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Off-Road Vehicle Riding Rules

at St. Joe State Park

ORV Rules and Regulations

  • A permit is not required for general entrance to the park. It is required only for off-road vehicles (ORVs) in the ORV area and for visitors using the Donnelly-LaMear Trailhead. Please attach the permit to your ORV or have it in your possession before entering the ORV area.

    Purchase an online permit to use today
  • Operators and passengers of motorized vehicles must wear protective helmets that meet Department of Transportation (DOT) or ANSI Z90.1 certification. This includes all operators and passengers riding motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and dune buggies. 
  • Motorized vehicles must be equipped with functioning brakes and muffler, with noise limit not to exceed 86dBA. Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) must be equipped with a spark arrestor.
  • Motorized vehicles, except motorcycles, must be equipped with a flexible mast -- minimum 72 inches in length with an orange flag measuring at least 72 square inches displayed at the top of the mast.
  • Passengers are not allowed on motorcycles or ATVs unless the manufacturer has designed the vehicle for more than one person. 
  • Operators under 16 years of age and unlicensed operators must have direct supervision by a licensed adult while operating motorcycles, UTVs and ATVs. Manufacturers age labeling applies to all vehicles.
  • Operation of an ORV while using or under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the ORV area.
  • Motorized vehicles, except motorcycles and ATVs, must be equipped with seat belts for each occupant, and these must be fastened while the vehicle is in motion.
  • The speed limit in the staging area and parking lot is 5 miles per hour. No exhibition driving is allowed in these areas.
  • Dune buggies and four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted only in the tailings area, not on the wooded trails.
  • Any violation of any of these rules and regulations may result in the revocation of the permit.
  • The ORV area is subject to topographic changes. Be alert for inclines, changing slopes and sudden drop offs. Operate your vehicle at a safe and prudent speed at all times.
  • Special vegetative management areas are located throughout the ORV riding area that require vegetative regrowth in order to reduce or stop erosion. Riding on large grass-covered areas on the "flats" and extremely steep, eroded trails in the wooded areas kills the grass and jeopardizes the tailings' stability. Some areas are identified by an 8-inch red octagonal sign. The project is ongoing, and some areas have not yet been identified. We need your help in order to maintain these areas. If the above description fits a location, please do not ride there. Noncompliance is punishable.
  • The ORV boundary is identified by red and white signs. Riding outside the boundary, which has been established to maintain a buffer and minimize impact on adjacent landowners, is prohibited.

Because of the safety requirements and for the visitors' convenience, the park sells Department of Transportation-approved helmets, 6-foot staffed orange flags and flag parts. Safety items can be purchased elsewhere, but must comply with the stated regulations.

Park Rules and Regulations

  • Beach: No cans, glass bottles, coolers or pets are allowed.
  • Fishing: State fishing regulations apply. Permit must be obtained for Apollo and Jo Lee lakes. Electric motors only.
  • Camping: Detailed information is available at park office and posted on bulletin boards.
  • Playground: Small children must be supervised at all times.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the ORV area, beaches, Pim Day-Use Area or parking lots.

Detailed rules and regulations are posted throughout the park.


There is an inherent risk in the participation in off-road vehicle (ORV) riding, which is a dangerous recreational activity that may result in serious injury to person or property, including, but not limited to, paralysis, brain damage, concussion, broken bones or death. User should be aware that trail conditions may change due to weather and other natural events and/or ORV operator use, and that marked or unmarked dangers may exist. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources does not make any representations, warranties or guarantees as to the fitness, safety or suitability of any portion of the ORV riding area (including, without limitation, any designated or undesignated trails) for any recreational use. User has been warned that accidents and collisions do occur and injuries may result, and therefore user assumes all the risk of injuries, and loss of or damage to property. Each ORV user participates at his or her own risk and has a duty to exercise good judgment and act in a responsible manner while participating in ORV riding. If a user commits any act that endangers the safety of their self or other persons, or violates any laws, rules, or special management regulations, this permit may be revoked without refund.

LEAD EXPOSURE ADVISORY: Lead tailings in the "Mine Tailings Area" may pose a health risk, especially to children six (6) years of age and under. The more contact a person has with lead, the greater the chance of health effects occurring. Lead can cause behavioral and developmental problems in children and may have other harmful effects in adults. Actions you can take to lower your exposure include avoiding or limiting your time in the main tailings area, washing face and hands before eating, and removing as much dust and soil as possible from clothing, equipment and vehicles before leaving the park.