HURRICANE – The fifth annual Winter on the Rocks off-road vehicle and rock crawling event was held this weekend at the Sand Mountain off-highway vehicle area in Hurricane. Nearly 300 jeeps and off-highway vehicles attended the event sponsored by the Utah 4×4 Club.
Retired Salt Lake City weather forecaster, Bob Welti, came down from Salt Lake City for Saturday’s event. I asked Bob what brought him out to Winter on the Rocks and he quipped, “Well, a Jeep, dummy,” and quickly added: “No, Chad Booth brought me out here. I think it is wonderful.”
Winter on the Rocks combines fun with increasing awareness of public lands issues.
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Videocast by John Teas, St. George News
Owning or having access to a four-wheel drive vehicle is a must to be a spectator at Winter on the Rocks.
Sand Mountain has rock crawling trails with obstacles that are more difficult than many of the trails in Moab. But not all of the Southern Utah trails require specialty vehicles. There are several trails and areas in the Sand Mountain area that are accessible to stock 4x4s with proper tires. New for this year’s Winter on the Rocks event was the Voyeur Trail. It is designed to get you to where the action is without having to be in the action.
Trails are rated on a one to 10 scale, with one being a paved or smooth gravel road to 10 being difficult for even the most serious rock crawler to navigate. This year there were trails designed for all types of 4x4s. Both novice and experienced drivers with rigs of any type came from as far away as Kentucky.
Vehicles ranged from stock and slightly modified Jeeps and pickups to custom built Pro-Mod rock crawling buggies. The Pro-Mod buggies have special tube frame construction with V-8 engines producing 500-plus horsepower. Some even had the ability to steer the rear wheels independent of the front wheels.
The vast majority of the Winter on the Rocks trails are adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park. The Bureau of Land Management has designated the Sand Mountain area specifically for off-road vehicle use. Most public lands do not allow this type of use, and the Utah 4×4 Club encourages all users to be aware of restrictions and “Tread Lightly!”
“I have driven the Rubicon in California several times. There the trail is mostly boulders and you have to drive several feet in front of you at all times,” Gil Meacham said. “It requires a lot of continuous concentration. But here in the Sand Mountain off-highway vehicle area there are many obstacles that are far more difficult than anything on the Rubicon Trail. There are obstacles here that rival what is in Moab.”
Participants in the 2014 Winter on the Rocks gathered at the Washington County Regional Park’s fairgrounds located at South 5300 West, in Hurricane, for a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes and sausage. At 9 a.m. the off-road enthusiasts convoyed to Sand Hollow State Park where final preparations were made to head out to the designated trails.
“I expect a lot of sand dunes and similar rock experiences of Moab, very comparable and good times, fun times,” Jeff Hepworth said about his first time at Winter on the Rocks.
The Utah 4×4 Club is dedicated to the responsible use of our public lands. Activities range from hard-core rock crawling to easy family outings to public lands cleanup projects. If you enjoy off road travel and adventure, check out the Utah 4×4 Club.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
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