Off-roading enthusiasts kick up sand at Winter 4×4 Jamboree; STGnews Videocast

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A large group of 4×4 off-roading and rock-crawling enthusiasts gathered on Friday and Saturday in Hurricane for the Winter 4×4 Jamboree. Close to 25 trails were open to participants, varying in degrees of difficulty.

To watch videocast, click play arrow play-arrow in center of image top of story

Vehicles line up Friday, January 24, 2015 for the Winter 4x4 Jamboree | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Vehicles line up Friday, January 24, 2015 for the Winter 4×4 Jamboree | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The event kicked off Friday morning with breakfast and pre-trail run organization at the Washington County Regional Park (fairgrounds), 5500 W. 700 South in Hurricane, and continued with close to 300 vehicles ready to hit the sand. Drivers grouped up in caravans of around 30 vehicles, each accompanied by guides with experience in the area to ensure the safest trip possible.

Trails the off-highway vehicles conquered included those in the Sand Mountain OHV area proximate to Sand Hollow State Park; trails to the east side of Washington County, including the Honeymoon Trail which scales the Hurricane Cliffs and visits Molly’s Nipple; and a trek to the Barracks trail which is near Mt. Carmel Junction near the east entrance to Zion National Park; among others.  The terrain varied from rolling sand dunes to challenging rock-crawls.

Dan Mick of Dan Mick’s Guided Jeep Tours, which is located in Moab, made the trip to Hurricane with his son to check out the Jamboree. While Moab may be famous for it’s rock-crawling, Mick said, Sand Hollow offers a unique feature.

“Moab, Utah, has a lot of slick rocks and ledges, minus the sand,” said Mick. “Here, the sand adds another element to it.”

The Jamboree visited historical sites accessible by off-road vehicles, such as an ancient Native American birthing cave in the Lone Pine area north and west of Gunlock, an old silver mining area, and a petroglyph site.

People can learn more about the history of the area by going out on these trails,” Utah Public Lands Alliance President Gil Meacham said.

Some participants traveled from as far as Minnesota, Wyoming, and Ohio to take part in the event, as well as from across Utah and more nearby states like Arizona and Colorado.

Bryce Thompson spotting for Richard Mick through a tight squeeze, Jan. 24, 2015 at Sand Hollow State Park | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News
Bryce Thompson spotting for Richard Mick, Jan. 24, 2015 at Sand Hollow State Park | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

“We get quite a few from northern Utah,” Meacham said, “because our weather is quite different from theirs this time of year.”

The event aims to bring awareness not only to the amazing and unique trails but also to shed light on land issues that the 4×4 community is facing in the Sand Hollow area.

A handout distributed to the event’s participants, prepared by Desert Roads and Trails Society, Utah Four Wheel Drive Association, and Utah Public Lands Alliance, highlighted some of the challenges. In part, the handout stated:

Mr. Orrin Hatch has submitted a proposed bill that will create a National Recreation Area of approximately 18,000 acres adjacent to the current Sand Hollow State Park. This effectively preserves the greater Sand Hollow area from future encroachments via land swaps or similar.

However, there is a proposed land swap involving Mr. Bob Brennan who owns land elsewhere in Washington County within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a tortoise habitat area. Mr. Brennan is attempting to exchange his land for 1,200 acres within the open OHV area, and those 1,200 acres are excluded from the protection of the Bill.

Read more: Land use advocates ask Hatch to resolve land issues in tortoise habitat, eliminating Sand Mountain land swap

Milt Thompson, owner of Dixie 4-Wheel Drive and an active member of the off-roading community, is concerned about the ramifications if the land swap proceeds.

“Not only is it going to impact the recreation in the area, it’s going to impact some of the economy of the area,” Thompson said. “And so at this present time, we’re trying to combat that.”

If the land swap were to go through, multilevel homes could be built on the land, which Thompson predicts would create some discord between the new homeowners and the off-roading community that frequently uses the area for motorized recreation.

Long-time local resident Jason Graff said that the Sand Hollow area has been a big part of his life since he was young.

“I got a jeep when I turned 16, and I’ve been coming out here for quite a while,” Graff said. “All my buddies had jeeps, and we’d always come out here. This is actually where I got engaged.”

Winter 4x4 Jamboree, Sand Hollow State Park, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News
Winter 4×4 Jamboree, Sand Hollow State Park, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

Sand Hollow provides a large appeal for the area, Mick said.

“It’s just a beautiful area out here,” Mick said. “And that’s the big draw for the four-wheelers is to be able to go out and enjoy the back country without rules and regulations. We’d like to see some more open off-road vehicle parks in Southern Utah.”

The Winter 4×4 Jamboree closed out the festivities Saturday night at the fairgrounds at the Washington County Regional Park in Hurricane, where drivers and friends gathered to enjoy a dinner and a raffle. Raffle prizes included Corbeau seats, JK bumpers and LED light bars, and new tires. All profits from the event and raffle will be donated to the Utah Public Lands Alliance, the Utah 4-Wheel Drive Association and the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

Ed. note: Edited to remove reference to Winter on the Rocks.


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  • that guy January 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Awesome event!

  • Sharlett Thompson January 25, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    You did a great job in covering Winter 4X4 Jamboree 2015 Thanks

  • Terry January 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

    The Feds want to turn it into a National Park,, gonna have to combat that with numbers! People Numbers✌️

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