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.

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

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.

Caution:

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


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:

  • Observe the maximum guests allowed by the owner. This includes guests using the showers!

  • No loud noise, no parties. No exceptions.

  • No rover construction/maintenance or use of tools indoors. Talk with the owner/manager and ask for guidance if you are uncertain about how to work on your rover without causing damage!

  • Leave lodging in the exact same condition that you found it! Assume that your income depended on the ability to rent the room/house the very next day.

  • Be kind, be courteous, talk to the owner/manager, and don't forget that you are personally representing URC with your actions!

URC2022: 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 this block.

Lodging:

Whispering Sands Motel
3.9 mi East of MDRS turn off
435-542-3238
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
435-542-3235

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

Cathedral Valley Inn
14 mi West of MDRS turn off
435-456-9900
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).

Groceries:

Bull Mountain Market
30 Utah 24
Hanksville, UT 84734
435-542-3249

Restaurants:

Stan's Burger Shack
100 East
Hanksville, UT 84734
435-542-3330

Outlaw's Roost
30 Utah 95
Hanksville, UT 84734
435-542-1763

Duke's Slickrock Grill
275 East Highway 24
Hanksville, Utah 84734
435-542-2052

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

    • 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!)

    • 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.