I’m at 36,000 feet as I punch out these words on my computer. This isn’t the way I wanted to be writing this article. The plan was to break out the defibrillator paddles and revive my ’46 CJ-2A for a triumphant return to Moab. It’s been 12 years since the Jeep or I have attended the annual Easter Jeep Safari, and we were both ready to do it again. But, as often is the case, the list of things to do on my Jeep grew at a rate that outpaced the amount of time left before the 2014 Easter Jeep Safari kicked off. So I closed the garage door—even if my Flatfender compadre couldn’t make its return to Moab, I still could.
What would the event look like now? With more than a decade since the last time I attended the event, I prepared myself for the reality that much of what I remembered about the Easter Jeep Safari may not exist anymore. And would the things that still existed really be the same? Or just facsimiles of what they once were? The whole thing was a lot like journeying home for your 10-year high school reunion, waiting to see who had gained 100 pounds, and hoping that you didn’t look worse for wear than your former classmates.
Even though I had attended the event countless times before, it was much like the first time. As I drove south along Utah state highway 191 descending into the town of Moab, I was blown away by the beautiful Red Rock cliffs to the west that create the rim bordering the entire length of Moab and Arches National Park to the east. And then there are the Jeeps. Lots of them. Everywhere! That’s the magic of this event that has no match. You’re in some of the most beautiful terrain in the world, and for a week at least, it’s all Jeep, all the time.
For the 2014 event, there were 38 trails used by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers (rr4w.com). This is the club that works their tails off all year to keep the lands open and organize the Easter Jeep Safari. The trails are rated from 1-10, ranging from super easy, scenic drives, to some fairly gnarly trails where you can damage your Jeep if you try hard enough. You register in advance, filling out a vehicle profile on the club’s website indicating what trails you prefer. The club will fill out a trail grid that assigns everyone to specific trails on specific days.
Assuming everything goes smoothly on the trailride, you’ll be back in town by mid- to late afternoon, which is the perfect time to head to Potato Salad Hill. This obstacle is located close to town—head for the city dump and then follow the train of Jeeps heading off the pavement to find it. This is a pretty steep, multi-ledge rock climb that is famous for sending short wheelbase vehicles toppling over backwards, snapping driveshafts, and shearing teeth of ring-and-pinion sets. Pull out a lawn chair and sit at the top of obstacle to take in the show.
Going to Moab to spend a week on trails that take you through incredible scenery and test you and your Jeep’s capability is worth the price of admission, but the event has grown to include more than just off-roading. Companies who make goods that prove their worth in this environment—axles, rock sliders, bumpers, and so on—figure this event is a great place to show off their products and make some sales. You might run into the company owner on a trail run during the week, and you should definitely plan to spend a good chunk of either Thursday or Friday at the Spanish Trails Arena where the Vendor Show takes place. This is like SEMA, except its open to the public, and for the most part, only has really cool off-road parts.
We’ve compiled a Top 10 list to help the Moab Easter Jeep Safari newbie. If you haven’t attended before, mark your calendar for March 28 through April 4, 2015. Make it a family vacation or a time to get together with your ’wheeling buddies. But book it now and get to work on your Jeep.
Top 10 Tips for You
-If you’ve never attended Easter Jeep Safari, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the experience.
-Take your Jeep
-Book a condo, and do it as far in advance as possible
-Register for the event so you can participate in official trail rides
-Connect with people on social media ahead of time so you have some friends to meet up with at the event
-Hang out at Potato Salad Hill at least once to watch the carnage
-Pack both lunch and dinner for the trail as you never know how long you’ll be out there
-Spend at least a day at the vendor display at the arena
-Prepare for weather that will likely vary from snow to 90-degrees during the week
-Eat at Moab Diner for breakfast at least once
-Eat dinner at the Moab Brewery at least once