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(Tribune file photo) This year, Easter Jeep Safari begins March 31 and ends Sunday, April 8, which is Easter. Ron Brewer, information officer for the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, which sponsors the safari, said many four-wheel enthusiasts will book their room or campground spot a year in advance.
Moab prepares to come out of hibernation

Major outdoor events draw thousands to southeastern Utah.

First Published Feb 12 2014 12:08 pm • Last Updated Feb 12 2014 08:01 pm

Though Moab has become a year-round destination for outdoor recreation, the southeastern Utah town goes through a bit of hibernation in December and January when the weather is cold and most people are not traveling.

That will change quickly in the coming weeks, as the tourist hub gears up for major late winter and spring events that bring thousands from all over the world into town.

At a glance

Major upcoming Moab events

Feb. 28-March 2 » Poison Spider Thaw, a bike demo weekend. > poisonspiderbicycles.com

March 8-11 » Skinny Tire Festival Road Cycling Tour. > skinnytireevents.com

March 14-15 » Canyonlands Half Marathon and Five-Mile Run. > http://moabhalfmarathon.com

March 21-23 » Moab Munifest, a unicycle festival. > munifest.us

March 22-23 » 24 Hours of Utah, endurance bicycle races.

> geminiadventures.com

March 29 » Behind the Rocks, a 54- and 28-mile trail running race. > grassrootsevents.net

April 5 » Utah Fallen Peace Officer Trail Ride. > upoa.org

April 5 » Adventure Xstream Adventure Race, featuring mountain bike, kayak, trail run and rappeling. > AdventureXstream.com

April 12-20 » Moab Easter Jeep Safari. > rr4w.com

April 25-27 » Moab April Action Car Show. > moabaprilaction.moab21.com

May 14-17 » Rally on the Rocks UTV event. > rallyontherocks.com

May 24-25 » Moab Arts-Beer-Wine Festival. > moabartsfestival.org

June 6-7 » Thelma & Louise Half Marathon. > http://moabhalfmarathon.com

For more info

For information on Moab events, lodging, or camping, log on to discovermoab.com or call 1-800-635-6622.

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Events such as the Canyonlands Half Marathon, Moab Easter Jeep Safari, and Arts, Beer and Wine Festival pack the town and require advance planning to find a motel room or camping spot.

"We start getting busy by the end of February and weekends get pretty full and busy," said Marian Delay, executive director of the Moab Travel Council.

Visitors to Moab and nearby Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park and the Slickrock Bicycle Trail should find some new additions this year.

A new Comfort Suites motel is expected to open in April, adding some badly needed rooms. A Marriott is being constructed and is expected to open near the end of the year. Dead Horse Point is scheduled to open its three new yurts near the canyon rim this spring. And there are some new smaller bed-and-breakfasts and condominiums for rent available.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 establishment of Canyonlands National Park.

"We wanted to make this a community event," said Joette Langianese, executive director of Friends of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, which is working with the National Park Service on the celebration. "Our mission is to reconnect the community to the parks in the area. And that includes the communities of Salt Lake and Grand Junction."

The major celebration will take place Sept. 12, when Canyonlands became a park., But events are already taking place and more will be held throughout the year. This will include a series of lectures every month at the Moab Information Center, a quilting project, children’s art projects, an art walk, historic photo exhibit and Dutch oven cook off.

Langianese said the tab on the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands website (www.bateswilson.org) listing events for the 50th anniversary should be up and operating by the end of February.


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Delay said another new event this year is the Moab Munifest, scheduled March 21-23, where unicycle riders from all over the world are expected to come, ride and party.

This weekend’s three-day President’s Day weekend celebration also allows free entrance to Arches and Canyonlands National Par as well as Utah’s other three national parks. A full moon bike ride to Dead Horse Point is scheduled.

The Canyonlands Half Marathon on the weekend of March 14 and 15 really gets things hopping but perhaps the busiest week of the year in Moab is usually during the Easter Jeep Safari, which begins the weekend before Easter and ends on Easter Sunday. Dates this year are April 12-20.

Not only do hundreds of four-wheel drive enthusiasts descend on the town from all over the country, but it is during Easter week when many schools are on spring break. That means nearly everything Moab offers in the way of outdoors including mountain biking, camping, hiking, ATV riding, four-wheeling, climbing and sightseeing comes into play.

Since its inception in 1967, the Easter Jeep Safari has become a premier tourist event. It is for full size, street-legal four-wheel drive vehicles. Trails range from relatively easy to crazy difficult. Registration is $50 per trail. While registration at the event may be possible if trail limits have not been met, it’s best to plan ahead.

Log on to www.rr4w.com, the website for the sponsoring Red Rock 4 Wheelers club, to learn about trails and to register. Though there are dozens of special events throughout the year, Moab’s big draw is its scenery. Whether exploring the La Sal Mountains, enjoying an adventure on BLM land, visiting a state park or running the Colorado River in the late spring and summer, few places in the world offer this kind of variety.

With a tourist town filled with breweries, interesting restaurants and gift shops and boutiques, visitors seldom lack for things to do as Moab comes out of hibernation.

wharton@sltrib.com



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