Moab, Utah. Every self respecting Jeeper and ATV rider has heard of it. Moab is to these off-roaders like Hawaii is to Surfers, like Aspen or Vail is to Skiers. If you call yourself an off-roader you have to visit Moab at least once in your lifetime. Moab is host to many annual events such as the annual PRCA Rodeo, the Moab Iron Horse Rally, the annual Jeep Jamboree, and the Easter Jeep Safari. After last month’s successful event, Moab can be called home to the annual UTV Rally. Now before I go any further, for those of you who’ve been living under a rock lately, a UTV is a Utility Terrain Vehicle or Side by Side. So far Yamaha, Polaris, Arctic Cat, & Kawasaki are leading the market with many more manufacturers jumping on.
The idea of a UTV rally started in Chris Rademacher’s mind last November when he found very few UTV specific events available. So he decided to start Utvrally.com with the sole purpose of helping to grow the industry. I first heard of the idea of a rally while I was combing the pages of Utilityoffroad.com looking for Rhino mods. Chris posted a poll here and about thirty other internet forums, asking everyone where they would like to hold a rally. The voting was close, but Moab won over Hot Springs, Arkansas by nine votes. Next came the many months of planning which was largely done on his internet forum and chat room. I volunteered, as did many others, to be a trail guide, but most of the planning was done by Chris himself. Chris recruited Scott Baxley, along with Michelle and Kyle Hill to assist him in gathering industry support. Soon, industry magazines like CartWheeling, Side X Side, Toyhauler, ATV Action, UTV Trade Magazine, UTV Magazine, and ATV Illustrated Magazine were promoting the event. In all 51 sponsors agreed to donate close to $40,000 in parts that would be raffled off.
After seven long months of planning and waiting, I drove the thirteen hours to Moab from Central California straight through, stopping only for fuel and to switch drivers. The anticipation of the event and Utah’s inspiring scenery kept me awake the entire drive. Upon arrival to the Archview RV resort, just outside of Moab, I immediately noticed the excitement in the air. UTVs were buzzing about, running between the gas pumps, the general store, the registration booth, or an RV spot. I also noticed that Mother Nature had blessed us with mild temperatures when it should’ve been scorching. Yamaha had their giant support semi parked right out front letting everyone know how much they stand behind their product. Numerous vendors were strung out along vendor row showing off their latest products. People were everywhere, meeting for the first time folks they’ve previously only known from the internet forum as Oldtrucks, CamoRhino, or LBnative. It truly was exhilarating.
Archview Rv Resort, the only RV park in Moab that allows trail access right from the park, sits just below the Moab Rim and is located near the gateway to Arches National park. Besides a multitude of spacious 30 & 50 amp RV sites, Archview offers tent and cabin sites for those who made the trek without a toy hauler. Also, for those that can’t bring their toys along,Cliffhanger Rentals in Moab offers Jeeps, ATVs, and Yamaha Rhinos for rent.
Over the next three days we spent most of our time taking trail rides led by the volunteer guides. You were given a choice of an easy, moderate, or difficult trail. My first group decided to start with an easy trip to the White Wash Sand dunes. I had the pleasure of having along; Jon Crowley of Duneguide.com, Pete Corwin of Got Sand?, Aaron Wedeking of PRP Seats, Rick “Wally” Wallace of Rhinoworld.net , and ToyHaulers own, Terry Gluckman. It’s really encouraging to know that these guys actively participate in this sport. The White Wash dunes (38°47’53.26”N 110° 1’45.56”W) are small compared to most Western U.S. dunes, but unique in that they are mixed among the slick rock that Moab is so famous for. Don’t come here if you’re looking for monster bowls and hill climbs. They’re mostly just nice to look at and explore. However, they were a welcome dust-free diversion to the four hours we spent getting there on the dirt roads.
The next day we opted for the more moderate trail named the Seven Mile Rim (trailhead: 38°42’0.81”N 109°42’36.06”W) while others decided to participate in the poker run on the easy Gemini Bridges trail. The idea of possibly winning a Warn winch for the best poker hand was enticing, but not enough to keep us from a more challenging ride. We were not disappointed. The Seven Mile Rim overlooks Archview and gave us our first taste of what Moab is famous for steep technical sections of slickrock, tall rocky buttes, and miles of gorgeous scenery. Along with our group of twelve UTVs came a couple of cameramen from ATV Television. ATV TV was a major sponsor of the event who took hours of video out on the trail. Check your Cable TV provider or www.atvtv.com for an announcement on when the footage will be aired.
Day three of our adventure proved to be the best yet. Our little group from the previous day decided we needed more of a challenge so we decided to head to the Gold Bar Rim and Golden Spike Trails (trailhead: 38°36?0.25?N 109°40?25.01?W) to see just how far we could push our machines. I will always remember this part of the trip as the moment where I became aware of just what these things could do. We dropped down ledges bigger than my house, climbed steep stairs, and even crossed the famous ?Golden Crack? without a scrape. This trail ride was definitely the highlight of the trip and proved to all of us that these machines can go anywhere.
After three long days of progressively challenging trail riding, we were rewarded with a Yamaha sponsored Western Dinner show at the Bar-M Chuck wagon restaurant. Along with the provided meal, Chris and company raffled off $40,000 worth of industry donated goods from companies such as Everything Offroad, Legend Air Suspensions, Seizmik, Bikeman Performance, Triton Motorsports, Warn Industries, Trail Armor, & many more. Throughout the evening we were treated with a slide show of photos taken throughout the event by its participants. As the evening winded down, thoughts turned to next year’s rally. Who will go? How can we make it better? And most importantly, how will I modify my machine?
By all measurements, the First Annual UTV Rally was a huge success. Over 100 machines and 200 participants, extensive magazine and TV coverage, and the huge vendor turnout, proved this. So what’s next for UTVRally.com? Although, Moab will be a tough act to follow, Chris’s next rally is already planned for Sept 1-3rd 2007 at Black Hills, SD. Sponsors are already stepping up for this event as well. If you missed Moab, you won’t want to miss this one too. Go to www.blackhillsutvrally.com for more details.