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Open Roads Forum  >  Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping

 > Southern Utah boondocking: how long do roads take to dry?

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profdant139

Southern California

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Posted: 10/21/20 05:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are hoping to get to southern Utah sometime later this year -- lots of boondocking available all over the place!

Just one problem: the dirt roads get very slick in wet weather -- the soil contains lots of bentonite, which is a clay that is so slippery that it is used as an industrial lubricant!

There are many warnings on the BLM and national forest websites that tell us to avoid certain roads in wet weather. Fair enough -- I've been warned.

But in general, how long do the roads stay wet after a rain? A day? A week? How does one know when it is safe to venture out into the back country?

Thanks in advance for your advice, especially if you have real-world experience with this issue!


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azdryheat

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Posted: 10/21/20 05:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We ride our RZR in Utah and enjoy the wet roads. It seems the dirt roads can take longer than a week to dry, assuming it doesn't rain again.


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Lwiddis

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Posted: 10/21/20 05:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Doesn’t this depend on sun exposure, drainage, grade, tilt, crown etc.? Chugging along just great and whammy...sliding like crazy as you round the hill? I love Utah!

* This post was edited 10/21/20 06:00pm by Lwiddis *


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bgum

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Posted: 10/21/20 06:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bentonite is used as a drilling mud when drilling oil or gas wells. I worked my way thru college by working in the oil patch during the summers. While tying in a gas line to a newly completed well (gas lift well) we experienced a fire. Naturally we all ran in different directions. One of my coworkers got about 3 good strides into an old pit containing bentonite and cuttings from an old well. That pit was 5 or 6 years old. It had a 3 or 4 inch crust on top but under that the bentonite was just like the day it was put there. He sank in above his hips. That stuff is slick.

noteven

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Posted: 10/21/20 06:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Take a look at Yoo Toob channel Matt's Off Road Recovery for some sweet sw Utah mud action.

Sandia Man

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Posted: 10/21/20 07:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Of course it all depends, living in AZ and NM it is apparent the Southwest is very dry. It can rain anywhere in the four corner states and an hour later you wouldn't even know it. Sure we do get a torrent of rainfall from time to time, with our 4wd truck it has never lead to being stuck.

Since rain is scarce in most of Cali, I would think off road boondocking is quite similar when rain is in the forecast. We have a week of RVing planned for Utah in November, other than cooler temps we have not thought about getting enough rain to worry about traversing the off roads.

mleekamp

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Posted: 10/22/20 04:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

x2 on Matt's Offroad Recovery. Two things I'd do:

1. put Matt's number in your phone "just in case"

2. call Matt and ask the question....he knows the area very well and can help answer that question for you


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valhalla360

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Posted: 10/22/20 06:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bgum wrote:

Bentonite is used as a drilling mud when drilling oil or gas wells. I worked my way thru college by working in the oil patch during the summers. While tying in a gas line to a newly completed well (gas lift well) we experienced a fire. Naturally we all ran in different directions. One of my coworkers got about 3 good strides into an old pit containing bentonite and cuttings from an old well. That pit was 5 or 6 years old. It had a 3 or 4 inch crust on top but under that the bentonite was just like the day it was put there. He sank in above his hips. That stuff is slick.


Probably not a comparable situation.

That pit was likely filled with wet mud at least 2-3ft deep. Once the top dried, it created a crust to seal in the moisture.

If you get a 10 min shower with 1/4 inch of rain, it's unlikely to penetrate more than an inch.


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ppine

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Posted: 10/22/20 09:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A good question. I have worked around bentonite in Wyo and SD. Sometimes you can get stuck on a flat road with chains on all 4 wheels.

Sometimes you have no choice but to wait for the weather to dry out. It depends on the temp, usually low humidity and the wind. If a shower is brief, the sun and some wind can dry out the surface in a couple of hours, even 45 minutes. Sometimes you can travel in the early morning when it is frozen.

SteveAE

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Posted: 10/22/20 01:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

profdant139 wrote:


But in general, how long do the roads stay wet after a rain? A day? A week? How does one know when it is safe to venture out into the back country?


From what I have seen. After a gully washer, fairly fast once the sun comes out. Maybe a couple days?????? BUT, during those couple days, it can be really messy. Just a little rain though isn't an issue. Perhaps inquire with the local land manager if uncertain.

Have fun.

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