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Thread: Vehicle Conundrum...

  1. #1

    Vehicle Conundrum...

    Here's the scoop...Need advice!



    I'm going to start branching out to more remote canyons (i.e. not zion - so...escalante, swell, roost, north wash, etc.). The problem is that I live in Washington...


    2-3 times a year I fly into Las Vegas (because it's super cheap to fly in there) visit Utah and rent anything from a cheap cheap sedan (typically for visits to Zion) or a mid sized SUV (for a previous visit to Egypt). This September a buddy and I are spending 14 days hitting canyons in Southern Utah in the more remote areas. Now...I made it to Egypt last year in that 2WD Ford Escape...but it wasn't pretty. My concern is that areas in the Roost, North Wash, and other areas in Escalante aernt going to be as "friendly" as the paved roads in Zion or spicier dirt roads to Egypt.


    So....I rent a large SUV right? 4X4?


    Problem #1: its anywhere from $800-1000 for a two week period for a large 4X4. I'll suck it up if I have to....but multiplied by 1-2 Utah trips per year for several years....EXPENSIVE.

    Problem #2: I'm CERTAIN that I'm violating multiple bullet points of my rental contract. I've done it before...many times.
    Problem#3: I am forced to continue to bring heavy gear bags between Washington and Utah multiple times a year...despite these astoundingly heavy bags I still cook on a tiny stove, with a tiny little utensils, and sit on rocks instead of camp chairs.



    So....rather than renting, I invest that money in the purchase of a well used 4X4 right? and enjoy having a beast machine at my disposal for the next several years.



    Problem #1: I have no where to store this vehicle... The cost of a storage yard (particularly in Las Vegas) is prohibitive.
    Problem #2: I'm beating the S**T out of MY car instead of a rental.
    Problem #3: Owning a car can ALSO be expensive...







    Question #1: What do you all use to get around these areas?


    Question #2: Does anyone else that travels to Utah for canyoneering have the same problems I do? If so what are your solutions?


    Question #3: Some access is undoubtedly precluded in the remote areas of Utah if not in a FULL size 4X4, right? Mid sized SUVs, some of which are 4WD (Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4), are cheaper to rent but have lower clearances. How well do you all think these fair out there?

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  3. #2
    Wow dude...I drive a big, gas guzzling, carbon spewing, American made hunk of iron know as the Ford F-150 4X4. It gets me anywhere I want to go without breaking a sweat, and I love it.

    Funny thing is, I've seem plenty of these little Hondas, Subarus, etc. WAY the hell out in the boonies...and I wonder how in God's name they did it...but they do. Probably similar to your Ford Escape trip. Just take your time, have a shovel in the trunk and hope those scraping noises you hear aren't doing too much damage.

    I've also had to give people rides back into town because they destroyed something.

    If I were you, I would just rent something with decent ground clearance and call it good. The problem is that they aren't making the body on frame mid sized SUVs anymore, like the older Explorer or the Pathfinder. They're all like cars now, low to the ground.

    If you can find an outfit that rents pre 2012 vehicles, then you may be in luck. Then again, there's always the good old Chrysler Jeep!

    I travel to the big island of Hawaii every winter for a month, at least. I rent a Jeep for the whole time...the longer you rent it, the cheaper it is. Last time I was there, I had it for 6 weeks and it only cost $35 a day. I think if I were to just go for a two week rental, the price doubles. In other words, check to see what the rate would be for a month (or more) and then just return it early?

    You could probably rent vehicles for years upon years before you even got close to what buying even a used one would cost you...with maintenance, insurance, registration, etc...so I'd say forget that idea. Unless you're swimming in cash, of course.

    Rent a Jeep...suck it up.
    Life is what you make it. Everybody knows that...right?

  4. #3
    An AWD vehicle (Escape, Subaru Outback, Rav4 etc.) should be adequate for the vast majority of roads in those areas. AWD or 4WD is recommended because of sand.

    The problem is that they aren't making the body on frame mid sized SUVs anymore, like the older Explorer or the Pathfinder.
    They still make the 4Runner which does good off road as does a Land Cruiser (though it is pricey). Even many of the new Jeeps don't have a low range.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  5. #4
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    I'm not an expert, but for the last six years my wife and I have done what you are planning to do. Although we haven't been to all of the areas you mentioned, we have been to some very remote places. This is what works for us.

    Question #1: What do you all use to get around these areas?

    Unless I know I need a 4x4 for the entire trip I rent the best deal possible to get where I am going. Then I rent a jeep locally for a day or two if I need it. It's getting harder to find true 4x4 vehicles from major car rental places anyway. Mostly you'll find AWD unless you go with one of the large SUVs like you mentioned previously and those ARE expensive. A midsize truck is another option if available because often you don't need 4WD as much as you need high clearance. I've never done this, but I have seen folks use ATVs to get to some very remote places.



    Question #2: Does anyone else that travels to Utah for canyoneering have the same problems I do? If so what are your solutions?

