The 2021 Rally on the Rocks is a go after relocation to private property

The 2021 Rally on the Rocks event is re-locating entirely within San Juan County.

In December county commissioners put a halt to the event in Grand County.

The rally hoped to move across the county line to the old Spanish Valley Airport strip, but in January the San Juan County Commission voted 2-1 to deny the lease agreement.

Now organizers of the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) event are planning to hold the event on private property in San Juan County from May 11-15.

The Rally on the Rocks is an annual guided ride event that historically brings around 1,000 people to ride trails in Grand and San Juan counties. This year guided rides will only take place in San Juan County.

The event is planned for May 11-15 with registration and a vendor show located on private property owned by Dixie 4WD and the Moab Off Road Compound. The location is near the Moab Business Park in Spanish Valley, off Highway 191.

Moving the event entirely to San Juan County will mean less trails to ride. At the 2018 Rally, 20 trails were available to ride. This year, those options have been cut to nine guided offerings each day, all in San Juan County.

Reduced guided rides also means less riders. If all current registration slots were to fill, more than 200 vehicles would hit the trails each day in May. This represents a reduction from previous years.

The Grand County trails traditionally offered as part of the event are not closed to the public, but no guided rides will take place there.

Event organizers say the move was suggested in part by their legal team. Organizers filed an appeal of the Grand County ruling, which was denied.

Rally on the Rocks, along with the non-profit Blue Ribbon Coalition, say they’re now preparing for a legal battle with Grand County.

Rally on the Rocks headquartered their first nine events in Grand County. The spring 2020 event was canceled related to impacts of COVID-19.

Plans to hold the event at the Spanish Valley Arena in 2021 were thwarted when the Grand County Commission denied the event permits in late December.

The Grand Commission had recently placed a moratorium on new events and business permits related to OHV activity in Grand County after hearing complaints from residents regarding noise pollution from the machines.

At the January 5 San Juan County Commission meeting, commissioners voted 2-1 to deny the lease agreement after hearing about an hour of public comment on the issue from those for and against the agreement.

Several residents of Spanish Valley in both counties, as well as Grand County Commissioners Mary McGann and Kevin Walker, asked the commission to deny the lease.

San Juan commissioners also heard from a Spanish Valley resident in favor of the event, as well as members of UTV Utah and other UTV enthusiasts who have previously attended the annual event.

Commissioners Kenneth Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes voted against the lease agreement and Commissioner Bruce Adams voted for it.

Commissioner Adams cited the economic benefit of the use of about 100 short-term rentals available in the northern part of San Juan County, as well as the collected sales tax as reasons to approve it.

“It’s a one-year lease agreement,” said Adams. “If San Juan County didn’t like what’s happening down there, or push back after the event, we don’t have to renew for another year. Give us time to work with organizers to move the event closer to Monticello or Blanding.”

Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy said he has nothing personal against UTV use and mentioned that he is a mud racer himself.

“Our position here is to enhance the economy which is good, but I’m not seeing anybody getting a room in Monticello to bring business,” said Maryboy.

Maryboy added his concerns about hosting an event while the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enlarged impact on San Juan County.

Commissioner Willie Grayeyes also voted against the lease agreement. Grayeyes cited complaints of neighbors to the event and conversations with Grand County officials as reasons behind his vote.

Grayeyes also said he’d like to possibly see the event moved deeper into San Juan County.

“I think we should renegotiate with them to have it at Monticello or Blanding,” said Grayeyes, “where some amenities, hotels, eateries are available. Contribute to the local [economy. If] we place it next to Moab, then they get the benefit.”

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