Off-roading in West Valley CityAug 11, 2023 11:10AM ● By Darrell Kirby
Parker Lee, 14, of Sandy runs his remote-controlled truck at the new RC crawler course at Centennial Park in West Valley City. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)
Parker Lee carefully steered his truck up a steep rock formation. The vehicle’s big tires negotiated the incline until it reached the top. It could have been a scene at the annual Jeep Safari near Moab. Instead, the 14 year old from Sandy was guiding a remote-controlled truck up a nearly waist-high rock pile at a new RC rock crawler course at West Valley City’s Centennial Park.
It is the first known public course in Utah that provides remote-controlled vehicle enthusiasts a place to operate their battery-operated scale trucks in a miniature form of a realistic off-road environment rather than on lawns, driveways or streets.
The idea was hatched by West Valley City Parks and Recreation facility and member section supervisor Rhett Gardiner and camp coordinator Clayton Preston. “We researched and there wasn’t really anything in the state of Utah like that,” Gardiner said. “People using RCs are getting kicked out of skate parks. They can’t go here, they can’t go there.”
He and Preston brought the concept to the Parks and Recreation director Nancy Day, who gave it the green light. “At first we requested a small space that wasn’t getting used for programming or anything else,” Gardiner said. “It transformed to a much larger space.” The finished product covers about 4,500 square feet.
The crawler course was built with very little expense, using leftover rocks and dirt from other city projects and old tires and tree stumps. Volunteers “helped build it and shape it to what it is. There were a lot of hours donated by volunteers,” he said. Gardiner said they came from as far away as Orem and Eagle Mountain. One guy from Nevada even helped out while he was working here for a couple of weeks. “He was really stoked about it.”
Centerville mom Mitzi Gray made the not-so-short trip to check out the course. “It took us about 30 minutes to get here. They did a fantastic job. This is really cool,” she said. “My husband’s been into this for a while. I was like ‘Hey, you build me a crawler and I’ll crawl.’ My kid’s into it. So all of us do it.” She said it’s a hobby for all ages and abilities, as evidenced by the presence of kids, teens and adults at the new course.
Gray, a member of the Centerville Trails Committee, said the crawler course is an idea she wants to take back to her city as a possible recreation site. “This whole crawler thing has exploded. It keeps growing and growing,” she said.
Gardiner said the course is a gradual work in progress. “There’s always going to be things changing, and obstacles added to make it more of a draw and more creative” to keep people coming back.
A sign in front of the course lists the rules, including a 3 mph speed limit for crawlers and not moving rocks and other obstacles around. Rock crawlers can generally reach speeds of 10 to 20 mph, but some higher-end models can top out at 40 mph, according to horizonhobby.com.
The RC crawler course is located just southwest of the Centennial Park outdoor pool. It is within sight of the popular pickleball courts and skate park, which is being expanded to include an adjacent bike park. λ