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Campfire Collective Nov 24th, 2018

New York Snowmobiling Regulations

Six snowmobilers on a trail in New York.


The New York State Snowmobile Program exists by mandate from the Legislature. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has been given the responsibility to plan for the development, maintenance and oversight of a statewide snowmobile program. The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest to:

  • Encourage the sport of snowmobiling as a family activity,
  • Promote the proper and safe use and operation of snowmobiles,
  • Provide an adequate safety educational program for youthful operators,
  • Limit the operation of snowmobiles upon public highways and private property without the consent of the owner,
  • Protect and preserve the state’s natural resources, including its wildlife, wild forests, waters and scenic and wilderness character,
  • Reduce the effect on the environment of excess noise,
  • Insure privacy of remote areas,
  • Afford opportunity for compatible enjoyment of various recreational activities on the state’s lands and open spaces.

It is the purpose of this title to promote the safe and proper use of snowmobiles for recreation and commerce in this state by encouraging their use and development and minimize detrimental effects of such use upon the environment.

OPRHP has established programs for:

  • Municipal Snowmobile Trail Grants
  • A Snowmobile Law Enforcement Grant
  • A Snowmobile Law Enforcement Development School
  • Snowmobile Safety Education
  • Snowmobile Special Event Permits
  • Snowmobile Accident Reporting
  • Snowmobile Publications
  • Snowmobile Trail Grooming Education
  • Snowmobile Trail Signage Guidelines
  • A Snowmobile Laws Continuing Education Course for Magistrate

Register Your Snowmobile

Any snowmobile operated in New York State must be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), even if it is registered in another state or province, except under certain special circumstances.

A portion of each registration goes to the Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund run by the OPRHP.

This revenue is used to support local areas through grants-in-aid for snowmobile trail development and maintenance.

Snowmobilers must carry registration and proof of insurance documents on their person, not the snowmobile, at all times while snowmobiling. These documents must be produced at the request of any law enforcement officer or magistrate. Insurance documentation must be produced at the request of anyone who is injured or suffers property damage as a result of operation of a snowmobile. Holders of snowmobile safety certificates must carry the certificate when they are snowmobiling.

Who needs a Snowmobile license in New York?

New York State is a leader in snowmobile education and offers one operator training course for snowmobilers of all ages beginning at age 10. The SLEDsmart! course provides fundamental information which all snowmobilers should possess in order to ensure the safety of riders and other trail users. Successful completion of this course results in the award of a NYS Snowmobile Safety Certificate.

Youth ages 14 through 17 years old may operate a snowmobile, on lands upon which snowmobiling is allowed, without adult or other supervision if they have completed a snowmobile safety training course recognized by the State of New York. If youth ages 14 through 17 years have not completed the training course, they may operate a snowmobile if accompanied by (within 500 feet of) a person who is at least 18 years of age. Youth ages 10 through 13 may operate a snowmobile, on lands upon which snowmobiling is allowed, if they have completed a snowmobile safety training course recognized by the State of New York and are accompanied by (within 500 feet of) a person who is at least 18 years of age.

Children less than 10 years old or less than age 14 without a safety certificate may operate a snowmobile only on lands owned or leased by their parent or guardian.

A non-resident operator who is a resident of another state or country and is the holder of a valid snowmobile safety certificate issued by that state or country shall be considered the same as the holder of a New York State Safety Certificate.

Tips for Snowmobiling in New York State

  • Always wear an approved helmet and safety gear while riding
  • Make sure your sled is properly registered with the State
  • Ride at a safe speed and reduce speed in poor visibility conditions
  • Carry a compass and map at all times
  • Know your signals and relay them to the sledders behind you – especially when making turns or crossing roadways.
  • Read and know the signs including:
    • Snowmobiling Permitted
    • Stop
    • No Snowmobiling
    • Caution
    • Bridge Ahead
  • Follow the leader and if snowmobiling in a group, stick together
  • Keep a safe distance (three to four sled lengths from the sled ahead)
  • Trail etiquette – respect other using the trail
  • Do not stop within an intersection
  • Yield to faster sledders
  • Yield to trail groomers
  • Pull off the trail if you need to stop
  • Do not stop side-by-side on the trail
  • Be prepared for chaing weather and trail conditions
  • Obey all New York snowmobiling laws
  • Always ride with another snowmobiler
  • Never ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Stay focused
  • Get the owners permission when riding on private land
  • Be informed about riding restrictions via the local club

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