In the United States, there are 417 parks and monuments covering over 85 million acres of land. In the summer, most parks are teaming with tourists, but extreme weather reduces visitors to a trickle in winter months. With an Argo XTV, you can have a peaceful outdoor experience, exploring these natural treasures in ways few people can. Here’s how.
Getting the Right Permits
As far as the National Parks Service is concerned, if it has four or more wheels and it’s intended to go off-road, it’s an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV). SUVs, ATVs, swamp buggies and XTVs all fall under this category, and they leave it up to you to decide if your ORV can tackle a trail. To get an ORV permit, the operator needs a valid driver’s license and the vehicle needs a current registration.
ORV paths are designed to minimize environmental impact from erosion and pollution. Violations come with some serious penalties. Simply driving off the trail can lead to a fine as high as $5,000. Damage an archaeological site or violate the Endangered Species Act, and you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in fines and one or two years in prison.
Crossing water on ORV trails is legal with an ORV permit, but you may need a boat permit for other waterways. The rules for this can vary: some areas require permits for all vessels, while others don’t require a permit if the vehicle is just passing through.
While an XTV has no trouble traveling over snow, snowmobile permits like those issued through the Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program (N-CGSAP) specifically ban wheeled and tracked vehicles.
Know What’s Open
Access will be limited in the off-season. Parks with multiple entrances will typically shut down all but one way into the park. Highways running inside the park will still be maintained for through traffic, while other roads may only be cleared far enough to allow access to visitor centers and major campsites.
“Closed” roads may still be used in certain circumstances. When maintenance stops on a road, it’s closed to motor vehicles, but it may still be open to ORVs. When all vehicle traffic is banned, most parks will still allow cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on these roads.
When it comes to camping, high altitude campgrounds are usually closed, while backcountry camping may be restricted to areas within a certain distance of roads and trails to make it easier to find lost visitors.
Some areas have additional limitations that are applied based on local terrain and weather conditions. For example, at Mount Rainier National Park, winter backcountry camping is permitted once there’s at least 5 feet of snow accumulation. At this point, the snow banks are solid enough to walk and drive on.
Required Equipment for Off-Roading
Your vehicle will need to be inspected before being permitted to operate on ORV trails. Along with basic functionality, you’ll be required to have equipment on-board to rescue your own vehicle or help others on the trail. The items needed vary from park to park, but most will include these items:
— A military folding shovel or an equivalent
— A towing device that is at least 14 feet long. The winches installed on most Argos qualify as a towing device.
— A full-size spare tire.
— A jack and a support board
— A tire pressure gauge that can read pressures lower than 5 psi.
Gearing Up for Cold Weather
Now is a good time to think of ways you can set up your XTV for comfortable winter travel. Driving your XTV at 20 mph on a calm day is the same as facing a 20 mph wind. The resulting wind chill can turn a cold day into a deadly one. Adding a windshield and an enclosure will reduce the wind chill effect when driving your XTV. Even with this protection, it’s important to wear clothing that has is gap-free. Even a little bit of exposed skin between a sleeve and a glove is subject to frostbite. XTVs come with front and rear lighting, but adding a set of floodlights can help you with poor visibility and light the area when you’re setting up camp.
Get Ready for Winter Fun with Help from Shank’s Argo
Do you think an XTV is right for you? Do you want to get your Argo ready for winter excursions? When you want top quality service, it’s hard to beat Shank’s Argo. We’re one of the largest dealers in the East, and we’ve helped owners with their outdoor equipment for over 30 years. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To learn more or schedule a test drive, visit www.shanksargo.com.