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  • Writer's pictureAmy Trudell

Amy's Angle>

Let's Chat About...Wheeler Riding



What do we do for fun here in Northwest Minnesota you ask? Well, one of my favorites, among many others, is riding off road vehicles! There are many miles of designated trails in this region for ATV/UTV and dirt bike riding.

Last weekend Randy and I attended an ATV/UTV Fun Run. It always amazes me when a small town like Alvarado (population 388) can draw in over 100 participants for their event! This was not only a social gathering, but also a fundraiser for their local fire and rescue department. It was very well organized and even though the weather was cool, windy and damp, people still came out to support.


I was also impressed that they handed out "Code of Ethics" postcards. It's good to have guidelines to go by and that respect is shown by all!


  1. Be a good sportsman. Use influence to inspire other riders and promote sportsmanlike conduct.

  2. Do not litter any trail or area, nor pollute the waters. Please carry out what you carry in.

  3. Don't damage trees, shrubs or other natural features.

  4. Respect other people's property and personal rights.

  5. Lend a helping hand when you see someone in distress.

  6. Don't interfere with activities of another sportsman. Respect their right to enjoy their recreational activity and facility.

  7. Know and obey Federal, State and local regulations regarding the speed and operation of ATV's, UTV's and motorcycles where you ride.

  8. Do not ride where prohibited.

  9. Do not harass wildlife.

Final Statistics for this ride:

  1. Total Machines - 81

  2. Total Registrants - 180

  3. Total Raised - $4,280.00


Shout Outs:

  1. KB Enterprises

  2. Forest River Bean

  3. Lightning Bar

  4. KB Stump

  5. Argyle American Legion

  6. Warren American Legion

  7. Nerm's Tow 'N Go

  8. Alvarado Fire Department

  9. Aaron Gerszewski - Drone Footage

  10. All Volunteers

  11. Door Prize Donors

  12. All Participants


Now let's take a deep dive into the ATV industry and how the trend has changed over the years.


The top selling brand of All Terrain Vehicles in the United States today is Polaris. Randy and I have been committed to the Polaris brand for both our snowmobiles and wheelers. The Polaris factory is located in Roseau, Minnesota, which is about 60 miles NE of where we live. We are proud that these machines are American Made and based out of our home state!

I also have to put a plug in for our neighbors to the East, Arctic Cat manufactured by Textron in Thief River Falls! This company has been in business since 1960 and has sustained many ups and downs. Proud to say they have stood the test of time!



So, what's the difference between the ATV and UTV?


ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle)

*Smaller Size

*Off-Road Terrain

*Usually Single Passenger

*Primary Use - Recreation

*Controls - Handlebars

*Also referred to as - "4-Wheeler"


UTV (Utility Task Vehicle)

*Larger Size

*Advanced On-Road Features

*Multiple Passengers

*Primary Use - Work & Recreation

*Controls - Steering Wheel

*Also referred to as - "Side by Side"


I have witnessed the increasing use of side by sides over 4-wheelers throughout the years. When we first started riding with other groups, the majority of machines were ATV's. Now, it's mostly UTV's and you rarely see 4-wheelers on the trails. Randy & I used to host a "Fall Cabin Bash" every year at the cabin in the woods we had near Viking, MN. The below photo is from 2012 and as you can see, there was only a couple side by side on the ride!


The off-road vehicle business is definitely booming. It is projected to grow in North America from $8.52 billion in sales this year to $13.6 billion next year. This increase is due to many different factors. Some of which are because of increased functionality such as utility work, increased government trail systems and increased military use.

May 1st is opening trail day in Minnesota. There are many organized clubs throughout the state that maintain and add signs to the trails. For specific information regarding ATV / UTV rules and regulations, you can visit the MN DNR website.

A couple good resources for when you are out on the trail are the Polaris Ride Command App and Avenza Maps App. These are both satellite managed so they work even if you are out of a cellular date service area. These offer valuable maps and the Polaris App also mark points of interest such as gas and dining options.


Another great service these organizations provide is an ATV Safety Training Certification course for the youth.


ATV safety training requirements

Ages 10 – 15:

  • Youth ages 10 – 15 first complete the ATV Safety Online Course at ATVcourse.com

  • Next, attend a Hands-on Safety class:  Students ages 10- 15 must register for a Hands-On ATV Safety Training class located on our Class Calendar.  A fee may be collected by the instructor. o The Hands-On training includes: Basic ATV operation; protecting the environment; common ATV parts and controls; MN rules and laws; responsible ATV riding skills for trail riding, and practicing/demonstrating skills on an ATV course. *Student must be fitted to the ATV they will be operating.

  • Students can print their ATV Safety Certificate from the DNR website after passing the Hands-On class. Instructions are provided during class (includes DNR fee of $10). The ATV Certificate becomes valid at age 12. 


Ages 16 and older

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years or older, must complete the ATV safety online course at ATVcourse.com opens in a new browser tab (and pay all necessary fees online) to meet certification requirements. They are not required to attend the ATV safety hands-on class.


Alternate ATV safety training

Proof of completion of the ATV Rider Course offered by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute is adequate to meet the safety certificate requirements. The fee for the course is $55.


Are you a parent of a child 6 – 9 years old?

Youth ages 6 – 9 years of age may complete the free study guide at ATV Free Study Guide opens in a new browser tab.

  • Free course designed to provide 6 to 9-year-olds with introductory and basic ATV safety information.

  • No riding performance course offered with this course. 

  • No certification upon completion of the study guide course.


"I believe riding off-road vehicles is a great way to explore the outdoors and enjoy nature at its finest. It's also a great way to connect with friends and family by getting together and planning a fun run, big or small! So, if you have an experience you would like to share or add to the conversation, please comment below!"


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