Want to catch 4×4 fever? Hitch a ride at Easter Jeep Safari 2022

Brandan Gillogly

Easter Jeep Safari has been taking over the city of Moab each year for over five decades. Rock-crawlers of all kinds—mostly Jeeps, organized not by an automaker but by a local club—descend upon the town for nine days of trail rides and off-road camaraderie. After staying in Moab while visiting nearby parks, I finally got to experience a taste of what the local trails have to offer for those brave enough to traverse the sandstone terrain in 2022.

Brandan Gillogly

Moab is one of the most scenic parts of Utah, which is saying something. Its location between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park should give you some indication of the natural beauty you can expect to see from the vistas found along many of the area’s well-known trails.

Brandan Gillogly

As a first-time Easter Jeep Safari spectator, I didn’t really know what to expect … or how to even go about participating in the trail rides. Luckily, Optima Batteries put me in touch with the team from BleepinJeep.com, who kindly let me tag along on a morning trail ride that also included the crew from Matt’s Off-Road Recovery and its customized Corvair wagon,”Morrvair.” The Toyota FJ45 of Fab Rats also joined, as did several generations of Jeep Wrangler.

Colt’s Suzuki uses four-wheel steering and makes light work of even the most extreme trail obstacle. It’s powered by a turbocharged Suzuki four-cylinder and runs on propane. Brandan Gillogly

Matt and Colt—founder of and contributor to BleepinJeep.com, respectively—led the run. However, nearly half of the group ended up helping out other drivers by spotting the right line over obstacles.

Matt got his start off-roading when he bought a Jeep Cherokee as his first 4×4. After making some rookie mistakes when choosing suspension parts, he found himself stuck in the middle of nowhere with busted leaf-spring leaf blocks. By pure luck, a group of 4x4s on a trial ride found him and helped him get things patched up. Now, years later, the calm, quiet, Dr. Pepper–sipping Jeep enthusiast is helping fellow off-roaders by sharing advice and tech by way of articles and videos. He let us ride along in “Scorpion,” his 1998 Jeep Cherokee–based buggy that features a TJ Wrangler Dana 44 front axle and a Dana 44 rear axle from an earlier XJ Cherokee. It rides on 40-inch tires.

“Nobody typically does that,” Matt tells us, since Dana 44s aren’t often used with tires that large. However, the lightweight buggy has proven that Matt’s recipe works.

Matt told me that he’s enlisted trail guides who will help inexperienced rock-crawlers through Moab’s trails, but they often run a tight schedule. If you’ve got a vehicle that’s capable of eating up what Moab can dish out, you can always join up with a group of fellow rock-crawlers. Just look for vehicles that are built to a similar extent and ask whether there’s room to join.

“You’ve got to approach people that are using the same tire size as you are,” Matt says.

I met Matt, Colt, and their trail party at one of the several gas stations in Moab, which seemed to be a popular relay point for excursions. That’s where I hopped in and rode along as they and the rest of our ragtag group took on Pickle Trail, which features some narrow sections and plenty of steep shelves.

Some of the other members of the trail party who were driving their own Jeeps had spent previous Easter Jeep Safaris as passengers before buying and building their own rock-crawlers. I can see how easy it is to catch the bug. My own XJ Cherokee, which is currently totally stock, may not stay that way for long.

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