Exploring Off-Road in Southeast Utah with a Group of EKKO Owners
Exploring Off-Road in Southeast Utah with a Group of EKKO Owners
These adventurous RVers had a great trip in their modified rigs!
By: Greg Bond
The Valley of the Gods is a vast, otherworldly landscape in Southeast Utah. It's a place of towering sandstone cliffs reaching into the sky, large mesas, and deep canyons. It is also where a group of modified Winnebago EKKOs and their owners recently had a great off-road adventure together.
Editor’s Note: The EKKOs in this trip are modified with lifts, larger tires, and recovery gear. The author and some of the EKKO owners have extensive off-road experience and gear that allows them to take on more challenging landscapes. Please know that some of the areas in this trip are not meant for all RV types and any time you take your vehicle off-road, there are risks involved. This was an owner-organized trip and not a Winnebago-sponsored event.
A Great Start to Our EKKO Road Trip
It was a cool early morning in March as we met up with three other EKKO owners in Flagstaff, Arizona. We were set to caravan together up to southeast Utah and meet up with a few more owners as we explore and experience this amazing part of Utah. We quickly set up the hand-held radios so we could easily communicate during our excursion and were on the road to Utah.
As we traveled together and made a few stops, the sight of four EKKOs driving together turned some heads and prompted a few questions along the way. Even though we encountered a few snow flurries as we passed through the famed Monument Valley, we made sure to stop and take a few pictures.
In the late afternoon, we rolled into our meeting spot for the first night at Goosenecks State Park. We were able to find a great spot large enough to park six EKKOs. It was right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the canyon below – which was carved out by the San Juan River for the last 300 million years.
The views from this state park are incredible. It’s very peaceful and, as you near the edge of the canyon to peer over the cliff, you can hear the rushing water of the river 1000 feet below.
We spent the evening around the campfire catching up with each other. The last time we were together was at the EKKO Quartzsite Rally. In the morning, we packed up and headed out to start our off-road adventure for the next several days.
Driving the Moki Dugway & Valley of the Gods
Upon leaving Goosenecks State Park we headed north to traverse the Moki Dugway and drive out to Muley Point. The Moki Dugway is a curvy graded dirt road carved into the side of a cliff at an 11% grade. The road offers magnificent views of the Valley of the Gods and the San Juan River Canyon, and you can see Monument Valley off in the distance.
As we made our way to the top, we turned down a muddy road that leads to Muley Point. With a little sliding around in the mud, we all made it to the edge of the canyon that has spectacular views.
We left Muley Point and then back down the Moki Dugway to the north entrance of the Valley of the Gods. The road in the Valley of the Gods is graded with a few washes that need to be crossed and most shorter Class C RVs can still make the drive without issue.
Going down the road, we all marveled at the beauty of the sandstone monuments, and it reminded us of old western movie backdrops. We took it slow on the road to take in all the sights and found a place to camp for the evening. Being in the middle of all the towering cliffs made for a peaceful feeling and enjoying it with friends made it even better.
In the morning, we packed up and headed out to finish our trek through the rest of the Valley of the Gods. As we emerged on the other end at HWY 163, we made our way east to Lower Butler Wash Road and headed north on this more challenging dirt road on BLM land. This road is not for normal RVs. (However, RVs like the Winnebago Revel will have no problems.)
As for this group of EKKO owners, we all had 2” lifts, larger tires, and recovery gear. We also have a couple of very experienced off-road enthusiasts as part of our group to help guide the way through some of the obstacles.
Read this article to learn more about what EKKO mods make off-road trips like this possible.
We enjoyed a little different scenery on this route – to the west we were bound by Comb Ridge. Comb Ridge is a light-colored steep ridge running 80 miles in a north/south direction, it’s tilted at almost 20 degrees and is more than one-mile wide.
The name comes from the jagged appearance of the ridge which is similar in shape to a rooster’s comb. On the east side of Lower Butler Wash Rd is another long ridge of red-colored sandstone similar to the Valley of the Gods area.
As we slowly made our way down the sandy and sandstone-covered road, the sandstone swayed the RVs back and forth and some of the steeper wash crossings were taken with caution. We were able to find a spot to camp off a side road that led into a small canyon.
Some of the group went on a hike into the canyon and up on the sides of the canyon where large sandstone boulders had broken free of the cliffs over time.
Evening festivities included awesome friendship, a great campfire, a hot sauce eating challenge (10 different hot sauces), followed up by ice cream, and live music. The conversation in the group was interesting and someone even said: “This trip is incredible, we would never have thought about doing this type of exploring in the EKKO by ourselves.”
Everyone was having an awesome time. Little did we know that the most challenging part was on the last day.
The Most Challenging Part of the Trip
As we packed up from the last night on our trip, we determined we still had about 20+ miles to go before we reached pavement on HWY 95 to the north. Not too long after leaving camp we encountered our first real obstacle: a gigantic deep mud pit.
I was leading the ride, so I stopped to assess the situation to determine how deep and soft it was and if there was an alternative route. There was no alternative route other than to turn around and go back the way we came. We determined that (with our mods/gear) we could make it if we had some speed, don’t stop, put it in low gear, and put the AWD EKKO in Mud/Ruts mode.
I took the first plunge and made it across with no problem other than a ton of mud stuck underneath. As each EKKO took the same path, the ruts seemed to get a little deeper and deeper. Luckily, we all made it across without having to break out any of the recovery gear.
The next set of challenges were numerous steep washes we had to cross. None of the washes had water running, but they were all damp due to recent storms the week before our trip. We had to navigate the approach and departure angles of each wash to ensure minimal dragging of the rear end in the dirt.
Some washes were worse than others, but the EKKO handled them like a champ. NOTE: I would not recommend this road in an EKKO unless it is lifted, due to the steep washes.
We finally reached the end of Lower Butler Wash Road and headed down to our last stop which was the Butler Wash Ruins. There is a nice parking lot with toilets and a short mile hike to see the amazing Anasazi Ruins.
This was truly an epic trip for us, and each of the EKKO owners had a new appreciation for their RV and a better understanding of its capabilities over the course of this trip.
Trip Highlights Video
The video of the trip below shows some highlights from this EKKO trip.
(Remember, these are modified EKKOs, and taking your RV off-road involves risks no matter what gear you have!)
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