What do you do when winter holds Western Canada in such a tight grip that the first few weeks of spring are virtually nonexistent? Head south, of course.
That’s what ATVers Ryan and Teresa Lodge of Langley, B.C., did in March 2018.
“There were four couples that went, so eight of us,” said Ryan.
Their destination? Moab.
A four-wheeler’s paradise
A small, somewhat touristy city in eastern Utah, Moab serves as the gateway to two national parks and the petrified sand dunes of the Colorado Plateau. Surrounded by mesas, canyons and red desert, Moab is a renowned off-road vehicle (ORV) destination.
In the summer, Moab can be unbearably hot, but Ryan and Teresa’s spring-break timing was perfect because daytime highs ranged from 15 to 22 C. The trip also coincided with Easter Jeep Safari, an annual event that attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of 4x4 enthusiasts.
“We were on one trail and there were probably 150 Jeeps with us,” said Ryan.
Just minutes to the east of Moab is the 3,600-hectare (9,000-acre) Sand Flats Recreation Area. Camping is permitted, and from where they camped, Ryan’s group could access nearly 64 kilometres (40 miles) of designated ORV trails. According to him, the trails are well-marked and there is a rating system to help riders choose terrain based on their skill level.
So popular are these trails that they’ve all been given names, such as The Cliff Hanger and Hell’s Revenge. Obstacles along Hell’s Revenge have also been named and include the Escalator, Mickey’s Hot Tub and the Tip Over Challenge. For obvious reasons, these should not be attempted in the dark—right Ryan?
“Our first night there, my friend Jim and I decided to go for a ride and we ended up on Hell’s Revenge,” he said. “We got turned around but were able to find our way out. Luckily, we didn’t end up on those obstacles because you need daylight. You need to be able to see what you’re doing.”
It’s a rock crawler’s paradise. — photo courtesy Ryan Lodge
From the rock ledges to the slick sandstone, this is prime side-by-side country. However, Ryan and Teresa had no problem keeping up on their ATVs.
“There are a lot of workarounds for the quads because the boulders are too big,” said Ryan. “I just winched up because our thing is if you’re not winching, you’re not riding.”
Utah is an extremely ORV-friendly destination. Out-of-state or out-of-country visitors are required to have a machine that meets the legal requirements of their home, but so long as you have signal lights and a horn, Ryan said, ATVs and side-by-sides can be ridden on most highways and city streets. In Moab, people often use them as grocery getters.
Back in Canada, Ryan is one of the few ATVers who rides year-round, snow or shine. That being said, the trip to Moab was a nice respite from a long winter.
“We are probably going to make it an annual event,” he said.
Ryan and Teresa have plans to spend every possible weekend in the immediate future exploring the Lower Mainland.
“We go camping almost every weekend to Caroline Mines, Bretton Creek, Tulameen, Coalmont—it’s all within two hours of us and you can ride for days and days,” said Ryan.
They also have plans to camp off the quads in the Cariboo region.
Growing up in the Lower Mainland, Ryan was exposed to dirt bikes and ATVs when he was a kid, but it wasn’t until he bought his current Kodiak 700 that the now 40-year-old got serious about riding. In two years, he’s racked up about 9,000 kilometres (approximately 5,600 miles).
“I ride all year,” he said. “People say, ‘there’s two feet of snow up there.’ Well, then you just go 10 feet forward and 100 feet back, 20 feet forward and 110 feet back, and just keep pushing through.”
Whether his treads are in the spring snow at home in Canada or on the slickrock of Moab, Ryan is happiest behind the bars.
This photo was taken at East Harrison, just past the Clear Creek Hot Springs near Hope, B.C. — photo courtesy Ryan Lodge