Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree
It’s mid-September, and in Richfield, Utah, that means it’s time for the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree. It doesn’t quite reach the size or notoriety of the Sturgis bike rally (and thankfully not the reputation either), but is fits nicely with this small, family-oriented community.
Each fall when the blistering temperatures of summer fade and nature begins to display its palette of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and browns in mountain forests, riders are invited to spin their ATV wheels across the trails, through the woods, and over the rocks for a week of all-terrain excitement.
Richfield, population 8,000, is the Sevier County (20,000) seat, and serves as home base for the jamboree. The city stands as an oasis for travelers whether they’re headed up and down or back and forth in the West. It’s the most sizeable town for about a hundred miles in any direction and offers all services.
- Over Twenty Hotels
- Grocery Stores (with pharmacies)
- Dozens of Restaurants
- ATV Sales, Parts, and Repairs
- Within a couple of hours drive of a half dozen state parks and another half dozen national parks.
- Numerous campgrounds and places to dry camp (no cost in many locations)
- Many city streets are open to ATVs year round, and local authorities are much more understanding during the jamboree.
Richfield is at an elevation of about 5,300 feet above sea level and trails in the area top out at about 12,000 feet. So, be sure to tune your four wheeler properly before you arrive, and check the pressure in your ATV tires when you get here.
Temperatures in September are usually in the 70s during the daytime and in the 40s at night. But don’t kid yourself, mountain weather is unpredictable and can change by as much as 50 degrees when ascending a high peak. That kind of change will definitely mess with the pressure in your tires.
Attending the Jamboree
The first thing any rider should do is visit the official website at http://www.atvjam.com. Everything anyone needs to know is right there. Each year about 600 riders register, dozens more attend unofficially, and a couple hundred volunteers are on scene to make everything go smoothly. Even government agencies join the act and help out. Most notably are:
- Sevier County (and neighboring counties)
- Utah State Parks
- Fishlake National Forest
- Bureau of Land Management
Participants should pre-register on the website for $100 which gets them access to the guided rides, breakfasts in the park, dinners in the park, musical entertainment, drawings, a t-shirt, and a jamboree commemorative sticker.
In addition to endless miles of trail wherein you can put those new all-terrain ATV tires to the test, you can also enjoy an ATV parade, ATV rodeo, poker run, mud wrestling, and a free GPS class. Ok, I made up the part about mud wrestling, but I’m sure nobody would stop you if a spontaneous tag-team match broke out.
Pets are welcome and the State of Utah does not require an out of state registration permit if you are a registered participant of a jamboree.
Guided ATV Rides
There are over 70 unique rides that explore mountains, deserts, history, and rocks. No matter if you are the owner of a set of cheap ATV tires or you just installed a killer set of ITP Mudlites, these trails will put them to the test.
Local businesses sponsor many of the rides and provide a free meal or snack for registered riders. The following are a few examples of the guided rides to choose from at the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree.
- Mountain Man Special – A five-day and four-night ride for the stout of heart. Plan on camping, cooking, and seeing wildlife.
- Precipitous Journey – Also known as the “Oh Crap Trail.” If you don’t know how good your riding skills, brakes and tire treads are, you’ll find out on this ride.
- History related rides – Several of the rides go through historic gold mining districts, ancient Native American settlements, and early pioneer sites.
- For the Girls – Shop Til you Drop and the Ladies Day ride offer women riders a chance to check out some local stores or to enjoy a Dutch oven lunch cooked along the trail.
- The Challenge – also known as “The Oh Sh@# Special.” I think the name says it all.
- Midnight Mystery Ride – Enjoy a ride wherein the mountainous beauty is lit only by the moon and the stars.
- Let’s Go Fishin’ Now – This guided ride lets ATVers stop and drown a worm (or a lure) in several high mountain lakes.
- Razor’s Edge – A ride designed just for those skinny little side-by sides.
Off Highway Vehicle Riders from All Over Attend
Most years, riders come from every western state, a few Midwestern states, and occasionally southerners and those from “back east” show up. Every now and then riders from Germany, Canada, and even Australia make the trek to enjoy some of the best ATV trails anywhere.
Writers, reporters and manufacturers are also in attendance. Oftentimes officials from Honda, Polaris or Kawasaki come to test (or show off) new equipment, get user feedback, or seek inspiration for research and development.
A park in Richfield serves as home base and is filled with vendors that sell and show ATV wheels, tires, accessories, and more. That alone can make it worth the trip. On Monday I was a ride guide and one of the participants needed to replace his Maxxis Bighorns. He confided that he was waiting until the last day of the jamboree in hopes of striking a great bargain from a vendor. Just another good reason to attend.