Moab Utah Off Roading - Can Four-Wheeling Be Considered Work?Posted in Events on May 1, 2008
Since my first visit to Moab in 1993 and the release of the first Moab video, #4 Moab, Utah, I have returned at least once every year. In 1993, AM General had just began to market the Hummer (later called the h1 Hummer) to civilians - nonmilitary buyers. they were confident enough in the H1 to join our trail rides and allow us to videotape the vehicles in an uncontrolled situation. The extra width of the hummer proved to be an asset on the steep, off-camber ledges that make up so much of the terrain in Moab. Who would have thought that 16 years later Jeep would be building a four-door JK that is only 1.5 inches shorter than an H1 Hummer, and that a smaller H2 and H3 hummer would be built?
There have also been some other changes since 1993. The tall fin, known as Lion's Back, is closed to vehicle travel. the Dump Bump was recently closed, and Potato Salad hill will soon join the list of closed areas. all of the easter Jeep Safari trails run in 1993 are still being run in 2008. These trails still vary in difficulty from requiring only a stock 4x4 to definitely needing taller tires and lockers. The toughest trails documented in our first video are still the most difficult today with one exception. Pritchett Canyon has clearly earned the title, "toughest Safari trail in Moab." our objective in Moab was clear: Videotape Pritchett Canyon to document the changes. We also ran Hell's Revenge and the Moab Rim trails which have not changed significantly.
The first step is obtaining a filming permit. have you ever thought about producing a video or publishing a picture of four-wheeling or mountain biking in Moab, Utah? or what about taking a picture for a poster? If you intend to sell a video or a picture photographed on public lands, you most likely will need a permit from the appropriate land manager. this would include federal, state, or county lands. Private-land owners make their own rules. Most of the public lands around Moab are managed by several agencies, and each has its own permitting process and fee schedule.
For example, Canyonlands and arches national Parks charge $50 per hour for a monitor and a $100 application fee. Dead horse Point State Park in eastern Utah charges $40 per hour and a $50 application fee. Utah trust lands charge between $200 and $500 per day plus a $100 application fee. Some agencies require a refundable security bond. In our case, we planned to videotape designated off-road trails which are located on lands managed by the Bureau of land Management (BLM). obtaining a permit for an existing (designated) route is fairly easy, but it's not cheap for the little guy.
A one-man crew will pay the same as a 30-man crew on BLM lands. The cost per day or per location (whichever is greater) is $250. In our case, two cameramen and myself videotaping three trails over a three-day period cost $750 plus a $175 application fee and a certificate of insurance. If you don't already have a liability policy, this can add another $1,200 to $2,500 to your project (annual policy). Before the BLM will issue a permit, they must receive a certificate of insurance naming the Bureau of Land Management as an additional insured on a $1 million liability policy.
Proof of insurance is a standard policy for public-land managers. What is unique to the BLM's Moab Office is adding a daily rental fee for each area you videotape inside the same Moab BLM area. that would be like doubling the one-day arches national Park fee because a picture was taken during sunrise at one arch and at a different arch during sunset. Go figure.
We picked up our signed permit from the local BLM office upon arrival in Moab. By obtaining an application and checklist from the BLM website, faxing the completed application back to the Moab BLM office, and phoning in credit card information for payment, the whole process took less than 30 days. armed with a valid permit and a tank of gas, our crew of three was ready to go wheeling in Moab.
Our first stop was Pritchett Canyon. the best perspective of an off-road trail can be shown by combining video from several camera angles. on our Moab trip, there were two cameramen walking the trail, and I occasionally pulled out a camera. the Pritchett Canyon trailhead starts just south of town from kane Creek Road. the private-property owner who owns the campground at the trailhead charges $2 to cross his property. the campground wasn't there in 1993, and now the ledge you encounter immediately after leaving the campground area is gone. too many people were rolling off the roadbed and ending up in the wash below. the wash is in a Wilderness Study area and between having vehicles fall off the trail and backing up into the private campground, it was not a good situation, so the ledge was removed.
The Rocker Knocker, Rock Pile, and yellow hill have always been formidable obstacles in Pritchett Canyon, but now they have been joined in the "Obstacles Hall of Fame" by several new ones just waiting to be named. areas that we drove over in 1993 have turned into off-camber sections and ledges that challenge anything except a rock buggy. In our group, two well-equipped, experienced drivers rolled over on these new obstacles. Fortunately everyone was wearing a seatbelt, and no one was hurt.
What used to be the best way to get over the Rocker Knocker obstacle is now the only way (there is a bypass, but it's pretty rough). Drive straight up to the double ledge, and when the front tires reach the second ledge, turn left toward the large rock that gave this obstacle its name. Sounds easy ... it's not. the rear wheels are against the first ledge, and when the vehicle turns to the left, it leans to the left.
Begin throttling the vehicle until the tires begin to spin. as they do, the vehicle begins to slide sideways across the ledge, the right rear tire will climb onto the first ledge increasing the vehicle tilt. the vehicle continues to slide sideways until it reaches the large rock at the end of the ledges. at that point, if done correctly, the tires will get traction, and the vehicle will twist and pop right up. What an awesome feeling!
At the once-famed Rock Pile obstacle, the rocks are gone. this is where a lot of rocks were piled up in front of a 7-foot ledge to help the vehicle climb up without rolling over. a winch point has been installed for those who still wish to climb over the wall. But not all is lost, the bypass is not easy, and you may still need to move rocks. our group took the notso- easy bypass, but we did watch a few in the group behind us winch and pull each other up the rock face.
At the once-famed Rock Pile obstacle, the rocks are gone. this is where a lot of rocks were piled up in front of a 7-foot ledge to help the vehicle climb up without rolling over. a winch point has been installed for those who still wish to climb over the wall. But not all is lost, the bypass is not easy, and you may still need to move rocks. our group took the not-so-easy bypass, but we did watch a few in the group behind us winch and pull each other up the rock face.
Yellow Hill is still at the end of Pritchett Canyon. the only route in 1993 from the bottom of the canyon to the mesa and county road above is still in place. however, between the weather and the vehicle traffic, the holes are deeper, and the edge to straddle is narrower. now there is an alternate route from the bottom of the canyon. It climbs up a steep rock face alongside the original route. today's tires find traction easily, and the vehicle climbs to the top. at this point, everyone took a breath and prepared for the long drive back to town.
Over the next two days, we drove and videotaped the Moab Rim and Hell's Revenge trails. other than spur routes being closed, neither of these two trails have changed significantly over the past 16 years. however, the vehicles and tire sizes have changed, and we captured the action on tape.
By the time we videotaped the Moab Rim, Pritchett Canyon, and hell's Revenge trails, we had collected nearly 12 hours of raw footage. That was the fun part. then it was time to edit. the new video footage is combined with the original 70 minutes to make a new Rick Russell's off highway adventure #4 Moab, Utah Video. After 75 hours of editing, this video will be released at the 2008 easter Jeep Safari in March.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In addition to writing stories, Rick Russell publishes Sidekick off Road maps and produces the off highway adventure video series. the videos feature a variety of trails across the United States. Both the maps and videos can be purchased at off-road accessory stores and on the Internet. For a list of videos and dealers, visit www.sidekickoffroad.com or call (877) 628-7227.