The invention of the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) gave mere mortals like me the ability to explore places I would have never seen if I had to rely on my legs. While I do enjoy mountain biking, I don’t have the strength, stamina or desire to pedal much beyond a few miles, no matter how spectacular the scenery. The fact is, even world-class cyclists can generate only about one horsepower on a bicycle. An 800cc ATV generates upwards of 70 smooth, powerful horses that will take you to the top of just about any mountain range.
Combine that modern mobility with Central Utah’s Paiute ATV trail system and you have what experienced riders from all over the country call “ATV Heaven.” Come Sept. 14, hundreds of those ATV enthusiasts will descend upon Richfield, Utah, to take part in the annual Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree. This is no small event. Every year, about 650 riders head out with guides on one of 70 routes along this 1,000-mile trail system. This year organizers will attempt to break the world’s record of 1,632 ATVs in the “World’s Longest ATV Parade.”
It’s a big event and a big playground. The Paiute Trail is a 260-mile loop that traverses a million acres of Fish Lake National Forest. Riders climb from a base elevation of 5,100 feet to over 11,000 feet, along aspen and pine covered trails. Fish Lake itself is a world-class fishing destination. Measuring six miles long and a mile wide, the lake has a depth of 160 feet. The crystal clear waters provide some of the West’s finest year-round fishing. In addition to slake and rainbow trout, it is famous for its 20-, 30- and even 40-pound Mackinaw trout.
The area is also steeped in Native American history. Nearby Fremont Indian State Park and Museum is a treasure of Native American culture, and Clear Creek Canyon features Native American rock art known as petroglyphs, which are chiseled into the rock, and pictographs, which are painted. There are also a few very rare pictoglyphs, which are painted and chiseled into the rock.
Wildlife is abundant in the Fish Lake National Forest. Mule deer are fairly common along the trails, and there are also large elk herds. If you can’t see the more elusive elk, many times you can hear them bugling in the distance. This is also a popular wintering area for golden and bald eagles and some remain all year, so you may see one while you’re on the trail. There are also mountain goats, badgers, coyotes, squirrels, chipmunks and a variety of songbirds. You’re definitely not alone. If you’re a particularly hardy soul, load up your ATV with camping gear and spend a couple of nights on the trail. Since this is public land, you’re welcome to pitch a tent anywhere you can find some flat ground. That way you’ll be sure to encounter some wildlife.
Richfield is base camp for this event, with surrounding towns also playing host to ATVers. There are hotels, motels, campgrounds and RV parks throughout the Sevier Valley. This is also an “ATV friendly” area, so you can drive your ATV on designated streets in Richfield. Reservations are required for the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree. For information, and to register for the jamboree, visit www.atvjam.com. Or you can contact the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree’s director, Kevin Arrington, directly at (435) 893-0457 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bob Wassom is a Utah-based freelance writer with a passion for outdoor recreation, travel and tourism.