Riding A Polaris RZR In Florida
Jan 19th 2020
Known around the world for its theme parks, swamps, oranges, and sunshine, there’s more to Florida than mega yachts, alligators, and the Miami club scene. Where Polaris RZR owners are concerned, the state boasts many great places to rip a side-by-side. Be it in one of the many UTV parks, at a number of National Forests, or even on some municipal roads, enjoying the Florida weather can be a blast in a Polaris RZR.
Riding RZRs At National Forests In Florida
Ocala National Forest
A popular UTV hotspot for many Floridians — especially for those living in the Jacksonville area — is the Ocala National Forest. The Salt Springs Campground as well as the wider Salt Springs Recreational Area draws many weekend RZR riders for the lush tropical scenery and great camping / RV facilities.
Like the Salt Springs Recreational Area, the Big Scrub Campground also offers direct campsite-to-trail access for UTV riders. It is one of the primary entrances to the Ocala Centennial Trail system, which includes may great springs — such as the Blue Sink Spring — in which riders can swim and cool down after a hot and grueling stretch in the Central Florida heat.
Lake Delance is another prime place to ride an RZR as the trails are a bit wider than the ones in the south of the park. You can ride the Yellow Trail 25 mile Loop & take the Salt Springs Connector trail that dead ends into a parking corral to walk across to the plaza for lunch at The Square Meal. Delancy Loops are specifically for motorcycles and quads, but if you have the Polaris Ride Command App on your phone or a Voyager Pro GPS unit, you can find a couple more trails in the area for side-by-side use. Take note that Deer Season opens 11/10, so after that date you will likely see hunters in the area.
Apalachicola National Forest
The Apalachicola National Forest is another good-sized area in which one can ride their Polaris RZR. Similar to Ocala National Forest, there are some trails for motorcycle use only. But many trails — such as the Silver Lake OHV Trail — allow UTVs.
Riding RZRs On Private Land In Florida
Public land isn’t the only option for UTV riders in Florida. Both OHV parks and other private land holdings provide vast swaths of land for explorative RZR owners. River Ranch, for example, has over 50,000 acres ready to be ripped. The terrain is mostly flat, sandy with some serious holes to be had. Although not super technical or hilly, River Ranch is a great place to get muddy. The only caveat to River Ranch is that a riding deed is required to use the land. Alternatively, you could buy property in the area to become a part of the owner’s association.
Although not the biggest UTV park out there, St Mary’s Shoals Park has some decent trails and mud riding. The hard-pack trails shoulder both the Cedar Creek and St. Mary’s River, so if you want to drop a line in and do a little fishing while you’re out there, the option is there.
For hill climbs and rock crawling, the Hard Rock Off-Road Park is the ideal location, and for a muddy good time, the Hog Waller Mud BOG & ATV park, the Iron Horse Mud Ranch, as well as the Readneck Mud Park are all a blast — great for both riding and fun. And with annual events such as the Redneck Yacht Club Fall Classic, the Floridaz Super Pull, and bounty holes at the Tin Buckle Ranch, you can put your machine to the test and hang out with likeminded individuals who are passionate about UTVs.
We can’t talk about UTV riding in Florida without mentioning the Marion County Speedway and their Battle at the Bullring racing series. A few other honorable mentions of good RZR-riding locations in Florida include The Swamp Offroad Park in Chipley Fl. just north of Panama City and the Oasis Center. Although the latter requires you to pay and take a class, there are a lot of miles to ride in the surrounding Everglades. Just note that if you're riding in the rainy season, you're going to want a taller vehicle, so RZR lifts are advised.
Legally Riding Your RZR On Florida Roads
You may have seen people riding around golf carts on Florida streets and thought you could do the same in your RZR. However, the law regarding golf carts vs. RZR's is very different and confusing in Florida. According to the statute, Florida says an LSV (low-speed vehicle) is defined as a four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 MPH but less than 25 MPH. LSV’s require a regular operator license to drive and need to be registered at your local DMV with a tag, and by Florida law must be insured like a regular vehicle.
RZR's are technically UTV's under Florida law. Florida refers to a UTV as a recreational off-highway vehicle or ROV. It defines an ROV as a motorized recreational off-highway vehicle under 60 inches (check out these dimensions because lots of UTVs are wider than 60 inches) in width that travels on four or more non-highway tires, and has non-straddle seating and a steering wheel.
Some counties and municipalities have written local ordinances to allow UTV's on their public roads (under 35 MPH in most cases, under MPH in rare cases). However, almost all of those require turn signals, mirrors, brake lights, etc. and PIP insurance. If you’re in a rural area and are on the shoulder driving slowly and safely, you might not get messed with. Drive fast, drive recklessly, or do something questionable, however, and you will surely get a citation.