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.

Getting To URC

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!  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.

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) at https://what3words.com/hiking.acknowledge.study.   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 https://what3words.com/survived.cave.schemes.  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.


The video below provides an 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).

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

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!

Information for International Teams

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

http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Foreign-Visitors-Driving.shtmlhttp://answers.usa.gov/system/templates/selfservice/USAGov/#!portal/1012/article/2815/International Driving Permit IDP

Road laws: Utah Driver’s Handbook

Tipping and Gratuity in the United States

While tipping (or gratuity) is not common in all areas of the world, it is customary and expected in many settings in the United States.

Hanksville Lodging and Accommodations

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

Lodging Etiquette: URC depends on the strength of our relationship with the local community, and this is especially true with lodging owners in the region. Whether you are staying at a hotel, a campground, or at a local Airbnb house, these are all local small business owners.  Please treat these businesses with respect, and observe the following guidance:

URC2024: URC has reserved blocks of rooms at local hotels.  These rooms will be made available to teams on a limited basis following the results of the SAR Milestone.


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
275 East Highway 24
Hanksville, UT 84734
+1 435-542-3235

Muddy Creek Mining Company
3.6 mi East of MDRS turn off
280 East 100 North
Hanksville, UT 84734
+1 877-711-3857

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

Cathedral Valley Inn
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

Outlaw's Roost
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!  For the nearest stores (expect very long drives!), we recommend checking Google Maps.

Desert Safety

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

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.