Driving Your Motorized Vehicles on the Plumas National Forest

The Forest Service announced a new regulation on November 2, 2005, governing off-highway vehicles and other motor vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. The Travel Management Final Rule requires each national forest or ranger district to designate those roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use and display them on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM).

There are 4,482 total miles of motorized road, trail and area access on the Plumas National Forest displayed on the MVUM. The MVUM also displays uses allowed by vehicle class (highway/street legal vehicles, vehicles less than 50 inches wide and motorcycles), seasonal restrictions and other travel rules and regulations. Some vehicles may travel on more than one type of route.

If a route is not shown on the MVUM, it remains open for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding but is not open to motorized use. Routes may not always be signed on the ground and it is everyone’s responsibility to refer to the MVUM to determine if a route is designated for motor vehicle use. The MVUM will be updated annually. Changes to the MVUM, prior to the update, will be displayed on this page.

The MVUM is a free black and white map with no topographic features. It is best used in conjunction with a Forest Visitor Map or other topographic map. Maps can be downloaded from this website, picked up at Forest Offices or received through the mail by calling (530) 283-2050.

If you do not already have a PDF Reader, you can download a free plug-in at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

Plumas National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps:

Download PDF Map File Size
Jarbo Gap Area 1mb
Greenville Area 1mb
Janesville Area 1mb
Quincy Area 1mb
Portola Area 1mb
LaPorte Area 1mb

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where may I travel?

You may drive on any route designated for use as a motorized travel route. The Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) displays National Forest Transportation routes (roads and trails) or areas so designated. If a route is not shown on the map, it is not open for motorized travel. Routes designated for motorized use may not always be signed on the ground, but will be identified on the MVUM. It is your responsibility to refer to the MVUM to determine designated routes for motor vehicle use. Cross-country travel is not allowed unless specifically allowed with a permit or other authorization.

Designated route mileage includes:
  • Motorcycles – 4,482 miles
  • 4-Wheel Drive – 4,383 miles
  • Passenger cars – 4,118 miles
  • Unlicensed (not highway legal) motorcycles – 3,855 miles
  • Unlicensed (not highway legal) All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) – 3,802 miles

Where may I park?

You may park one vehicle length off a designated road or trail, provided you are not causing resource damage. This means a vehicle towing a trailer would be allowed to park within one vehicle length (vehicle plus trailer) of the route as long as it is not causing damage to National Forest resources or otherwise prohibited. A designated road or trail includes all terminal facilities, trailheads, parking lots, and turnouts associated with the road or trail.

Does this apply to everyone?

Generally, this applies to anyone using a motor vehicle on the National Forests with the following exceptions: over-snow vehicles; watercraft; aircraft; limited administrative use by the Forest Service; use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement vehicle for emergency purposes including violations of law; motor vehicle use specifically authorized under a written authorization issued under federal law or regulations; and use of a road or trail that is authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a state, county, or other local public road authority (36 CFR 261.13). Public safety will always be the Forest’s first consideration and all Forest roads and trails will be available for emergency access.

Does this apply to administrative (Forest Service) use of the National Forest?

Unless otherwise authorized (as noted previously), Forest Service employees will be required to follow the same rules as everyone else.

Are woodcutters allowed to drive off-road (cross country) to pick up their wood?

Effective June 1, 2013, the current Plumas NF personal use fuel-wood permit allows woodcutters to use their vehicles to retrieve cut firewood.

Are potential bidders on government contracts such as timber sales or service and construction contracts allowed to travel off road?

Potential bidders will be held to the same standards as everyone else until such time as a contract is awarded with specific language allowing use.

What should miners do if a road they would like to use is not shown on the MVUM?

Use of motor vehicles off the designated transportation system to support mining operations would trigger the need for a Notice of Intent to the District Ranger. The route use as well as the mining operation, including prospecting, would be evaluated, consistent with Forest Service policy and applicable Mining Laws, to determine if the surface disturbance was significant enough to require a Plan of Operations. Unless and until use is permitted, miners follow the same rules as everyone else.

May I camp in dispersed campsites?

Yes. Dispersed camping is, and will continue to be, allowed across much of the Forest except where other restrictions apply, such as within developed recreation areas. We currently have over 100 designated routes that provide motor vehicle access to desirable dispersed campsites. Many other dispersed sites are immediately adjacent to a designated route and therefore accessible by motorized vehicle. However, you will not be able to drive off designated roads and trails in order to access a campsite. Perking is permitted within one vehicle length of the designated road or trail provided you are not causing resource damage. More routes to dispersed campsites will be designated in the future; let us know about your favorites.

How do I access my private property?

Private landowners with legally documented Right-of-Way access may continue to use routes that are not designated for use and displayed on the MVUM. If a legally documented Right-of-Way does not exist, landowners will be held to the same rules as everyone else. Generally, a Private Road Use Permit must authorize any private land access that is not designated as a motorized route. Contact the appropriate Ranger District to discuss your situation.

My vehicle is not licensed for street use. Where may I travel?

The MVUM displays National Forest Transportation System routes designated for licensed and unlicensed vehicles. Some counties, such as Plumas County, have designated county roads as available for both licensed and unlicensed use (mixed-use). County mixed-use designations do not appear on the MVUM. Please check with the applicable county about their mixed-use designations before you travel. We will provide links to county maps when they become available.