To me, Moab was one of those automotive destinations. You know what I mean, a bucket list item; kind of like Pikes Peak, Nürburgring, Bonneville or Le Mans. It’s one of those places you’ve heard about, and you know you want to go and check out in person one day.
Well, that one day for me happened recently when Casey Currie and his family invited me to join them in Moab, Utah, for a few days of epic four-wheel adventuring – in Jeeps, of course.
Over the past few years I’ve been frequently crossing paths with Casey during his racing exploits, and lately he’d been bugging me to go to Moab with him. This past Easter I finally found a few spare days to take him up on that offer.
It was interesting to say the least. I’ve been around off-roading more and more as you guys can probably tell, but I’ve never experienced anything like this. There were definitely some tense moments, like when one of the guys in our party almost drove off a cliff. More on this later…
The thing is, the group I was with basically had the most capable Jeeps out there, and they could go on the hardest trails. On top of that, they do it in style.
They build these things for comfort; power windows, A/C and even a nice stereo – it’s all there.
My first day on the rocks started out at Moab Diner. Going anywhere in Moab with Casey is like hanging out with a celebrity, but being the Easter Jeep Safari – when thousands of Jeep fanatics drive from all over the country just to hang out with one another – his status was elevated even further.
Before we headed onto the trail it was time to air down. At this point I had no idea we were about to embark on a 10-hour journey through some of the toughest terrain I had ever seen.
Easter Jeep Safari is a annual thing, and this year marked its 50th anniversary. Along with organized expeditions, there was a large rock crawling and four-wheeling convention.
Also along for the ride was my buddy Matt Chapman. He brought out his super clean XJ.
The beginning of the trail was fairly mellow, but the main issue we were running into was traffic.
That was due to the sheer number of Jeeps; it was like a traffic jam at every obstacle.
Also on the same group drive was TV personality and all around awesome racer chick Jessi Combs.
She was driving a Bruiser Jeep conversion, which is a Jeep truck with an LS6 motor. You can bet I shot a feature on this awesome thing, so keep an eye out for it.Uneven Terrain
As we moved further along the trail our group became more spread out, which was idea. I was quickly beginning to see what all the fuss was about this place.
I just couldn’t believe the colors and the sheer walls that were around every other corner. It’s so picturesque that you can’t go wrong with any of the natural backdrops that Moab has to offer.
Talk about a tight fit! Casey’s personal JK is super wide, and I’ve had a chance to drive it quite a bit at King Of The Hammers, but it was cool watching him do his stuff on these obstacles.
As we were waiting for people in front of us, Casey would come out and chat with others on the trail.
It wasn’t about big tires and big egos; everyone was out there to have fun. It was the perfect car culture moment for me when I realized this.
One thing I found that was really interesting was how much traction the guys had going over these sketchy obstacles.
It was like sandpaper, but as soon as it gets wet it gets way harder to find traction.
It was lunch time and the group decided to stop for a bit of a break before we moved on.
This is the spot where I took the header photo. There’s almost no words to describe what it’s actually like being there on the rock.
Especially with nothing but a fast way to the bottom just a few feet over!
It was time to roll out again, and as the Jeeps climbed up one by one, from my vantage point it looked like ants on a scoop of ice cream.
It’s actually really fun to watch Casey four-wheel, as he does it so smoothly. He did not once bottom out or touch his front or rear bumper for the entire 10-hour expedition.
My buddy Matt tried his best not to scrape, but it was hard not to as he had way less ground clearance. For a 20-year-old Jeep, I just could not believe how capable it was though.
A little over halfway through the trail we came across this outlook above the road leading into Moab.
That’s Casey doing jump jacks while staring death right in the face. My palms are getting sweaty just thinking back to this moment.
How could you not like this place? Just look at the background… In the foreground is another one of the Bruiser Jeeps. Such a clean look.
This was a great vantage point with the Colorado River in the background. It’s so cool that it looks fake.Golden Crack
We started our day near town on a trail called Poison Spider, and eventually made our way to Golden Spike Safari. If we wanted to continue north and finish up the trail we would have to cross the Golden Crack.
This is pretty much the only spot that connects this side of the mountain to the other, and there was a large queue lined up to cross. This is a photo of all the people who’d already crossed when we arrived, but everyone likes to wait for the rest of the group before they move on.
Of course, Casey made it look easy; rock crawling is in his blood. In fact, his grandfather was the very first person to ever attempt this route and make it across.
My buddy Matt only had 35-inch tires on his XJ, but he still crossed the crack with ease.
It’s such an odd obstacle, but it’s just so darn cool. Not so long ago I would look at an obstacle like this and think that it would be impossible to get a vehicle across.
