Motor Vehicle Use on the Colville National Forest

Motor vehicle use on National Forest System (NFS) land is managed under a framework of regulations commonly referred to as travel management.  The goal of the Colville National Forest’s travel management process is to create a safe and sustainable road and trail system that provides recreational opportunities and appropriate access while protecting forest resources. 

In 2005, after much study and public input the Forest Service published the Travel Management Rule (TMR), Title 36 Parts 212, 251, 261, and 295 of the Code of Federal Regulations; its goal was to regulate the use of motor vehicles on National Forest System lands while managing the transportation system to balance social, economic, and ecological conditions. The TMR is comprised of three main sections which are identified as Subparts A, B, and C.  

Subpart A: Administration of the Forest Transportation System- directs National Forests to identify the most ecologically, economically and socially sustainable transportation system. This is accomplished at both the forest-wide scale and the project level by using a process known as travel analysis. Travel Analysis Reports are used to inform decisions regarding roads. A copy of the most recent Forest-wide Travel Analysis Report for the Colville National Forest can be found on our land and resource management webpage.

Subpart B: Designation of Roads, Trails and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use- requires National Forests to designate a system of roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use for both off-highway and highway-legal vehicles on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). The premise of the rule is that roads, trails, and areas are closed to motor vehicle use unless designated as open on the MVUM. The Colville National Forest began a collaborative process of designating roads and trails open to motor vehicle use in 2005 and continues to modify its MVUM annually to reflect decisions that have been made regarding the transportation system and its uses. For example, the South End Motorized Recreation Management Project and its 2014 decision has improved the system of designated routes for motor vehicle use, managed dispersed camping sites, and rehabilitated resource damage linked to motor vehicle use. Other projects tied to restoration and vegetation management objectives often make decisions regarding roads which are in turn reflected on the MVUM.   These decisions are informed by public involvement at the project level.

Subpart C: Use by Over-Snow Vehicles (OSV) - (revised in February 2015) addresses over-snow motorized use of trails, roads and areas on NFS lands and requires the agency to designate routes and areas where OSV use is permitted on an OSV Use Map. Although the Colville National Forest does not currently publish an OSV Use Map, there are many roads and areas that are open to OSV use along with several routes that are groomed for such uses.  Several management areas under the current Forest Plan are closed to OSV use:  Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness, Research Natural Areas, or Backcountry Management Areas.

Current Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM)

The Motor Vehicle Use Map shows National Forest System roads, trails, and areas that are designated as open to motor vehicle travel.  These roads, trails and areas are designated by type of motor vehicle allowed and the allowable season of use.

For example, on National Forest System Roads that allow motor vehicle use, the two primary designations are Roads Open to Highway Legal Vehicles Only and Roads Open to All Vehicles.

Some examples of the vehicle types that are highway legal are: passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and motorcycles that by state law are licensed for general operation on all public roads within the state.

Some examples of vehicles that are not highway legal include: ATVs, UTVs (side by sides), off road motorcycles, golf carts and any other motor vehicle that by state law is not licensed for general operation on all public roads in the state.

A road that is designated as open to all motor vehicles allows any motor vehicle both licensed and unlicensed for general operation on all public roads in the state which would include all Off Highway Vehicles.

Refer to the appropriate Motor Vehicle Use Map to determine the allowed motor vehicle use for a specific National Forest System road, trail or area.  These free maps are available at any of the offices listed below or on-line by clicking on the following links.

**The pdf files below require Adobe Acrobat.  They are large files that may take some time to access depending upon what type of internet connection you have.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

About the MVUMs

  • The MVUMs implement the 2005 Travel Management Rule and are tied to a National regulation (CFR §261.13) that restricts motor vehicle use to roads, trails, and areas designated on the MVUMs.
  • Travel management is an on-going process and designations may change on an annual basis.  Check this webpage or your local Forest Service office to ensure you have the most current MVUM. 
  • In some cases motor vehicle use is permitted up to 300’ from the centerline of designated routes to access dispersed (undeveloped) camping sites. This allowance is for dispersed camping only and is not available on every Forest, nor on every road. Check your MVUM carefully before setting out.
  • There is no allowance for using motor vehicles off of designated roads and trails for retrieving game. 
  • State laws regarding motor vehicle use such as age, safety equipment, and licensing requirements, apply on National Forest System roads. Vehicle operators should familiarize themselves with Chapter 46.09 Revised Code of Washington (RCW); OFF-ROAD, NONHIGHWAY, AND WHEELED ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES
  • Washington State Law defines a Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle (WATV) as any motorized non-highway vehicle that meets the requirements to be licensed with a metal tag.  WATVs are not considered highway-legal vehicles by Federal standards; therefore, they cannot be operated on roads designated as open to highway legal vehicles only.
  • Counties have rules, regulations, and restrictions for motor vehicle use (including OHVs) of County roads.  Please contact the appropriate County for more information.

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) on Avenza

If you have a mobile device such as an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android or Microsoft mobile device, you can take the Colville National Forest MVUMs with you.

Image: QR code to Avenza website

1. Download the AvenzaMap App.

2. Once you have Avenza on your mobile device, use your device to download the maps While running the app select 'Store', then ‘Find Maps’.  You can then search for available maps by area or click on “Name, region or keyword” and search for “Colville National Forest - Motor Vehicle Use Map”.  There are MVUM maps for Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest parts of the Colville National Forest; four maps in total. Please ensure to also download the Seasonal and Special Designation Table.

With the app and maps installed on your mobile device, you will be able to:

  • View your location on the PDF maps using the built-in GPS device 
  • Measure distances and areas
  • Plot waypoints 
  • View maps offline

Through a no-cost contract with Avenza Systems, Inc., the USDA Forest Service has made electronic versions of its Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) available as free downloads for smartphones and tablets.  

Motor Vehicle Use References and Links

Supervisor's Office
765 S. Main
Colville, WA 99114
(509) 684-7000 (Toll-Free 1-877-727-8704)

Newport Ranger Station
315 N. Warren
Newport, WA 99156
(509) 447-7300

Republic Ranger Station
650 E. Delaware
Republic, WA 99166
(509) 775-7400

Three Rivers Ranger Station
255 W. 11th
Kettle Falls, WA 99141
(509) 738-7700