UTV Invasion in St. Anthony, Idaho is one of the premier off-road events in the country. Here’s how to get the most out of the experience.
Attending a UTV event for the first time can be a little intimidating. While in the registration tent during this year’s UTV Invasion I overheard the token “we’ve never been here before” from a couple as they checked in. After giving them a few pointers and pointing them towards the dunes, it donned on me that a “how to” guide for getting the most out of this event might be helpful for those considering attending in the future. Since I’ve attended four out of the five years of its existence, I feel versed enough to speak about the event with some authority or at the very least, state my opinion with confidence.
If you’re considering making the UTV Invasion part of your 2019 travel plans, here’s my loose attempt at an itinerary to help you maximize your time and enjoyment.
Explore the Dunes – All of Them
While there’s no shortage of fun at the UTV Invasion, the center of attention is without a doubt the dunes themselves. St. Anthony is unlike any other duning location in North America, due in large part to its size. Not only is the area expansive, but the dunes are just plain huge. You would be hard pressed to find a hill steeper than Choke Cherry Hill or a bowl large than Devil’s Dune anywhere else. And while you could keep yourself entertained back at the event area for quite a while, you’d kick yourself after the fact for not spending ample time in the dunes. For a closer look at the area, check out our story Taming the Big Dunes of St. Anthony.
Stay Where the Action Happens – Idaho Dunes RV Resort
If you’ve come to St. Anthony specifically for UTV Invasion, then why not stay right in the thick of the excitement. There are three main camping areas with access to the St. Anthony sand dunes, but two of those will require a bit of a trek to get the event area. The perk of staying onsite is you can come and go to particular activities as you please and retreat to the comfort of your own camp between events.
As far as amenities, Idaho Dunes RV is top notch with a host of full and partial hookup sites as well as dry camping and even a day use area. They’ve got a playground for the kids, offer ATV and UTV rentals and during the event you can take advantage of having a literal vendor mall onsite as well as a several dining options thanks to the food vendors who are a part of the event.
Catch a Group Ride
Particularly for those who are new to the area, the dunes can seem a tad intimidating at first. With the exception of Egin Lake, there aren’t many geographic landmarks to help you get your bearings and for the most part, the surrounding area is a mix of sage-covered hills and farmland. Jumping on a group ride is a great way to get your feet wet and the event organizers make it easy by offering an “Intro to the Dunes” group ride. There are typically two guided group rides per day so you’ll have ample opportunity to ride with people of varying skill levels with the insurance of not getting lost or becoming stranded should you break down while venturing out on your own.
Take a Test Ride
UTV Invasion was the first place the general public had the opportunity to test the all new Can-Am Maverick X3 following it’s release a few years ago and the brand continues to bring its demo fleet year after year. While the reps aren’t exactly tossing you the keys and giving you free reign of the dunes, this is much better than your standard “test drive” in the parking lot of your local dealer.
As luck would have it, I managed to score a ride in the new Textron Off-road Wildcat XX despite the fact that the brand wasn’t offering demo rides to the public. Having two OEMs present suggests the event continues to grow and we expect to see a handful of other manufacturers following suit in the years to come.
Don’t Miss the UTV Teeter Totter
Yes, you read that right and as anticlimactic as a giant teeter totter sounds, I promise it’s the most fun you’ll ever have under 1 MPH. Whether you elect to participate or not, the real fun of this event is watching the half dozen or so people who treat it like it’s the super bowl. The serious ones have a spotter coaching them along as they creep, ever so precisely, up the ramp before using their own body weight to find the tipping point. If you plan to participate and hope to have a chance at winning, you’d better start practicing now.
Order the Tri-Tip
This year provided the most diversity of flavors thanks to some new food vendors like the Rusty Corndog (bacon wrapped corndog anyone?), however, my go to for the last two years is Blue Moose BBQ. Thanks to a revamped menu, you can sample their delicious tri-tip a variety of different ways and if you so desire, for all three meals a day. They also provided the main course for the vendor/media appreciation dinner on Thursday night, which I didn’t mind one bit.
Attend the Concerts
Generally speaking, I’ve never been that impressed with live music at UTV events. Unless you’ve got a budget like Polaris and bring in a national touring artist, the music is usually just so so. That’s not he case however at the UTV Invasion thanks to performances by the (very) young members of The VOLTZ on Friday night and the Dirtee Little Richards at the close of the event on Saturday. Between the two bands you’ll hear covers of popular songs spanning more than 40 years and as far as the quality of sound goes, you’ll completely forget that you’re in the middle of nowhere next to a potato field.
Put the Event On Your Calendar for Next Year
Now in it’s fifth year, UTV Invasion has established itself as one of the premier UTV events in the country. There’s no doubt that St. Anthony is a haul, particularly for folks in California who are used to jumping in the truck on Friday night and pulling into Glamis just a few hours later. Trust me when I say it’s well worth the wait. The dunes alone should be on every UTV driver’s bucket list. But beware…it might ruin you for those other more local sand dune riding locations.
Every year the event grows in size and its organizers are always on the hunt for ways to add value for attendees. Keeping it free while also giving back to the community has become a chief concern as well. The kids love having their own raffle separate from the big charity raffle and both events raise a considerable amount of money for a good cause.
It’s for all of these reasons and more that people come back year after year and why I would suggest you make plans to attend the 2019 UTV Invasion over Labor Day weekend. Just book your campsite early…you’ll be glad you did!