4-Wheel & Off-Road StaffTom BoydCole QuinnellTrent McGeeHarry Wagner
We’ve told you before and we’ll tell you again: As an off-road enthusiast (or any kind of outdoor enthusiast, for that matter) you must make you way to Moab at least once. As completely fake medical personnel we recommend you go to Moab early and often. After all, it’s for your health and wellbeing! Our prescription is get to the red rocks and take it easy and relax. Take in the sights. Hit some trails in your favorite 4×4. This is without a doubt our way of rehabilitating from our everyday lives. We call it Mohab Rehab.
For the past 53 years, off-road enthusiasts have had a chance to explore off-road trails in and around Moab, Utah. Since the 1980s the Red Rock 4-Wheelers off-road club has facilitated the event by leading organized trail rides. Every year since we can remember, your favorite magazine editorial staff was on hand to check out the action, meet up with industry friends, shoot features, and more.
Do not attempt to readjust your paper magazine image properties—that won’t work. Ian Liljibald built a larger-than-life military flatfender, and honestly, you’ve probably seen it before. Its name is not so tongue-in-cheek, Big Willy, and at about 1.7:1 scale it is cool and different. Liljibald also gets our nod for either having massive cojones or being a bit nutty for driving this huge creation of his on one of our favorite trails, Hells Revenge. The huge Willys is powered by a Cummins R2.8 ahead of a four-speed auto, an ORD Magnum Underdrive, and an NP205, all over a pair of Ultimate Dana 60 crate axles. Add in lots of lights and some sort of massive sound system and this thing is ready for the trail or a rave.
If you are new to Moab and the trails you can join the official runs put on by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers to learn more about the area. They will show you the ropes. If you’re in town with friends you can wildcat around town hitting the trails and obstacles with your pals. If you work in the off-road industry and you’ve never been, shame on you! It’s time to go and hang out with friends or colleagues and head out on one of the many industry sponsored runs.
Once again, looks may deceive. What appears to be a wayward restored MB or GPW from a military parade is actually Jeff Petrowich’s (Ramsey, Illinois) sleeper Jeep named Bam Bam. Bam Bam is a conglomeration of parts, including a 4.3L GM engine with an SM465, a Spicer 18 with 3.6:1 JP Rockeater gears, a Dana 30 (front) with an Eaton ELocker, a Dana 44 with a Detroit (rear), 4.56:1 axle gears, siped NDTs, and more. A close look will reveal that those soft top bows and windshield are a functional rollcage. Petrowich seems to drive Bam Bam just about everywhere he aims it, here going down into Hells Gate on Hells Revenge. This obstacle can be done in a stock flattie, but you’d better bring your big boy (or girl) pants, because this is one obstacle that ain’t for the faint of heart in a narrow, open diff’d, flathead-powered, carbureted rig.
Ultimate Adventure alumnus Corby “Mr. Flopsy” Phillips fixed up his immaculate LJ-based CJ-8 Scrambler (also called Flopsy) in time for Easter Jeep Safari 2019 after flopping this Jeep on one nasty hillclimb during UA 2018 (huh, wonder how they got that nickname)? This Jeep brings us back to a simpler time when black Jeeps had tons of attitude and looks to melt hearts. Flopsy (the Jeep) can have attitude with lots of custom parts from our buddy Chris Durham under the paint. It’s a great-looking and very capable Jeep despite Mr. Flopsy’s driving. Just kidding! Love ya Corby!
One of the Corporate Runs we try hard not to miss is the Bunny Run sponsored by Dynatrac, Falken, and Bestop. You can bet some major industry insiders will be on this run each year. One of our favorite rigs of recent years is Jim McGeen’s Commando Green Jeep JK Unlimited. Why, well we don’t really know! It’s a simple build with simple looks that works. The 2013 JKU Sahara sits nice and low over Dynatrac Dynatrac Elite Axle Set: ProRock XD60 front and ProRock 80 rear. Both axles have 5.38 gears to help the stock engine, transmission, and transfer case turn BFGoodrich KX 39×12.50R17 Crawler tires on TrailReady wheels.
Some trails in Moab offer tons of scenery, others offer tons of action, and some offer both. Steel Bender is a fun trail with tons of scenery and a few obstacles to get your attention. A corporate run with Skyjacker on Steel Bender meant we got to hang out with a ton of industry elites in a relaxed environment.
