Variety is the spice of ATV life

The versatile ATV


Anne Kotula of Grand Rapis Minnesota riding her ATV through a mud bog.

A little mud anyone? Mud racing is yet another competitive event for ATVers! Anne Kotula of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, rides her ATV like she stole it! — Photo courtesy Anne Kotula

In the world of powersports nothing is more versatile than the ATV.  All-terrain vehicles are not simply for fair weather recreation anymore, with many riders utilizing their quads and side-by-sides year-round. 

The multi-purpose ATV provides a lot of bang for its buck, with many owners going from work to play on the same unit.  The multiple personalities of the ATV make it an easy investment for many an adventurer. 

Trail Riding

Be it on forest service roads or ATV-designated trails, one of the most relaxing and rewarding experiences for riders of all ages is the scenic trail ride.  Many trails such as British Columbia’s Kettle Valley Railroad ATV trail offer breathtaking scenery on easy-to-follow trails that riders of all ages can navigate.  Well maintained, these trails take safety as a top priority ensuring fallen trees and washouts are dealt with in a timely fashion.  A great way to strike up new friendships and explore new trail systems is by reaching out to a local ATV club.  Clubs across Canada and the United States have popped up to help preserve and protect motorized recreation.  ATV clubs have planned rides and events with the majority being family friendly,  such as poker runs and day ride cookouts. 

Sand Dunes

With its dips, gullies, jumps and climbs, sand dune riding is a passion many enjoy. 

Unrestrained freedom is felt when climbing, carving and sending it high in the air while dune riding, creating an exhilarating experience.  Carving a sand doughnut at full throttle in the bottom of a sand bowl beats a roller-coaster ride any day of the week.  For those who don’t want to make the trek all the way to Oregon or Idaho for sand dune adventures, there are Canadian dunes such as Brule, near Hinton, Alberta, and the Athabasca sand dunes near Fort McMurray, Alberta, for those who want to get their dune on.  Where there is sand, there shall be airborne particulate matter, so wear your goggles and stay hydrated.


With the creation of the all-terrain vehicle came easier access for hunters entering the backcountry or packing out their kills.  Side-by-sides have the ability to carry all camping gear necessary to create a fully stocked backcountry camp in the blink of an eye.  What would take hunters a full day’s hike to access can now be reached in a fraction of the time.  Accessories such as winches, gun racks, scabbards, chainsaw holders and heated enclosed cabs for side-by-sides have hunters riding in comfort and style. 

Winter recreation

With the addition of tracks, ATV and side-by-side owners can enjoy winter at a whole new level.  The track technology advancements of the past five years have resulted in sturdy tracks with excellent traction and flotation, allowing riders dependable access into the beautiful winter backcountry.  Many snowmobile clubs across Canada and the United States maintain trail systems, creating winter wonderland highways of fun for ATVers with tracks. Contribute to these clubs by way of membership, trail fees or donations and be sure to be winter wise.  Avalanche training and safety equipment are a must for those heading out in mountainous terrain. Heated cabs on side-by-sides and heated grips are recommended for those venturing out on their ATV in the winter.  Catherine Zimmer of Creston, B.C., enjoys getting out in the snow around her home.  With endless roads, variety is the spice of ATV life for Zimmer and her husband, Mike Kietzman. Their Can-Am Commander is outfitted with tracks, making winter even better in Zimmer’s eyes. “We love our quiet snow days and getting to see amazing views, which we would not get to otherwise," said Zimmer. "We pack a lunch and go. I love snow! “

Catherine Zimmer and her husband Mike Kietzman of Creston British Columbia enjoy four season riding in their winter wonderland of a back yard thanks to the installation of winter tracks on their CanAm Commader.

Catherine Zimmer and her husband, Mike Kietzman, of Creston, British Columbia, enjoy four-season riding in their winter wonderland of a back yard thanks to the installation of winter tracks on their Can-Am Commader. — Photo courtesy Catherine Zimmer


In farming, forestry, the seismic and oilfield sectors, trapping and large-scale orchard operations, the ATV has become an absolute necessity. Implements such as post pounders, disc plows, chisel plows, cultivators, sprayers, seeders and more have lightened the work load of many, saving time and energy. 

The dump box on many of today’s side-by-sides, including the Polaris Ranger, allows for heavy load capacity with the option to dump or spread, which is handy for gardening, bringing in wood for the winter and hauling loads such as hay bales. 


With a variety of race styles across Canada and the United States, racers have ample opportunity to compete and experience the thrill of ATV racing. Motocross style racing takes place on a groomed dirt track with a variety of twist turns and jumps testing both skill and speed. Cross-country style racing can either be on desert-like terrain or wooded trails, pitting rider against rider in this challenging endurance run which finds many riders unable to complete the course.  Ice racing is another passion many riders—especially those from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba—enjoy. Side-by-sides and ATVs equipped with studded wheels for traction bring a whole new element to powersports racing. Freestyle competition finds ATV riders orchestrating high-flying jumps and flips, competing for high scores given by a panel of judges.  Some feel this is one of the most exciting races to watch, leaving many spectators peering between their fingers in anticipation. Some of the thrilling moves seem to defy the laws of gravity. Freestyle competition takes dedicated training and strength to participate in. 

Three side-by-sides ice racing on a cloudy winter day.

Racing has taken a whole new twist with ATV ice racing. Special studded tires and nerves of steel are required when ice racing your side-by-side or quad on ice-covered terrain. — Photo courtesy Robert Hall

 If you are interested in racing check out the Alberta Triple Crown Racing Association for more details. For ice racing enthusiasts you can read Racing on a sheet of ice by RidersWest. 

Family time

Any way you look at it, children who grow up in a powersports family are seen as the cool or lucky kids. 

What kid wouldn’t enjoy powersports?  For Tonya Brooks of Lewiston, Idaho, ATV family time adds another special touch for her blended family unit. “My son isn't one bit interested in organized school-type sports and I really struggle to find healthy activities to keep us involved in his life,” she said. “Riding ATVs and sleds and just being OUT together fills that void.  My son has Asperger's and struggles with confidence (academically) and the motorsports seem to be where he glows.”

Not simply a frivolous luxury any more, all-terrain vehicles have carved their way into the lives of many individuals.  The versatility and endless possibilities for recreational fun make any ATV purchase a great investment for the hard-working, adventurous spirit.

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