Snowmobiles are more versatile than the name implies because they need to be. You might be surprised at some of the surfaces they can run on, though they may not be as smooth on non-snow surfaces. Additionally, your snowmobile might need modifications to trek over certain surfaces safely.
Can a snowmobile go on the road? I will teach you everything I know about these surprising machines and where their tracks can take you.
A snowmobile can go on the road, though it’s not as easy on the treads if the road is bare. Moreover, you can only travel on the road to cross it in an emergency declared by your local government. You can also ride on the road if your state allows it, and your machine is modified for street use.
Do Snowmobiles Work On Roads
Snowmobiles do work on roads. The location and material under the snow don’t make much difference to a machine riding over the surface of snow unless it’s near the surface, like buried branches.
In fact, a road can make a smooth trail for your machine because the asphalt below is generally flat and evenly distributed. However, it’s not always legal.
Can You Drive A Snowmobile Without Snow
You can drive a snowmobile without snow. Some riders race on grass, and the rubber treads can move over the ground.
Riders on sand may need modifications like filters to avoid damaging the engine.
It’s important to note that the front skis will wear down over time. However, you can get replacements, and it takes a while to wear away.
Additionally, running fast over non-snow surfaces may wear down or damage your rubber treads.
Will Driving A Snowmobile On A Road Cause Damage
Driving a snowmobile on a bare road can cause damage to the road and the snowmobile.
Not only will the tread and skis wear down over time, but the damage to the metal skis can also harm the road surface.
However, you can travel a fair distance at moderate speeds before this becomes problematic.
When Can You Drive A Snowmobile On A Road
When you can drive a snowmobile on a road is highly specific to your area.
For example, Tennessee allows any registered and appropriately modified vehicle to use non-interstate and highway roads if the driver has a license.
Alternatively, New Jersey makes no exceptions and fines snowmobilers heavily if caught on the roads. I’ll go into detail for every state on the chart below.
Is Driving A Snowmobile On A Road Hard
Driving a snowmobile on a road is not especially difficult, but it is hard on the machine if the road is plowed.
Snow under treads and skis is a smooth surface that won’t damage the machine.
However, the advantage is that on the road, you are less likely to encounter buried obstacles, trees, and other hindrances.
Are Snowmobiles Street Legal
Below I’ve created a helpful chart that shows where and how snowmobiles are street legal in each state.
Snowmobile Street Legality By State
|State||Legal On Roads||Legal To Cross||Emergencies or Special Circumstances|
|AL||No||No||N/A fine if caught|
|AK||No||Yes, at a 90° angle||You can only cross to reach a designated snowmobile area|
|AZ||Yes||Yes||Must be registered and modified for street use, and rider must have a license|
|AR||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|CA||Sometimes||at 90 °||A few roads are designated for snowmobiles, other roads off limits|
|CO||No||at 90 °||Exceptions include unmaintained roads in winter, when traversing a culvert or a bridge on the street, or when the proper state authority declares emergency conditions and a snowmobile is the only means of transportation available|
|CT||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|DE||No||No||N/A fine if caught|
|FL||Yes Some Areas||N/A||Mostly on unpaved roads|
|HI||Provisionally||No||State officials may ride if it’s for official duty, otherwise only on 1 or 2-lane roads with a speed limit under 35 mph|
|ID||Almost All||Yes||No streets leading to highways, no highways|
|IL||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|IN||No, unless local authorities specifically allow it||Yes, at 90° angle where permitted locally||N/A|
|IA||Yes, on public streets that the state hasn’t plowed during the winter or where the local authorities have designated||Unknown||N/A|
|KS||Some Areas||Unknown||Where permitted by local authorities, in the daytime, with a valid driver’s license|
|KY||No||at 90 °||Riding parallel to a street will get you a fine|
|LA||Provisionally in a few areas||No||Must equip with brake light, reflectors, rearview mirror, and horn|
|ME||Yes, under numerous special circumstances, only||Do not exceed a distance of 500 yards before you cross the street.||To see all the special times and places when snowmobiles are allowed to ride on roads in Maine, click here|
|MA||No||Yes||Parallel to road riding is allowed when headed to trail or private property nearby.|
|MI||Yes, on unplowed roads at moderate speeds||Yes||N/A|
|MI||Controlled by local authorities in every area||?||?|
|MO||No||No||Exceptions per local authorities|
|MT||Yes provisionally||Yes||Exceptions per local authorities|
|NE||Yes When modified||Yes||N/A|
|NV||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|NH||No, unless posted||No||N/A|
|NM||No, unless posted||at 90 °||N/A|
|NY||No except by local exemption||at 90 °||N/A|
|NC||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|ND||No||On non-interstates with headlamp only||N/A|
|OH||By local permission only||at 90 °||N/A|
|OK||Yes provisionally||at 90 °||In unincorporated areas or by local permission|
|OR||No||at 90 ° if unhindered||N/A|
|PA||Yes Provisionally||at 90 °||During a government emergency or by government decree|
|RI||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|SC||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|SD||Yes, if not plowed with a headlight||at 90 °||N/A|
|TN||Yes when modified||No||The snowmobile must have a horn, taillights, headlights, taillights, and brake light|
|UT||Yes, when local authorities permit only||at 90 °||N/A|
|VT||Yes, on designated streets||at 90 °||N/A|
|VA||No||at 90 °||You can ride on the street during an emergency only where a motor vehicle is impractical|
|WA||No||at 90 °||N/A|
|WV||No||Yes, at 90 °, where there’s no barrier||N/A|
|WI||Yes, where local authorities designate||at 90 °||N/A|
|WY||Yes when registered||at 90 °||N/A|
Helpful Tips To Know About Can A Snowmobile Go On The Road
A snowmobile can go on the road in snowy conditions, but it’s not always legal. It can also travel over asphalt, dirt, grass, and sand.
Here are a few more tips to know about can a snowmobile go on the road.
- Snowmobile carbides help move over icy surfaces but wear down quickly on harder surfaces. According to Power Sports Guide, “Snowmobile carbides are sharp wear surfaces attached to the bottom of the skis. Their main purpose is to make sure the snowmobile can be steered on ice and hard-packed snow and prevent “darting.” Since carbides regularly wear out, you have to periodically sharpen or even replace them.”
- When riding a snowmobile over a road, it’s important to note that you are still required to observe the speed limit and other applicable traffic laws.
- Even when roads are open to snowmobiles, the ditches and parallel areas may not be. Check your local ordinances before riding beside a road.
Snowmobiles are a ton of fun but riding them on the roads can be dicey. Some areas of the US give snowmobilers heavy fines for using roads; even crossing the street can be illegal.
In other places, only modified snowmobiles with headlights and other features can use roads, or you can only ride on them in the daytime.
The chart in this article will help you determine when and where it’s safe to ride on the road, but laws can change, so check with local agencies every year before you head out to ride.