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Photo essay: Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah
Fighting the tide of locals escaping town during the ugliest event of the tourist season, our brave Utah Coordinator ventures into the desert to capture these images of one of the nation's most high-profile off-roading events.
Welcome to Moab on a spring afternoon. You can hear the grass grow and the sand shift.
Flowers are beginning to uncurl from cracks in the cliffs. You can go barefoot on the sandstone and feel the warmth of the new year's sun.
HERE THEY COME.
A crowd near a a rock-crawler area just outside of town
ORV damage in progress. This creek is both a popular hiking spot and one of Moab's primary water sources.The state lists it as impaired by recreational damage and low flows, but the Bureau of Land Management continues to permit Jeep Safari to bring this kind of ORV use.
ORV users have created multiple crossings that allow them to drive in circles through the creek and along the riparian area, stripping the banks of vegetation and making them highly vulnerable to extreme erosion during summer flash floods.
Rock crawlers are built to climb extreme terrain, often causing severe damage in the process.
Official "trail ride"
Mountain bikers find themselves on a crowded Jeep Safari trail.
Nearly all law enforcement brought in for Jeep Safari is concentrated near or in town, with the result that illegal ORV damage and trespass are very common in the backcountry.
New ORV tracks inside an area clearly marked "no vehicles" and "closed for restoration."
ORV use kicks up dust where it has stripped the desert of cryptobiotic soil crust.
New ORV tracks going past a "closed for restoration" sign
Several areas are crisscrossed by dozens of closely set networks of user-created trails.
Parking lots in Moab are dominated by heavily modified vehicles during Jeep Safari
A rock crawler parked in a rental condo neighborhood in Moab. Many rock crawlers are not street legal, and so have to be towed to motorized trails on trailers pulled by large trucks.
More rock crawlers
A rock crawler
One of the features of Moab's Jeep Safari is a series of ORV "expos"--plazas and tents for manufacturers to demonstrate and sell new ORV products.
Yup, it can be pretty hard to get away from this stuff during tourist season. At least a lot of them go away when the temperature gets above 100 degrees. Bring on the global warming!*
*Yes, it's a joke. Sort of.