From the September/October 2011 issue of ATV Rider Magazine
There are many events, group rallies, shows and races held that include or revolve around the emerging sport and hobby of UTV riding. As the popularity of UTVs increase so do the number of events being held to cater to these enthusiasts around the nation. One such shindig held in Moab, Utah, each year is the Rally On The Rocks. For those unfamiliar with Moab, its majestic views and sandstone rock formations are like no other and have defined this as being one of the most amazing and beautiful places in the world. Moab is a destination point for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re into rock crawling your UTV, Jeep, quad or dirt bike or simply want to pedal your way around on a mountain bike or hike your way through the trails, Moab caters to everyone!
This year’s Rally On The Rocks was hosted by new owners, and I must say for being their first rally they did a phenomenal job. The 2011 rally, which kicked off on May 11 and ran through the 15th, was double the size of the 2010 event with more than 600 people attending this year compared to almost 300 the previous year. They not only doubled the size of the event in terms of attendance but also opened up more trails than before with a total of almost 30 trails to choose from! During the rally participants congregate at the Spanish Trail Arena located at the north end of town, which plays host to the rally’s registration, vendor show and centralized contests such as the endurance obstacle course and other UTV challenges, raffles and games. Every morning attendees meet at the arena to gather with their trail leaders and take a police-guided escort through town to their selected trailhead. In the case of some trails you’ll need a trailer to access, so make note of that when selecting your ride schedule.
This was my second year attending the Rally On the Rocks as a guest of Kawasaki Team Green Manager Reid Nordin. Together we met up daily with Monster Energy Kawasaki athletes Casey Currie and Jon Crowley, both of whom race in the coveted King Of The Hammers rock racing event. The three drivers all brought purpose-built Kawasaki Teryxs that were equipped with boat side design for ease of navigating in and over rocks as well as tall tires with aggressive tread to climb the slick-rock surfaces. Currie’s and Crowley’s Teryxs also featured shortened and bobbed rear ends to minimize rear end dragging up some of the steep rock faces we would be climbing on our rides. Needless to say these guys were ready for the rocks, and their driving styles matched their aggressive-looking UTVs.
I was lucky enough to have Kawasaki provide me with a 2011 Teryx fully outfitted by Dragonfire Racing, including +5 long-travel Fox shocks, seats, harnesses, cage and steering wheel. This setup made the trip extremely comfortable as having the additional suspension makes traversing the diverse terrain Moab has to offer a breeze. The Teryx is a phenomenal UTV for rock crawling. Its manual locking front differential and torque-filled V-twin engine make powering up steep and jagged rock faces exciting and predictable. Jeff Knoll, founder of Hammer King Productions, which pioneered the King Of The Hammers race, also attended the event with us but in a bone-stock Teryx. Jeff, coming from the Jeep and rock buggy world, was floored with how capable and how fun the UTV is and can be. It was a blast to watch someone go from being a skeptic of UTVs to becoming a full-blown fanatic!
The registration process for the event was a breeze and very well organized. The staff notified us which trails were open on what days, and from there we selected the routes we would run. Our trails of choice were Poison Spider, Steel Bender and Cliff Hanger. The trails in Moab have a rating from one to 10, one being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, and the trails selected for the Rally On The Rocks were rated anywhere from three to nine. The rally caters to drivers of all experience levels and all types of UTVs, so whether you’re driving a highly modified UTV or a showroom floor stock machine there were plenty of trail options to select from. Another positive note about the event is that many volunteers with a tremendous amount of experience are there to guide everyone through the trails safely. So while you can get into some challenging parts (depending on the trail) guides as well as others on the ride are there to support and ensure everyone gets through a trail in a safe and fun manner.
While I would love to tell you about each and every trail in Moab, unfortunately I would need an entire issue to do so. Instead I will tell you a little about my favorite trail of the trip, which was Cliff Hanger. One cool thing about Moab is that it is easy to tell why so many trails carry the names they have, and Cliff Hanger is no exception. This trail takes you along the rim’s edge giving you a sense of hanging on the edge of a cliff! It carries a difficulty rating of eight, and right at the trailhead you find out why since it drops you down onto a ledge that reminds you of a prehistoric staircase of sorts. The obstacles on this trail are challenging yet fun, with most having a bypass route should you feel uncomfortable taking the tougher of the two. Some portions of this trail will give you a gut-wrenching feeling of nervousness knowing there is no other way around, but once you overcome the fear and proceed with caution you’ll be rewarded with a rush of enjoyment and accomplishment.
Since the trails of Moab are considered some of the best in the nation, there has been enough traffic to leave blue-groove tire marks through most of the obstacles, showing how and where vehicles have crossed and giving you ideas as to where to go. For the less experienced drivers, the trail guides will first complete the obstacle then park off to the side and help each and every car up and through, giving you a feeling of confidence. Once through the first few obstacles we reached the point on the trail for which it has earned its name. Appearing off to our left was a massive cliff with a view that one must witness to really be able to understand. Moab’s views are endless, and it seems that with every corner you turn or every hill you crest another astonishing view into the Earth’s history awaits. Cliff Hanger exemplifies what Moab trail riding is all about, and with the larger rally groups it allows plenty of time to get out of the vehicle and take in all the surrounding landscape and heavenly sights. The trail continues on the rocky and sandy terrain all the way up to a lookout point, and from there you turn around and take the same route back to the trailhead with each obstacle being somewhat different now due to direction. In my opinion, Cliff Hanger is a trail that every UTV off-road enthusiast should experience, but if you’re a first-timer or running in a stock machine, be sure take it on in a group or even better during a future rally!
If you’ve never been to Moab in a UTV, then you need to add this event to your bucket list. Its organization and guidance make it a breeze for a Moab first-timer, and the trails will leave you begging for more. With the success of this event, we’ve gotten word the guys at Rally On The Rocks are planning a second event for the fall, so you know we will be back! ATVR
Maximize Your Rally On The Rocks Experience
Plan for all types of weather. Moab is unpredictable and we experienced rain, wind and warmth. Bring spare parts if you have them. If not on your UTV, stash them at your camp or trailer. Decide early the trails you think you may want to try. Camping has its privileges and its limitations. Know your camp’s location to the event because unless you’re registered as a street-legal vehicle you cannot drive on the streets legally. Consider staying at a hotel and trailering to the arena every day. Plan to pack a lunch and bring drinks every day on the trail! No alcohol!
The trails in Moab have a rating from one to 10, one being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, and the trails selected for the Rally On The Rocks were rated anywhere from three to nine.