We carried on to connect with another trail known as Gold Bar, which turns out is named after all the gold-colored rocks shaped as bars. Who would have known?
This was when things got a little tougher for everyone, and it really slowed the entire group down.
It got to the point where Casey took it upon himself to help spot each vehicle one by one. It was a much faster way to get the group through instead of watching each Jeep fail to crawl over an obstacle time and time again.
This driver didn’t have front or rear lockers, which just goes to show that you can tackle obstacles way harder than a truck is capable of with a good spotter.
The guys in this Jeep didn’t have as much luck, and as soon as they passed the hard obstacle they spilled on the very next rock almost flipping over.
Of course, everyone pitched in to safely recover the vehicle.
While it would have be much easier to winch from the front, all the people ahead of us were long gone, so we had to winch from the rear. It took a few pulls, but we eventually got the Jeep off the ledge.
My first introduction to Moab was brutal for sure. I was very happy to get broken in properly, if you will. Of course, all I wanted to do was get behind the wheel myself.Over The Ledge
I know you guys will probably want more info on this Jeep stuck on the rocks and seemingly in danger. Let me explain…
First thing in the morning, we headed out with the Currie family and their friends to arguably the hardest trail in the Moab, called the Moab Rim. The legendary Walker Evans took the lead.
We were about a quarter of a mile into the trail when Walker came to a corner, but instead of turning he went straight.
Luckily for him he got stuck, but that is not the worst part. Even after both front wheels were hanging off the edge he was still powering down trying to get unstuck.
If he didn’t get his rear right tire stuck in between the crack he would have gone down the cliff ledge, which I estimate to be around a 200 to 250 foot drop to the bottom.
Pretty much everyone on the drive, including Casey and John Currie, said they have never seen anything like it. In this photo you can see the dust left by the front tires as they were clawing backwards trying to get the truck unstuck.
Needless to say, we did not let Walker lead the pack anymore. I hopped into the first car and we took off once again.
I was just glad that the recovery went to plan and that nothing catastrophic happened.
Gerald from Savvy Off Road could not stop laughing about it, because after all, you can only laugh about it if no one got hurt.
I had a chance to ride in his awesome LS-swapped Jeep for a portion of the ride. To me, this conversion makes the trucks perfect; what’s not to like about more power?
We got to this outlook where you can pretty much see the entire city of Moab.
This was also a perfect spot to park on the ledge and lower yourself down the cliff using a front-mount winch.
But seeing as we’d all had enough danger for the day, I think it was a good idea that we did not try such a stunt.
Casey’s racing co-driver Oren Anderson thought it would be funny to have his girlfriend fake propose to him on one of the natural pillars. Nice one buddy.
There is just so much to explore around the area, and the best part is no trail looks the same. One moment you are climbing shelves, and the next you are bombing up a giant sand hill. Oh, and that cave in the background? We checked that out next…
It turns out there is a nice couch there for you to relax on when you get worn out from Jeeping.
This next spot I thought was pretty cool. They call it the Traction Test.
Basically, it’s a way to test how much grip you actually have on the rocks. It’s a bit slippery in that one section, but the goal is to stop midway and then try to continue on without chirping or slipping the tires one bit.
Although the guys were technically cheating because they all brought out the most built Jeeps around, it was still a lot of fun. I can see it being more of a challenge using something closer to stock and really pushing it to try to go over every single obstacle. It’s also a lot safer to do the same trail in something that is incredibly capable.
With that said, there were plenty of hairy moments going downhill just due to how insane some of the rock formations were. One of these rigs landing shiny side down would ruin anyone’s day. Slow as possible and fast as necessary.
Almost near the bottom we ran into traffic. These were a bit rougher to say the least, but who needs creature comforts when you are tackling some of the craziest obstacles Moab has to offer.
This is a good example of why it’s better to bring something that is over-engineered. This tie rod just taco’d all by itself while trying to climb a ledge. While it’s possible to do a little trail fix, it sucks either way having to turn back around after getting so far.
It was such a blast to hang out with the Currie family, but I was itching to do some driving of my own.
Later that day I took my own rig out to some of the easier trails as it was 100 per cent stock at the time minus the Enkei ST6 wheels and Yokohama Geolander MT tires. More on my FJ soon in my next project car story.
I was planning on leaving early for the 750-mile drive back to California the next day, but Casey stopped me in my tracks when he handed over the keys to his two-door Spicer Jeep – the same one he used to race King Of The Hammers EMC. I’m saving those photos for a full feature coming very soon.
Getting the full Moab experience was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. It honestly opened me up to a whole new world of car culture, and of course, I only just scratched the surface.
I’ll leave you with a wider shot of the opening scene. Below that ledge where Casey’s Jeep sits was the Colorado River. Is this real life? Yes it is; this is Moab.