Moab’s Main Street is a busy place these days, and it’s about to get even busier.
More than 2,000 families and individuals are flocking to town ahead of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers’ 49th Easter Jeep Safari, which runs this year from Saturday, March 28 through Sunday, April 5.
Red Rock 4-Wheelers President Bob Humphreys suspects that many planned trips on designated Jeep Safari routes are already full, but last-minute registrants can still find spaces on other routes by checking out the group’s website, www.rr4w.com.
This year’s event features group rides on 38 trails over the course of nine days, including at least seven new routes or segments that are designed for riders of all abilities. On average, one in three Jeep Safari participants are joining the event for the first time, so organizers are offering three-day packages for first-timers and “sophomores.”
All of the routes showcase one of the world’s premiere off-road riding areas, Humphreys said.
“It is a spectacular place,” he said. “I call it paradise.”
Highlights include the famed Hells Revenge route. The trail follows steep climbs and descents that appear to be “horribly difficult,” but it’s a relatively easy and safe trip, thanks to excellent sandstone traction, according to Humphreys.
This year, riders will have the chance to tour the Cameo Cliffs area about 25 miles south of Moab. The new route follows old mineral exploration trails, for a total of 28 off-pavement miles, or 83 miles overall. Another new route, Jax Trax, includes 22 off-pavement miles that run along slightly more difficult trails in the same area.
For a more extreme journey, riders will be joining a trip down the new Rusty Nail route in the Gold Bar Rim area. It includes “unforgiving climbs” and a section of “hairy” sidehill that should appeal to hardcore four-wheelers, according to a route description.
Closer to Moab, almost 190 vendors from across the country are expected to show their wares during a two-day expo on Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191.
Jeep manufacturer Chrysler will be unveiling seven new off-road concept vehicles, including the retro-looking Chief, a baby-blue model that pays tribute to the 1974 Cherokee.
According to Humphreys, expo vendors will also giving away thousands of dollars in prizes; the Boy Scouts will also be hosting a barbeque on April 3.
Humphreys said that months of careful preparation went into this year’s event.
The club’s members began to plan for everything immediately after the 2014 Jeep Safari ended, with the hope that they can minimize potential impacts on the community.
“It’s important to us that everything goes well, with as little inconvenience to the populace as can be,” he said.
Humphreys hasn’t calculated just how much money the Jeep Safari event brings into Moab, but he said it’s in the millions of dollars.
“Many people have been coming for decades, and I think it’s been good for the community,” he said.
“Lots of people come for the driving, and lots of people come for the looking,” he said. “We like the ones who come for both.”
Moab resident Izzy Nelson is one of those people. According to Humphreys, Nelson joined the first ride nearly 50 years ago.
As the event grew over the years, organizers placed strict limits on the numbers of participants who can join each ride.
“No trail we ever do will have more than 35 people on it at a time,” Humphreys said.
Eighty-seven leaders guide the Jeep Safari trips, and they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with them, according to Humphreys.
“Not everybody can be a leader,” he said. “They have to know the trails, and they have to be able to get people in and out.”
Humphreys said that every one of Red Rock 4-Wheelers’ members take their responsibilities seriously, and they strive to be good stewards of the land.
“We maintain the trails, and we insist that people stay on them,” he said.
The group’s army of volunteers picks up litter along event routes, he said, and members closely monitor activities throughout the rides, which are strictly drug- and alcohol-free.
For more information, or to register, go to www.rr4w.com.
Red Rock 4-Wheelers has also published a detailed 122-page event guide. The guide is available at Dave’s Corner Market and many other locations around town.
“[It] is full of information about whatever you’d like to know,” Humphreys said.
49th Easter Jeep Safari rolls into Moab from March 28-April 5
“Lots of people come for the driving, and lots of people come for the looking. We like the ones who come for both.”
When: Saturday, March 28 through Sunday, April 5
Where: 38 trails in Grand and San Juan counties; go to www.rr4w.com for a full list of routes
Cost: $50 per vehicle per day