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Moab Willys Rally

Posted in Events on January 24, 2019
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Mid-May can be the perfect time of year to be in Moab, Utah. It’s not too hot during the day, and it’s just warm enough to sleep under the stars at night. It’s also the perfect time to spot a variety of vintage Willys roaming around the trails and streets of this top wheeling destination. The Moab Willys Rally has made Moab its home for nine years, and the number of vehicles in attendance has grown each year. This year was no exception, with close to 50 vintage Jeeps registering for the event. Enthusiasts from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the picturesque Red Cliffs Lodge, the headquarters for this annual event.

There were a few new social offerings for those in attendance this year. Friday afternoon was the start of check-in for the event, followed by a wonderful BBQ dinner, bonfire, and s’mores as the sun cast its final glow over the red rock cliffs along the Colorado River. On Saturday morning the group parked on the grass below the lodge for a brief show ’n’ shine while enjoying coffee and pastries. The plan for the day was to enjoy a little off-road excursion, and a modified section of the Dome Plateau trail was chosen.

Forty-three Willys pulled onto the scenic River Road and made their way to the trailhead. Moab local Gavin Harrison took over trail leader duties for this year in his 3B; Casey Dimmitt, the event’s co-organizer, had to make an emergency trip home to welcome his son into the world six weeks early. The group meandered along dirt roads, through sandy areas, and up and down some minor ledges and slickrock faces. We stopped for lunch at an area called Cave Springs, and from there the group divided up. Those wanting more of a challenge followed Gavin out through the obstacles; others returned on the easy route. Everyone returned safely to the lodge for dinner and the huge raffle—nobody wanted to miss the raffle!

The group stopped for lunch at Cave Springs along the Dome Plateau trail. Red Cliffs Lodge provides a wonderful sack lunch, and the weather was perfect for the Saturday trail run.

On Sunday morning many bid farewell to new and old friends over coffee and doughnuts in town. A small group decided to hit a non-event trail that day, completing the first section of Fins and Things before the weather turned foul and the group decided to call it a day. There are a couple changes in store for the 10th Annual Willys Rally: The dates are moving to Memorial Day weekend—May 24-27, 2019—and the event has been extended to three days. HQ will remain Red Cliffs Lodge on the River Road just northeast of Moab. Registration is open for the event, and any additional information can be found at willysrally.com. See you there!

Trail leader and Moab, Utah, local Gavin Harrison shows the adventurous part of the group how to navigate the ledges on Dome Plateau in his CJ-3B.
Steve Kehm from Las Vegas brought out his 1962 wagon with a 5.3 LS conversion. The old Willys has all the modern conveniences, such as air conditioning and power windows.
Nate Rodger out of Colorado let his dad pilot the 1952 M38A1 up this section of the trail on Saturday afternoon. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces at the end of the day.
Jp Magazine Editor Rick Péwé gives a Willys-related fireside chat after dinner and the raffle on Saturday evening. It’s great to see so many young folks out there to learn about the history of this old iron.
Art Holling drove his 1960 Willys Wagon all the way from Corona, California, to attend his first Willys Rally. This beautiful wagon sports front and rear suspension from a 1978 Corvette, a 350 Chevrolet V-8 engine, and a 700R4 automatic transmission. Art has four wagons in his current collection.
After a few miles of pavement, we arrived at the trailhead for the Saturday trail run. A variety of old Willys made the trek to Utah for the event, some stock and some moderately to heavily modified.
Willys wagons had the highest numbers in attendance as always, but there were many more flatfenders this year, with the CJ-3B being very popular.
A small group headed out to Fins and Things for an unofficial trail run on Sunday after saying goodbye to new and old friends over coffee and doughnuts in downtown Moab.
Close to 50 vintage Willys and over 100 people registered for the 9th Annual Moab Willys Rally. This event continues to grow, and if you love old Willys, you should attend this event.
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