Two very different Jeeps, both with Cummins R2.8L turbodiesels. You’d better recognize our very own 2017 Ultimate Adventure UACJ-6D, but that simple-looking black TJ also has an R2.8 under the hood. The Jeep was built by Cummins as an emissions test mule and has served dutifully for several years. We are trying to get the folks at Cummins to build it more like Hazel’s UACJ-6D. Hell, we’ve even offered to build it for them. A little stretch of the wheelbase here, a little cut of the fenders (or hood) there, some minor suspension tweaks, some more cutting, fit 1-tons and 40s, and get ‘er done, son!
It won’t be obvious to the untrained eye, but this picture captures three rigs owned by media types of some significance. First, that simple poop-brown CJ-7 owned by former 4WOR tech editor and current freelance contributor Trent McGee. Behind that, the green flattie is none other than 4WOR’s 14-day Flattie, a project owned by then-editor Cole Quinnell and built by him, John Cappa, and Christian Hazel in less than two weeks. Next in line is the aforementioned UACJ-6D, the official vehicle of UA 2017. Quinnell, who now owns his own marketing company, was instrumental in hiring several media types, including McGee and Hazel (and yours truly, Verne Simons). What an eye for talent! Somehow, by some miracle, we all ended up on the same trail at the same time during EJS 2019.
So while this rig has yet to go on Ultimate Adventure, the guy behind the wheel has been on a few. Chris Durham of Pickens, South Carolina, built this one-of-a-kind and beautiful JK-based Jeep J-10. It’s powered by a healthy 6.0L and runs 1-ton axles. That retro-looking front end (which is hard to see as Durham drives out of Mickey’s hot tub on Hells Revenge) is available for purchase from Chris Durham Motorsports.
Next in line for Mickey’s hot tub was none other than our newest Ultimate Adventure crony, Ken “Skinny Kenny” Smith, in his LS-powered CJ-10 airport tug. The Jeep and Smith are no strangers to the UA. He first attended our yearly trip as a reader on in 2013 and then came back with the CJ-10 when then Editor Rick P w needed a ride in 2015. Since then he has come back as the video crew driver in 2017 and then last year for UA 2018 as a full-fledge official crony. Smith is the quiet type, but he knows a ton about lots of stuff, especially wheeling, and is always willing to lend a hand.
Ken “Skinny Kenny” Smith in his LS-powered CJ-10
Pritchett Canyon is one of our favorite trails to really push the limits while in Moab. It’s a trail that is bound to get just about anyone’s attention. If we can get away we love to go hit Pritchett later in the afternoon with our pals like Chris Durham. Sure, if you run the whole trail you could be on it till the next morning, but there’s nothing saying you can’t hit a few obstacles and turn around.
Jessi Combs won the King of the Hammers Stock Class in 2018 in this car (third overall in EMC, Every woMan Challenge). Unfortunately mechanical problems caused her to DNF in KOH 2019, but she was ready to wheel the Jeep on Pritchett Canyon with us. Behind her is our pal, Travis “Stay Right at the Top” Farmer, from Pickens, South Carolina, in his simple yet effective TJ. Behind him is UA 2019 invited reader Rick Prater and wife Nicole of South Weber, Utah, in one of the awesome rigs Prater has built (a CJ-7 stretched to fit a LJ top).
Travis Farmer’s TJ has graced our pages before as the “Rental Jeep” Chris Durham drove on UA 2014. The rig is powered by a 4.0L, an automatic, and an NP231 with 2WD low. The rig has a driver-drop Wagoneer Dana 44 under the front and a 33-spline Dana 44 out back with 4.88s to turn 37s. The Jeep sits low and climbs with confidence, for a relatively inexpensive yet highly capable trail Jeep you can also drive around town just as we’d have it.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all from Easter Jeep Safari, don’t forget that the La Sal Mountains generally have snow on them well past Easter. Also, the La Sal loop is a paved drive with amazing views that can take you above the heat even on the hottest days in Moab. Tons of roads and trails can take you all over these mountains, back to Moab, to other Utah towns, or over to Colorado.
Do you like dunes? Yep, Easter Jeep Safari has those too, and in more than just one spot.As it turns out we also like dunes, and we rarely pass up the opportunity to hit some. Easter Jeep Safari is a must for anyone who loves off-road and the outdoors. And despite our best attempts we’ve just scratched the surface of the things to do and see in Moab. See you there next year!