My First Trip To Moab (Rally On The Rocks)
By: Mia DiGiovanni (12 years old)
Rally on the Rocks is a week-long event held the second week of May each year, that takes place in beautiful Moab, Utah. It is an event put on for off-road enthusiasts, mainly side-by-sides, like the Polaris RZR. It is attended by what seems like thousands of people. The event puts on group and demo rides, along with allowing specific dealers to lead their own group rides with their very own vehicles. My dad, Joey D., first came to the event 6 years ago and he hasn’t missed it since. He fell in love with the beauty of the state and city, just as he did with my mom, Camille, and since he was unable to bring her this year, my dad decided to bring her mini-me instead. Me! This trip has been by far, my favorite father-daughter trip ever, and it will sure be difficult to top. My dad said if he was to bring me along, which meant I had to miss a week of school, that I was going to have to write a story on the adventure. So here is my report on my first time to Moab.
After a long 12 hour drive from our home in Valley Center, CA to Moab, UT we were spent. But I must admit, I was also very excited and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful Moab was. Upon pulling in you are met with some of the most beautiful mesas, cliffs and rock faces I have ever seen. It feels like you are driving strait into our earths history as you cross the Colorado River and can see how the water has shaped these canyons for millions and millions of years. We were going to need our rest as the week was all planned out and we had a lot of trails to see!
I could hardly sleep, despite being exhausted from the long trip, but I was super excited to get out and explore. We got up and unloaded our machine from the trailer. My dad brought along our 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo four seater. He has it all set up with roll cage, seats, harnesses, a windshield and some really slick wheels and tires. We gassed it up and met up with a couple of my dad’s friends and we began our drive strait through town. Unlike California, you can have your off highway vehicles licensed to be able to drive on the street. This makes it really fun to be able to drive down the road alongside other cars and trucks. Our RZR always turns heads, I get a little embarrassed at all the waving and looks our RZR attracts.
Our first trail of our trip was called Moab Rim. I mean, whats a better first trail to go on then Moab Rim?! This is one of the most popular trials in all of Moab. It has a lot of scenery and consists of lots of different terrain. Each trail has a set of obstacles usually. An obstacle can be as simple as a rock waterfall you have to crawl up, where some can be very nerve racking. I usually get out and just watch my dad when we get to the scary obstacles. But I also enjoy the rush. The first obstacle we reached is only a little ways up the trail. This is where at the Easter Jeep Safari held a couple of weeks prior to our trip, off-road legend Walker Evans, instead of making a hard left, kept driving forward right towards a cliff that goes straight down a couple hundred feet to the road below, which is right along the Colorado River. Luckily for him his back passenger tire got hung up in the rocks and he was unable to go forward anymore. Reid Nordin, with Walker Evans Racing, tried to recreate the scene just for a quick picture, but we were unable to do it. Reid is my dad’s friend and he was the first person to ever bring my dad to Moab back in 2010. It was pretty cool for both my dad I to ride alongside Reid and his wife Jill, they are really nice and very knowledgeable as it pertains to Moab and the surrounding trails. After getting up the obstacle we moved along to the top of Moab Rim. The rest of the trail was very scenic and beautiful. Utah defiantly makes you realize and understand that us, as humans, are only little accessories to God’s great creation; the Earth.
Our second trail of the trip was Hells Revenge. The name itself made me cringe when my dad said we were going there next. Hells Revenge is exactly what I thought of when he told me we were going to Moab. Its light pink slick rock trails are easy to follow due to the tire tracks the rubber leaves on the slick rock. I am not sure why they call the trails slick rock, it feels like sand paper, you quickly understand why its possible to drive up these rock faces with ease as the tires produce a lot of tracking on this surface. I did not like the steep hill climbs on the slick rock at first, that’s for sure! All my dad heard from the back seat where I was sitting was weird noises and, “Nope!” He would look back and laugh and we would scoot right up the face and I would settle back down. We made our way to the River Outlook, that view changed my perspective on a lot of things. You look one way, and you see the Colorado River flowing through a canyon. You look another way, and you see slick rock for as far as the eye can see. You look another way, and you see the snow capped mountains.
Moab is home to two of the nations most popular destinations, Canyon Lands and Arches National Parks. But just Moab itself, is a national treasure. Its so cool to be on these trails and see just how amazing the earth is. Its even greater that we get to explore the earth in these fun off-road machines. I could never imagine having to hike and climb to all of these remote locations. Being able to drive and crawl our way through and then be rewarded with such beautiful scenery was just awesome. We made our way out of Hells Revenge after playing around in the famous “Hot Tubs”. These tubs are actually big holes in the rock where water pools. Enthusiasts like us, drive into the big holes and try to drive back out. This was another place that I told my dad that I would be happy to get out and take pictures!
