Not having been to Moab, Utah, for over eight years, I was intrigued when Off-Road.com editor Josh Burns offered me the opportunity to tag along for the 50th Anniversary Easter Jeep Safari and maybe enjoy some of the scenic and serpentine trails for which southeastern Utah is widely regarded as heaven to four-wheeling enthusiasts.
But I didn’t have any idea just how much fun it would be until I went on my very first trail ride of the week, a 45-mile trek on the Plateau Dome trail, sponsored by aftermarket suspension giant Skyjacker Suspensions. The deafening tone for that fun was set almost immediately as I was fortunate enough to land a ride with a couple of industry folks with an arsenal of punk rock in their iPods. Everything from Dropkick Murphys to Rancid to TSOL emanated from the custom Alpine sound system in the tricked-out JK in which I held down a back seat for approximately seven eventful hours.
The custom JK in which I was riding is the pride and joy of Sara Morosan, co-owner of LGECTS Motosports in San Dimas, California. As the manager of her family-owned company’s custom truck division, Morosan coordinates a lot of builds, and our particular Plateau Dome rig happened to be one of them. Morosan’s personal 2015 four-door JK Sport boasts Hellwig Suspension sway bars and Icon Vehicle Dynamics shocks, along with custom 20-inch wheels and Toyo tires, and LGECTS-fabbed bumpers, side bars and fenders, just to name a few of the mods. A Skyjacker dealer, Morosan wasn’t even planning on coming to Moab this year but for an invitation by a good friend, Hellwig’s West Coast Sales Manager Mike Hallmark. Although not a Moab regular, Morosan is clearly an experienced off-roader, and her driving skill was evident whenever our group encountered an obstacle on the Plateau Dome trail. While some of the rigs equipped with meaty 37-inch tires on 17-inch rims struggled to negotiate the few technical sections we came across, Morosan flat owned them like a seasoned veteran, never putting a wheel wrong during her driving stint on the first half of the route.
“I’m having a lot of fun, meeting people and enjoying the beautiful scenery,” Morosan said. “It’s awesome. It’s a great experience to be able to come out and meet other people in the industry and spend time with them.”
Morosan’s driving ability was only superseded by her ability to select awesome tunes from bands as gnarly as TSOL or as mellow as Aerosmith—so it wasn’t all punk all the time. But it was all good, safe fun as our group of approximately 20 rigs wound its way to the top of Plateau Dome before breaking for lunch. Far from the most challenging of the tin-bending trails in the Moab Area—Plateau Dome rates about a 3 out of 10 in terms of difficulty, though there are a couple sections that can cause problems for inattentive drivers. However, its lack of technicality is more than made up for in sheer scenic beauty. The end of the trail offers a breathtaking view of the Colorado River and the surrounding countryside, and unique landmarks such as caves and wild rock formations dot the route. It’s as much a nature lover’s paradise as it is a four-wheeler haven, and that combination makes it a favorite of Lee McGuire, Director of Marketing for Skyjacker Suspensions.
“We’re here just to have a good time and show everyone what Skyjacker [equipped] Jeeps can do,” McGuire said. “This actually is one of my favorite weeks on the job. We get to come out here and have fun with everyone and really show what we can do at Skyjacker.
“The scenery, the arches, the view here is pretty amazing,” McGuire added. “You can see the Colorado River down below, the mountains in the background, you can’t beat it. The views are breathtaking. You really have to come and see it.”
McGuire also added that Skyjacker has some interesting promotions going on for customers right now.
“Our shock rebate goes from March all the way through May 31st, so consumers right now can get from $35 to $55 cash back,” McGuire said. “That’s a great spring promotion, so everyone can get new shocks for their trucks, Jeeps and SUVs.”
Another highlight of the Skyjacker ride was the presence of a true living legend in the off-road racing community, desert and short course racer Curt LeDuc, who was enjoying the ride along with the Skyjacker folks in one of their tricked-out JKs. Of course, ‘wheeling at this pace is about as slow as LeDuc ever goes.
“I just came from running the Mint 400 where we go about 109 mph through the big bumps, so this seems a little bit tame, but it’s still fun,” LeDuc said. “The scenery makes the trip worthwhile.”
LeDuc, who jokes that he has had a relationship with Skyjacker since he was 11, was along for more than just a casual trail ride. He was actually doing some R&D on an all-new line of signature shocks and components for Skyjacker.
“We are going to take my experience with desert racing and Jeeping and four-wheel drives, and turn it into product that the customer can buy,” LeDuc said. “We’ve come up with shock mounts, coilovers with dual rates and remote reservoirs—the trickest stuff on the market, and we’ve custom-tuned it to my specs, where I think it is the best package. We debuted it at SEMA, and it will be in all the warehouses shortly. It’s exciting. Usually I do this kind of work with a one-off car, and that’s the only customer that’s happy. To be able to take it to the masses is what they are allowing me to do. It has been a win-win for Skyjacker and myself.”
Completing our rockin’ and “rockin’” trio, Hallmark was also on hand, taking over the reins of Morosan’s JK—and stereo—for the second half of the trip. A big fan of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Tiger Army, Hallmark’s wit and humor made the trip a blast, and he kept Morosan and I laughing for most of the way.
“This is a great time,” Hallmark said. “Truly, it doesn’t matter what trail you are on in Moab, the scenery is amazing. We were just, what, 1500 feet above the Colorado River? It’s fun seeing all the Jeeps out here and also getting to test out the products that we do for the JK Jeeps, like the front sway bars with the quick-disconnect [to allow the suspension to articulate more easily when driving off-road]. That’s not something that is new to the market, but what sets us apart is that we’re the only manufacturer that makes a sway bar that actually improves your on-road driving. So, we’re here to talk JKs, have a good time and share some wheelin’ comraderie.”
And that’s ultimately what Easter Jeep Safari week in Moab is all about. It’s sharing good times with new friends and old while checking out new products and generally enjoying off-road recreation in one of the most beautiful settings on the planet.
But it’s even better with punk rock.
More 2016 Easter Jeep Safari
50th EJS Coverage