By Lynn R. Blamires Content Writer for My Local Utah
How big is the travel money pot at the end of the rainbow?
I have written about and been to more ATV jamborees this year than in any other of my 39 years on the trail. More jamborees are held in Utah than in any other state and people come from all over the country to attend them. County tourism boards are looking for ways to attract a share of the tourist dollars spent in Utah. According to Google, that number was 10.6 billion dollars in 2019 with 86 percent of that money coming from out-of-state visitors. 141,500 jobs are supported with this money.
With National Parks full where are visitors going?
With Utah’s five national parks bursting at the seams with visitors, people are discovering the backcountry in a big way. Last year when I took a five-day, 540 mile ATV ride from Kanab to Kamas, I was amazed at the number of RV camps I came across. Many of them were secluded in the high country and in areas with limited access.
Counties getting creative in attracting tourists
Utah’s counties are facilitating this discovery by focusing on back-country trail systems unique to each county and then adding creative activities to enhance the jamboree experience. Here is a sample of what county tourism boards are doing to attract riders.
Vernal held their 7th annual Outlaw Jamboree last June. The first jamboree saw 30 riders and the numbers for the second one came in at 60. Leisha Coltharp with the Uinta County Travel Board decided to attend one of the more established jamborees in the state to see if she could pick up some ideas that would bring more people to the Outlaw Jamboree.
As a result, the attendance at the 2021 jamboree was over 700. What did she do? She capitalized on the newness that legalizing ATVs to be ridden on streets and not just on backcountry trails has brought to the ATV community. People are still getting used to the unique idea of running to the store and doing other errands in a RZR.
As a part of this year’s jamboree schedule, Leisha organized a “Foodie Tour of Vernal.” Riders lined up and followed her to a selection of eateries that allowed restaurant owners a chance to offer samples of their best dishes. The places she selected included – a breakfast café, a candy store, a gourmet pizza place, a steakhouse, and a brewery. No one went away hungry. She also planned trail rides that included archery skills, shooting skills, and a night ride that offered riders the chance to see the glory of the night sky in a Dark Sky location.
The Paiute Trails Jamboree is offering a series of events at the city park that gives adults a chance to be kids again. These include a Blind Man’s Obstacle Course where a rider is blindfolded and guided through a course by a passenger. Another event requires a driver to guide a six-foot rubber ball around two barrels at opposite ends of the field in a UTV. Kids get involved in a belly flop contest and a mud racing event.
The National ATV Jamboree offered a ride this year to bring out the younger side of the older riders. It was billed as a “Scary Night Ride.” There are just some people who are attracted to scary movies and Halloween-like events.
Riders followed their guide into the mountains east of Fillmore on the Sand Rock Ridge Trail to a junction that took them to East Pine Creek. Here they listened to stories of murder and intrigue among the Indians and pioneers. From the stories I have heard about Chief Wakara and his band of Indians who roamed this area, I could easily be made to feel uncomfortable in the woods at night.
At one point, the group was treated to a sighting of Sasquatch – the Big Foot of the Pavant Mountains. The ride was a big hit and is sure to become a regular offering.
The slick rock of Moab draws UTV drivers every year in the spring to the jamboree known as The Rally on the Rocks. The kid in every driver comes out as they try to outdo each other on some of the most challenging rock crawling that is known to man. Sometimes these drivers find themselves with the rubber side up.
And there you have it – other counties are in the fray competing for a piece of the tourist trade. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and go to a jamboree and put your kid on.