HURRICANE – Off-road enthusiasts from across the country are anxiously awaiting the start of the sixth annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree, which ranges from world-class rock crawling, to easy, scenic, Southern Utah trails – and all of the proceeds are donated to land use and other groups.
The Jamboree, which runs Thursday through Saturday, is an off-road guided trail event for full-sized 4×4 vehicles. Based at the Washington County Regional Park and hosted by the local nonprofit Desert Roads and Trails Society, also known as the Desert RATS, the event has grown every year and now offers 35 trails including a “ladies only” run and a class for 4×4 beginners.
“This will be our biggest and most successful Jamboree,” Desert RATS board president and event chairman Jeff Bieber said in a press release. “We already have 800 vehicles registered.”
Both buildings at the Washington County Regional Park will be full of sponsors and vendors, and the public is invited to the off-road vendor shows starting Thursday.
“It’s just the coolest collection of 4x4s you’ll see anywhere,” Desert RATS board member Julie Lindquist said in the release. “We expect close to 1,000 vehicles, and most of them are modified. It is an awesome sight.”
While many trails are full, and online registration is closed, some onsite registrations will be available starting Wednesday at 4 p.m. Trails are rated by difficulty. Full descriptions are available on the Winter 4×4 Jamboree website.
All participating vehicles must be high-clearance and have four-wheel drive; smaller SUVs and all-wheel drive vehicles are not suitable. Harder trails require more equipment such as lifted suspensions, bigger tires and lockers. Higher rated trails also require more experience and better equipment – all the way to the “10” rating, for custom-built off-road buggies.
For those new to off-roading, a “4×4 101” trail is now being offered by professional instructors to teach the basics needed for a safe and rewarding off-road experience.
“The 4×4 101 trail is getting more popular every year,” Lindquist said. “People like to have a little guidance when they are just getting started.”
For those who just want to look and maybe shop a little, both buildings at the fairgrounds will be packed full of off-road and automotive vendors. Vendor shows start at 3 p.m. Thursday through and Saturday; food trucks will also be available.
The event is sponsored by some big names in the off-road industry, including BF Goodrich, Larry H. Miller, Red Desert Off-Road and Tuff Country, along with a number of off-road and automotive accessory vendors. DeWalt Tools was a popular sponsor and vendor at the 2019 event. Event pricing resulted in the sales of “truckloads” of merchandise, Lindquist said.
Many of the more difficult Jamboree trails used for the event are in the Sand Mountain Special Recreation Management Area, which is adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park. The area is also known as the Hurricane Sand Dunes or simply “Sand Hollow” and is managed by the state park and the Bureau of Land Management.
The Sand Mountain SRMA is designated as an “open travel OHV” area, one of a very few such areas in Utah and even across the country. The designation means new trails can be created in the red rock and sand dunes.
“Everywhere else we go, we stay on designated routes, of course,” Lindquist said. “Some people see these photos and videos of Jeeps rock-crawling on sandstone, and don’t realize that Sand Mountain is the only place we can – or should – do this. It really is a unique and spectacular recreational area, and it’s managed differently than BLM or Forest Service land.”
The Jamboree has a significant economic impact on Southern Utah, Doug Boyer, of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, said.
“What I really love about this event and the people that participate is that they really care about the land that they use. They take good care and make sure that they are using the area responsibly and they put in a lot of volunteer hours taking care of the area that they use,” he said in the release.
“This is great for us for multiple reasons because it really creates great exposure for the adventurous side of the Greater Zion area and helps drive economic development here as well. Last year’s event had an estimated economic impact of about $911,000. They do great things and seem to be headed in a good direction with the event,” Boyer added.
Many participants arrive before the Jamboree and stay afterward to enjoy other Southern Utah attractions. Of the 800+ vehicle registrations, more than 90% are from outside of Washington County, Lindquist said. About half are from northern Utah, about a fifth from Nevada, and several dozen each from Arizona, California and Colorado. The rest are from all over the U.S., plus one from Alberta, Canada.
Funds raised at the event are donated to public land use organizations such as the Utah Public Lands Alliance and to the Washington County Search and Rescue. After the 2019 Jamboree, $48,000 was donated to groups including Utah Public Lands Alliance, a local public land use nonprofit group, Utah 4-Wheel Drive Association and Washington County Search and Rescue.
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