2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S - Southwestern Utah

    Exploring With The RZR S

    Phil HowellPhotographer, Writer

    Our RZR S was upgraded in our last installment with winch, prerunner guard, and Swamp Lite tires on Polaris/OMF beadlock wheels. These upgrades made solo backcountry exploring less stressful. I had mentioned that the OE Maxxis Big Horn tires on the RZR S worked well on the rocks but allowed the RZR S to drift at high speed. Because of this, I changed to the Swamp Lites. We've found that the RZR S, even with the Swamp Lite tires and their aggressive lugs, still drifts at high speed, so it wasn't the tires after all. I suspect the drift is caused by the RZR S's light weight and short wheelbase. I'm used to it now and have no issues.

    The bias-ply Swamp Lite tires work great in mud and loamy, loose dirt. The bias construction of the tires is strong and the tires are less prone to flats in the outback. They're heavier and don't roll as easily as radials do, so the RZR S lost about 8 mph from its top speed with the Swamp Lites installed. I now switch tires depending on the type of 'wheeling planned. The Big Horn tires are awesome in deep sand, rocks, and running fast. The Swamp Lites get the nod when the trails get muddy.

    With the Big Horn radials back on the RZR S, I headed east of Mount Carmel Junction in Southwestern Utah. A friend wanted to show me two beautiful slot canyons there. The Virgin River was too deep to ford, so my friend procured permission from a private landowner to cross his land and bypass the ford. We wound around narrow trails through pretty scenery until I hit a deadfall and a branch went into my leg. After picking the wood (not splinters - wood) out of the punctures, we continued.

    Once through the private property, we dropped into a wide, sandy wash and had some high-speed fun. The RZR S's 12 inches of travel soaked up the bumps and we easily sped 45 to 55 mph up the wash. Once we arrived at the slickrock canyon, that same 12 inches of travel allowed the Polaris to articulate over rocks as no OE UTV has before.

    The canyons (there are two) are beautiful. They're quite narrow in places and require some climbing, but reward the explorer with stunning colors that change with the time of day.

    Once again, the Polaris Ranger RZR S proves that it's a very competent and fun vehicle for backcountry exploring.

    Please excuse the photo quality. I took my daughter's point-and-shoot on this trip so the Nikon wouldn't get full of dirt. The point-and-shoot is fully automatic, so there was no way to set aperture and shutter to capture the nuances of light and shadow in the slot canyons. You can get the idea of how they look, though.

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