Easter Jeep Safari I

Easter Jeep Safari: How to do Moab During Spring Break
by Bill Burke

Part I: How to Get There…

scenery7iconIt’s likened to Sturgis or Daytona or, for that matter, Fort Lauderdale. It’s a 4-wheelers’ dream. Like a kid in a candy store, I wandered the streets and the vendor midway at the Spanish Trail Arena gazing in awe and some jealousy at all the rigs. All sorts of rigs, from butt ugly to stock to highly modified and show type, small Suzukis to Unimogs and Hummers were there in mass.

This is Moab–the 4-wheeling Mecca, the magnanimous magnet that attracts thousands of ‘wheelers every spring to see the arches, bridges, spires, fins and, of course, the trails. This is the Easter Jeep Safari!

Each year at Easter, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, Inc. and the Moab Chamber of Commerce do a really great job to bring about the biggest 4-wheel drive fest in the world! This year there were approximately 1600 registered vehicles and at least another (so it seemed) 500 vehicles just hanging on! What’s the attraction for this special event?

To find out, I sent for a registration packet and received the newspaper that explained the simple procedure for getting signed up for trails I wanted to do. I filled out the registration form to the letter, signed it and sent it off with my check because I didn’t want it to be returned, which would have kept me out of the lottery for my requested trails.

Around mid-February I received my assigned trail confirmation sheet. I made the mistake of just glancing at the sheet, though, instead of actually reading it, saw it had the three trails I selected and didn’t give it another thought! Lo and behold (obviously I wasn’t a member of Mensa!), the days for two of the trails I wanted were reversed from my notes. I showed up on Wednesday for a trail I was scheduled for on Friday! Duh! I then had to rush through town to get to the assigned trailhead for my first run.

The impressive logistics that the Red Rock 4-Wheelers perform would make any military unit proud. I showed up early at the registration table (lucky for me due to my faux pax) and was greeted by a friendly and efficient group of Red Rock volunteers. They walked me through the registration effortlessly, gave me my packet of information about the area, told me about the MUD fund and sent me on my way.

The packet contained lots of goodies and a ton of information about Southeast Utah. Inside was a garbage bag sponsored by all the land agencies and groups affected by off-highway vehicle use. It’s good to see a combined effort on the land managers part to help promote safe and environmentally sound vehicle operation on public lands.

Included were small brochures about impact practices, using undeveloped campsites, Utah’s Canyonlands, lodging guide, tour and recreation guide, a Moab Chamber area map, a coupon for a t-shirt imprint, a flag for my antenna, and a dash plaque.

Also included was a “tattletale” card to report (confidentially) on anyone seen abusing the land, CB or littering. They will then be taken off the list for subsequent mailings. A nice system. I didn’t use the card, as everyone I encountered had good trail manners.

The packet gave me lots of insight to the historic, geologic and recreational significance of the Moab area.

Since I lead guided trips and offer private instruction several times a year in Moab, I’m very familiar with the area. I wanted to sign up with the Red Rock 4-Wheelers to show my support for the sport, for their cause, and to have a “busperson’s” holiday. Plus, it’s a great time to check out all the rigs and see what suspension, tire, body, winch, lights and other extra goodies people put on their rigs–some good ideas, and some bad ideas! Every type and combination of aftermarket accessory is in use.

The manufacturers’ midway outside and inside the Spanish Trail Arena is full of equipment and specialty items that can be utilized for a rig. Several tire companies had demo tires set up on various wheels for people to try out on the trail. They install a set of tires and let participants run them for two days. The users could then buy them in town at Chip’s Grand Tire Company. There were demonstrations of trailers, axles, swaybar disconnects, lockers, suspensions, custom tops, welders, air compressor systems, winches, body lifts, 4X4NOW Internet services, Tuffy security products, plus various parts warehouse dealers were there.

Whether new to the sport of recreational 4-wheeling or a hard core rock crawler, there is something for everyone to see and do. The Friday night Boy Scout BBQ and raffle is THE party to attend. On “Big Saturday,” Moab closes the highway on Main Street to let the trail leaders head out.

The parade is a sight to see–1600 rigs heading out within about a half-hour’s time.

Some 31 trails leave out of Moab, that’s right, 31–at least 6 to 27 are offered each day. Everyone meets at the prescribed place in town defined by which trails have been chosen. They check in with the trail leader and find a place in the line-up. With some trails having a vehicle limit of 15 and some a limit of 60 (YES – 60!), get to the meeting place early. Of course, me being a dork, on the first day (see above), my buddy Gus and I ate a lot of dust.

I decided which trails to run based on my skill level and vehicle set-up. The trail descriptions and ratings are explained thoroughly in the newspaper I received in the mail. I selected two 3+ trails and one 3 rated trail. I knew from past experience the 4 and 4+ rated trails would not allow me a chance to relax in between challenge sections. The trails I chose gave me enough challenge, yet allowed me to absorb the spectacular scenery that draws 4-wheelers to southeastern Utah.

Join me for Part II when I’ll discuss how to prep your rig, including some Moab driving tricks!
Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud!

Bill Burke’s 4-Wheeling America LLC