Is the party finally over?
I guess we're partly to blame. For nearly a decade, we've been extolling the virtues of the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari, both as a killer wheeling event and as a can't-miss, action-packed spectacle. And the word is definitely out. Officially the largest off-road event in the world, the week preceding Easter sees the little town of Moab, Utah, fill to capacity with wheelers from all over the world. Hotels and campgrounds are booked months in advance, and the trails get crowded. It's the Cannes Film Festival of the off-road crowd. Only where they've got megalomaniacs hocking movies and self-promoting, we've got a locked and low-ranged party on the trail.
There are a number of dangers converging on this event that threaten to - if not shut it down - increase the amount of rules and regulations. For starters, property in the backcountry surrounding the town of Moab is actually becoming valuable. Each year, we see new plots scooped up, with closure signs where there was once nothing but open trail. But hey, it's a capitalist market. Whaddayagonnado?
Then, there's the spring-break contingent. College kids who don't have the coin to go get stupid in Jamaica or Cabo come in their Hondas and Hyundais to hang out at the more popular obstacles. They often get drunk, get rowdy, and sometimes get arrested, leaving a river of trash in their wake. Now, the more popular obstacles like Potato Salad Hill are closed at sunset by The Man and checkpoints are set up to check for drunk drivers and vehicular infractions.