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! 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.

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

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

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! For the nearest stores, we recommend checking Google Maps.

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.