UTVs are noisy. We all know this. For some, that wicked braaap! of the engine is the sound of their next adrenaline rush. For others, it’s just noise.
That’s the argument at the center of new city and county ordinances that are aimed at restricting off-road rentals and UTV speeds in Moab, Utah. The tension between wheelers and Moab has reached new heights as rumors of even more restrictions circulate.
The city of Moab is home to about 5,000 residents and the great Grand County area is home to another 5,000. And it just so happens to be the rock crawling mecca of the world.
People travel from all over the continent to test out their UTVs against the red sandstone slick rock and treacherous terrain. The reward for their pilgrimage to Moab is thrilling UTV trails that take them to dizzying heights and offer mind-boggling vistas that go unmatched anywhere else.
In fact, around three million people visit Moab every year. Many of them bring UTVs and ATVs with them and many more take advantage of the booming UTV rental business.
For years there has been tension between the locals and the tourists in regard to noise. But the recent pandemic has led to an uptick in outdoor, socially-distant activities, and wheeling at Moab has been no exception.
So with increased tourism comes increased noise. Increased noise has led to increased complaints. This has bolstered the city council’s resolve to do something about the noise.
UTV Utah, a non-profit organization that organizes rides and fights for land rights for off-road riding in Utah, has been in constant conversation with the city of Moab for over a year. They agree that noise can and should be reduced in cities, and there are ways to make it happen.
Primarily, enforcing speed limits on UTVs and ATVs would make a huge difference on the noise pollution for the town. However, the city council argues that it doesn’t have the resources to enforce them.
On October 20th, 2020, Moab and Grand County voted in favor of three new resolutions.
The new speed limits, while not fun, are an important step to making sure locals and visitors can enjoy Moab in harmony.
The most consequential of these resolutions is stopping new event permits. That means no group rides and no big events. Not to mention, no Rally on the Rocks—at least temporarily.
The important part to remember is that these new restrictions are a stop gap measure until they can find a more permanent solution.
That more permanent solution may just be banning UTVs and ATVs on roads in Moab and Grand County altogether.
UTV Utah reported on their Facebook page that a new bill is in the works that would exempt Moab and potentially Grant County from the state-wide street legal UTV bill passed in 2017. That would mean no more off-road vehicles on the streets in Moab.
It would also seriously hamper the rental industry as potential customers would now also have to work out the logistics of getting their 500 dollar a day vehicles to and from Moab’s UTV trails. Adding in the cost of renting something to haul it makes the whole endeavor prohibitively expensive for most.
Getting from trail to trail would also be less appealing for people that own their side-by-sides. Instead of taking their machine down the rough and rocky back roads to get to a trailhead, they might be forced to haul it all the way there. That’s a lot of extra work getting it loaded and unloaded. They’ll have extra wear and tear on their trailer and truck too.
All in all, some of the appeal of Moab would be lost if wheeling became more prohibitive. This bill is still in its nascent stage (no name or exact wording has been confirmed yet), but if it were to eventually become law, it would undoubtedly change what Moab would be for every visitor.
The rocks and hills would go unchanged. The beauty would be preserved. But would it be the pinnacle of the side-by-side community that it is today? Probably not. It would still be enjoyed thoroughly by some, but many would miss out on its spectacle.
The trails are still there, and they’re still a great way to spend your weekend. So let’s take a look at some of the very best trails that you’ll still be able to visit even with increased restrictions.
The Top of the World Trail is one of the all-time great UTV trails in the world. It’s an 18.9 mile trail that will take you a full day to get to the top and back.
It’s a rocky trail that’s relatively easy to navigate for the most part. Some creek crossings offer a refreshing flush of green in the otherwise dry, tan landscape. There’s one obstacle near the top that demands precision—get it right or risk tumbling off the bluff.
Your reward is a gorgeous overlook of the Colorado River from 1,000 feet above the valley floor.
Check out Pritchett Canyon OHV Trail for one of the most technically challenging UTV trails in Moab. It offers 18.8 miles of rocky obstacles and scenic views.
Just be sure to stop and take in the views when you get a minute to breathe. Most of the time you’ll be sweating bullets trying to keep your UTV sunny-side up through the trail’s half a dozen or so difficult obstacles.
In an effort to make sure people don’t get stuck, many of the obstacles have hooks drilled deep into the rock. When in doubt, winch it out!
Hell’s Revenge offers up its own brand of rock crawling. With long slick-rock slopes, challenging chutes, and a few mean hot tubs, this trail is just as much about having the courage to smash the pedal as it is about picking the right line.
It’s a nine mile trail that will take longer than you think. Plan for a whole day and don’t be too proud to take a bypass here and there.
The Moab Rim Trail will get your adrenaline pumping. This one is for experts only, but the challenge is worth it. The 7.7 mile trail offers the best views of the city of Moab you can get.
After the grueling and difficult climb at the beginning, the trail gets a little easier and flatter. Once you get to the top, enjoy the view and take a deep breath—you’ve conquered one of the toughest UTV trails in Moab. You can relax… until you have to go back down.
The wants and needs of residents and off-roaders don’t have to be at odds. The old adage that if you can’t police yourself, someone else is gonna do it rings true again here.
So if you ride in Moab or anywhere else where it’s legal, keep off the throttle and ride quiet. If you want to make your voice heard on this issue, check out UTV Utah. They’re quick to dish out information and ways to help.
The bottom line is that noise is a problem, and respect from both sides is needed in order to avoid greater restrictions.