The Rubicon Trail. Black Bear Pass. Mojave Road. These are iconic 4×4 destinations and for good reasons. They have it all, from challenging terrain to breathtaking scenery. Moab is no different in this regard. Every year, thousands of Jeep owners gather in Moab, UT for the annual Easter Jeep Safari. Jeepers from all over the country (and beyond) descend on Moab the week before Easter to explore the trails, put their vehicles to the test, and enjoy each other’s company. Jeeps ranging from bone stock flat-fenders to brand new Wranglers outfitted with one-ton axles and 40-inch tires can be found at EJS, and everything in between.
Moab is a town that was initially established as a mining outpost in the search for uranium in the area. That exploration is responsible for the bulk of the trails radiating out in every direction from the town’s location on the shore of the Colorado River. Today, Moab is firmly established as a tourist destination. This means you can enjoy a good meal and a comfortable room after a long day on the trail if you tire of freeze-dried meals and camping. Easter Jeep Safari is one of those can’t miss events and, after you have been once, you will already be planning your return. It isn’t just the trails that draw us in though. The combination of natural beauty, outdoor activities, friendly people, and amazing Jeeps keep us coming back year after year.
Moab is surrounded by National Parks and monuments with Arches and Canyonlands being the closest in proximity. Arches is an easy trip from Moab located just outside of town and definitely worth visiting. Kids will enjoy the interactive displays at the visitor center along with the short hikes around Balanced Rock and Wall Street. Those looking for more physical activity won’t want to miss the hike to Delicate Arch, which isn’t long but does have some elevation gain. We suggest going early in the day to not only beat the crowds but the heat as well. There is very little shade in Arches. After visiting these famous landmarks, we recommend taking the unpaved road from Balanced Rock west across Willow Flats to avoid RV traffic. Yes, you can actually wheel through Arches National Park!
Tens of thousands of people descend on Moab for Easter Jeep Safari. While that can mean you have to wait a while to get a table at the local brewery, it is worth the delay. Everyone is in town for a good time, and every parking lot looks like a car show. This year Jeep JLs definitely dominated the landscape, with dozens of clean examples of the latest Wrangler found in town. We like the opportunity at Easter Jeep Safari to see how different bumpers and fenders look. We also get to see firsthand how various suspension systems and tires work on the trail. Everyone we have met in Moab is always friendly too. They are usually happy to share their experiences and talk about the products on their Jeep and what they like or would do differently.
Each year the designers at Jeep roll out crazy concept vehicles, like the Five Quarter. This M715 has a 700+ horsepower Hellcrate engine under the hood and an 8-71 blower housing for a transmission tunnel. And, unlike most “concepts,” these vehicles actually run and drive. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to see past concept vehicles out on the trails during Easter Jeep Safari. The current year’s concepts can always be found in the heart of Moab, where Jeep sets up a display in the parking lot of the local pharmacy. What other manufacturer does that?
This year, in addition to the Five Quarter, there were five other concepts. Unlike past years, they were all trucks with our favorites being the Five Quarter, Wayout, and Flatbill. The Flatbill had coilover and bypass shocks with two dirt bikes in the bed. And the Wayout was outfitted for expedition travel with a rooftop tent, awning, and rear drawers. While we don’t expect vehicles like this to be mass produced, there are always little details that find their way into future production vehicles. We would love to see the integrated air compressor on the cowl of the Wayout as a factory option. Check out the full story on the Jeep concepts at Moab here.
Moab has become a popular destination for family vacations with a wide variety of outdoor activities. Even if your wife and kids aren’t as into crawling over rocks as you are, if they are adventurous, they will have a blast in Moab. The area is a mecca for mountain biking and rock climbing. Some of the trails, such as Gold Bar Rim and Gemini Bridges, are open to both mountain bikes and 4x4s. There are plenty of other trails exclusive to single track though, and just like the 4×4 trails, they range from easy to highly technical. Plus, since Moab is on the shore of the Colorado River, there are opportunities for everything from rafting and paddle boarding to jet boat tours.
While it doesn’t rival the sheer size of the SEMA Show, the free vendor show at Easter Jeep Safari has a few distinct advantages. One, unlike SEMA, the EJS show is open to the public. And two, you don’t have to wade through a bunch of LED windshield wipers and carbon fiber wings to find the good stuff. With over 200 exhibitors we saw everything from bolt-in axle and engine options for Jeeps to the latest in camp cookware and lighting.
Most of the exhibitors just display products without selling to the public, but some businesses, such as 4 Wheel Parts, are set up to take credit cards at the show and even run specials for EJS participants. And on Friday night, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers hold a huge raffle with high-dollar prizes such as winches and tires up for grabs. And all of the money goes to support responsible land use and keeping the trails around Moab open to the public.
Of course, the biggest draw to visiting Easter Jeep Safari is the wheeling. There are trails ranging from mild to wild, and the one thing that they all have in common is breathtaking views and scenery. We recommend starting at the Sand Flats Recreation Area with a run through Fins N Things to get a feel for the traction offered in Moab. This trail is relatively short and close to town so it won’t eat up too much of your time. Hell’s Revenge is also located in Sand Flats Recreation Area but is more challenging and longer than Fins N Things. Fortunately, the most difficult obstacles on Hell’s Revenge are optional. Other favorites include Cliffhanger, Kane Creek, and Pritchett Canyon on the southwest side of town and Poison Spider Mesa, Gold Bar Rim, and Rusty Nail on the northwest side of town. There are enough trails around Moab to keep you busy for weeks without running the same thing twice.