I just got back from a 5 day epic adventure in Moab, Utah, riding my UTV on some of the most challenging and scenic trails in the country. Sponsored by Arctic Cat & organized by Jared Livingston and Lance Chournos, Rally On the Rocks , in its 3rd year, was the biggest and best yet. RoTR succeeded the very popular UTV Rally which I first wrote about in 2007 when the UTV industry was just beginning.
We arrived at the Spanish Trail RV park on Monday, May 14th, two days prior to the event. Spanish Trail is one of the nicer RV parks in Moab and less than a mile from the event facility at Spanish Trail Arena. It has plenty of large 50 amp sites for the bigger Toy Hauler or RV and has plenty of shade. One of our concerns with staying here was being able to ride our UTV from the RV Park to the Arena but it wasn’t a problem at all. Getting to the event involved crossing main street at a right angle and driving on the back roads for a few miles. The OK RV Park is a worthy alternative and is actually closer to the Spanish Trail Arena but is more cramped for the bigger rigs and doesn’t offer as much shade as Spanish Trail, however you are within walking distance of the arena which is a huge plus.
On Tuesday, we registered for the event and spent a few hours checking out the vendors. Arctic Cat had a huge presence along with Can Am, Kymco, and Bennche, who each brought a huge semi trailer full of ATV’s and UTV’s. Other industry notables included Discount Tires, PRP Seats, SXSPerformance, Tri-City Performance, Zbroz Racing, American Rock Rods, Starting Line Products , Paxrite , Yoshimura , Pro Armor , Ry-Fab , Trail Armor , Triple S Polaris , Walker Evans Racing , HCR Racing , ITP Tires , Ruthless Motorsports , Ridenow , MCX-USA , UTV Offroad Magazine , Holz Racing , DWT Racing , Camp Chef , UTV Inc , K&T Performance , and Pit Bull Tires
On Wednesday, we assembled at the designated location for our first ride, the 3 rated Kane Creek Canyon Trail. Arguably the most interesting part of this ride was the first 10 miles escorted by the Moab Police through town to the trailhead; a first for me. This trail meanders up a scenic canyon and has a few rocky obstacles. It’s a fast trail that crosses the creek about 60 times. There are some fast sandy sections surrounded by dense trees but for the most part, albeit a good scenic first ride of the trip; was a little too easy for us.
The next day we rode the 4 rated Fins & Things trail which turned out to be quite a bit more technical than the Kane Creek trail. This trail is what Moab is famous for, Slick Rock! And 90% of this trail was on it. I’m certain that no place on earth has similar terrain. This should’ve been our first trail! It gives the beginner a good dose of climbing and descending steep layered ledges and is a good primer for the more difficult trails. But don’t let the number 4 fool you; some of the climbs have roll over potential if you’re not careful.
Besides the challenging terrain, what makes this trail a hit is the amazing scenery. At the lunch break, I took a hike out onto the end of one fin and stumbled across some rock climbers rappelling into what I later learned to be named the Medieval Chamber @ 38°35’33.70″N 109°30’29.50″W which is just above famous Morning Glory Arch in Negro Bill Canyon. Morning Glory is the 6th longest arch in the world and 3rd longest in Utah at 243 feet. I could’ve easily spent an entire day exploring this canyon.
The third ride was the more difficult Hells Revenge trail. Hells Revenge is rated 5 with some 8 rated obstacles. Obstacles such as Hells Gate, The Escalator, Hot Tubs, and the famous Lion’s Back however were all off limits to the organized rides. The organizers understandably felt that the carnage that could result would hold up the large groups and would cause them to miss the police escort back to town. Anyone was welcome to come back on their own and run these obstacles later.
Hells Revenge is a lot like Fin’s and Things but with a few more difficult obstacles. Our first stop was at Hell’s Gate where we watched a Jeep descend into a tight and steep V shaped canyon, disappear around a hill and then climb out the other side in another steep V. A spotter is important on the climb because the driver can’t always see the proper placement of the tires on the steep walls of the V. Tire placement is important if you don’t want to roll over, which as evidenced by the oil spills on the ground, happens quite often. At this spot you can also take a short hike out to the Colorado River Overlook and take in the views of the river. Next up were other popular obstacles including the Bath Tub, Car Wash, Hot Tub, Escalator, and the Tip Over Challenge.
Friday night we were treated to a catered meal provided by local favorite Pasta Jay’s. After the meal Jared & Lance presented all the trail guides with a special gift and honored last year’s guide of the year; Moab Cowboy. And like any top notch event they presented a donation to local land rights organizations Take Back Utah and the Sagebrush Coalition . They then topped off the evening with the crowd pleasing raffle. The vendors really went all out giving away thousands worth of product including Walker Evans Shocks, Discount Tire Wheel & Tire sets, and PRP Seats. A special raffle was also held to give away a Kymco mini quad which was won by a woman who just happened to have two little girls with her. The look on those two girls faces was priceless.
All in all, the event was an experience very similar to the first rally, the biggest difference being the vastly improved capability of the machines. In 2007 85% of the trail machines were Yamaha 660cc Rhino’s that produced 37 HP, had a stock width of 54.5” and 7.3” of rear wheel travel. This year, 85% of the machines were Polaris RZR’s, whose 875cc XP 900 power plant produces 88 HP, has a stock width of 64”, and 14” of rear wheel travel. What an improvement! And just as the RZR was a newcomer in 2007 which quickly dominated, we had our first looks at the Arctic Cat Wildcat whose 950cc powerplant combined with 17” of rear wheel travel has raised the bar even further. What hasn’t changed is the whole rally experience; meeting other UTV enthusiasts, the vendors, the raffle, and of course the trails, they’re just easier to run with the more capable machines.
Friday marked our last night at the rally. It was a difficult decision but we had chosen to skip Saturdays ride so we can drive the long 16 hour trip home in two days instead of one. We are really looking forward to see what the organizers have in store for next year’s rally. We will definitely sign up for the more challenging trails and try to squeeze in some self-guided rides to avoid the limitations. Thanks again to Jared and Lance, all the volunteers, and to all the vendors that generously gave product for the raffles. See you all next year.