Slickrockin' At Moab 2005
Just as the month of March winds down each year, the vernal equinox ushers in the season of recreation for most Americans. Some head south for warm weather and white sand; others turn north for pristine snow and backwoods splendor. Then there's a growing number of people, who, like us, travel inland, towards red rock arches, natural bridges, spires, fins, and of course, the unparalleled slickrock. Moab, Utah is ground zero for a weeklong convergence quite unlike any other in the world: Easter Jeep Safari. This sleepy little town, nestled just south of the Colorado River, explodes in population for a week as this yearly exodus of trail-prepped 4x4s floods in from all over the country. While some residents quietly withdraw in their wake, others, especially business owners, feast on the invasion while visitors indulge in all things Jeep.
Characterized by most as the Mecca of the 4WD world, Moab features some 30 or so trails, many within a stone's throw from the main drag. Covering some of the most interesting terrain in the country, Moab's slickrock is both challenging and stunningly beautiful. The trail ratings range from easy to nearly impossible, ensuring satisfaction for every driver. Whether you line up with the event's official host, the Red Rock Four Wheelers, or just meet a couple of friends out on the trail, Moab during Easter Jeep Week is the place to be if you love four-wheeling.
'Wheelin on Slickrock in a Rental Rig
OK, we know what some of you are thinking: You don't own a Jeep, or you're not set up for rocks, or Moab's too far from where you live, or you just don't have the time to trailer your rig cross-country. But Moab, as we've said, is unlike any other four-wheeling destination we know of, and that also extends to the options you have when it comes to piloting a 4x4.
In short, if you can't get your own vehicle here, you can rent one instead.
Now before you start laughing at the thought of a Buick LeSabre attempting Devils' Crack (a tempting idea, we'll admit), we're talking rental Jeeps here. And built Jeeps at that. A number of rental agencies in Moab have Jeeps available for rent (not to mention mountain bikes, kayaks, hang gliders, and other outdoor conveyances), and while the daily rates aren't dirt-cheap, they're not exorbitant either, and as long as you've got a driver's license, proof of insurance, and a major credit card, you can play in the backcountry in your very own Jeep.
During Easter Jeep Week, we had the opportunity to pick up a Wrangler Rubicon from an agency in Moab called Cliffhanger Jeep Rental. Besides sporting all the usual good stuff-Rock-Trac transfer case with 4:1 low range, and electronic lockers front and rear-the Jeeps from Cliffhanger come outfitted with 3-inch TeraFlex suspension lifts, 33x12.50 Goodyear MTRs, Safari soft-tops or hardtops, and rocker-panel guards. Our brand-new rental only sported 220 miles on it, but had already seen combat: The previous renter had rolled it, we were told, and scratches on the rollbar and a crunched rear quarter panel attested to it.
After performing a brief exorcism (purging the beast of any residual Bad Trail Karma), we headed out for the slick hills and bowls of Hell's Revenge on a cold and rainy day. Unfazed by the taunts of locals ("Who rolled the rental?"), we spent a leisurely afternoon traversing one of our all-time favorite trails, enjoying our rig's great gearing, extra ground clearance, and wider-then-stock footprint on rain-soaked, now-very-slickrock. Out of deference to the rental agency-not to mention Primedia's insurance deductibles-we bypassed some of the trickier obstacles, but this in no way detracted from a great day in the backcountry. For us, renting a Jeep was an easy and stress-free way to enjoy Moab without the time-consuming rituals of trailering, towing, and all-nighter drives.