, then it does not meet the emission standards and should be issued a red sticker. The red sticker is exactly the same as the green sticker except that these vehicles can only be operated during certain times of the year.
- Non-Resident Permit - As of January 1, 1998, you will need to purchase a special "non-resident OHV permit" if you are not a California resident AND your off-highway vehicle or snowmobile is not registered in your home state. To find out where these non-resident OHV permits can be purchased and to get more information on the program, please contact a local Ranger or contact the OHMVR Division at:
California State Parks - OHMVR Division, Non-Resident Permit Program
PO Box 94296-0001
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
Off-Highway ATV Patrol
The Mono County Sheriff's Department patrols various areas of the county using ATV's obtained via grant funding through the State of California. These patrols focus on green sticker registration, helmet law enforcement, and the safety of visitors and residents. The patrol program will also enforce wilderness intrusions and alcohol consumption while off-road recreating. Please be safe when you are enjoying the open spaces of Mono County.
What could be better than riding your snowmobile in the Jeffrey Pine Forest north of Mammoth Lakes or in the Bodie Hills on a crisp, clear winter day? Answer: Not having an accident or breakdown so you live to do it again! Mono County offers over 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and hundreds of square miles of open areas for more advanced riders. If you like to snowmobile, you've come to the right place.
The Mono County Sheriff's Department operates a Snowmobile Patrol Program which is partially funded from grants received from the State of California. This snowmobile program has been in operation for a number of years. Deputies patrol various snowmobile trails and county areas looking for safety concerns, unauthorized access to wilderness areas, licensing, etc.
Chances are that you will meet snowmobile patrols from the Sheriff's Department or from the US Forest Service. Both are out there to protect you and the land. Wave when you see us drive by!
Remember, if you want to ride on public lands you MUST have a green sticker! Our snowmobile patrol will issue citations for unregistered machines.
Snowmobiling, like all sports, involves some risk. Here's how to reduce the risks. Consider these tips:
- Tell others where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Ask them to contact us if you don't return on time.
- Be alert for changes in the weather.
- Recognize and avoid avalanche zones.
- If your machine is disabled, stay with it and don't panic. Plan to spend the night using emergency equipment that you wisely brought along. (You did pack appropriate food, extra warm and dry clothing, signaling devices, water, and snow shovel, didn't you?)
- Cell phones work in some of our backcountry areas but not everywhere. GPS units don't work everywhere either. Batteries can run down. Check gas and oil before setting out.
- Check that gas stations will be open along the route you plan to use.
- It's illegal to operate any motor vehicle, including snowmobiles, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Display a current green sticker on your machine.
- Stay out of wilderness areas and closed off trails.
- Avoid tearing up areas with thin snow cover and pack out all your trash.
- Remember, you are responsible to know all regulations!
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