Rock Crawling Competition free to all participants

There are no fees to enter Colorado’s only designated rock crawling park and participate in the sixth annual Rangely Rock Crawling Park competition this Saturday. Sign up at NAPA Auto Parts Friday from 5-7 p.m., or Saturday at the rock park from 7-9 a.m.
There are no fees to enter Colorado’s only designated rock crawling park and participate in the sixth annual Rangely Rock Crawling Park competition this Saturday. Sign up at NAPA Auto Parts Friday from 5-7 p.m., or Saturday at the rock park from 7-9 a.m.

RANGELY I Now in its sixth year, the Rangely Rock Crawling Park competition and trail ride stands apart from other events like it. The difference is the amount of cash it costs to participate, which adds up to exactly nothing.
Rangely Rock Crawlers’ club member and event organizer Eddie Stewart, who helped create the state’s only designated rock crawling park and has helped with the event since it began, said that charging for the competition and trail rides has never felt right.
“We just didn’t want to get into charging people to come use the park,” Stewart said. “We sell T-shirts and hats, and we draw tickets for prizes and set out a donations can. I think we probably do as well with (donations) as we would if we charged. People are very generous when everything they’re doing is free.”
Free includes guided rides through the park and five courses through which competitors navigate their vehicles, aiming for the lowest number of points based on speed and ability. After the event, participants are invited to a complimentary barbeque, complete with prize drawings and an informal awards ceremony.
“I enjoy the people, in particular the dinner at the end of the day where you talk to people and hear how much fun they had,” Stewart said. “We put a slide show on that evening, and a lot of times people want copies of that. Generally we have enough prizes that everyone wins something.”
Among items to be handed out this year are a set of bumpers, a winch, a set of tires and a combination tool box. Stewart said that, between local and out-of-town donations, the group usually gives away several thousand dollars in prizes.
Registrants can sign up for the event at NAPA Auto Parts from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28 or on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 7-9 a.m. at the rock park. Trail rides will be offered throughout the day so that drivers can both compete and test their machines on other trails.
Other aspects of the event have a unique flair, like this year’s one-of-a-kind trophies donated by Stewart Welding. The steel plaques have a three-dimensional element and have been created for this weekend’s winners in the stock, modified, and unlimited classes.
“People seem to like the homegrown type of stuff, where you’re not going and just buying them a trophy,” Stewart said.
Stewart and event organizer Tami Williams expect the weekend’s turnout to be close to or at last year’s numbers, when 77 registered drivers, most of them from Utah or other parts of Colorado, signed up to compete. Another several dozen came just to ride the trails.
The stock class is open to vehicles with tires up to 33 inches tall, while the modified class allows up to 36-inch tires. The unlimited class, which requires that the driver wear a helmet, is for 37-inch and taller. Licensed drivers must use a shoulder harness at minimum and drive vehicles that are licensed or have a current OHV sticker, Williams said.
Williams and Stewart said that though putting the event together is a lot of work, they like sharing the park with visitors and seeing what those visitors, in turn, can show them.
“We like to see the different styles of vehicles that come out here to participate,” Williams said. “It’s fun to see the different types of crawlers people have. And we want to bring new people in all the time to see what the rock park has to offer.”
While the number of those visiting the park this summer has gone down from last year, Stewart said that the group is slowly reaching a goal its members have had in mind since the park’s inception.
“Few events like this are free of charge,” Stewart said. “The idea when we first started was to bring people into town to help the town’s economic base. (The park is) starting to have an impact, I believe. We’ve got people eating in the restaurants and using the hotels.”
For more information about Rangely Rock Crawlers or the competition, contact Williams at 675-8975 or go to www.rangelyrockcrawlers.com.