Snowmobiling in New York State

New York offers some of the best snowmobiling available anywhere. Miles and miles of snowmobile trails await you.

New York State Snowmobile Association
NYSSA seeks to preserve and improve snowmobiling in New York State. NYSSA works toward improving trails, facilities and services for participants, and defends snowmobilers against discriminatory legislation.

NYSSA works to protect landowners, review and watchdog the NYS Trail Fund and is constantly seeking additional Trail funding programs.
NYSSA continually works to improve communications in every aspect of snowmobiling. NYSSA coordinates and provides leadership for New York State Snowmobile Clubs and Organizations in developing and implementing policies, strategies and action plans which foster the growth of safe snowmobiling.


Operator Age
Anyone who is at least eighteen years old may operate a snowmobile in New York State without any other qualification except as defined by state and local laws regulating that operation. However, it is recommended that all operators complete a recognized snowmobile operation course of instruction. Youths between the ages of 10 and 18 years old may operate a snowmobile without adult or other supervision if they have completed a snowmobile safety training course recognized by the State of New York. The Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will issue a snowmobile safety certificate to youths who successfully complete this course. Youths who do not hold this certificate are subject to the same restrictions as children under the age of 10 years.

Children under 10 years old may operate a snowmobile only on lands owned or leased by their parent or guardian, except when accompanied by a person over 18 years old, or by a person over 14 years old who holds a snowmobile safety certificate. However, a child under 10 years old or a youth who does not hold a snowmobile safety certificate may not operate a snowmobile on or across a highway at any time.

Registration and Associated Topics
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. Registration is done at the time of sale by the dealer. A snowmobile obtained in a private sale or from an out-of-state source may be registered by the new owner at any Motor Vehicle office or by a dealer participating in the state’s prepaid registration program.
$10 of each resident and $20 of each non-resident registration goes to the Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund. This fund supports 8,000 miles of public snowmobile trails in New York State, snowmobile safety education programs and enforcement of NYS snowmobile laws!

Exemptions from Registration Requirements:

  • Snowmobiles operated exclusively on the owner’s property;
  • Snowmobiles operated in approved competitive events;
  • Snowmobiles owned and operated by the United States government;
  • Snowmobiles covered by a valid registration of a neighboring state or province and operated on a border trail that occasionally and sporadically crosses into New York State, and is
  • Specifically designated as a cross-border trail by the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. At present, no trails have been so designated.

Documents Required
Snowmobilers must carry registration and proof of insurance documents on their person 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.
These documents should always be carried on your person and never left in the snowmobile.

Operator Restrictions
Snowmobiles may not be operated in any careless, reckless, or negligent manner, or in any way that harasses other people or wildlife.
It is UNLAWFUL to operate a snowmobile:

  • At a speed greater than reasonable or prudent under the surrounding conditions;
  • While the operator is intoxicated;
  • Without the required lights and other equipment;
  • On the tracks of an operating railroad;
  • In any tree nursery or planting in a manner that damages growing stock;
  • On private property without the consent of the owner;
  • Towing a sleigh or toboggan except with a rigid tow bar;
  • In any way that the operator fails to yield to an emergency vehicle approaching from any direction;
  • In any way that fails to comply with a lawful order from a police officer;
  • On a frozen body of water within one hundred feet of a skater, ice fisherman, ice fishing house, or other person not on a snowmobile except at the minimum speed required to maintain forward motion;
  • Within one hundred feet of a dwelling between 12 midnight and 6 AM at a speed greater than the minimum speed required to maintain forward motion.

Required Equipment

  • Anyone operating or riding on a snowmobile in New York State must wear an approved safety helmet except when operating on property owned by the operator or passenger.
  • Any snowmobile operated in New York State must meet minimum equipment requirements:
  • Working Muffler. The sound produced by a snowmobile manufactured after June 1, 1980 must not exceed 73 decibels on the A scale [dB(A)].
  • Head light. The white or amber head light must be sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least one hundred feet in normal atmospheric conditions.
  • Tail light. The red tail light must create a red light that is plainly visible for a distance of at least five hundred feet to the rear during darkness under normal atmospheric conditions.
  • Reflector material. A minimum of sixteen square inches of reflective material must be mounted on each side of the cowling.
  • New snowmobiles offered for sale in this state normally provide all of this equipment. The New York State registration sticker also meets the reflectorized material requirement.

Operation On Highways
Operation of snowmobiles on highways depends on the classification of the highway and the prevailing conditions. In all cases where highway operation is allowed, all snowmobiles MUST be in single file on the right hand side of the road, except to overtake and pass another snowmobile.

Snowmobiles MAY:

  • Be operated on the shoulders and inside banks of highways, other than limited access highways, PROVIDED that the highways have been designated AND posted for snowmobile use by the proper governing authority;
  • Be operated on designated highways for a distance not to exceed 500 yards to gain access to operational areas or trails adjacent to the highway;
  • Be operated on the OUTSIDE banks of highways other than limited access highways;
  • Be operated on highways, other than limited access highways, when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert;
  • Be operated on county, town, city, or village highways which are customarily unplowed and unused by wheeled vehicles during the winter months. These roads MUST be designated as such by the governing authority;
  • Make a direct crossing of any highway other than limited access highways at any time of day provided that:
  • The crossing is made at approximately a ninety degree angle, and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing;
  • The snowmobile is brought to a complete stop before crossing the highway;
  • The snowmobile operator yields the right of way to all oncoming highway traffic.

Snowmobiles MAY NOT: