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Broncos in Moab: From EJS to Bronco Safari

Broncos in Moab: From EJS to Bronco Safari

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image credits: Brent Greiner

‘Tis springtime, and for many off-road enthusiasts, that means it’s time for Moab! This small, former mining-turned-tourist town in southwestern Utah beckons recreational enthusiasts of all backgrounds to its beautiful red rock scenery each year for rafting, hiking, bicycling, and of course, off-roading. The so-called ‘slickrock’ (which isn’t really slick) hills around Moab test the mettle of both machines and their owners as seemingly impossibly steep climbs and descents are conquered at a snail’s pace by motor vehicles and their brave occupants.

Easter Jeep Safari

Broncos have been coming to Moab since the first Moab Easter Jeep Safari in 1967. In fact, a photo from that first event shows an Early Bronco half cab in the lineup among a lot of Jeeps that year. Organized and run by the Moab Chamber of Commerce for the first 15 years, the Safari started out as a single day event on the Saturday before Easter. Chamber members would lead groups on the Behind the Rocks trail, where an airplane would drop ice cream to the groups when they were stopped for lunch!

The event grew over the years, and in 1983, a newly formed 4WD club called the Red Rock 4-Wheelers took over running it, expanding it into a gathering that now spans nine days and 125 trails, with a huge vendor display and raffle giveaway. But throughout all these years, although the name was still the Easter Jeep Safari, all manner of 4WD vehicles were welcome, as long as they had a 2-speed transfer case. I attended the Safari for the first time in 1995, and I recall our group having Toyota pickups, Jeeps, Chevy Blazers, assorted pickups, and yes –– Ford Broncos.

Moab Bronco Safari

As the internet blossomed and entered the four-wheeling world in the mid-90’s, vehicle-specific clubs and groups began to form. Along the way, these clubs started holding events for unique vehicle groups. In 1997, two college students from Colorado –– Coby Hughey and Brian Graves –– formed a club called, appropriately, BRONCO (Bronco Owners of Northern Colorado). Hughey and Graves decided to hold an event in Moab a few weeks before Easter Jeep Safari during their college spring break, and the Moab Bronco Safari was born!

Coby and Brian were both active on the Bronco internet mailing lists of the era and were able to easily publicize their event. Exact attendance numbers aren’t known from those early years, but the event took hold. Coby and Brian moved on, but others including Len Marks, Scott McCurry, Chad Cutshall, and Clint Eddy were involved in running the Safari each year. For about the last 10-12 years, Steve St. Clair and his crew have been running the event.

At some point, the Bronco Safari moved its dates from before Easter Jeep Safari to after Jeep Safari, usually during the first week of May.

The event has grown immensely since those early years: Last year’s registered drivers numbered between 150-165, in spite of the pandemic times. The event features organized trail rides with leaders who have been on most of the routes many times. Every year, there is a large show-and-shine event held on Friday (winners determined by participants’ votes) at the Old Spanish Trail Arena in Moab, along with a large vendor display.

A change for the 2021 meetup was the arrival of the first 6th generation Broncos at the event, with Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Loren Healy bringing their Fun-Haver Bronco out for attendees to check out in person. With many 6th generation trucks now in the hands of Bronco owners, look for more of these new rigs to be cruising the red rocks of Moab this year at the Safari. This year’s event will be held May 3-7, 2022.

For more information on the Moab Bronco Safari, visit broncosafari.com or their FB page, Bronco Safari Group.

Bronco Nation had a great time in Moab for Bronco Basecamp, and the Nation will be back in Moab for Bronco Safari. Join the fun!

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