DESTINATION: UTAH OFF-ROAD RENTALS & GUIDED TOURS
Great cars, guides and amazing trails By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Utah has everything from stark salt flats to lush forests and mountain meadows, but when off-roaders think of the state, most mentally see red rock vistas. Areas like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Moab have burned this impression on our minds. But after riding with Utah Off-Road Rentals and Guided Tours, we found that red slick rock is sweet, but Utah has more to offer off-roaders.
Utah Off-Road is based out of La Verkin, Utah, not far from the Arizona border, the city of St. George and off-road Mecca Hurricane, Utah. All of the rental and tour machines—mostly late-model, well-maintained Can-Am Maverick X3s—are registered and have license plates, so it is rare that tour guests need to waste any time with the machines on trailers.
COUNTING THE COST
The least expensive option is to let the staff drive while you concentrate on the scenery and shooting photos. That runs $145 for one passenger and $50 for each additional passenger (up to two). This provides three hours of adventure. You run through part of Sand Hollow with sand dunes and rock crawling. You also visit the Flintstone House, Diving Board Rock, Top of the World and Competition Hill while enjoying amazing views of Sand Hollow Lake. This and other three-hour rides are roughly $255 for two people if you drive a tour car.
From there tours jump up in price and time. An example is the 8- to 10-hour Whitmore Overlook trip. This ride is 150 miles off-road! In one day you see the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Whitmore Overlook, Petroglyphs and the Bar 10 Ranch. It runs $725 for a driver and passenger, but includes water, snacks and sandwiches for lunch.
Multi-day rides like the Bar 10 Boogie (a ranch near the Grand Canyon with lodging) are $825 per day, and additional passengers are $180 per day. That price includes the stay at Bar 10 and food. This is typically a three-day ride, but may be stretched to four days if you want to see the red rock splendor of Copper Canyon.
OUR RIDE DAY
We met with Bill and friends in La Verkin. He arranged for compadres to bring a range of the tour cars. Like any of Utah Off-Road Rentals’ destinations, you can bring your own machine. Bill claims that is rare. Most choose to use the tour cars. We spent the morning doing the Petroglyphs tour. It starts on fast, smooth roads before transitioning to the Honeymoon Trail.
This trail was used by early Utah pioneers to come over the mountains from the Kanab area to reach St. George to be married in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple. We can’t imagine that trail on wooden wheels with steel rims! Once over the mountains, the route is through high flats surrounded by rim rock. The impressive ancient petroglyphs are attributed to the Anasazi people, some perhaps 1000 years old.
We were very satisfied by the quality and condition of the Can-Am X3 tour cars. The same is true of owner and tour leader Bill. He is a transplant to Utah, but has embraced the history and the off-road traditions of the state. History is interesting when he relates it. In our opinion, one of the three-hour tours makes for a great day. You clearly see a lot of amazing views and terrain.
Bill will do custom tours on different routes. After lunch we headed out on a ride that took us out to Toquerville Falls. From there we headed downstream on a designated trail packed with Virgin River crossings and technical driving. Bill claimed that group rides on this trail take between two and three hours to go seven miles! The pricing for a technical ride like this varies, and would likely be better if you brought a machine of your own. The ride was astonishingly cool and fun, even on our 108-degree day. It was nice leading by the boys! We even stopped to swim a little.
FUN ON YOUR OWN
Utah Off-Road also has machine rentals. Interestingly, the price is not that different from taking a guided tour. Bill has found that drivers that head out on their own are harder on the machines, and they end up paying far more in repairs than those on a ride with a leader. We can see how that happens. Are you afraid that you won’t get to go fast and have fun on the tour? That simply isn’t true. The tour pace is plenty fun. Dust was the only thing slowing us down. As long as the group looks in control, Bill makes sure things are good and fun.
If you have never been shepherded by a good trail leader, you don’t know how relaxing it is. You could find these trails on your own, but it would take time and could prove frustrating. Keep in mind that the tour leaders are carrying the tools, radios, first-aid and refreshments. Local knowledge is worth paying for.
Two rides in one day would have satisfied any off-road fan, but we still had some light, so we headed over to check out some of the routes that Utah Off-Road uses in Sand Hollow State Park. That included sitting atop the dune area looking out over the Sand Hollow Lake at sunset. Suffice it to say, we were impressed with southern Utah in general and the folks at Utah Off-Road Rentals and Tours in particular.
If you are planning to stay in the area, there are plenty of great choices—from campgrounds, dispersed camping, hotels and even resorts. Once you are done riding, there are plenty of other activities in the area. In particular, Zion National Park is nearby, and so is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. St. George (about 30 minutes away) has great dining and other activities. If you are looking for an amazing destination, this is it. You don’t even need to bring a machine, load it up or even work on it; just call Bill. We will clearly be back.
CONTACT: Utah Off-Road Rentals and Tours, (435) 236-7334, www.utahoffroadtours.com