HURRICANE — Top-notch rock crawling combined with eye-popping views of Zion National Park and the Pine Valley mountains make the “Winter 4×4 Jamboree” a can’t-miss event for trail-riding aficionados. This year’s jamboree is set for Thursday through Saturday at the Sand Mountain Special Recreation Management Area near Sand Hollow State Park.
Sponsored and organized by Desert Roads and Trails Society, a local nonprofit organization more commonly known as Desert RATS dedicated to promoting the responsible use of public lands, the jamboree has grown in each of its four years. This year’s participation is expected to surpass last year’s record attendance: 520 vehicles and more than 1,000 participants from 2017.
“It’s really something to see 500-plus rigs lined up in the parking lot before daybreak, raring to go,” Desert RATS board member Julie Applegate said. “Everyone’s so excited, and everyone’s having a great time.”
Jamboree officials tout that there are trails for everyone. “From mild to wild,” Applegate said, adding that they run the gamut, from 2-rated (graded dirt roads) to 10-rated (buggy only, with rollovers likely).
“There’s nowhere else in the world where you can find this kind of scenery and this variety of trails so close to town,” Desert RATS President Jeff Bieber said about the Sand Mountain OHV Area. “And we want to do everything we can to protect it, which includes holding this fundraising event. The money we raise will go to organizations that are fighting to protect it.”
Last year’s event generated $27,300 for three land-use organizations: $20,000 to the Utah Public Lands Alliance, $7,000 to Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association and $300 to the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
The jamboree was also a boon to the local economy. Approximately 80 percent of the jamboree participants from a year ago were from out of town, infusing an estimated $1.6 million into Southern Utah, said Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission.
“What makes our region attractive to off-road enthusiasts is that we have so many different trails within a close distance of each other,” Lewis said. “Energy permeates the mountain during this high-adrenaline event.”
Trail lineups begin at 7 a.m. Thursday. The final trail runs begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The full event schedule can be found online.
Online registration for the event is closed, but participants can do in-person late registration Wednesday through Saturday at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 5500 W. 700 South, Hurricane. For more information about registering visit the Winter 4×4 Jamboree website.