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URC Logistics

The University Rover Challenge isn't just hard due to the complex robotics challenges; it also entails complex logistics, particularly for international teams.
Where does URC take place?
Note Regarding Vehicles: There is no public transportation; teams must have their own vehicle.  This is a firm requirement for URC teams!  New vehicle restrictions are in place, click here for details (in addition to the vehicles listed at this link, smaller cars are allowed, but are not ideal for off-road driving).
URC takes place at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), just outside of Hanksville, Utah.  To get to Hanksville, exit I-70 onto UT 24W (heading south) for approximately 45 miles.  UT 24 intersects UT 95 at a T-intersection in downtown Hanksville.
We strongly encourage all first time visitors to make the drive when accompanied by a member of the URC staff (or somebody who knows the way).  From the above intersection, to reach MDRS, turn right to stay on UT 24W.  After approximately 3.75 miles (just past mile marker 113), turn right onto Cow Dung Road (this is a dirt road).  Within the first quarter mile on Cow Dung Road, you will cross a cattle grate, and proceed down a steep, but short, incline.  Proceed with caution down Cow Dung Road.  After 3.2 miles, stay left at the fork.  Drive another 0.15 miles to reach MDRS.  The map below highlights several points of interest.

See Driving to MDRS at the bottom of this page for a video preview of the route between Hanksville and MDRS.

MDRS, Hanksville, and points of interest

The video below should provide you with idea of what it's like to drive between Hanksville and MDRS (note: the actual drive is much longer than this video; typically 20-25 minutes).

Driving to MDRS

Nearby Airports

Grand Junction (GJT) - 159 miles (about 2.5 hours) east of Hanksville.

Salt Lake City (SLC) - 236 miles (about 4 hours) north of Hanksville

Las Vegas (LAS) - 405 miles (about 6.5 hours) southwest of Hanksville

Visas and Customs
Teams are responsible for making their own arrangements.  Documents and letters of support can be provided upon request - please request at least 10 days in advance from the URC Director. A form will be provided to Student Team Leads in late March for official requests.
Some teams have experienced issues with components (such as lithium-based batteries) being confiscated by customs (either in the originating country or in the United States)!  We recommend that you have a backup plan in place to purchase replacement hardware once you land in the United States and verify the contents of your shipment!  This can include making a purchase online and having it shipped to your hotel.

Rental Car Information
Most rental car companies require the driver to be at least 21 years of age, and require a credit card for payment (some companies allow debit cards - contact your rental car company for more details).  Please note that the driver must also be the credit card holder! New vehicle restrictions are in place, click here for details (in addition to the vehicles listed at this link, smaller cars are allowed, but are not ideal for off-road driving).
International Driver’s Permit

Road laws Utah Driver’s Handbook

Driving Information The roads in this region are extremely remote, and it is not uncommon to drive 100 miles or more between gas stations (even along major highways such as I-70).  Don’t pass by a gas station unless you are confident that you can make it another 150 miles on your current tank of gas!

Hanksville, UT Lodging and Accomodations

(Important Note: Credit cards are typically required for payment at hotels and motels in the United States!)

URC2020: URC has reserved blocks of rooms at the Whispering Sands Motel.  These rooms will be made available to teams on a limited basis following the results of the SAR Milestone.  There are no rooms currently available in Hanksville outside of these blocks.

Whispering Sands Motel
3.9 mi East of MDRS turn off
90 So. Highway 95
Hanksville, UT 84734

Duke's Slickrock Campground
3.6 mi East of MDRS turn off
280 East 100 North
Hanksville, UT 84734

If you cannot get lodging in Hanksville, there are other options nearby:

Rodeway Inn Capitol Reef
14 mi West of MDRS turn off
25 East State Route 24
Caineville, UT 84775

There are several options in Torrey, UT (located 43 mi west of MDRS turn off) and Green River, UT (located 60 mi north east of MDRS turn off).

Bull Mountain Market
30 Utah 24
Hanksville, UT 84734

Stan's Burger Shack
100 East
Hanksville, UT 84734

Blondie's Eatery & Gift
30 Utah 95
Hanksville, UT 84734

Duke's Slickrock Grill
275 East Highway 24
Hanksville, Utah  84734

Materials and Supplies
Don't expect to find spare parts for your rover in Hanksville!  Here are the closest stores coming from the east, north and west.






Ace Hardware

Building Material, Hardware, Tools

330 E Main St Green River, UT 84525

330 E Main St Green River, UT 84525


Home Depot

Building Material, Hardware, Tools

1122 E Brickyard Rd

Salt Lake City, UT

2436 F Rd

Grand Junction, CO

1440 S Technology Dr

Richfield, UT

Harbor Freight

Inexpensive tools

155 N State St, Orem, UT

3210 Interstate 70 Business Loop

Clifton, CO

2240 South Nellis Boulevard F-1

Las Vegas, NV


Building Material, Hardware, Tools

140 W University Pkwy, Orem, UT

2525 Rimrock Ave

Grand Junction, CO

415 S River Rd

St George, UT

Radio Shack

Electronics, wiring, electronics tools

(Caution: many Radio Shack locations are closing - recommend calling first!)

55 E Main St

Price, UT 84501


135 N Main St

Fillmore, UT 84631


Food, Clothes, Hygiene Basic Hardware, “OK” Tools

10130 S State St

Sandy, UT

2424 U.S. 6 and 50

Grand Junction, CO

275 South River Road

St. George, UT


Food, Clothes, Hygiene Basic Hardware, “OK” Tools

255 S Highway 55

Price, UT

2881 North Avenue

Grand Junction, CO

10 East 1300 South

Richfield, UT


Vegan Grocery Markets Orem, UT: Good Earth Natural Foods

Moab, UT:  Moonflower Market Inc.

Cedar City, UT: Sunshine Nutrition

Desert Safety
Dressing for the Desert: Sunburn protection Look for more information in the URC Desert Safety Guide

  • Long sleeve, light-colored, moisture-wicking shirt polyester or polyester blend  (you won’t get hot)

  • Long pants, light-colored, moisture-wicking

  • Sunscreen SPF-50 or above recommended and SPF-rated chap-stick/lip balm

  • Wide Brim hat

  • Sunglasses (Watch out for cheap sunglasses - make sure they have UV Protection!)

  • Ski goggles in case the wind picks up

  • Large hydration pack (Camelback) or water bottle for water

Altitude reminder Remember the event will be held at altitude (4,295 ft, or 1,309 m).  Do not engage in strenuous activity unless you are accustomed to the lower density air.