The first of three stops on the DragonFire Ride Tour presented by MotoUSA.com took place in Moab, Utah during the annual Rally on the Rocks. We spent four days exploring some of the more popular Moab off-road trails and mingling with other side-by-side enthusiasts while enjoying some of the most spectacular OHV destinations on Earth. One of the best ways to experience Moab from the seat of a UTV is as a participant at Rally on the Rocks (ROTR). This week long OHV festival features no less than 28 guided trail rides based out of the ROTR headquarters at the Old Spanish Trail Arena just east of the town center on Highway 191. All the major OEMs and the majority of the UTV aftermarket companies are on hand slinging their wares, offering demo rides and making sure that the UTV community knows their names.
Our two-man crew from MotoUSA was teamed up with DragonFire Racing’s dynamic duo, Chris and Justin, as we kicked-off the first stop of the 2013 DragonFire Ride Tour which includes ROTR, Dunefest in Winchester Bay, Oregon, and our grand finale on Halloween at Glamis, California. The common theme at Rally on the Rocks is organized rides. The trails are rated 2 through 9 based on the difficulty, fun factor and vehicle damage potential. Names like Kane Creek, Cliffhanger and Hell’s Revenge weren’t even the gnarliest on the docket but we managed to visit these three to check out trails of varying difficulty (and hopefully preserve our fleet of show cars and borrowed RZRs).
Day 1 featured the wet and wild Kane Creek, rated 3 by ROTR. The 40 participating UTVs required a police escort through town to reach Kane Creek.
Day 1 featured the wet and wild Kane Creek ride. Rated a 3 by ROTR, this trail required a police escort through town (a benefit of ROTR participants) before tackling what would be the wettest route at the rally, but the most-dusty as well. That didn’t dissuade the 40 UTVs and their passengers from making the trip. This was a big turnout and it made for some slow going in some of the tighter areas. The terrain was easy by UTV standards with mostly scenic vistas to keep you entertained. At the end of the trail things did get a little interesting.
An enormous canyon wall at the end of our trail that was carved from the earth by the water flowing in the creek below was the highlight of this run. A gnarly, rocky climb with ledges and a death-defying cliff edge kept most of our fellow drivers watching rather than participating. Our UTV ace Justin Dawes was the first to tackle the beast in our long-term testing Polaris RZR XP 900. It always amazes me where a stock RZR can go but this was pretty sweet. The DragonFire dudes made the climb in their Rock Solid XP 900, making it look fun and easy along the way. Our trip back was highlighted by a catered lunch courtesy of Rocky Mountain ATV. Those folks went all out, serving up homemade pulled pork sandwiches, ice-cold water and all the fixings. They set the standard high as the trail sponsor. We had no plan at this point for our sponsored ride scheduled for two days later. But we would rise to the challenge (more on that later).
Day 2 was Hell’s Revenge; a 5+ rated ride and the epitome of Moab off-road thanks to the epic slick-rock scenery, unique obstacles and grandiose feel to the entire expedition. Our pals at SXS Performance were the trail sponsors for this go-around. With no less than 45 UTVs on the ride this could have been a cluster but the participants and guides made it an easy going and well-handled event. This ride starts off by navigating across the monumental Lion’s Back feature before heading out to the red rock formations.
The first stop would be an unscheduled fire drill on the DragonFire Racepace RZR thanks to careless placement of a tow strap too close to the exhaust headers. After things cooled down, the caravan made its way to an obstacle route known as Hell’s Gate. The Colorado River snakes it way through the vertical cliff faces it has eroded over the millennia which serves as a spectacular backdrop to the technical descent in and climb out. If not careful, you can literally drive right off the cliff and down to your demise. Photos and videos don’t do this obstacle justice but there was a sweet reward at the end. SXSP came equipped with propane powered freezers and a truck load of popsicles to cool us off on this hot Spring day.
