EVENT: 5TH ANNUAL RUGGED RADIOS UTV RALLY AT MORMON LAKE

Time to get dirty in the pines By the staff of Dirt Wheels

As you walk or cruise the grounds of the Rugged Radios UTV Rally Mormon Lake, it feels homey and intimate, but from the air you can see that it is extensive. Many more attendees are camping farther afield in the forest.

The fifth annual Rugged Radios UTV Rally at Mormon Lake returned to Mormon Lake Lodge. It was listed as being in the high-altitude forests near Flagstaff, Arizona. In truth, Mormon Lake is 20 to 30 minutes from Flagstaff. Continuing with truth, it isn’t really what you think of as a lake, either! Especially in a dry year like 2021, the “lake” looks more like a short-grass meadow. In wet years the lake area acts as a natural flood control. The actual water surface area can be extensive, but it is not deep. Without rivers and a stream or springs feeding the lake, it isn’t consistent.

Kawasaki was the only company with demo rides at Mormon Lake. It was a clean setup with short lines and everyone having fun. There was enough time to get a good feel for the machines. Popular machines were the KRX 1000 with computerized suspension and versions of the new Teryx S.

What is consistent? Mormon Lake’s short-cropped meadow is surrounded by high-altitude pine forests crisscrossed by signed forest service roads and trails. Reportedly, the area has over 1000 miles of trails. Don’t expect bayou mud, Rocky Mountain highs or King of the Hammers rock crawling. Most of the rides lean heavier on scenery and camaraderie than extreme routes. Everybody seemed to be having fun with the routes. You are welcome to head out on your own, but guided rides are available from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon on Friday and Saturday. The organizers reserve Sunday for vendors and fans to get home.

The vendor area was easy to navigate and maintain social distancing. Every company had time to visit and discuss the wares.

For 2021, entry to the event was $10 for the weekend and $50 to reserve a dry camping space, swag bag and more. As seen by the aerial drone photo, there were plenty of people and machines filling the camping spots. There were many more in attendance. Folks that didn’t get a Mormon Lake Lodge spot headed for the nearby forest to stake out a dispersed camping spot in the forest.

Group rides departed several times a day. Riders would queue up, then stay together to enjoy the adventure without worry about getting lost and blundering along.
This was a unique vendor, but we saw a lot of folks carrying off bears that they purchased. There are live bears in the area, but these were the only ones that we saw.

The official days of the rally are Friday and Saturday. In between (or instead of) riding you could take in the vendor row, have products installed on your machine or hit the demo course. All three pastimes ran from 10 in the morning until 5 in the evening. The demo course wound all over the lake bed and was a lot of fun for those looking to try a new Kawasaki KRX 1000 or Teryx S. We burned quite a few laps.

We spent our trail time in the 2022 Kawasaki Teryx4 S LE. It had all the power and suspension required for the forest trails we encountered. We were glad we were in the Teryx, since it was legal on this much-more-fun and technical 62-inch trail we found. They aren’t kidding. A wide car wouldn’t make it.

After the vendors and demos shut down there are nightly bonfires with s’mores and product giveaways and much more family entertainment. The Mormon Lake UTV Rally, also known as the Rally in the Pines, is put on by the same people who promote Arizona’s International Off-Road & UTV Expos. So, make plans to attend the sixth annual Mormon Lake UTV Rally and experience beautiful northern Arizona’s pine forests. Go to www.arizonaexpos.com and watch for info on the 2022 event.

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