On day two, after a quick trip to the horse arena which is where the actual rally is held, we headed out on our first trail of the day named Strike Ravine. The beginning of the ride consists of mainly flat “S” shaped dirt roads that lead through cattle farms and open meadows. These roads are my favorite thing ever! Why you ask? Because I’m more of a pedal-to-the-metal kind of girl, rather than a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of girl. Considering I race a Polaris Ace 570, they aren’t that easy to drift or go around corners very fast in, so when we were in the 4 and 2 seat RZRs doing this, to me it was a blast! My dad prefers to keep it tame when I am in the vehicle but every now and then I can convince him to put the peddle to the floor and make that RZR go fast! The rest of the trail was more King Of The Hammers kind of stuff, that defiantly kept me on my toes! You might be wondering what King Of The Hammers is. Well, its a big race held in Johnson Valley, CA and its where the best rock crawlers in the world come to compete. They race up these crazy canyons full of jagged rocks. Its slower paced but very technical and it can really punish your machine. After climbing a few of these canyons we made our way to this outlook where we stopped and ate lunch and who knew the world could be such a beautiful place. Just being able to be with great friends and my dad, doing what we love, in a place we love, there’s nothing like it. We wrapped up lunch and made our way back through the trail and popped out in what is called Area BFE. I liked Area BFE, not just because the name is funny but because all of the trails are named after bands and musicians. You have Green Day, Brittany Spears, and Smashing Pumpkin to name a few. Whoever conquers a trail first gets to name it, maybe one day I will get to name one?
After a short break back at the arena my dad and his photographer Tom decided we should head back out to go do some photos. While it always seems my dad is out to have fun on these trips, and he does have fun, he also has to get some work done so we hooked up with Bill and Brandon Schueler of Jagged X racing and the guys from DWT Wheels to go take pictures of there really cool machines. We decided it would be best to do this back at Hells Revenge because the scenery is perfect for photos and its close to where we were all staying. My dad led everyone back to the river outlook where we stopped to have pictures taken of with the beautiful view in the background. Right when we were getting ready to go, my dad asked me if I wanted to drive, and automatically I said yes, because I will always take up the opportunity to drive! So I did, and it really wasn’t as nerve wrecking as riding because as the driver, you know what to expect. He spotted from the passenger seat explaining when to give the vehicle more gas and coached me for the first few minutes of the trail. Soon I was picking lines and repaying my dad with a little bit of the fear he likes to give me when we go on these off-road adventures. I drove our Polaris RZR back to the hot tubs, and drove, twice, through the Car Wash hot tub! The only thing I was worried about going through that was getting mud on my dads car! He hates getting his machines dirty, we all sort of tease him about that. I had to laugh when he asked for me to let him out to take photos when we got to the hot tub. It was the same thing I did when he was driving. Throughout the rest of the trail we went through and over a couple more obstacles, and just that section of the trail that I drove, made me so much more confident as a driver. I will never forget driving up and over the slick rock mountains with the sun dropping behind the canyons.
Day three would be our last day of riding in Moab. Our first trail was going to be Behind The Rocks. We partnered with the biggest group of the week, a bunch of my dads off-road racing buddies. You drive about a quarter of a mile up the trail before hitting the first obstacle which was a steep rocky climb. With this obstacle you defiantly had to choose your line carefully! This was the hardest obstacle of our trip so far but my dad spotted his line and powered right up. After we made sure our whole crew made it up that, we continued and ended upon the waterfall. Only about half our group did it, but honestly, I don’t blame the ones who did not do it! My dad has done it numerous times but since we were up front we decided to take the bypass route and spot everyone else coming down. This was a lot of fun watching our group heckle each other as they slid their machines down this very steep rock face. We continued to drive along windy, narrow dirt roads, with little ups and downs that made it seem like a roller coaster. We drove and drove until we made a lunch stop at the top of a cliff. The view, once again like everywhere else, was amazing. On our way back we stopped at the little sand dunes, and found a little line that had a fun jump! In the 4 seater it even created a little slap wheelie after you land! We finally made it back to the condos, and hung out for a while, before going out for our last trail of our trip.
For our last trail, we knew we had to choose a good one, so we chose Steel Bender. It started off with a water crossing, then it turned into Steel Bender, the more King of the Hammers kind of stuff. The trail was pretty rough on the neck, but the views, once again, made it all worth it. There were a few pretty extreme obstacles that none of us were able to accomplish, but the ones we did, still were gnarly! Right before we got back on the flat, windy dirt roads that I love very much, there was one more water crossing that was truly beautiful. Coming out of the water on the other side was a good little rock climb that one of our friends, unfortunately, broke an axel on, but was able to change it quickly. Then we were upon the flats again on our way back to the condos, and out of Moab the next morning around 5am.
This entire trip defiantly made me realize the most important thing in the world, family. I love my dad so much and this company and all the trips that come with it are what has brought us all together as a family. I am pretty lucky being able to grow up riding off-road, camping, racing and exploring parts of our world that most never get to see. If you ever get the chance to visit Moab or just Utah in general, I have two words for you. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.
I want to thank my Dad and his company at UTVUnderground.com for bringing me along. Thank you to the Rally On The Rocks staff for providing us with our accommodations and for showing us such a great time. I want to also thank Reid and Jill Nordin for guiding us on the trails and keeping us company as we explored Moab. Lastly, thank you to Polaris RZR for building such a cool machine for us to play in. We had a rockin’ good time!
Photos by: Tom Leigh // UTVUnderground.com