Every family has an Easter tradition. For some, it’s baked ham and potatoes. For others, it’s a big family reunion. For many off-road enthusiasts, Easter Sunday means making a pilgrimage to Moab, Utah, the Mecca of four-wheeling, to participate in the Easter Jeep Safari. If you missed any of the action, check out our exclusive gallery of photos from the nine-day event.
In spite of what its name suggests, the decades-old Easter Jeep Safari isn’t only for Jeep owners. The event is open to every street-legal off-roader with a generous amount of ground clearance and a two-speed transfer case. That means enthusiasts can roll up to the festivities in an International-Harvester Scout or in a Land Rover Defender, models that were developed specifically to compete against members of the Jeep lineup. However, Jeep Patriot owners will need to make pretty extensive modifications to their rig before they can tackle the trails.
In theory, a fully stock Wrangler Rubicon can participate in the Safari. However, a vast majority of the cars are heavily modified with lift kits that add inches of ground clearance, knobby tires, an array of aftermarket lights, and rails that protect the bodywork from impacts with the picturesque red boulders scattered across the Utah desert. Upgrades are the name of the game; these machines need to climb up steep slopes, soldier through ruts that would swallow a compact car, and drive over rocks like they’re mere speed bumps. You’d be hard-pressed to spot two identical cars on the Easter Jeep Safari.
Off-roading is only part of the event. It’s also an opportunity to meet like-minded enthusiasts and make friends, check out latest equipment from a growing list of aftermarket vendors, and learn more about the Jeep brand. Every year, the company builds a handful of concept cars specifically for the Safari and ships them out to Utah to put them through their paces. For Jeep, the Safari is at least as important as an international auto show.
This year, Jeep’s team of builders turned the Wrangler into a hot-rod, into a high-tech rig with drones on its roof, and into a heritage-laced tribute to the original Willys. They also celebrated the original Grand Cherokee’s 25th anniversary by building a resto-modded example that had fans screaming “WANT!”
If you’re tired of looking for Easter eggs, you know what to do next year. Buy (or, better yet, build) an off-roader and head over to Moab to find out how far off the beaten path it can go, and how much chassis-flexing it can take.