Moab's Annual Jeep & Off-road Bash
Easter Jeep Safari is an event like no other and it takes place in a location like no other. Held in Moab, Utah, this annual gathering of off-road enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and beyond is a feast for the senses that needs to be experienced to truly be understood.
The stunning visual beauty of Moab is one of the first things you’ll experience as you drive into town. Red rock cliffs frame the asphalt with the many peaks of the La Sal Mountains, dotted with pine and capped with snow, rising in the distance. It’s a view I’ve seen more than once and every time it takes my breath away.
And walking down Main Street—one of my favorite things to do—is like looking into a kaleidoscope of Jeeps in every color, shape, and design imaginable. The view changes continuously as traffic flows by and you can’t help but notice that no two Jeeps are alike, each a tribute to their owner’s unique personality.
The spring weather in Moab is an experience unto itself with its mercurial moods. You could wake up to an unexpected snow flurry, it’s chill biting you to the bone, and the next afternoon the sun could shine fiercely, basking you in warmth. Or a gentle breeze could transform into a gust of wind, pelting you with sand and rocks.
Like the Jeeps and other four-wheel drive vehicles celebrated during the Safari, this one-of-a-kind event provides a special experience for the adventurous soul.
What Is Easter Jeep Safari All About?
The Safari is an annual, nine-day event that has taken place in Moab, Utah, since 1967. This year marks the event’s 56th year and it has become one of the largest gatherings of four-wheel drive enthusiasts and their rigs in the U.S. and the population of Moab increases exponentially during this week-plus event.
It’s where Jeep comes to show off their new concepts and hang out with their devotees. It’s also where big names like BF Goodrich, Magnaflow, and other manufacturers of off-road gear, equipment, and services come to display their products at the two-day expo and just join in on the fun.
The official event is hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, a club that was formed in the early 1980s. Members of the club plan all the routes and provide trail leaders, experienced off-roaders who volunteer their time to show the way during the guided trail runs and ensure everyone stays on course.
Above photos: Jeep concept vehicles displayed at Easter Jeep Safari 2022 in Moab, Utah.
Above photos: Scenes from the 2022 Easter Jeep Safari vendor expo at the Old Spanish Trail Arena in Moab, Utah.
Choosing Your Off-Road Trails in Moab
The first trail at the inaugural Safari was Behind the Rocks. The following year, Moab Rim Trail was added, and this year there were 35 different trails, all varying in difficulty from a rating of 2 to 9. In their annual magazine for the event, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers describe a rating of 2 as a “dirt road” requiring a “high clearance” four-wheel drive vehicle.
A trail rated as a 9 is described as “Extreme and beyond” and the magazine says “Enhanced off road equipment is required including locking devices…37” tall tires (40” tires a plus), maximum ground clearance, winch and tow hooks, and minimum wheelbase 100.” They also recommend “excellent driving skills” and bringing “spare parts and tools.” They also warn that vehicle damage is likely and rollovers are common.
There’s only one trail with a rating of 2, "Chicken Corners," and one trail with a rating of 9, "Pritchett Canyon." All the other trails fall somewhere in-between, offering off-road adventures for everyone—from the newbie to the slightly insane.
If you ever plan on doing trails in Moab, I highly recommended checking out the magazine to learn all about the trail ratings and get descriptions of the various trails. This can help you determine which trails are right for you based on the capability of your vehicle and your off-road driving experience.
When in doubt, the club recommends choosing a trail one rating lower than you think you’d be comfortable with. Trying to tackle a trail that is too advanced for either a driver or their vehicle could lead to a less than stellar day on the trail for the driver, their rig, and everyone else on the trail with them.
Above: Sample pages from the Red Rock 4-Wheelers' Easter Jeep Safari magazine, an annual publication with tons of information about the event, local trails, and Moab.
Easter Jeep Safari Registration and Rules of the Road
Registration is required for the official trail runs and if this is something you want to do, make sure you do so early because the spots fill up fast. All the information you need can be found on the Red Rock 4-Wheelers’ website, https://www.rr4w.com.
If you weren’t able to register, you can still hit the trails in Moab on your own during the Safari, but know that some of the trails will be closed to the general public during official trail runs so it’s a good idea to check the schedule, which can be found on the club’s website.
And, while the event is called Easter Jeep Safari, having an actual Jeep is not a requirement. What is required is a vehicle with high ground clearance, an integral roll bar, safety equipment (brakes, seatbelts, etc.), and “a street legal license.”
Left: A Ford Bronco descends the trail "On Top of the World" at Easter Jeep Safari | Right: Brad chats with friends in front of a modified Toyota Tacoma that belongs to Nate from the YouTube channel Dirt Lifestyle.
