Southwestern Utah was called Dixie by Mormon settlers from the southern states who raised cotton there during the Civil War and afterwards. Utah’s Dixie region boasts a treasure trove of mountains, deserts, and yes, slickrock just waiting to be explored by the avid four-wheeler.
The 2016 Winter 4x4 Jamboree (W4x4J) was held Friday, January 22, through Saturday, January 23, in Utah’s Dixie region, and was presented by the Desert Roads and Trails Society (Desert RATS), an organization interested in promoting and protecting use of public lands by all recreationalists. The W4x4J lured off-roaders with trails that ranged from mild to wild, including the famous (some say infamous) slickrock trails and obstacles in the BLM’s Sand Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area located near the cities of Hurricane and St. George.
Trails were rated 1 (county dirt road maintained for high clearance 2WD and 4WD use in adverse conditions) to 10 (let the carnage begin!). Street driven 4X4s should not attempt the 10-rated trails, and even modified factory vehicles will not be able to complete the Number 10 trails—they are really meant for 4x4 buggies. There’s something for all levels of 4x4 enthusiasts, and there are plenty of trails to enjoy.
Descriptions of some of the more interesting (and challenging) trails that were run during this year’s W4x4J will give you an idea of what participant’s encountered and what you can look forward to, should you decide to join the fun in 2017.
Birthing Cave and Lone Pine Arch Trail was rated a 2, and you definitely wanted to bring your camera! Participants traveled to the historic town of Gunlock, Utah, where it the trail continued to a unique arch, slickrock, and caves featuring hundreds of well-preserved petroglyphs and pictographs.
The Barracks Trail (rated 5) featured the magnificent scenery that Zion National Park is famous for, with none of the crowds. Along the way, we crossed the East Fork of the Virgin River more than 20 times. Driving along the banks of the river among the cottonwoods and willows, with colorful rock canyon walls towering almost 1,000 feet above on both sides, made this an especially beautiful trail run.
The Maze has quickly become known as one of St. George’s “must do” trails for those who enjoy a more technical and hardcore challenge. If you aren’t bothered by steep ascents and descents, extremely off-camber situations, and exposure to 1,200-foot cliff edges, then this trail is for you! It’s an adrenaline rush at 1 mph.
This event is quickly becoming a Southwestern 4x4 enthusiasts’ first must-attend event of the year. It’s only a couple of hours away from Las Vegas, Nevada, so getting there is easy. Maybe we’ll see you there next year? For all the information on this great off-road event, check out the Winter 4x4 Jamboree website at winter4x4jamboree.com.