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Easter Jeep Safari - Off Road Notes

Moab Ranger
Phil Howell | Writer
Posted August 1, 2007

Off-roaders from everywhere descend on the little southeastern Utah town of Moab the week before Easter to enjoy spectacular scenery and trail challenges. This is also the week of the annual Easter Jeep Safari put on by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers (RR4W), where club members guide organized trail rides throughout the week. Because of the sheer number of off-roaders in the area, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers and the BLM closed some of the trails nearer the town to everyone except those signed up for the organized run. There are so many vehicles in the backcountry during Easter week that the RR4W were running into traffic jams that blocked their organized run, ruining it for the participants.

Although the Red Rock 4-Wheelers are, in my opinion, justified to protect the popular, close-to-town trails they are using during Easter week, they aren't justified in trying to keep everyone off all the trails on public land anywhere they may be. Many off-roaders during the week reported that members of the RR4W in their red jackets were running up to vehicles, stating that this was THEIR trail and that no others were allowed. Kevin Hawkins and Ned Bacon ran into a club member who told them (in a loud and obnoxious manner) that the trail they were on was one-way (it wasn't) and that it was closed to everyone (it wasn't). When Kevin didn't respond, the RR4W member spun around, yelling over his shoulder that he hoped the BLM rangers gave them a ticket (they didn't). This has been a problem with some members of the RR4W for years. They feel that Moab and the surrounding public lands belong to them and no one else is welcome.

We need to remember that not all members of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers are like this, but a vocal few seem to have infected many, even some associate members from out-of-town. This attitude has carried over to the BLM, where some (not all) rangers feel they can do anything to hassle people on the trails because they have the support of the local off-road-vehicle club. I went out to photograph my new vehicle on a rock fin we have used for years called Little Lion's Back. The Little Lion's Back route has a tricky crack to cross to get over to the next fin directly west, which then drops onto the Hell's Revenge Trail past Lake Michigan, a sometimes vehicle-swallowing hole filled with water. Now, Little Lion's Back has white dots painted all the way over the top, bypassing the original trail through the crack, dropping off the back side into the campground there. For many years, the white dots have designated the Slickrock Bike Trail, a world-class mountain-bike route, and motorized vehicles are supposed to stay off them except when the mountain-bike and motorized trails converge. We went to the crack at the top of this fin and were stopped taking photos when two BLM rangers walked up and proceeded to ticket me for being off a designated trail in an OHV.

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