Riding the Red Rock

A trail ride in the Valley of Fire

Oct. 01, 1999 By The Dave
  • October 1999

This month we look at life on the trail as we go on a guided trail ride in the Valley of Fire Recreation area. The trails are long and dusty but the end result is well worth it!

The Valley of Fire Recreation Area
Hey Dave, where you going with that hose gun in your hand? It all started a few weeks earlier. I was washing my trusty 400 in the driveway when this feller pulls up in a white mini-van. He says he has a buddy that owns an ATV shop in Overton, Nevada and they are going to have a trail ride event. Seeing my quad he decided to regale me with all the information. It sounded doable to me so I got the time and date information and went back to scrubbin' the EX. On Monday plans were made with some of the other Off-Road staffers to attend. The ORC posse rides again!
Alone again, Naturally
As per usual, as the date approached "other things" reared their ugly heads and suddenly I was riding solo, as it were. Nothin' new here as the 1 Ton-of-Fun and I have run many roads together. I must admit that I thought of canceling and doing other things with my Saturday as I figured that eight or ten people would show and the whole thing would be a dud. Nonetheless the itch to ride was overwhelming so I made my last minute plans, gathered up my gear and hit the sack for an early morning start.

Ever had a forty five minute blink?

The alarm clock was set to detonate at 6:45am and went off as advertised. I have one

Some of the trail riders taking a break
of those alarms that has a giant display because I have been blessed with twenty/four-million vision. After shutting off the alarm clock at 6:45 I blinked once to clear my eyes and when I opened them it was 7:30! No big deal, Overton is only an hour or so away and the ride don't start until 9am so that leaves me plenty of time to take a shower, dress, have breakfast, load my quad, gas up and head out. As I am used to altering the time space continuum in an attempt to be on time I easily accomplished everything on my list and promptly headed out at 8:15.

"It was white, made a whirrin' sound and moved really fast!" After a pit stop at the seven-eleven that would get me a full sponsorship with a NASCAR Winston Cup race team I rolled through town only slightly exceeding the speed limit. Once I was on lake shore road I switched from impulse power to full warp drive. "Plot a course for Overton, Engage!" Although the route I decided to take has enough curves to qualify it as a formula one road course not to mention that the 1 Ton drives like a tank at 80 miles per the drive was fairly uneventful. One thing of note, I did pass the one and only vehicle that was on the road that morning, a white Chevy dually that was doing approximately 6 mph. I came upon him after clearing a long sweeper to the right. He never saw me coming and and my closure rate was in excess of 75 miles per hour. Adios Amigo!

New kid in town The last two miles of my trip down to Overton took forever. After doing just under the speed of sound for the last hour or so the 25 mph speed limit in Overton made me feel like I was parked. Having to concentrate to keep my eyes from rolling back into my head because of a painfully slow speed limit I rounded the last corner and could not believe what I saw! Crossing the road was maybe thirty or forty quads heading out to the trail. An additional twenty-five or thirty were staging to leave in the next group. And I thought that maybe eight or ten people would be going on the ride! I didn't see that one coming. Pulling into the parking area I was met by Dennis, owner of Splash Fever and organizer of the trail ride. He advised me that I would be going in the last

Nearby Lake Mead National Recreation area
group and they were heading out in about five minutes. Needless to say the next five minutes made me look like a new recruit at the fire house. Trying to get dressed, get my boots on, quad unloaded, helmet, gloves and kidney belt, and camera gear attached to my person in some manner or fashion and in line before five minutes had elapsed. No easy task mind you but when the trail boss rolled out I was in line ready to go. Of course I was thirsty and needed the boys room in the worst way, but that's an other story!