The best way to describe driving or riding on the slick rock is that it’s a roller coaster. The rolling rocks are steep and intense but they offer one-of-a-kind views of the surrounding Mars-like, red-hued desert. There are drop offs, sketchy side hills and of course the Devils Hot Tub awaits you at the top. This formidable obstacle had only three takers on our tour. A brave soul and his kid in an Arctic Cat, an RZR800 and pro RZR racer Brian Bush in the official, race-prepped XP
(Above) There were only three takers to attempt the Devil’s Hot Tub. (Below) The Escalator was another notable technical obstacle on Hell’s Revenge with a steep descent to hell followed by the treacherous climb out of the abyss.
he most recently drove at King of the Hammers. Our guides hooked a tow rope to the front bumpers of the rigs and gave just enough man-power to give the UTVs the necessary traction to escape the Tub without flipping over backwards. It was quite a sight to see and it makes us wonder: What crazy SOBs tackle that stuff without help?
The Escalator was another notable technical obstacle on Hell’s Revenge which consisted of a steep descent to hell followed by the treacherous climb out of the abyss. About half-a-dozen cars tackled it, including the DragonFire crew. The ascent required the drivers to pay close attention while straddling the deep crevice in the center of the UTV and maintain a fine balance between traction and the constant force of gravity trying to pull each rig over on its side.
Day 3 was the Golden Spike ride which was quite a drive out of town, so all participants had to trailer their vehicles to the starting point. Our trail leader, Bob Peverley, along with his wife and brother, managed to extend our tour in order to cover two additional destinations including the Gold Bar trail which features the infamous Crack at the trail’s end. We had about 30 machines signed up for the DFR-MCUSA sponsored ride and these folks got their money’s worth on the final day.
Although the scenery from Hell’s Revenge was hard to beat, you could make a case for the endless landscapes of Gold Bar. With the Colorado River off in the distance, the terrain was very much like Wiley E. Coyote’s desert. Towering cliffs, sagebrush and of course loads of rock. This is desert rock crawling at its finest. Sure, we all made it without tipping over but that is a testament to the guides and the driving skills of the participants. Each was rewarded with a semi-catered lunch break courtesy of MotoUSA.com that included unlimited Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches (we bought every box in the town of Moab) and a supply of ice cold H-2-O. At the trail’s end we took a side road which led us to the face of the epic red cliff that skirts along Highway 191 between Moab and B.F.E. We took a few minutes to soak in
(Top) Riders tackle rocks on day three at Gold Bar. (Below) MotoUSA prestend “Nitro Circus 3D” during a drive-in movie night with a 50′ foot movie screen.
the scenery one last time and even screwed around a bit on the edge of the cliff for good measure. The final two rides together, Gold Bar and Gold Spike, were way more challenging than Hell’s but you can argue the fact that the slick rock formations have a mystical quality to them that make it a must-do as well. The only solution is to drive them all so you don’t miss anything!
We had two XP4 owners who we had befriended on previous rides and both of them were put right behind the trail boss so they could pick good lines. It would be a great decision because these routes were defined by steep drop-offs and huge rock obstacles, followed by some rocky trails leading to even more of those rocky hill climbs. Our rookie drivers got a lesson in momentum and the thrill of exploring epic destinations from the seat of the XP4s. The new guys broke in their UTVs in Moab, which returned to their trailers with scratched, beat-up skid plates, scraped A-arms, bent rims and seats with a few pee stains on them. In other words, it was freakin’ awesome.
Folks who rode with us at ROTR received commemorative T-shirts and bandannas with a few lucky riders winning hard parts like a full DFR by Vance & Hines exhaust system from the DFR catalog. Plus, over 100 riders joined us for our drive-in movie night featuring “Nitro Circus 3D” (Unfortunately, we couldn’t show it in 3D, but it was still fun) on a 50-foot movie screen. So check your schedule and make sure to join us for round two in Oregon at the end of July. Check the official Dunefest website for details then stop by the MotoUSA booth and pick-up some swag before it’s gone.