Close Encounter Of The Epic Kind
Story By: Kyle Callen
Photos by: Tom Leigh
As of June of 2018, Area BFE, just south of Moab, Utah was closed off to the public. A 320-acre rock crawling playground, solely owned by one man, has been transformed into a well kept private park that race organizations and the industries largest manufacturers can rent to share what only the world’s best wheelmen have experienced. Area BFE is one of those bucket list destinations that you simply cannot refuse an invite to. So when I got the call to pilot one of the new 2021 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 Special Edition there, there was no hesitation. As soon as I hung up the phone, my next call was to my camera-slinging compadre Tom Leigh to check his schedule. With the exact same thought in mind, he was essentially packing his bags before we even ended the call.
On the open road to Moab, Tom and I were bantering back and forth about what to expect out of the infamous destination, one thing was for sure we were very excited just to be on the road. Arriving in Moab evokes a feeling that’s somewhat indescribable. It’s like being a kid with the excitement of Christmas Eve, combined with the exhilaration of shredding open presents the following morning.
After settling into our hotel room and joining the Kawasaki crew for dinner, we openly talked about what we the next couple of days might have in store for us. Little did we know, Ultra 4 Racing was holding their Beatdown event that very same weekend. Normally scheduled in Reno, NV but due to COVID had to relocate. So we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy a two-for-one event. A King Of The Hammers qualifier race and seat time in the ever-capable KRX platform. Turns out we would share a lot of the same course during our rides as some 700+ horsepower, 39” tire terrain terriers. Making the assumption that Kawasaki wanted to make a bold statement of just what they thought of their machine. We see what you did there… Fortunately, we didn’t share the course at the same time.
It is no secret that the KRX is my favorite naturally aspirated UTV on the market. The KRX has proven itself a very capable rock crawler and trail car time after time, but this was well out of my comfort zone and high on the gnarly scale. The Special Edition that I was handed the keys to came equipped with the Hifonics Audio System, providing a Bluetooth 600W 5 channel stereo with a 12” subwoofer. We could have become the life of the party, but rather Tom was nice enough to play some easy listening music to calm my nerves. Other features I noticed were a Warn VRX45 Winch with in-cab controls to help get us out of trouble or just in case I ran out of talent. Walking around the backside I noticed a hydraulic lift spare tire carrier with a full size spare. Luckily, the KRX makes me look like I know what I am doing in the rocks, so we never had to use either.
Area BFE doesn’t have the standard Moab terrain, instead, loose shale rock made traction much tougher than the slick rock I was expecting. But the views were just as incredible, and the trails were never ending. As the big V8s roared to life, we pulled off the course to spectate and catch up with peers from the racing industry. Kawasaki served up the full Demo Tour experience for us, and they really do an incredible job educating people of UTVs and how the KRX features match up. This encounter is worthy of a story in itself, which might just happen in an upcoming issue. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the company of industry friends while watching incredible hand crafted Ultra4 vehicles eat up the course. Dinner wasn’t much different, just like hanging around the campfire, we sat at the steakhouse and told big stories about places we had been and sticky situations we had gotten out of.
Our time with the Kawasaki crew came to an end, but as a parting gift, Kawasaki offered that we take the KRX back to the office to play with a little more. On the way out of town, Tom suggested that we stop and hit “Behind The Rocks” which is a trail I had never been on, and he enjoyed greatly. Knowing we didn’t have a grandstand of watchful eyes on us, we really put the 2021 KRX Special Edition through its paces. Maybe we were a little energized from the races the day before, but smashing off rock ledges and jumping off rock faces was an absolute blast. The KRX chassis is a tank. The 1,969 lb. curb weight scares some, but for me it makes the car feel stable and very predictable as we push harder and harder. With very few changes from 2020, the KRX line continues to be my choice for an N/A trail rig.
The drive home from there was long and drove late into the night, but the adventure was worth every minute of lost shuteye. The entire trip was a series of firsts and incredible sights, all while getting even more seat time in my favorite machine. Huge thank you to Kawasaki for the incredible effort they put into educating and informing the consumer about how the KRX was engineered and what it’s capable of. In the end, it brings like-minded individuals together to go outside, explore, and live a new memory worth sharing. Experiences like this are exactly what drives you to get off the couch and expose yourself to what Mother Nature has to offer.