    Unless you have a friend in Utah that will lend you a vehicle you are going to be stuck paying for what you need. I usually expect to pay more for a vehicle than any other part of my trip. If you and a buddy are going could splitting the cost be an option?

    When we fly we rarely pay for plane tickets. This helps us save money to spend on a vehicle. And we always fly the one airline that doesn't charge for luggage (Southwest) so we save money there as well. In fact if you get their branded credit card you can sometimes get two free flights to go along with it. Plus using it to pay for other things helps build up points for more free flights and car rentals.
    We get our food and camping supplies at the Dollar Store and Wal Mart to save even more money.


    Question #3: Some access is undoubtedly precluded in the remote areas of Utah if not in a FULL size 4X4, right? Mid sized SUVs, some of which are 4WD (Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4), are cheaper to rent but have lower clearances. How well do you all think these fair out there?

    I once saw a guy drive a Ford Mustang across a wash through a fast moving flash flood on House Rock Valley Road (just south of the Utah border in AZ) to get to The Wave and he made it. I also saw a group of kids driving what had to be Daddy's small Lexus SUV through deep sand and across sharp rocks and they made it to White Pocket (same area as The Wave), so anything is possible!

    Driving conditions can change with the latest rain or windstorm, so I would check with rangers or BLM personnel. As long as you aren't going to be in a lot of mud or deep sand I think one of the midsize SUVs should get you to most places if driven carefully.

    We sometimes buy a shovel and tire inflator before leaving the big city and return them unused at the end of our trip. (only ever needed them one time and it was defintely worth the few bucks they cost)

    Hope this helps.

  6. Likes Erik B liked this post
  7. #5
    Rental cars go where Jeeps fear to tread :-)

    Tap'n on my Galaxy G3

  8. #6
    Question #1: What do you all use to get around these areas?

    Question #2: Does anyone else that travels to Utah for canyoneering have the same problems I do? If so what are your solutions?

    Question #3: Some access is undoubtedly precluded in the remote areas of Utah if not in a FULL size 4X4, right? Mid sized SUVs, some of which are 4WD (Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4), are cheaper to rent but have lower clearances. How well do you all think these fair out there?


    Good morning,

    being Dutch, I as well have these problems, since I am visiting by plane with just (nowadays) 2 suitcases.
    The way I try and solve them:

    Q1 - I rent a mid-size SUV for the period I am visiting. In my experience, the Jeep Grand Cherokee (from Dollar) is one of the best rentals, since it appears to have the highest clearence of most rental 4WD's. It is not allowed to leave the tarmac (or leave maintained roads), however..... I'll have to to get to my beloved canyons....

    Q2 - My solution is driving carefully, not taking too many risks, and hoping it'll be all right....

    Q3 - I always think better safe then sorry, and despite the relativelly high price I never rent a 'normal' car.


    Good luck with everything and have a great trip!
    Grtz

  9. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post
    An AWD vehicle (Escape, Subaru Outback, Rav4 etc.) should be adequate for the vast majority of roads in those areas. AWD or 4WD is recommended because of sand.
    Agree for most roads. If it is definite 4WD then no. My Kia Sportage can take 4WD roads except the extreme.

  10. #8
    Jeep Cherokee (XJ) is best 4x4 bang for the buck. Now they are not 100.0000% reliable, so go with another vehicle, have cell reception, or take a rental satellite phone with you. I am on my 3rd Jeep Cherokee. BTW - you can actually rent Jeeps :-) (and sat phones)

  11. #9
    I'd buy some flavor of Toyota. The smallest one that you can fit all of your gear into, then road-trip it each year. Highlander or Rav-4 would probably work for 99% of the roads out there.

    Pros: Good gas milage, nearly 100% reliable, adequate clearance, good long-term value, and you can split the cost of gas. Then spend your airfare money on gear or hotels.

    Cons: Two days driving each way (vs one day flying each way). Those two extra days are valuable; they literally have a dollar value for each person on your team, and should be calculated (awkward).

    If your team has lots of disposable income, then just fly to Vegas and rent a Highlander/Rav4.

    If you are really swimming in money, then buy and store a lifted FJ Cruiser in Vegas, then have a limo drive you to the storage unit from the airport.

    Ever considered flying into Vegas, then out of Salt Lake? Most car rental places are cool with that.
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  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Slot Machine View Post
    Ever considered flying into Vegas, then out of Salt Lake? Most car rental places are cool with that.
    It's all about money.... there is no place in the country that is cheaper to fly in and out of than Vegas if you watch for deals.

    It's been a few years but at one time you could fly from SLC to Vegas for free so long as you were 21 and had $1000 cash when boarding the plane.



    Tap'n on my Galaxy G3

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Iceaxe View Post
    Rental cars go where Jeeps fear to tread :-)

    Tap'n on my Galaxy G3
    So...where does a rental car that happens to be a Jeep go then? Where hovercrafts fear to fly?

  14. #12
    Oh... I have so many great rental car stories.... or as we refereed to them back in my racing days.... rent-a-racers.....

    Tap'n on my Galaxy G3

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