Monday, July 17, 2017

Hummer Tour Through Hell's Revenge

Mike, the driver announced, “Here we go,” and our vehicle began jostling up a red rock fin at a 30-degree grade, but it felt more like vertical. The Good Girls and fellow passengers bounced in the seats like bobblehead dolls. Scaling toward the summit, the sides of narrow path dropped to reveal a miraculous rock canyon below. Astounding, and we had just begun our off-road Sunset Hummer Tour of Hell’s Revenge in Moab, Utah.
Mike takes the controls of the Hummer. Photo by Debi Lander.

“Never fear,” said Mike, “This Hummer can pass through deep ditches and traverse large dirt mounds without suffering any front or rear end damage. It can scale a 60-degree slope, but we’re only planning to encounter a 40-degree rise.” Thankfully, our tour made no attempt to climb the infamous Escalator or Hot Tub trails in the park. 

The Red Hummers have no trouble maneuvering through the park.
Photo by Debi Lander.

Our hearts pounded as we bravely smiled and nodded at one another for reassurance, but our driver never missed a beat, continuing with confidence. He began the descent of the steep sandstone hill nicknamed the Roller Coaster. I don’t know if I was more jazzed by the thrill of the ride or the wickedly wild landscape. 
A slow roller coaster to the top. Photo by Judy Wells.

Stopping for a look at the canyon below. Photo by Debi Lander.

Hummer Tours through Hell's Revenge. Photo by Debi Lander.

The Good Girls were headed to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, both near Moab, the adventure capital of Utah, Our juices started flowing as soon as we crossed into Utah. After the speed limit rose to 80 miles per hour, we encountered a warning sign along the highway, ” Eagles in the road.” What did that mean? A few miles later exit signs began to warn of “No Services”, begging the question of who would dare turn off?

At our age, we don’t go for extreme physical adventures, treacherous mountain bike trails or Class 4-5 white-water rafting. We settle for speed and automotive thrills and thought a Hummer ride would fulfill our needs. So, we signed up and purchased tickets for Sunset Hummer Tour from the Moab Adventure Center.
The path through the canyon is very confusing. Debi Lander.

Moab cozies up to the banks of the Colorado River between eye-popping red sandstone cliffs. The National Park gateway offers Mom and Pop type lodging, restaurants, and outfitters along Main Street. The surrounding scenery attracts millions to hike, bike, and camp around windswept rock domes, magnificent mesas and otherworldly rock formations that conjure up imaginary faces and places. No surprise that filmmakers have used the craggy region as a backdrop in films such as City Slickers, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and our favorite, Thelma & Louise.

So there we were gasping with excitement as Mike veered up and down the zigzagged trail. After about 15 minutes, we stopped, caught our breath, and took in at the blazing spires and valleys. The riders from all the Hummers in our group gathered to hear a geographical explanation of the canyon sliprock: outcroppings of smooth weathered sandstone - - great for biking but dangerous for hiking because you can lose your footing. The guide also pointed out some fossilized dinosaur tracks. How very cool. 
Fossilized Dinosaur Tracks. Photo by Debi Lander.

The groups returned to the vehicles to attack the craziest, most rugged section of the trail, venturing up seemingly impossible rises and then carefully easing back down. Thankfully, Mike proved his worth as a sure-footed driver. We stopped again for photos and a chance to test out echoes in the canyon.

Yes, the incline is breath taking!
Photo by Debi Lander.

Eventually, the group snaked up to a panoramic overlook, and peered down a gorge through which snaked the winding Colorado River. I sat for a minute to ponder the vastness of our country. This landscape speaks to visitors, teasing the timid who stand back in awe and taunting those who challenge its powerful pull.

Debi found the view thrilling! Photo by Debi Lander.

Judy found the slip rock slippery.
Shadows lengthened as we weaved along the paths to our sunset location.  Unfortunately, the cloudless sky muted the often dazzling sunsets. Still, the vista took on a golden glow. As the sky dimmed from warm afterglow to low light, the desert developed a somewhat creepy aura. It was time to climb back into the Hummers for a slow headlight light return trip.

Participants watching the sunset. Photos by Debi Lander.
The effect was better away from the sun. Photo by Judy Wells.

Darkened canyon after sunset.

We learned from Mike that eagles prey on the pririe dog villages on either side of the road and pause to dine on the highway. Their retreat (take-off for flight) is slow. Cars zipping down the highway at 80-plus mph need to watch out for these magnificent scavengers. And, by the way, no services means zero gas, food or lodging. These exits hark back to the time when uranium was mined in the area.

The Hummers dropped us back at the Adventure Center after a three-hour unforgettable excursion. A very walkable Moab made for a pleasant stroll to one of the family operated restaurants along Main Street. Eventually, we rambled back to our basic, but adequate and well-located motel - - the Bowen.

Watch the video for a taste of the adventure.

If you go: Getting to Moab.

From the East, we flew into Denver, leased a rental car, then drove over four hours to Grand Junction.  We left there the next day for Moab,  a one-and-a-half-hour drive. Grand Junction offers a regional airport and Moab a tiny one, but flights are more expensive. Flying into Salt Lake City, Utah is another option, requiring a three-hour drive.

The Hummer tour in the untamed landscape of Hell’s Revenge is not for the faint of heart, however, it appears to be safe. We saw no white knuckles in our group. We both agree that attempting to self-drive ATV’s or 4x4 Jeeps tours through the canyons is too much. Leave the driving to the experienced.

Disclosure: Our adventures in Moab and Utah, including the Hummer Tour, were self-funded. 

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