UTV Rock Crawling in Moab
We look forward to this trip months in advance… of course, you have to look forward about 4 months to reserve a campground site.
My nephew, Cliff, has been a jeep rock crawler for about 12 years. It’s been about three years ago since he let me, Jackie, and our friends Pat & Laurie ride with their group, and we have been hooked ever since.
On our first day, we had several small problems getting to Moab with the 5th wheel towing doubles and setting up camp. If you have a motorhome, 5th wheel or trailer, it is a lot of work! But something about camping and meeting new people along the way and having all your own clothes and bed makes it all worth it in the end.
We headed out to go for a quick trip to Finns & Things. it is about 3:00 on our way over to the entrance, and we encountered a rain and wind storm that soon had us heading back to camp for cover.
We decided to first cook dinner and wait out the storm, and then to take our ride. We have Pat, the local weatherman with his iPhone app, letting us know the storm is clear after 5:00. So, we loaded up once again and headed over to the Sand Flats riding area, which is where the trailheads to Finns & Things. This trail has several obstacles to test your skills.
The weather turned out beautiful with the red petrified dunes and the storm clouds in the background. It was the perfect storm for riding. I love Finns & Things ride – it is a great place to get practice placing your line and testing some basic skills, that will be needed for the harder hills that are sure to come to the next couple of days. It is like when we used to have practice sessions with my race car before the featured races. This was for getting in the right mindset and making sure my car was ready and handling great.
Saturday is here, and our ride today will be the 3D trail we have taken around this area before, but never on this trail. Cliff’s group was much diversified with all kinds of machines ready to concur the obstacles ahead and have a great time with friends. There are Jeeps, trucks, SUV’s, ATV’s & UTV’s including Polaris, and Can-Am.
The trail is mostly for a nice scenic ride, but we encounter several tough obstacles. As we approach the harder ones you wait at the bottom to make sure the other vehicle has cleared and then the next machine takes it on. Most of the harder obstacles on this trail have an alternate route for those who do not want to try, or if it is out of your comfort zone.
We encounter one obstacle that is higher on the tough rating, and I am back about 12 machines- taking their turns up the hill. I can see most of the hill, but part of the bottom portion is blocked by a small hill, so we are watching nervously to see how others make it up. A few of the jeeps make it to the top and now the ATV’s start their turn. As I am watching, I see a red ATV start up the steep part. it starts lifting its front end up and then starts rolling backward upside down – I can see the wheels straight up in the air as it rolls out of sight.
A dozen people run over to help her, and after Cliff gets on the radio, he says she is OK but shook up pretty good. This is a quick wake-up call to make sure you and your passenger are buckled in, and we hit the right line when it is our turn. After getting up to the bottom of the obstacle, I set up with the line and we crawled right up it. I am very impressed with my Polaris RZR, but I do know my limitations.
After riding for a good portion of the day, we came out on the paved road that leads to Dead Horse Point. We were ready for some smooth roads and getting pretty hungry, so I hit the gas and we were driving 60 mph with all the traffic heading back into town. After stop and go traffic for several miles to get onto the main street, it is time to head to the Blue Pig for some dinner!
Sunday’s ride is down to Pat, Laurie, Jackie, and I. We decide that Hell’s Revenge will be the ride of the day, and for several weeks Pat has been letting me know he is taking on Hell’s Gate! This obstacle puts me out of my comfort zone. My Polaris XPT is more than capable of running this, but I don’t need to be in the middle of this obstacle called Hells Gate and have some sort of panic attack.
After driving on the Hells Revenge trail, we get to the parking area of Hell’s Gate. This is where everyone parks and watches man and machine drive up the gates of Hell. I am not sure if Pat is going to take this on. In my opinion. this looks way more intimidating in person than those videos make it look on YouTube.
After 20 minutes of watching 8-10 machines drive up the Gate and make it look semi-easy, I look back at where our UTV’s are parked. Pat has buckled up and was on the move heading down to take on this so-called easy obstacle. If it were so easy, why are there 70 machines parked and only about 10% try it? I run over to get a great view of my riding buddy take on the obstacle and have a good position for a video. It is Pat’s turn, and he starts up the hill looking just great. When he gets to the part that throws the right front tire up in the air, all of a sudden both front tires come off the ground and he gets thrown hard left, about ready to roll down on his side. His quick reaction lets off the gas and lets it roll backward, and luckily it gets stopped right where there is a flat area. After catching his breath and laughing, he takes it on again and comes up the hill safe and sound.
This was the ride that made everyone watching hold their breath and realize it is not as easy as some make it look. In a split second, your vehicle could be upside down, rolling down the hill. A lot of times I will learn more on this one climb that did not go as planned, like the seven other ones that made the climb look easy.
This sport is an extreme sport. When you start taking your UTV to the limit of either your machines capability or your own shortcomings, treat it with respect and make sure you have help around if needed. Just remember when someone says it’s easy, but not everyone is doing it, make sure you are up to the challenge and the defeat if it does not work out the way you were expecting.
After the fun and scary experience, we all hopped into our UTV’s and headed out on the rest of Hells Revenge Trail. There are plenty of obstacles and hill climbs that pucker me right up. It gives me a feeling in my stomach, and that is what will keep me wanting to come back and better my own skills at this tremendous place called Moab, Utah.
I want to thank Cliff Bates, who has led many of the rides and helped me get out of my comfort zone and learn more about how to rock crawl.
I want to thank Pat & Laurie for making our trips enjoyable and fun.
But, most of all, I want to thank my wife, Jackie, who puts up with all my dreams, problems and being my best friend. She is my co-pilot who gets me through some of the obstacles when I need a “you can do it” moment.
Until we ride again.
Owner of UTV Service specializing in shocks and suspension.
I have always loved making cars and now UTV’s run and handle there best. I do not believe in taking short cuts and when something comes along that does not fit my values I will not sell or back that product.
Business owner for over 35 years. 3-Time Nascar short track champion at our local race track Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, Utah
2017 Polaris XPT 2-Seat Turbo-Current
2015 Polaris XP1000 -Sold
2011 Polaris RZR 800- Sold