Look, I’m not trying to pretend I’m someone that I’m not so let me level with you – I would never have chosen to go off-roading if my dad hadn’t been along for the ride. With such a camping, hiking, rafting, outdoor adventure focused trip planned I knew I needed to throw something into the mix for him. Something that he would really enjoy. So I rented us a couple UTVs.
We woke up to clear skies on the day of our off-roading adventure but all we had to do was drive towards the park entrance to find some rain. And oh boy did we find it – right as we were getting out of our cars to do a quick walk out to the Windows Arches. It started pouring and instantly there were little red rivers running down the trail as we walked out to the slick rock. Waterfalls formed in a moment, cascading down from overhead as we climbed up to right below the giant arches and stared up at their underbellies. By the time we decided we had seen enough arch we were thoroughly soaked. Luckily we still had the drive into town with the heat on full blast to “dry” off.
When we got into town the rain had stopped and we grabbed quesadillas before heading over to the UTV rental company. We ate them in the lobby while my dad signed away more money then we realistically had in the bank to insure the UTVs. He then came over to join us and put the fear of god in us – you break it you buy it. That meant no donuts, Cameron.
The next step: running through the machines with the mechanic who told us all the ways we could break them if we weren’t careful. She started her talk by looking up at all of us while crouching at the front bumper and asking, “So everyone here has been 4-wheeling before, right?” Crickets from the audience and big eyes stared back at her. In my head I was thinking, “Nope!” but I figured someone else was going to say something. Before I knew it our mechanic was grinning, “Great! So as you know…” I was silently panicking! Now she thought we were pros.
This immediately became apparent when she was showing us the map of the ORV park, “So this is ‘Fins and Things’,” she said, punching a finger at a dotted line on the map, “This is where you’re gonna wanna start, it’s rated a 5 to a 7.” At this point I found my voice, “What is the highest rating an ORV trail can have?” She looked up, “Oh, the rating system goes up to a 10.” “Are you sure there isn’t something easier we could start on, like a 2 or a 3?” I asked. “Naw, that would be boring. So you will start on ‘Fins and Things’ and then when you’re done there you will go over here to ‘Hell’s Revenge’ which is rated an 8 to a 10. When you are there don’t go through the Tip Over Challenge or Micky’s Hot Tub, those aren’t made for UTVs, just go around them or you will flip,” and as she spoke she circled and crossed out little features on our map while I noted the distinct lack of detail the map actually provided. No topo lines. No scale. Really not a map at all. More of a theme park brochure. But before anyone could express any concern about Hell’s Asshole or Backbone or whatever the heck it was called she was folding up the map, handing it over and slapping the UTV on the bumper as she headed back into the shop. We all stood wide eyed watching her go.
Cameron was the first to react, giving a whoop and leaping into the nearest UTV. Dad joined him and Nelson and Meesh climbed into another two seater so Kyle took the wheel of the four seater and mom and I buckled up. Off we zoomed through town toward the ORV park.
Turns out an ORV park is basically like any other park but with vehicles in mind (I’m sure some of you are thinking, no duh). You wouldn’t want to hike on these trails but they are perfectly designed for UTVs and jeeps and other high clearance vehicles. But before we could venture down “Fins and Things” we had to armor up. It had become quickly apparent to us, seeing other people driving through town in UTVs, covered from head to toe in mud, that we couldn’t sacrifice our rain gear to this UTVing adventure. Unless a miracle occurred we were going to need our rain gear for the rest of the trip! So we had come up with a solution – a box of trash bags and a roll of duct tape. Not the most sustainable solution but cheaper and easier than buying everyone a whole new rain suit. You should have seen the looks we got from more “prepared” UTVers in the parking lot…
Once we were sufficiently trashy (and very mud-impervious) we were off. UTVing turned out to be incredible. The trails take you up and over and among these amazing slick rock fins. Going up the fins often involved slick rock so steep you couldn’t see over the short little hood in front and you just had to keep gunning the engine because one of the pieces of advice we had been given was to never stop on an uphill. Once you were up on top of the fins you followed faint white blazes to stay on the right rock trail and the views were incredible. Giant storm clouds loomed in the distance. After being on top of a fin for a while the trail would take us back down off of the rock, once again at a pitch so steep the UTVs would feel almost vertical and we would all scream like we were on a roller coaster but also because I was pretty sure we were going to die. Between the slick rock adventures were muddy, dirt roads with high banking sides that snaked back and forth.
After driving through one side of “Fins and Things” we popped out onto a road that led to an overlook which we followed for a while. Higher speeds meant our trash suits filled with air, ballooning up and making us all giggle. At the overlook we decided to trade drivers so dad could drive for a bit and I ended up with Cameron which, in retrospect was a terrible idea.
Nelson and my dad peeled out of the pull out but Cameron waited a second. Before I could ask what was going on I was clinging to the sides and screaming as he laughed with glee and revved the UTV into a number of tight donuts, slinging mud in all directions. “AARRGGG, CAMEROOOON, SHE SAID NO DOOONUUUUUUUTS!” I was shouting at the top of my lungs. He only let out a high pitched giggle and suddenly we were off, racing down the road. He really is a total turd muffin. The wind was so strong and my trash suit was acting like a sail, pulling my head back against my seat. We passed my dad and Nelson and reached the turn off to “Fins and Things”.
At this point we became a team, with me helping him know where his right tire was going to end up. However, we stopped being a team every time we reached a twisty, turny mud pit section because Cameron would fly through them at the speed of light, going so fast that we would bank up high on the walls of the trench and I would basically be horizontal with the ground. I would spend the entire time screaming and he would spend the entire time wooing until we hit slick rock again and he was forced to slow down.
By the time we made it out of “Fins and Things” some of our emotions were wearing thin (while it was clear others were just getting started) but regardless of who wanted to keep careening towards death and who wanted to live, we were running out of time on our rental. Back to the streets of Moab we went, accompanied by tumble weeds, the building storm clouds chasing us from behind. That night we stayed in town for dinner and ate at 98 Center, a pho fusion restaurant that had the best salad dressing (and thus the best salads) I have ever had. Despite my doubts about the day it had turned out to be a wild ride – one that I am not likely to forget for a long time. And I think my dad had fun too.
UTV Rental Company:
Off Road Vehicle Park: