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Moab Utah Dangerous Obstacles - Beauty With A Bite

Posted in Features on August 1, 2008
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Photographers: Fred Williams

Each year thousands of daring adventurers migrate to Moab to test their skills and vehicles. The town has its largest gathering of four-wheelers during the weeklong Easter Jeep Safari event, which is hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers. The mass migration of off-road enthusiasts and industry professionals from across the U.S. is huge.

Moab is one of the most beautiful wheeling adventure destinations in the United States. It's also one of the most dangerous and controversial. Some of us are drawn to the challenges of the precarious slickrock trails and by the adrenaline rush that accompanies cliff-hanging and off-chamber wheeling. Others are completely oblivious to the region's perils. As they converge on the historic little town, some folks know what they are in for, while others arrive completely unprepared. It would be impossible to estimate vehicle damage and breakage in dollars. The few repair shops and auto parts stores in town do a great business during the event. Unfortunately other providers that also have a dramatic rise in business are Moab's emergency services and police. However, the keys to a fun, successful, and safe trip are knowing your limits, researching the trails, not taking unnecessary chances, and never traveling alone.

Recently we spoke with a well-seasoned off-road enthusiast who had just wheeled Moab for the first time. After spending the day on the trail with a vehicle that wasn't his best choice, he told us in a very disconcerted voice, "I didn't like that at all." The problem wasn't his driving skills, but the vehicle. We were impressed with his ability to get a fullsize lifted truck through a very difficult trail, but it's a vehicle that really didn't need to be there. We hate to think what could have happened to an inexperienced driver. There are trails around Moab for every driver of every skill level and for every vehicle, but more often than not, we find inexperienced enthusiasts in places they shouldn't be. Our point is that your vehicle may work on the trails at home and around the farm, but they may not be suitable for Moab without some serious work. If that's not a possibility, choose your trails wisely and with the help of some expert advice.

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Paying careful attention to trail ratings wherever you wheel is always important. The higher the difficulty rating, the more technical the driving will be. In most parts of the country this just means broken parts and body damage. However, special attention should be given to the trails around Moab. Consider the fact that the higher the rating on a number of these trails means the more dangerous they could be. The reality of off-highway adventure in this part of the country is that the trails have a tendency to be very steep, they will tilt your vehicle off-chamber in the most unnerving places, and there are numerous drop-offs and cliffs. Some trails are dangerous to the degree that if you screw up and take the wrong line, you may have a serious or fatal accident.

As diehard off-road fanatics and experts, we love the challenge and the danger that goes along with it. We prepare for our runs and know what to expect on the trail once we get there. If we run into a problem we know how to deal with it. We often hear of unfortunate and tragic off-highway accidents that could have been avoided with a little knowledge and preparation. If you've never been to Moab and are planning a trip, we recommend gaining experience by participating in the official Easter Jeep Safari trail runs, or talking with local guides and experts. Respect our lands, get involved, and follow the rules of the trail. If you do, we may have a chance to enjoy these lands with our families for generations to come.

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