Over the past three years, Tim Rioux of Flagstaff has done UTV rides all over Arizona, but he says the area around Page offers by far the best scenery.
“The scenery is about 10 times better here than anywhere else. Everywhere else is normally pines or in the desert, and we’ve done the pines and stuff in the desert for the past three years. This is the first one up here, and this is amazing,” he said.
Rioux was among the participants in the first Lake Powell UTV Fest, held in Page from Oct. 8-10 and organized by UTV Offroad Adventures. The event featured a night ride on Friday, and all-day guided tours to Lees Ferry Overlook and Alstrom Point on Saturday and Sunday.
The festival drew nearly 80 utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) and around 200 off-highway enthusiasts to Page for the weekend. The riders were split into two groups, with each group doing one of the rides on Saturday, and then the other ride on Sunday. The slow-paced tours were less about speed and more about enjoying the scenery.
Rioux spoke to Lake Powell Chronicle on Sunday morning as he prepared to set off on the Lees Ferry Overlook ride. He had done Alstrom Point on Saturday.
“The scenery was like you were on Mars, like something you’ve never seen before. It was great. The dust was down because there was more sand than dust. Normally we’re packed with dust. It was extremely wonderful, and the weather is great,” he said.
Among the festival’s sponsors was Demers Glass. Owner Pierre Demers is also president of AZ Kids, a nonprofit that helps raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. He said the group’s events are carefully controlled so participants don’t damage the environment they’re riding through.
“A bunch of us UTV enthusiasts get together and we do coordinated rides where we have a ride leader and a sweep. We stay on the trails, and we try to pick up garbage when we’re out there that other people have left behind,” Demers said. “At the same time, we do events on Saturday night. We do a poker run and some raffles to help support AZ Kids for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”
Kyle Krause, the founder of UTV Offroad Adventures, had already organized off-road races in Page when some local riders suggested he put on one of his slow-paced guided events in the area.
“Everyone’s loving it. Everyone loves the views and everything, so it turned out really well. On Saturday we probably had close to 80 UTVs. Couple hundred people came in,” he said. “We sold out the hotel, we hired the local food vendor here, we bought food, so I think it’s good for the economy here in Page.”
Krause said one of the main challenges to organizing the event was getting permits from the National Park Service, which needed assurances that the drivers would stay on course.
“We had some hiccups with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to get permits and stuff, but we made it happen,” he said.
“We learned a lot, and I told them we’re willing to talk to you guys next week about what went wrong, what went good, because they never did anything like this, they’ve never given a permit for anything like this. This is the first time that we’ve come to Page, and it’s the first time Glen Canyon allowed anyone to do anything like this because no one has ever approached them and asked them.”
Meanwhile, UTV Offroad Adventures already has 11 events scheduled throughout Arizona for 2022, including a return to Page.
“I already have a schedule for next year, I think in October again, as long as I can get the permits and stuff again,” Krause said.
Rider Dana Young from Peoria, Arizona, said he’s already planning on coming back Page for next year’s festival.
“We’ll be back next year. We’re already planning it. Lots to see, beautiful scenery around here,” he said. “Page is just beautiful. I mean, you’re right here, and the bluffs and the canyons, it’s beautiful. Good place to ride, and they seem to like the UTV community, so that’s good too. We want to give back to the community."