The Long and Winding Road

The first part of the trail ride was uneventful and as a matter of fact it wasn't even a trail but a dirt road. No problem for the 400EX and we cruised easily to the first stopping point. All but one of the 25 quads in our group were 4x4's with a 250X
The owner of this dog
says he loves riding on the quad!
FourTrax being the only exception. As our first stopping point was a sand wash I decided to "air out" my 400 a little bit and the feller on the 250X followed suit. Before long we had a full blown race on our hands! After a few passes we rejoined the group with the 400 out-running the 250. To his credit and superior riding skills he was able to hang right with me. One thing that did surprise me was, at the first stop when people started pulling their helmets off, the range of ages of the riders. People from the age of fifteen all the way to retired folks were in attendance. It was obvious that ATVing has become a very popular pastime with all age groups.

Heads up, Eyes open After a few moments of freedom it was back in line to start out on leg two of our

Canyon walls cut by the wind and water
journey. As we rode along the sand wash en route to the next trail head our group moved slowly so as to observe what Mother Nature accomplished over millions of years. The sand wash wound through many canyons and other natural formations that have been carved out by a millennia of flash flooding. If you have never experienced a flash flood in the high desert, when you do you will never forget it. One thing is certain (pay attention, major safety tip here) if it is raining in the area stay out of low lying washes. If you think about the power expelled to carve and slice hundred foot walls of rock, thrashing a lowly ATV rider would be effortless.

The Daily Grind After moving through the sand wash we arrived at the next trail head. I should say trail heads as many trails radiated out in many directions from this one starting point. Good thing our guide, Prentice Freeman knew what was what. If I was by my self I might have found my way out before I ran out of fuel but maybe not. It is a good idea to have a guide when riding an area you are unfamiliar with. At the very least have a good map of the area.

More Action on the trail!
As we left the sand wash and moved onto the trails one thing became very apparent. This was 4x4 quad country. The taller ground clearance of the 4x4's is a real plus! At first I did not realize that the 400's skid plate was in the full-on bulldozer mode but it didn't take long for me to figure it out. The ruts in the trail were deep the 400's low slung rear carrier quickly turned into a trencher. The rear skid plate gave it's life for this trail ride and was given the appropriate burial the next day. The_Dave has nothing but respect for parts that give their life for a good ride! What does it all mean? Thirteen miles in we reached the half way point and the highlight of the ride. The petroglyphs. The trail we were riding dead ended into a box canyon and on the sand stone walls were the handy work of ancient American Indians. This ancient artwork has stood the trails of time and endures today. The symbols and artwork was the topic of much discussion amongst the members of our group but nobody knows for sure what they mean. Knowing their meaning or not did not change the fact that you felt like you were
Indian Artwork on the sandstone walls.
reaching back to another time. I wonder if people 2000 years from now will understand the graffiti that adorns subway walls and apartment buildings today. Additionally I wonder if some splinter group of the tribe was opposed to this "defacing of mother earth" and spent every waking moment trying to put an end to actions of ancient graffiti artists. The "green crowd" works very hard to protect these ancient wonders but would gun you down if you took a paint brush to the same sandstone canyons. Same old story, different time.

I've been down this road before

After a forty-five minute stay in the box canyon exploring and climbing the sandstone rocks it was time to head out. Like I said we rode into a box canyon so the way in was the way out! To my surprise when we reached the fork in the road we took a left instead of a right. Looks like we were going back a different way. This was good news for me as I hate being stuck on a trail to begin with so going down a different trail would at least give me something new to look at. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? I read a sign once that said, "If your not the lead sled dog the scenery never changes." Same was true with this trail ride. I was entertaining thoughts of blasting out on my own but the eco-nuts would surly skin me alive. So I played nice-nice, there would be other days to rip and tear at Mother Earth! Then it happened, we rounded a corner and there it was. "Was what?", you say. Sand dunes! That's what, and plenty of them! Well there was actually only one sand dune but it was a big one. Our trail guide must have seen my eyes fill my goggles because he decided that this would be a good stopping point. Thank you trail dude! While most of the rest of the group took a water break I took a sand break and demonstrated what a 400ex could do to a pile of sand! I

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