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Easter Jeep Safari - Moab Utah

Rick Russell | Writer
Posted August 1, 2002

36th Annual Easter Jeep Safari Moab, Utah 2002

Spectacular plateaus and red rock arches attract visitors for both the beauty and the challenging terrain of the Moab area. Mountain bikers traverse slickrock trails by following painted symbols, while ATVs and four-wheelers claw their way up abandoned mining roads.

The Colorado River attracts river rafters anxious to get their feet wet. Tourists passing through the area gather in Arches National Park to take pictures of arches, pillars, and vistas from designated viewing areas. And for the last 36 years, four-wheelers have assembled during Easter Week for the Red Rock 4-Wheeler's Easter Jeep Safari. Add to this mix an influx of college students on Spring Break and a large number of unregistered four-wheelers and the little town of Moab (pop. 4,500) becomes an exciting place during Easter Vacation.There are a number of events in Moab throughout the year, but Easter week draws the largest crowd.

Hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, the 2002 Easter Jeep Safari attracted nearly 1,500 vehicles from 38 states, Canada, and four European countries to the nine-day Moab event. The small town of Moab rests in a valley on the eastern side of Utah. The Colorado River crosses Main Street on the north end of town as it winds its way through several states before reaching the Gulf of California. On the south end of the valley, Main Street (Highway 191) climbs over the La Sal Mountains as it heads toward the Four Corners area. After the mining industry left the Moab area in the early 1980s, the city began catering to outdoor enthusiasts and tourism. At various times during the year, visitors push the campgrounds and hotels in the Moab valley to near maximum capacity, especially during Easter week.

Similar to previous years, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers designates a trail leader for each of the 30 trails being run during the Safari. Registered participants gather at predetermined locations throughout the town, and the trail leader, with the assistance of a few trail hands, guides the group through the trail. A $40 registration fee buys passage on one trail and includes a dash plaque, antenna flag, and a ticket for Friday night's drawing. Each additional trail day costs $25, except the overnight camping trip to the Hole-in-the-Rock. This counts as three days. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers' primary objective on the trail is safety and not vehicle repairs. Trail hands may help repair a broken vehicle, but they will always carry a participant to safety. In other words, the registration fee does not include towing insurance.

On the first day of the Easter Jeep Safari, seven of the 30 trails are run, and by the end of the week, thirteen trails are being run each day until the last Saturday before Easter Sunday. On Big Saturday, most of the trails are run. The local police stop all traffic entering Moab, and the trail groups leave Moab in all directions. At the 2002 Safari, 28 trails were run on Big Saturday. Whatever your skill level or vehicle type, Moab has a trail for you.

Although the Safari's registration was down by 3 percent from the prior year, the number of four-wheelers visiting Moab during the Safari continues to increase. Many four-wheelers come to Moab to see friends, review manufacturer's products, and do some 'wheelin', but some folks never register for the Safari. Every evening, the campgrounds come alive with talk about where these unregistered visitors are heading the next day. Using the published Safari schedule as a guide, four-wheelers will usually run the trails not being used by the Safari. Occasionally, unregistered four-wheelers will run the trail ahead of the official group. But in any case, you would not want to meet a group of 50 vehicles on a narrow trail. That would slow everyone down.

Most four-wheelers realize that the Red Rock 4-Wheelers have paid for a permit to run these public trails and the participants have paid a fee to be there, so they yield the right of way to the official group. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers are like most clubs; they invest time and money to keep our public lands accessible to the public. The trails that are run during the Safari are open all year and can be run anytime by non-commercial groups. The most popular trails can be found in a book by Charles A. Wells, Guide to Moab Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails or viewed in Rick Russell's Off Highway Adventure Series, V.4 Moab, Utah. Even if you don't plan to attend any official trail rides during Easter, you can support the Red Rock 4-Wheelers by completing an application and marking it "Packet Only." You'll receive a drawing ticket, a dash plaque, and an information packet.

In addition to the popular trails used by the Safari each year, there are other existing routes that will probably never be used by the Safari. Lower Helldorado, Upper Helldorado, Rusty Nail, The Pickle Trail, and The Hangman are a few of these trails. Lower and Upper Helldorado Trails are located south of town on the east side of Highway 191. Lower Helldorado is a rocky wash with several narrow obstacles and is not very tough for a well-equipped vehicle and skilled driver. On the other hand, Upper Helldorado is a tough trail. Upper Helldorado is a narrow wash beginning with several large boulders to climb over and ending with a 25-foot ledge to winch up. You sure wouldn't want to turn around once you reached the top. The Rusty Nail begins with a rock ledge to climb, winds along a 100-foot canyon, drops onto a narrow ledge, and tilts the vehicles in an off-camber section before intersecting the Gold Bar Rim Trail. The Pickle and Hangman trails are located north of town on the west side of Highway 191. The climax on the Pickle Trail is a squeeze that could easily break a windshield or damage a top. The Hangman begins with a winch hill and ends with an off-camber run along slickrock. These trails can be seen in Rick Russell's

Off Highway Adventure Series, V.16 Moab Extreme. For those who like to explore on their own, there are hundreds of miles of existing roads to follow.

The Easter Jeep Safari has become a good place to meet other 'wheelers and check out rigs being built across the country. For those who would prefer smaller groups and fewer people, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers also host a three-day event over Labor Day weekend. Last year, the Labor Day event attracted more than 160 vehicles.To put your name on the mailing list for next year's Easter Jeep Safari or the Labor Day weekend event, contact: Red Rock 4-Wheelers, Dept. OR, P.O. Box 1471, Moab, UT 84532-1471, (435) 259-7625.

Safari Trails
(Rated 1-5, with 5 being the toughest)
3-D (3)
Behind the Rocks (4+)
Chicken Corners (3)
Cliff Hanger (4)
Copper Ridge (3)
Crystal Geyser (3)
Dome Plateau (3)
Elephant Hill (3-1/2)
Fins & Things (3-1/2)
Flat Iron Mesa (4)
Gold Bar Rim (3-1/2)
Golden Spike (4+)
Hellroaring Rim (3-1/2)
Hell's Revenge (4)
Hey Joe {{{Canyon}}} (3-1/2)
Hole-in-the-Rock (4)
Kane Creek Canyon (3-1/2)
Metal Masher (4)
Moab Rim (4+)
Poison {{{Spider}}} Mesa (4)
Porcupine Rim (3)
Pritchett Canyon (5)
Rose Garden Hill (4)
Secret Spire Seven-Mile Rim (3-1/2)
Steel Bender (3-1/2)
Strike Ravine (3-1/2)
Top of the World (3)
Wipe-Out Hill (3-1/2)

Sources

Red Rock 4-Wheelers
Moab, UT 84532
435-259-7625
Guided 4x4 Trips
River Rafting

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