Moab History: Jeep Week

Moab in the late 1960’s was a time of change. Mining, the town’s primary economic driver in years prior, was on the decline with the decreased demand of uranium ore by the United States government. Mines closing and people moving to find other opportunities threatened “bust” status in Moab. To promote visitation in the spring, the Moab Chamber of Commerce created a recreational off-roading event, the Easter Jeep Safari, in 1967. The event has grown from a single-day affair attended by a handful to a nine-day event attended by thousands. 2024 will be the Safari’s 58th anniversary. 

As permit and insurance requirements by the BLM outgrew the capacity of the Chamber, an off-road enthusiast group, Red Rock 4 Wheelers (RR4W), assumed management of the event. RR4W was formed circa 1980 by George Shultz as a way to gather with friends and drive the local trails. Like the Jeep Safari, the club has grown exponentially to over 2,000 members worldwide. Local club leaders host other events as well as trail maintenance days in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management and other State land management agencies.

Some members of RR4W sport a red bomber jacket with the club’s apt insignia: a Jeep traversing red rocks. In 1987, a tradition began of awarding a jacket to members that dedicate three consecutive years to “gunning” or assisting leaders/officials on a trail during Easter Jeep Safari. This vintage varsity-style RR4W jacket was one of the first and is in the Moab Museum’s Collection today. Evidence of patches affixed previously, were probably removed by the owner for keepsakes. It belonged to Larry Long, a local off-roading guide and a seasoned member of the club. 

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This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News in the Museum’s weekly Moab History Column, written and curated by Museum staff.