2014 Rally on the Rocks Recap 0
Moab may just be the greatest place on earth for UTVs. The variety of terrain and mind-blowing scenery has no equal. The state of Utah is one of the friendliest to off-roaders and outdoor lovers of all types, and no place is that more evident than in Moab. Motorized pilots coexist with non-motorized trail users such as hikers and mountain bikers with a level of respect and cooperation that is unparalleled anywhere else in the country. It’s basically a Dirt-Utopia.
Each year in May the Rally on the Rocks draws riders from around the country for a multi-day event with guided trail rides, manufacturer demos and an all-around good time. The event staff has worked hard with the government agencies and locals to assure those attending get access to the best trails and views, which can be difficult with such a large group. Some trails of Moab require traveling on the street to access the trailhead, and the Moab sheriff supplied escorts to lines of UTVs. Hundreds of machines rolling down the main drag of Moab each morning was an impressive sight.
Based out of Moab’s Old Spanish Trail Arena, guided trail rides left from an area packed with vendors and manufacturer demo fleets. There were plenty of trick parts to check out and many deals to be had on parts and accessories. SXS Performance would even install whatever you bought right there on the spot. Polaris, Can-Am,Kawasaki, Kymco and Arctic Cat were all on hand to let potential customers take a spin on their newest models.
This year we brought a stock Kawasaki Teryx and Can-Am Maverick Max outfitted with a host of aftermarket parts for some real world testing at the rally. Moab’s trails range from dirt roads to rocky trails to insanely technical climbs. The variety allowed us to get a feel for the machines in just about any situation. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our reviews of both units.
Strike Ravine would be our first trail of the rally and was a perfect warm-up for the more difficult trails planned for later in the rally. A fairly easy trail on its own becomes more difficult with a few moderate rock climbs and ledges. The scenery ranges from dusty canyons to scrub pine topped peaks, but to be honest it lacks the mind-blowing cliff views that Moab is so well known for. At the end of the trail we sampled some obstacles at the infamous crawling area known as Area BFE, upping the difficulty factor. You can be as mild or wild as your want to be.
The next day we signed up for Cliffhanger, which rates as one of the most difficult trails Moab has to offer. This route is less than 10 miles in length, but with steep drops, rocky climbs and vertical ledges it is an all-day affair. Compounding the difficulty is sections of the trail that skirt cliffs several hundred feet above the valley floor. Only Hell’s Revenge, Goldbar and Goldspike trails offer better scenery in our opinion, but Cliffhanger has more difficult sections to up the adrenaline. One spot in particular truly is a cliffhanger as drivers have to negotiate two large ledges right on the edge of a several hundred foot tall cliff. At the end of the day, the final climb toget out of the trailhead tests your nerves one last time with a series of stair steps that had more than a few teetering on three wheels or less. One day on Cliffhanger is more than enough for most, however we had to make the journey twice in our time at Moab. Not because we wanted to but because we had to.
Our friends at DragonFire Racing sent us a box of parts for the Maverick, and we had time to install all of them except one – heavy-duty tie-rods. Big mistake. On the first ledge of Cliffhanger the stock driver-side tie-rod bent after the front wheel took a glancing blow on a rock. We straightened the tie-rod the best we could, but it bent again later on down the trail. We used a breaker bar, zip-ties and safety wire to strengthen the rod and all seemed to be going well. Then on the most harrowing obstacle on the edge of the cliff the tie-rod broke in two, stranding the Maverick. It had to remain there overnight as we returned the next day with the heavy-duty rods to repair it. Meanwhile the Teryx soldiered on, and completed the difficult final climb without any issue. The next day, the mended Maverick tackled the rest of the trail easily.
While there were many great evening activities planned such as an ice cream social sponsored by Discount Tire, a custom UTV show & shine and a catered dinner, our crew was too tired to do anything but relax at the campground after the epic days in the dirt and rocks. But less jaded enthusiasts had a great time socializing and sharing tales of the trail at the event arena. Next time we’ll make sure we leave a little in the tank for the fun after the sun goes down.
Each year the Rally on the Rocks attendance increases, and this year nearly 1000 UTV’ers joined in. We can see this event growing even more as the word gets out that Moab and the Rally on the Rocks is must-attend. We’ll be back next year. Will you?