I-80 Off-Road Vehicle Pass-Thru Could Boost Tourism In Southwest Wyoming, Supporters Say

Allowing off-road vehicles to pass underneath Interstate 80 near Evanston could connect a series of trails and be a huge boost to the areas tourism, say proponents House Bill 42, which was moved to the House floor on Friday.

Mark Heinz

January 14, 20232 min read

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Allowing off-road vehicles (ORV) to pass under Interstate 80 near Evanston could grow southwest Wyoming’s tourism exponentially, say proponents of a bill that would greenlight the passage. 

The passage would connect a network of routes all across that portion of the state and start drawing crowds of ORV tourists, said Mark Tesero, president of the Southwest Wyoming Off-Road Trails group. 

He testified Friday for the Wyoming Legislature’s House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee in favor of House Bill 42.

The committee voted unanimously to forward the bill to the House floor. 

Some ORVs have gotten big enough to hold entire families, Tesero said.

“This is like boating on dirt, and we’re building a scenic byway for these people to come and ride,” Tesero said.

Neighboring states like Utah and Idaho have benefited greatly from ORV byways that connect networks of small communities and tourist attractions, so it’s time for Wyoming to catch that wave, he said. 

Making It Safe And Legal

Current Wyoming law doesn’t allow ORVs anywhere in the right of way of interstate highways, said Taylor Rossetti, director of support services for Wyoming Department of Transportation.

The bill could create an exception at the Evanston crossing and possibly other sites in the future, he said. It would lowing for safe and legal passage under the interstate, as well as a short ORV routes running parallel to the interstate leading to and from it. 

There would have to be some sort of “physical barrier” to keep ORV’s separated from highway traffic, Rossetti said. 

Also, the routes would be open only to ORVs operated by licensed drivers, and the vehicles would have to have license plates or ORV registration stickers. 

Reeling In Tourism Money

ORV enthusiasts frequently drive through Evanston and other southwest Wyoming towns without stopping. 

A network of riding trails and interconnected attractions could get them to stay and spend their money on things like food, fuel and lodging, said committee member Rep. Jon Conrad, R-Mountain View. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter