ORV permit guidelines

It's a 3-step process to obtain an off-road vehicle permit for use of an ATV, UTV, airboat, swamp buggy or street-legal 4x4 along designated ORV trails in Big Cypress National Preserve: 1) an operator permit (free), 2) an inspection sticker (free), and 3) an annual vehicle permit (fees apply) are required. Motorcycles and other two-wheeled motorized vehicles are not permitted in the national preserve backcountry.

If you need to renew the ORV permit on a previously inspected vehicle that has not undergone any major changes, print the ORV Permit Renewal form and mail it to:
Big Cypress National Preserve
ATTN: ORV Office
33100 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141

Please note: Renewals and new ORV permit requests are now issued on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 9:00am -1:30pm at the Nathaniel P. Reed Visitor Center (33000 Tamiami Trail East. Ochopee, FL 34141). Permits will be issued on a first-come first-served basis. This permitting procedure will continue until further notice. Contact the Off-Road Vehicle Permitting Office at 239-695-1117 with questions.

 

1) Off-Road Vehicle Operator Course

In order to get a permit, you must complete the on-line ORV Operator Course. Upon completion print and fill out the form at the end of the course and bring it to your scheduled appointment. You also must bring your valid state driver's license or learner's permit (required). Note —Those who have a learner's permit must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years or older (while operating an off-road vehicle) who also possesses a Big Cypress National Preserve off-road vehicle operator permit. Unlicensed drivers are not permitted to operate off-road vehicles at Big Cypress National Preserve.

It is important that you provide the staff with current address, telephone and email (if available) information so that we may send you mail with important updates on trails, regulations, and off-road vehicle-related news.

 

2) Vehicle Inspection Sticker

Bring your vehicle in to the Nathaniel P. Reed Visitor Center (33000 Tamiami Trail East. Ochopee, FL 34141) on Fridays-Mondays from 9:00am -1:30pm. The inspection sticker is valid for life as long as no major changes are made to the vehicle.


Off-road vehicle staff will inspect your vehicle under the following guidelines:

AIRBOAT (A)

  • Working White Aft Light to be seen 360'
  • Current State Registration Decal
  • Hull Length 14' max excluding grass rake
  • Width 8' max
  • Must have an automotive-style factory muffler per Florida Statute 327.391
  • Minimum of 3" FL #'s displayed on each side of the bow- OR -Minimum of 6" FL #'s displayed on both sides of rudders
  • Orange Safety Flag 10x12" or larger- flown at minimum 10 feet above vessel
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • PFD (Life Jackets)
  • Port and Starboard lights (Coast Guard Requirement)
  • Hull Identification Number


SWAMP BUGGY / OFF HIGHWAY VEHICES (B)

  • All Tires Minimum of 9"
  • Width 8' Max
  • Working White Headlight(s)
  • Working Red Tail Light
  • Must not be registered by a state and therefore cannot operate legally on roadways.
  • Must have 4 or more wheels
  • Do not utilize "skid steering".
  • Muffler works and noise must not exceed 60 decibels at 50 feet
  • Weight will not exceed 4,000 lbs. and not cause damage to trails.
  • Four-wheel drive capable
  • Vehicles are unclassifiable that would allow them in class A, C, D or E


ATV / STRADDLE SEAT (C)

  • Must have 4 or more wheels
  • Front Tire(s) 7" minimum
  • Rear Tires 9" minimum
  • Working White Headlight
  • Working Red Tail Light
  • VIN# &Title
  • Muffler works and noise must not exceed 60 decibels at 50 ft.
  • Four-wheel drive capable


STREET LEGAL 4X4 (D)

  • Tires minimum of 9"
  • Working White Headlights
  • Working Red Tail Lights
  • Four-wheel drive capable
  • Muffler works and noise must not exceed 60 decibels at 50 ft.
  • Current Registration, Insurance &VIN#
  • Weight is not in excess to cause damage to primary trails road surface


UTV / SIDE BY SIDES (E)

  • All Tires Minimum of 9"
  • Working White Headlights
  • Working Red Tail Light
  • Must have 4 or more wheels
  • Width 8' Max
  • Muffler works and noise must not exceed 60 decibels at 50 ft.
  • VIN# &Title
  • Four-wheel drive capable
 
measure tires
Tread Face –That portion of the outer surface of the tire that actually makes contact with the trail substrate during normal use. This includes those portions of tread which extend onto the sides of the tire since they are designed as such to aid in cornering and in soft ground are load bearing.

Measurement of Tread Face –Tread Face will be measured using a flexible tape measure capable of conforming to a rounded surface. The measurement will be from one edge of the tread face to the other, along the flat or rounded tread surface of the tire as viewed in cross –section.
 

3) Annual Vehicle Permit

Once you have obtained an operator permit and your vehicle has passed the inspection and received an inspection sticker, you may then purchase the annual off-road vehicle permit (fees apply).

These permits are valid from January 1 of each year to January 31, of the following year - a 13-month period, however, they are NOT prorated from the date of purchase. This means that whatever your date of purchase is, the permit will still expire on January 31, and therefore, it is more economical to purchase it early in the year. Permits go on sale mid-December of each year and 2,000 permits are available each year.

All permit sales are on a first-come, first-served basis at this time, but a drawing system may be used as demand approaches the 2,000 permit limit. Permits are not transferable between vehicles.

Remember to call the off road vehicle office at 239-695-1117 before you bring your vehicle in. We may be able to save you time and extra trips with a brief conversation before your visit.

Last updated: September 20, 2022

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Mailing Address:

33100 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee , FL 34141

Phone:

239 695-2000

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