Location, Location, Location
Moab is known as the Mecca of off-roading for good reason—it has hundreds of miles of backcountry and off-road trails of all levels of difficulty. Trails that are surrounded by the rough beauty of the broken and weathered stones scattered across the land. But off-roading isn’t the only thing to do in Moab and if you need a break from bouncing around on the ruts and rocks of the trails, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
The area around Moab, which is brimming with natural beauty, happens to have two national parks—Arches and Canyonlands—right in its backyard if you want to explore the stunning rock formations this area is famous for. While Arches is basically at the end of Main Street, Canyonlands is about an hour’s drive from Moab. Both parks are well worth the visit if you have an urge to soak in the geological marvels and history of this region that has seen pioneers, cowboys, Native Americans, and prehistoric creatures from millions of years ago.
On a down day during Easter Jeep Safari, Brad and I made the trek to Canyonlands with a stop at Newspaper Rock on our way there. This archeological site is incredible to see with numerous figures and symbols etched into the sandstone over a span of 2,000 years by prehistoric peoples as well as historic Ute and Navajo. No one knows what the different symbols mean but we enjoyed pondering these ancient art works and wondering about the people who created them.
Above photos: On our way to Canyonlands National Park, we stopped to check out the Newspaper Rock petroglyphs.
Once we were at Canyonlands, we hiked the Cave Spring Trail, which is steeped in history and you’ll find prehistoric rock paintings near a natural spring and an old cowboy camp. With its tables and cupboards, as well as cans and other implements scattered about, you could almost imagine that a few cowboys might wander in at any moment.
The hike is an easy half-mile loop that takes you around a large rock formation, starting at the cowboy camp. You wind around the massive rock before coming to an alcove where you can see the spring and rock paintings. As you follow the trail through trees and bushes, you’ll come to the first of two ladders that will take you to the top of the rock with expansive views looking out over the pinyon pines and red mesas in the distance. The trail is marked by cairns and following them will take you on an easy descent back down to the parking lot in front of the trailhead.
Above photos: While visiting Canyonlands National Park, we hiked the Cave Spring Trail and checked out the historic points of interest, which includes an abandoned cowboy camp, a natural spring, and petroglyphs. The trail includes two ladders that you climb to reach the top of the large rock formation where you'll find incredible views.
Out and About in Moab
In addition to the national parks, Moab offers plenty of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts from hiking, biking, and rock climbing to kayaking and canoeing along the Colorado River. Throughout town, there are plenty of business that will outfit you for some outdoor fun that doesn’t require four wheels.
Along Main Street, you can also find plenty of stores filled with t-shirts, local crafts, and a variety of other offerings if you’re in the mood for some souvenir shopping. I never leave without at least three t-shirts for my boys.
Left: Main Street, Moab, Utah. | Center: Pasta Jay's, one of the many restaurants in Moab. | Right: The Moab Diner offers hearty, American-style dishes in a nostalgic setting.
Moab also has plenty to offer in terms of dining. From Italian to Thai, and pizza to pastries, there is something to satisfy just about everyone’s cravings. One of our favorite places to eat is Pasta Jay’s where the food is delicious and if you choose their outdoor seating, you can feast on more than your dinner as you watch all the Jeeps and other adventure rigs roll down Main Street.
Of course, no trip to Moab would be complete without a trip to Milt’s. Since 1954, this iconic eatery has offered famished off-roaders classic burgers and the tastiest onion rings ever. But what they’re really famous for are their milkshakes. After a long day of off-roading, stopping for a shake at Milt’s is good for the soul.
It’s All About the Trails
While it’s fun to take a little break from off-roading and explore the area, for those of us who come to Moab in a four-wheel drive vehicle—whether it’s a Jeep, a Bronco, or even a Tacoma—it really is all about the trails.
Even though I had to twist Brad’s arm a little given current gas prices, I managed to convince him that it was completely necessary to bring both of our Jeeps. We needed his to hold our gear and most of the luggage, and mine was essential so I could work on my off-roading skills. (I’m only slightly joking about his Jeep Wrangler 392 being needed only for storage…my little two-door doesn’t have enough room for his and hers luggage!)
As I've mentioned in a previous article, I'm relatively new to off-roading and overlanding, even though my husband has been hitting the trails for years. The majority of the trails that I’ve done have been easy with a few that were moderate mixed in. But to built confidence in my off-roading skills and my Jeep’s capabilities, I have to drive it. Off-road. I have to push out of my comfort zone by driving more difficult trails. And Moab is the perfect place to do that.
From Poison Spider to On Top of the World
During our first three days in Moab, we did two trails rated as a 6—"Poison Spider" and "On Top of the World." I say “we” but I was more than happy to be passenger and let Brad do all the driving. And I’m not even a little ashamed to say that there were a few times on these trails that I held my breath as my husband tackled several very difficult—and sometime gravity defying—obstacles. Obviously, we survived or I wouldn’t be writing this, and the experience made me realize how crazy capable Jeeps are.
