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Easter Jeep Safari: Dispatches from the trail

Each spring, the small town of Moab, Utah, gets overrun with Jeeps.

They come in every size, shape, and color, and they come by the thousands. The draw is the annual Easter Jeep Safari, a gathering of Jeep fanatics that is now in its 48th year.

The event was created by the Moab Chamber of Commerce, but these days it’s run by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, a local club that promotes trail maintenance and responsible off-roading.

PHOTOS: Highlights from the Easter Jeep Safari

The draw is nine days of off-roading on public trails outside Moab that are considered some of the most picturesque -- and challenging -- in the country. An actual Jeep isn’t required, but whatever you show up in, it needs to be as stout as your nerves.

PHOTOS: Testing Jeep's prototypes

Groups of 40 or more line up each morning to head out to trails with names such as Hell’s Revenge, Poison Spider and Elephant Hill. Although experienced guides and spotters are common, each year a couple of burly off-road vehicles topple backward or on their sides, victims of underestimating the trail or overestimating a driver's abilities.

We collected some of our favorite photos from two days of off-roading on two gnarly trails: Hell’s Revenge -- home of the infamous Hell’s Gate ascent -- and Fins and Things. Bonus: a side trip to Potato Salad Hill, a wickedly steep run supposedly named by one its first drivers after his potato salad bounced all over his truck.

Each trail features technical sections that look like they’d be hard to manage on foot, let alone in a burly Jeep that weighs thousands of pounds. Yet each time ground swings back into view after looking at nothing but blue sky on climb after climb, you begin to see what the draw is to these adventures.

We’ll have a full story on the Easter Jeep Safari soon. For now, enjoy the view.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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