April 12, 2021
5,000 Off-Road Partiers Unleash Havoc on Arizona National Forest
On April 3, Tonto National Forest experienced a chaotic scene as over 5,000 off-road partiers staged an illegal meet-up and massive camp operation. The event was “organized” by a Facebook group of off-roading enthusiasts out of Phoenix. The group picked a section of the national forest and blocked off the main access road near Sycamore Creek to set it aside for the giant, way, way beyond unauthorized chaos party.
There were rolled over trucks. Crashed side-by-sides. Ruined ATVs. At least one hospitalization. Plenty of DUIs. Illegal double-riding. Fireworks. Target shooting. There are 20 rangers employed to patrol that national forest. 20 rangers to try to get control of a 5,000-person event.
“We’re talking less than 20 people to try to enforce the rules out there for 5,000. It’s just not going to happen. At that point, it’s triage. It’s being out there for emergency, and there were several. One very serious where the person had to be life-flighted out. I mean, just trying to keep people safe out there. We can’t do it with that many people,” said Mesa District Ranger Matthew Lane.
Reports are that the group returned the next day to clean trash, but that’s a lot of people to pick up after.