Column: Tom Willis
on the OHV Trail—Back Country Travel &
Tom Willis lives at northern Nevada. Tom has been involved
in all aspects of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) activities
for the past 40 years. He has written and published three guidebooks, covering off-pavement travel and
activities in the Nevada and California deserts. Over the last eight years
alone, Tom Willis has traveled more than 10,000 miles off pavement. Much of that travel has been research for
his popular books.
Tom notes that people have been exploring the Far
West for almost 250 years, and virtually any place worth visiting has an established trail access!
Dedicated to the principles of Tread Lightly, Tom Willis encourages folks to
take plenty of pictures and leave only tire tracks on existing trails. When a destination does involve
a short walk, Tom suggests that exercise will probably do us all some good!
contributions to this corner of the magazine are about places to see, trails to drive and developments that affect
OHV recreation in the western United States. His trail-based articles are
destination oriented or “loop” trips, and Tom often talks about things you should know to make your explorations
The magazine's Cherokee stays on the
trail at all times. To avoid starting a range fire, do not drive or park in grasses. Stick to designated routes
and roads, and follow the Tread Lightly guidelines!
Willis—July 29, 2012: To kick things
off, I want to talk about two things that will affect those of us living or exploring at Nevada: the first is
fire restrictions, and the second is OHV registration…
Great Basin Fire Restrictions
Every year, as the
desert dries out, these lands become a tinderbox, just waiting for the right combination of
events. Range fires can be naturally caused, but all too often humans
are the catalyst for wildfires.
One element that
raises the danger is Cheatgrass, an invasive species found just about everywhere in the country. When dry, this
little weed is explosive. Cheatgrass can
grow to two feet high and is easily ignited by a hot engine’s exhaust system.
See details on Cheatgrass
The XJ Cherokee at northern
Nevada's high desert this past winter. Snow contributes to grasses in spring and
are usually put in place by mid-July or earlier each year and extend until fall rains and snow dampen the grass
and sagebrush. After this year’s devastating fires in Utah and Colorado, the land management agencies enacted
strict fire restrictions for 2012, with stepped up enforcement.
to http://gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc/ for more information on restrictions. This link can be used to determine when
restrictions have been lifted.
With the fire
restrictions in place you must, when traveling off pavement, carry a shovel, an axe and at least one gallon of
water. You must also stay on gravel or packed dirt roads. I
personally avoid trails that have vegetation growing between their tracks.
backcountry can be remote—and brush-cover is common at the high desert. Stay on designated routes
to help prevent range fires. Watch for lightning strikes. Report fires immediately if you have cellular phone
This is the Nevada OHV permit on Tom
Willis' Arctic Cat ATV. These tags allow access to the dirt roads and designated backcountry trails of the
our registered four-wheel-drive vehicles and street legal dual-sport motorcycles on the highways and
into the outback. Many of us also own strictly dirt motorcycles, an ATV or a UTV.
In the past, Nevada did not
register dirt motorcycles, ATVs or UTVs for off-highway use within the state. If owners wanted
to use these OHVs in other states, we had to purchase non-resident permits. Nevada has been the only state
in the West not to require OHV registration.
As of July 1, 2012, the magazine's cycle is now a candidate for a resident Nevada OHV
permit. Previously, Nevada had no permit requirements. Off-pavement motorcycles and ATVs were neither
titled nor registered at Nevada.
As of July 1, 2012, this has
changed. If you have an OHV, you have a one year grace period (until
July 1, 2013) to get the OHV registered for off-highway use. The fee should be $20.00. Registration can be
obtained through an authorized OHV dealer or through the mail.
Although the permit and
registration program is administered by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, you cannot go to DMV offices to
complete the process. If your vehicle is
licensed for operation on the street, you do
not need the OHV registration.
To ride the
XR350R while covering the 2012 King of the Hammers Race at Johnson Valley, the magazine purchased a $20 (U.S.)
"California Non-Resident OHV Permit". In the future, this
cycle's Nevada OHV resident permit will be recognized in adjacent states like
For more information on the registration process and necessary
forms, go to http://www.nvohv.com, the Nevada OHV Commission’s website. After you have your Nevada OHV registration, reciprocity between states applies. You
do not need to buy a non-resident permit to ride in the other OHV permit states.
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