Rocking the RZRs in Hot Springs
Story and Photos by Nolen Grogan
[ PHOTO GALLERY ]
I have been dying to round up a pack of RZRs and hit some big rocks. I spoke with some guys that had taken some UTVs up Upper Helldorado in Moab and I really wanted to step it up a notch next time I went out. I planned to head up to Mena, Arkansas, to do some light trail riding with my friend John Mesko, but at the last minute we had a change of plans and decided to get a group of RZRs and hit Superlift ORV park in Hot Springs. John and his best wheeling buddy Ross Foster were were kind enough to put me up in their camper and feed me all weekend. Not only that, but they did not kill me for taking them up some really stupid stuff in the dark on Friday night as we got ready for the rest of the gang to arrive. Luckily it was dark when we ran 3 major "5" rated trails; Box Canyon, Bonus Hill and Rolling Rock. All of these trails are dead serious and they really opened all of our eyes to what these vehicles are capable of. The next morning John said he wanted to start the group off on some big rocks so we headed back up Box Canyon again first thing. Box Canyon is a steep trail littered with ledges and grapefruit sized loose boulders all on a steep rise.
The trail has 3 options, all with increasing levels of difficulty. I led the group up the right, down the middle line and then back up the left line that is the loosest, steepest climb. Kyle Hill went ahead and got this out of the way on the first hard climb of the day!
From Box Canyon we once again bounced up Bonus Hill. There are multiple lines on this gnarly near vertical climb and we ended up in the middle with one nice ledge at the bottom and then a super steep climb to follow. Once again, this group made it look easy and the smiles were stretched to the limit. From there we headed off to Hummdinger. This trail has a wicked multi-step ledge at the beginning that is not "crawlable" and really hates the wheelbase of a 2-seat RZR. I bounced up in my "short-bus" RZR-4 and Ross Foster piled in right behind me in his standard RZR on 27" tires. Ross gave it a huge effort but in the end the noises his front end was making forced him around to the right and up.
Kyle was eager to show that he was not a gomer after rolling on the first big rock and jumped right up and made it look easy in his stock RZR-S.
Not to outdone by a stock "S", Doc Mesko jumped on the throttle hard in his RZR XP and launched up with is 30" tries boiling.
Now came the group's true wild man, Gary Newcome. Gary looks like a mild mannered banker. Well, the banker part is correct but mild mannered he is not. Without blinking, Gary threw his RZR-S at the wall at twice the speed that anyone else had hit it. It was awesome and got us our second roll over of the day!
We rolled him back over while he stayed strapped in and he hit it again; this time he made it up with style.
When you are on Hummdinger, it is just natural that you will head over to Ingrid's Revenge. That said, the last time I tried Ingrid's in a UTV, I was on my Rhino and could not get 50 feet into the trail due to the large rocks. I warned the group that we were about to head into what I considered one of the hardest trails for RZRs at Superlift and they all just grinned and said "lead on." Lou Longoria ended up right behind me on this trail and although he had no previous experience in the rocks, he totally smoked this trail in his standard RZR. We quickly made it to the vertical rock wall and paused to let the group catch up and then come up with a plan of attack for the wall.
I really wanted to see how my RZR-4 would act on the steepest part of the wall. Without really making a plan for when I got to the top, I pointed it straight at the steepest part of the hill and crawled it. The problem was, once I got to the top, I was going to slow to carry the longer belly of my RZR-4 over the lip of the climb. With Lou's help, I winched over the lip and continued to drive it out.
Lou made the wall too but also got hung up soon after. Doc and Greg tugged him up with a spotter strap. Next Gary hit the same line and walked the wall but got way hung up on the overhang as well. After a bit of tugging, he too made it to the top of the wall.
Meanwhile, Ross was sidelined due to some damage he got on Hummdinger but he found a much nicer line for Greg Sheets in his stock XP. Kyle followed this line and was up in a snap. Finally, Doc Mesko decided to try his own line up the wall over 2 huge boulders. The 30" tires on his XP make it thing a crawling beast. With the XP, you have to plan your crawling a bit more due to the trailing arms hanging low in the rear. Knowing this, Doc put his tires on the edges of the rocks and slowly crawled it. This was a gutsy move, but really made for a cool climb.
The next challenge was the wedge at the end of Ingrid's. I worked my RZR-4 hard and bound it up good but I could not get up this section. I ended up popping it up easily to the right and came back to spot Doc up in his XP. I thought for sure his 30" tires would be the ticket here, but the trailing arms just would not slide over. When he tried a full throttle bump his 30's got a hard bite on the rocks and the XP stood straight up!
The rest of the gang followed my line to the right of the wedge until Kyle came up. As he nosed his RZR-S up, it became clear what model is likely the best pure rock crawler of the bunch. Kyle lined up his "S" perfectly and snapped the throttle and made it up on 26" tires.
From here, we headed back to camp for lunch and to regroup. We had been at it for just over 2 hours and we had taken out 4 of the hardest trails in Hot Springs. The group remained super enthusiastic although it was nearing 95 degrees and 95% humidity. Once we "gassed up" on Gatorade and sandwiches from Doc and Ross, we jumped up Brandon's Run to see what we could do with Concrete Hill. Concrete Hill is a monster of a climb that has gotten harder and harder over the years. Not only is it steep, but it is severely washed out. This is where the 103" wheelbase of my RZR-4 really shined. Even though I was way out of sorts, I was able to make the climb without assistance. Kyle was the only one with a 2-seater willing to give it a go and the shorter wheelbase was just not enough to get him out of the deep holes. 2 small tugs on the winch and he was up and out.
After this, the group did some high-speed driving on Buckhorn North. This trail is made for RZRs as it is steep, loose and fast. We ran it to the south and then decided to run it again, back to the north with a little detour to Horsepower HIll. Gary made a splash on his last trip to Hot Springs on You Tube by driving his RZR up Horsepower Hill. Since I knew it was doable, I jumped up it on my RZR-4 and made it with ease. Kyle followed in his "S" on the rear tires the entire way uphill. This hill is damn steep and can really ruin your day if you mess up. The only scary moment was when Lou let off on the steepest section and got himself sideways about 80 feet up. Here is a picture of Kyle coming back down Horsepower Hill.
We took one more break and then took a final trip out to hit some more rock trails. Slammer was first. The slick rocks at the top made us all think a bit but we made it. Greg spanked it in his XP with a blip of the XP's throttle. Lou managed to get in and out of this predicament all by himself without a scratch. It is amazing how durable these RZRs are.
After that climb up Slammer, Gary was really wound up and ready for something big so we stepped it up and hit Outlaw. The first big ledge had a breakover like Ingrid's, but I had a better plan this time. My RZR-4 made it up easily but not without losing a fender in the process. This was my only damage of the entire day.
Those of you that know me, know that I have been a lot of places and done a lot of wheeling over the years. Being a buggy guy, I have always had to drive thousands of miles each year to find the biggest rocks and waterfalls to keep raising the bar as the capabilities of my buggies got bigger and greater. Now that my kids are getting older and I have moved back home to the deep south, it is nearly impossible to keep that kind of travel schedule just to chase big rocks. That is where the RZR has come to play. Imagine the thrill of hitting some of the biggest rocks in your area with 26" tires on a 1000 pound vehicle with up to 80 horsepower! On top of that, our group had only one mechanical malfunction amidst all this abuse. If you are looking to put a little spice into your wheeling life, look no further than the UTV market. You will be shocked at how much fun these things are!
Check out the complete photo gallery here: http://pirate4x4.com/gallery/main.php/v/2011SuperliftRZRRocks/