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How to make your Moab Easter Jeep Safari awesome

Posted in Moab Experience: 2016 on May 11, 2016
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The Moab Easter Jeep Safari is likely the largest enthusiast off-road event in the world. Moab, the host town, has a full-time population of about 5,000 people, but when Easter week rolls around, the population is said to more than triple by some accounts. This year was the 50th anniversary of the legendary 4x4 event, making it especially significant. The trails in and around Moab vary in difficulty, but nearly all of them have spectacular views. Many trails can be traversed in a completely stock 4x4. Other trails require heavily modified vehicles. If you have never attended the Easter Jeep Safari, it’s certainly an event you have to experience at least once. Don’t fret—you don’t have to have a Jeep. Any brand of 4x4 will do. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers’ official trail rides generally attract about 1,500 registered participants. These organized runs are a great way to get your four-wheeling feet wet in Moab for the first time.

Over the years we have developed a sort of love-hate relationship with Moab. We absolutely love the trails, scenery, and even the food and accommodations available in the remote town. But the crowds have expanded and cause many trails, hotels, and restaurants to get plugged up with event goers. Hotel prices more than double during Easter Jeep Safari, yet many hotels are still booked months in advance. So if you want to check the Moab Easter Jeep Safari off of your bucket list, plan ahead and make your reservations early. If you are having trouble convincing the significant other to go on a dusty wheeling vacation, don’t forget to mention there is hiking, rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and the top-tier resort and spa at the Sorrel River Ranch (sorrelriver.com). For more information about the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari, visit the Red Rock 4-Wheelers website at rr4w.com.

The ’94 Wrangler of Charles Young belches black smoke thanks to a 4BT Cummins engine swap and a big turbo. The four-cylinder diesel is backed up to an NP435 manual transmission, NP205 transfer case, Ford Dana 60 front axle, and a GM 14-bolt rearend. A custom link suspension and Fox coilovers make room for Pitbull tires mounted on recentered and reinforced HUMVEE H1 wheels.

You might notice that the body lines aren’t quite factory on Kane Riccardi’s ’42 Ford GPW. Upon closer inspection you’ll see that the front fenders have been raised and the rear wheelwells opened up to fit 35-inch tires with stock leaf springs. A ’95 GM 4.3L V-6 propels an SM465 manual transmission mated to a Dana 300 transfer case. An ’85 Toyota pickup surrendered its axles to the ex-military Ford.

The first-gen Toyota Tacoma belonging to Bruce Szember features a long-travel Camburg IFS suspension and rolls on General Grabber AT2 tires. We admired the vintage paint scheme that was certainly a nod to the ’90s Ivan Stewart Toyota race trucks.

You might want to consider leaving some extra space on your trailer when you come to Easter Jeep Safari. It’s not uncommon to find lots of cool running 4x4s and projects for sale along the streets and in front yards around the Moab area. This 8x8 M1070 HET military truck wasn’t for sale, but we really wanted to take it for a spin.

Two-time King of the Hammers champion Loren Healy left the race car on the trailer to take his Jeep Wrangler for a drive up Escalator on Hell’s Revenge. The JK Unlimited sports an EVO Manufacturing Double ThrowDown suspension system with a coilover and bypass shock at each corner. Dynatrac ProRock 60 (front) and 80 (rear) axles handle all the abuse dished out by the 40-inch Nitto tires on KMC beadlock wheels.

What do you do with a Toyota 4Runner that you already have sold? If you are Ali Mansour, you load it up on a trailer, tow it 2,000 miles, and take it off-road in Moab. The 4Runner features a Dana 44 solid axle swap with coilovers and a front link suspension. It rolls on 315/70R17 Nitto Trail Grappler tires.

Small maneuverable 4x4s like this stock-looking early Jeep can usually maneuver in and around the obstacles on most Moab slickrock trails. However, there are trails with waterfall ledges and large rocks where longer wheelbases and big tires are almost mandatory, unless you don’t mind winching.

Devil’s Highway hot tub on Hell’s Revenge is extremely deceptive. As you attempt to climb out, you naturally come up to the left. If you don’t make it, your right rear tire catches the wall on your way back and flips you into the pit. There are other much easier hot tubs on this trail that can be conquered in a capable stock vehicle.

Registered participants of the Moab Easter Jeep Safari have exclusive use of many trails during the week. This can put a lot of traffic on the remaining trails, which can make for a long day and, in some cases, night. Always bring plenty of food, water, and warm clothes. You never know how long you might be on a trail backed up with broken or stuck vehicles.

It just so happened that Jeep is celebrating its 75th anniversary in the same year the Easter Jeep Safari is celebrating its 50th. Jeep usually sets up a large booth in the middle of town where you can get a closer look at new Jeep vehicles, concept cars, and the latest Mopar product offerings.

Just wandering around town you are sure to see drool-worthy 4x4s. We spotted this Jeep JK Unlimited with an Action Camper (actioncamper.com) bed conversion. We really liked the small storage compartments where the rear doors are normally found.

Over the last few years the Safari has been absolutely littered with Jeep JK Wranglers. However, vintage Jeeps have been making a big comeback as evidenced by this group of old iron from the Epic Willys Adventure (epicwillysadventure.wix.com/epicwillysadventure). These Jeeps traveled 1,900 miles to Moab with no cell phones, no interstates, and no GPS, and then hit the trails.

A party ain’t a party until a beat up fullsize truck missing a hood pops a radiator hose on Potato Salad Hill. The famous climb is close to town so it attracts all sorts of heroes and hecklers in the afternoon. This year, the local Sheriff’s department put a damper on the action by closing the area at dusk.

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