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ATV Adventures: The Third Annual Swell ATV Jamboree – See the Swell and the history

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Feb 22, 2024
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On the edge of the Little Grand Canyon from the Wedge Overlook in the San Rafael Swell, one of the rides on the Swell Jamboree.
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At the Buckhorn Draw Panel, where some significant Native American petroglyphs can be studied — one of the rides on the Swell Jamboree.
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Riding through some of the wonderful scenery featured in the San Rafael Swell on the Swell Jamboree.
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Lynn Blamires

The Swell ATV Jamboree is all about the San Rafael Swell. April is the best time of the year to ride through the breathtaking scenery in the canyons of the Swell. The dates are set for three adventure-filled days of riding in the San Rafael Swell.

Clear your calendar for April 25-27. Wednesday, April 25, is a travel day, but if you can arrive early enough, you can get in some extra riding. Headquarters for this year’s event are at the Big Mountain Lodge in Ferron.

The Big Mountain Lodge is a full-service resort in a small town of just 1,480 People. Brad and Julie Benson are your hosts. They offer a well-stocked convenience store with a hot deli cafe serving breakfast, lunch and a variety of trail treats. The Lodge Pizzeria is open daily and offers pizzas, sandwiches and salads. The Grub Box Drive-in across the street is now a part of the Big Mountain Lodge complex and offers an extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches, shakes and more at reasonable prices.

The lodge also features 15 comfortable cabins with private restrooms, microwaves, refrigerators and flat-screen TVs with satellite reception. An additional nine recently refurbished rooms are inside the lodge. Plenty of pull-throughs with full hookups are ready to accommodate those with travel trailers and fifth-wheels. Topping of the amenities, the lodge offers, a laundromat, conference room, rec room and gas station with non-ethanol gas.

Now that you know that you can sleep comfortably, won’t run out of gas and won’t go hungry, let’s talk about the jamboree. It is sponsored by the Big Mountain Lodge and supported by Emery County.

Fees for the jamboree are $40 per person to cover the cost of permits required by federal agencies. The rest of the event amenities are a la cart. A Swell Jamboree T-shirt is available for $20. A barbecue rib dinner and a Mexican dinner with drinks and dessert will be served in the banquet room — tickets are $20 each. Sack lunches for the trail are available to order for $10 each. You can also enter a drawing for a Backou e-bike provided by Steadmens of Tooele. Register at https://www.bigmountainlodgeutah.com/swell-jamboree.html.

Two days of guided rides are included in the $40 fee. Two trails are scheduled for the jamboree. These are the trails being offered:

April 25 — Buckhorn Indian Panel and the Little Grand Canyon

Riders will trailer to the Buckhorn Information Center to unload. This is a backcountry rest stop with a vault toilet and picnic tables. Traveling south, you will come to the Wedge Overlook where you will have spectacular views deep into the Little Grand Canyon.

Backtracking to the staging area, the trail then heads east into the Buckhorn Draw where you will view the Native American art on the famous Buckhorn Panel. Riders also will see a dinosaur track and the swinging bridge that spans the San Rafael River.

The trail then will lead to Furniture Draw where you will see remnants of the Chinese Railroad and learn about its interesting history. The ride is 60 miles long and is rated easy.

April 26 — The Copper Globe Mine

Riders will trailer via the Moore Cutoff Road to Interstate 70 and stage at the county gravel pit on the north side at exit 116. Crossing over the interstate, the ride goes into Cat Canyon and across Link Flats and to two separate overlooks — one is a view of the area of operations for the Lucky Strike Mine and the other is called Picture Window. Both overlooks provide magnificent vistas of Reds Canyon.

From there, the trail heads to the Copper Globe Mine. The possibility of seeing wild horses along this route is very likely. Before reaching the mine, a stop at a gravesite with an interesting story will take you back to the day it happened.

The area of the mine is fascinating to see and the history is interesting and fun to learn about. This ride is rated easy to intermediate. It is 50 miles long and is restricted to machines no more than 70 inches wide.

April 27 — The San Rafael Swell Poker Run

This poker run is sponsored by the Castle Country OHV Association and is separate from the Swell Jamboree. Poker hands are available for purchase for some amazing prizes. Details are available at the Jamboree.

The cap is 50 people, which makes it easy to make friends.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and clear your calendar for this great jamboree.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.


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