Idaho Dunes UTV Invasion

Sep. 15, 2015 By Seth Fargher
Like the Oregon dunes, St Anthony provides some spectacular scenery over the dry and barren dunes of the southwest.

No sooner than we returned from the Oregon Dunefest it was time to once again pack our gearbags yet another dune festival our west. We’re not complaining, either. In fact, considering this was our first time attending the Idaho Dunes UTV Invasion, we were excited to be checking out this growing event and riding the largest sand dunes in North America.

One thing we love about events like this is that they tend to draw a lot of the same vendors from around the western United States. While everyone usually lives in a different town or even region, these events bring everyone together to celebrate a shared passion for riding UTVs.

X Games Gold Medalist Ronnie Renner was out with his crew from Go Pro and Redbull to hang with attendees and even lead an awesome group ride.

The Idaho Dunes UTV Invasion is in its second year and after a warm reception in 2014. Event promoter Dave Kuskie decided to go big in 2015 with two UTV Invasion events, more vendors and bigger activities. The first event was held back in June at the Oregon Dunes with the big show happening at the St Anthony sand dunes over Labor Day weekend.

The Show ’n Shine brought out 56 of most tricked out UTVs from some of the industries most skilled builders and enthusiasts.

As a means of helping lure more vendors and media to eastern Idaho, Kuskie helped facilitate accommodations for a few of us through Great Outdoors RV Rentals. Our 26-foot travel trailer was awaiting us upon arrival, and we have to say when the dunes are calling your name it’s nice to just drop your bags and hit the sand … and that’s exactly what we did.

Muzzy’s graciously allowed us to put some time in their new shop car Purple Haze.  The big bore 1132cc engine really helped climb the massive dunes that sit at over 5,000 ft elevation.

While there was a schedule of events throughout the weekend, weather and unforeseen factors can sometimes play into things. Much to our surprise, we awoke to near freezing temperatures and frosty dunes a couple of the mornings we were there. On Saturday of Labor Day weekend, dark skies and strong winds spelled trouble for the show ‘n’ shine competition, but fortunately it cleared off just as the vehicles were moved into place. 

Our home away from home was prepped and waiting for us upon arrival thanks to Great Outdoor RV.

There were 56 highly modified vehicles at the show ‘n’ shine, including one way-tricked-out Polaris 170. There were two different classes of vehicles on display, with one for enthusiasts and one for professional builders. A few of our favorites were the Iron Man-themed XP 1000 and the aluminum-framed, single-seat Superleggera built by Marshall Motoart for an episode of Destination Polaris.

The show 'n' shine featured over 50 vehicles at this year's event.

Speaking of Destination Polaris, the TV show was on hand covering the event for an upcoming episode slated to air sometime next year. We helped cart their camera guy around and participated in some of the group rides in hopes of making the cut, but we’ll have to wait a while to find out. It was interest seeing how much they have to shoot in order to edit together a 10- to 12-minute segment.

Dozens of vendors made the trek to Idaho from as far away as North Carolina.

One thing that is different about UTV Invasion compared to other festivals is that it really tends to bring out the big dogs. The event is one that everyone is welcome to attend; in fact, the $5 entry fee tells us that organizers are trying to make it more affordable for everyone. No, by big dogs we mean some of the biggest industry companies and builders from around the UTV industry. JRi Shocks was present all the way from North Carolina, as were Wolf Designs and TMW Offroad from the Phoenix area. A host of the West Coast companies made the trip as well including Assault Industries, Rugged Radios, Muzzy’s Performance, Whip It Light Rods, PRP Seats and Dunestar Racing. A handful of more local companies were on hand including Vent Racing, Rexburg Motorsports, Corbeau Seats, HCR Suspension and UTV Tech came from around Utah and Idaho.

Considering the vehicle has only been out about a month we were surprised to see so many of the new XP Turbos that had already been completely gone through like this one from HCR Suspension.

The gang from K&T Turbos also arrived with its fleet of high-powered drag UTVs. Most of Saturday evening was spent out at Thunder Mountain awaiting a battle royale between the various turbo engine builders. Unfortunately no one was too eager to race in the daylight so we peaced out right before dark.

Nashville recording artist Brian Collins was booked as the event entertainment and he took to the stage in front of a small but dedicated crowd. In years past, we’ve never been too impressed with the musical talent at off-road events, but Brian put on a good show and we enjoyed the music from around a bonfire away from the stage.

Rising Nashville recording artist Brian Collins provided some great entertainment despite near freezing temperatures during the show.

Of course the focal point of the event and the reason we made the trip ourselves is the dunes.  The St. Anthony sand dunes are without question the largest dunes in North America. While Glamis is a bigger area, the sheer size of dunes like Choke Cherry Hill and Devils Dune make for dune riding that is second to none. We actually tagged along on a group ride with X Games Gold Medalist Ronnie Renner at one point, and that is probably the ride that made the trip for us. One of Renner’s friend is very familiar with the dunes, and he took us on a long ride that stretched almost the entire length of the dunes. We hardly had time to let off the gas as we climbed up one dune and down another. Having someone who is familiar with the dunes was a real plus, as the shifting sand can make razor backs appear out of nowhere.

On Saturday evening thousands of people congregated at Thunder Mountain to watch drag racer fight for the tittle of King of the Hill.

Our last hoorah was a ride out to Devils Dune in Muzzys Performance shop car Purple Haze.  After riding and reviewing the UTV a few weeks back, we couldn’t help but get behind the wheel and Lorin from Muzzys was happy to oblige. That 1132cc big-bore power made climbing and carving Devils dune seem like child’s play. We even managed to run down a smaller two-seat XP 1000 that took off quite a ways ahead of us.

As the event wound down on Sunday afternoon, the final sanctioned event was a raffle featuring over $10,000 in prizes from supporting vendors and sponsors. At just $1 per ticket, some people walked away with some great prizes like new Vent Racing cages, PRP seats and a host of accessories from WARN, Go Pro, Rugged Radios, Assault UTV and others.

As far as we’re concerned, the second annual UTV Invasion was a huge success. Organizers have a date picked for next year’s Oregon UTV Invasion and plans for the 2016 Idaho UTV Invasion are well underway. The key focus for the crew at UTV Invasion is to keep it affordable while providing a stellar event with plenty of activities. The family-friendly atmosphere encourages people of all ages to attend and the low entry price of $5 means you can bring the whole family without breaking the bank. Idaho Dunes RV played host and offered camping spots for just $35 per night. While we were ready to come home and empty our shoes after five days in the sand, you can be sure the Idaho UTV Invasion will be on our calendar again next year! Newsletter
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