Even from a safe distance, when a rocket three times your height roars up from the Salt Flats to 25,000 feet in less than a minute, you feel a blast of heat, you feel the ground shake and you feel raw excitement.
HellFire, sponsored by the Utah Rocket Club (UROC), is one of few remaining events where launching rockets to that height is even permitted. UROC must obtain special clearance for the event, which takes place this year August 3-6.
Though HellFire is technically an amateur launch, we’re talking serious rocketry here. Participants from around the country launch rockets ranging from foot-tall wonders to towering monsters that weigh in at over 100 pounds, feature high-tech electronics, use a propellant similar to that used on the space shuttle, and lift off with hundreds of pounds of pure thrust.
Now in its 22nd year, HellFire continues to grow. Many people attend not to launch, but simply for the thrill of watching. Between launches, visitors enjoy examining rockets and components close-up and speaking with the experts who build and launch them.
Admission to HellFire is free and the public is welcome to come watch.
HellFire will be held on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah. Take Exit 4 on Interstate 80 and follow easy-to-spot signs. The event takes place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 6.
Tips for visitors:
For information about the Utah Rocket Club, visit www.uroc.org
The Bonneville Salt Flats are used with the permission of the US. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). We have a waiver in place at the HellFire Launch from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows our members to fly high-powered rockets to altitudes as high as 25,000ft. HellFire is insured by the National Association of Rocketry and/or the Tripoli Rocketry Association.
Whatever you've heard about the Bonneville Salt Flats, it is probably true. The vastness will humble you. The Bonneville Salt Flats are one of the most unique natural features in the United States, the flats stretch over 30,000 acres at an altitude of approximately 4320 feet above sea level. Bonneville's heat will cook you alive (hence the name HellFire). We've all experienced bright sunlight, but at Bonneville its intensity is reinforced by being prismatically reflected off the ocean of salt that surrounds you.
You're going to need to block the sun from your face and arms. Bring some good lip balm and sun block, and use them both throughout the day. Protect your eyes and head. It's easy to spot the people who are there for the first time - they' re the ones without sunglasses and hats. If they've been on the salt flats for more than two days, avoid standing downwind from them, since the wind often blows chunks of crispy, toasted skin off their faces and lips, which eventually settles into a fine crust on the flats.
One of the great things about holding a launch on the Bonneville Salt Flats is the launch site’s proximity to the town of Wendover (about 15 minutes away from the launch site!) The town is perched on the border of Utah and Nevada. Because of this, it has become an oasis for Utahns wanting to experience some “night-life”.
The Nevada side of Wendover is teeming with casino/resort complexes that include all of the amenities such as pools, spas, exercise equipment, great food and the ever important air-conditioning. It’s a real bonus being able to come in from the heat after a good day of flying. Hotel and accommodation information is available through the Wendover Tourism and Convention Bureau, 1-775-664-3138 or Toll Free 1-866-299-2489.
If you intend to set up a 'semi-permanent' spectator area, you must secure a tarp as a floor covering on the salt. Don’t forget your camera and bring lots of film, because you will want to remember everything you see. Binoculars are also a great idea since the rockets can be as far as a 1/4 mile away as they lift off.
Please pick up ALL of your trash and take it with you everyday. There will not be dumpsters provided. HellFire is a "Pack it in, Pack it out event."
Help Protect the Flats
Managed by the BLM as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Special Recreation Management Area, the Bonneville Salt Flats are a 30,000 acre expanse of hard, white salt crust on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake basin in Utah. "Bonneville" is also on the National Register of Historic Landmarks because of its contribution to land speed racing. The salt flats are about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide with total area coverage of just over 46 square miles. Near the center of the salt, the crust is almost 5 feet thick in places, with the depth tapering off to less than 1 inch as you get to the edges. Total salt crust volume has been estimated at 147 million tons or 99 million cubic yards of salt! The Bonneville Salt Flats are comprised of approximately 90% common table salt.
To aid in the management of the public lands, we ask that you follow proper land use etiquette such as Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace. A few examples of these principles are the proper disposal of human waste, packing out litter, and ensuring any livestock feed used or transported across public lands is certified weed-free.
Stay on Existing Roads or Trails Stay on existing roads or areas designated for vehicles. Despite the appearance of a hard surface, much of the area is a thin salt crust over soft mud. It easily breaks under the weight of a vehicle.
Stay off the Wet Salt - Stay off the salt surface when it is covered by water. When wet, the salt surface is soft and easily damaged by vehicles. Furthermore, the salt water is highly corrosive and can short-out the electrical system in your vehicle.
Remember it is a Desert!- Be prepared for desert conditions. Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees in the summer and drop well below 0 in the winter. There are no facilities or services on the salt flats. Temporary facilities are available during racing events and HellFire.
No Camping on the Flats - Overnight stays are prohibited on the salt flats. Camping is encouraged on surrounding public lands. Private campgrounds and hookups are available in nearby Wendover City ten miles west of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Other accommodations and services are also available in Wendover.
Call 1-800-426-6862 for more information about the Bonneville Salt Flats
Links to further information about the Salt Flats