Snowmobile Rules & Regulations

South Dakota has several rules and regulations that pertain to snowmobiling. These rules were established for a number of reasons including the protection of those who enjoy our sport. Park rangers routinely patrol South Dakota's groomed trail system to provide law enforcement and safety.

Accident Reporting

Snowmobile operators* must immediately report an accident to a law enforcement officer if the accident:

  • Is on public lands, frozen public waters or any private lands leased for public snowmobile use
  • Results in damage to a snowmobile or other property in excess of $1,000
  • Results in death or injury requiring medical attention to any person

*If the operator of the snowmobile is physically incapable of filing a report, then someone acting for him/her must file.

Trespassing

No person shall operate a snowmobile upon private land without permission from the owner or lessee of the land. This provision does not apply to snowmobiles operating in public road rights-of-way.

What is a snowmobile?

No person may operate a snowmobile on a state snowmobile trail or area established pursuant to SDCL 41-19 unless the snowmobile has a curb weight of less than 1,400 pounds, is an engine-driven vehicle of a type which uses sled type runners or skis with an endless belt tread or similar means of contact with the surface upon which it is operated and the vehicle does not exceed forty-eightr inches in width.

Motorcycle Trail Pass

32-20A-25. Permit to operate motorcycle as a snowmobile. Any resident owner who has titled a motorcycle which has been modified to comply with the definition of a snowmobile for use as a snowmobile on a state snowmobile trail or area established pursuant to the provisions of chapter 41-19 may purchase an annual permit valid from Dec. 1 - Mar. 31, inclusive, for a fee of $20. The permit shall be affixed to the motorcycle on the rigth side of the unit and shall be clearly visible. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks shall collect the annual permit fee imposed by this section and shall deposit the fees in the snowmobile trails fund established by 32-5-9.2.

Reckless Driving

No person may operate a snowmobile in the following manner:

  • At a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent
  • In any reckless way as to endanger another person or property
  • Without a functioning muffler

Age Requirements

There is no age limitation for the operation of a snowmobile. However, no person under the age of fourteen may drive a snowmobile across a roadway except under the immediate direction of a parent, legal guardian, or person who is eighteen years of age or older. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Interstate Highways and Railroads

Snowmobiles may not be operated upon or across an interstate highway, except that it may cross in the ditch of an underpass or on the extreme right of an overpass. Snowmobiles may not be operated upon any railroad right-of-way, unless directly crossing after stopping and yielding the right-of-way to approaching railroad traffic.

Operation in Ditches

Properly registered and licensed snowmobiles may operate in either right or left-hand ditches when traveling along designated state snowmobile trails. In other ditches, not designated as state snowmobile trails, snowmobiles may only be operated in the right hand ditch.

Firearms / Wildlife

No person (other than a law enforcement officer) may operate or ride on any snowmobile with any firearm in his possession, unless the firearm is completely unloaded and within a carrying case which encloses the entire firearm. No person may chase, drive, harass, kill or attempt to kill any game animal or game bird with or from a snowmobile.

Financial Responsibility

Snowmobilers must provide evidence of financial responsibility (liability insurance) if requested by a law enforcement officer, as a secondary action when the driver is detained for another offense.