We kicked things off the Sunday before Easter on "Poison Spider." This trail run was coordinated by Jeep and led by Nena Barlow, a four-wheel drive master trainer, adventure-seeker, and all-around inspirational woman. Brad and I were fortunate to be invited by the Jeep team to participate in this adventure and we were given the opportunity to drive a previous-year Jeep concept, sweetly named “Short Cut.” We both loved wheeling in this cherry red two-door Jeep with plaid seats and Brad and Short Cut nimbly conquered every obstacle the trail threw our way.
Top left: Nena Barlow directs a Jeep up an obstacle on the "Poison Spider" trail during a trail run hosted by Jeep. | Top center: A previous-year concept Jeep called "Short Cut" that we got to drive on the "Poison Spider" trail during an Easter Jeep Safari event. | Top right: Several previous-year concept Jeeps being led down "Poison Spider" by Nena Barlow. | Bottom: Brad at the wheel of Short Cut on the "Poison Spider" trail.
On Tuesday morning, after it stopped snowing, we met up with several other off-roaders and the BF Goodrich team at their garage on Main Street before heading out to "On Top of the World." We were in Brad’s Jeep for this trail, which was very rocky with wide, steep ledges that offered a few challenges going up. But it was the coming down part that got tricky. It seemed even steeper and rockier on the descent then it had heading up, and Brad had to be very careful with tire placement. If our Jeep were a person, I could picture it doing a reaching stretch to climb down from one rock to the next.
The highlight of this popular trail comes when you finally reach the top and understand how it got its name. From the edge of the mountaintop, it really does feel like you are standing on top of the world. The magnificent views flowed into the horizon, showcasing the topography of this rugged land from the snowy peaks of the La Sal Mountains to the dozens of red rock mesas and canyons.
This is also where you have an opportunity to take a unique photo of your vehicle. On the edge of the mountaintop there is a large slab of sandstone jutting out over the floor of the canyon far—really, really far—below. If you are brave enough to maneuver your rig out onto that ledge, you can take the picture of a lifetime.
But, since Brad had done this trail a few years ago and already had a picture on the ledge, and since neither of us is fond of heights, we decided our lives would still be complete without another photo on the ledge.
Top left: The BG Goodrich Jeep at the start of a trail run to the "On Top of the World" trail during Easter Jeep Safari. | Top center: A vehicle tackles a tricky section of the "On Top of the World" trail during Easter Jeep Safari. | Top right: Our red Jeep Wrangler 392 and other Jeeps reach the top of the trail. | Bottom left: Views from the top of the "On Top of the World" trail in Moab, Utah. | Bottom right: Our silver Jeep Wrangler in 2018 at the pinnacle of the "On Top of the World" trail.
Overcoming Challenges and Building Confidence
When I finally had a chance to off-road my Jeep later in the week, we started off with two easy and scenic trails, "Long Canyon" and "Gemini Bridges," before we tackled "Fins and Things," a moderate-difficult trail.
On Wednesday, we headed out to Long Canyon and Gemini Bridges, which weren’t on the list of Easter Jeep Safari trails and we practically had them to ourselves. These trails were relatively easy dirt roads, with some ruts and large rocks as well as a few sections that were shelf roads.
While not difficult, I found myself gripping the steering wheel firmly a few times when I glanced to the side and realized how close to the edge and far from the bottom of the canyon we were. But the scenery was spectacular with the red rocks framed by the bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds and the La Sal Mountain off in the distance.
Above photos: My yellow Jeep Wrangler and Brad's red Jeep Wrangler 392 enjoying some quality trail time on the "Long Canyon" and "Gemini Bridges" trails in Moab, Utah during Easter Jeep Safari 2022.
Next up on Thursday was "Fins and Things," which is rated as a 4. The trail gets its name from the Navajo sandstone slickrock formations that stick out, looking like fins. Once erosion kicks in, you get the “things.” These formations create a trail that has very sharp angles of ascent and descent, which can be very daunting if you’ve never done something like this before, which I hadn’t.
Fortunately, Brad is an excellent and patient instructor, and calmly talked me through all the obstacles. My trust in him and my ever-growing confidence in the capability of my little Jeep helped me conquer this trail and kept me going through the ascents that made me feel as though I were climbing into nothingness and about to topple over, and through the descents that made me feel as though my Jeep and I were about to do a nose-dive.
At the end of the trail, I felt the total exhilaration and satisfaction that comes from meeting a challenge head on and overcoming it. I had pushed my limits that day and found that I could do more than I believed myself capable of doing. And soon, I will have the Jeep Badge of Honor to prove it.
Above photos: My yellow Jeep Wrangler and Brad's red Jeep Wrangler 392 having fun on the "Fins and Things" trail during Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
A Celebration of the Spirit of Adventure
Despite its name, Easter Jeep Safari isn’t just about Jeeps. It’s about a love of adventure. A passion for the outdoors. And a celebration of the incredible and capable vehicles that allow us to experience it all.
Easter Jeep Safari 2022 Videos
Below are the TrailRecon videos from this year's Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
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