Grand County Sheriff's Sgt. Curt Brewer and a small pack of deputies walk from campsite to campsite checking young-looking drinkers for identification.
"It's funny," Brewer said. "The underage drinkers almost always say the same thing: `I left my ID at home, but I am 21.' "Brewer checked a campsite Friday night in "The Pit," a secluded portion of the Sand Flats Recreation Area known as a popular spot for young partiers. The deputies crept up on a small band of high school students and discovered more than 50 cans of beer sitting next to their tent.
Unable to produce identification, the kids would have to pour out the beer.
"I didn't get a ticket, but I lost the 50 dollars worth of beer," said Joe Hansen, a Valley High student from Sandy. "We wanted to have fun, so we found a place where we wouldn't bother anybody and we still got caught."
Hansen's bunch were cooperative, so the deputies didn't cite or arrest them, Brewer said. But dealing with young, obnoxious, often belligerent high school students is a routine that authorities in Moab have gotten used to during Easter weekend. Students come from all around the state looking for a good time - which often means getting drunk and rowdy.
Things got ugly this weekend when a free concert at a privately owned camping area turned violent.
"We knew there would be some problems," Brewer said. "There was about 400 or 500 kids in there."
One man was apparently beaten with a beer bottle and another suffered a broken leg during separate brawls, police said. There were reportedly about 15 fights in what one witness called "a battle royal."
"I saw one guy with cuts on his head and his chest," said Jon Olschewski, who was at the concert. "He was in a beer-bottle fight with two other guys."
"Beer and testosterone" are what caused the fights, Olschewski, 20, said. A couple of people started fighting and others followed.
Sheriff's deputies, Moab police officers and Utah Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched about 1 a.m. Saturday to the Lyons Back camping area, the concert site.
They went in and broke up the party, telling people to leave. A few kids were arrested for possession of alcohol or marijuana. Most of the partygoers left, leaving behind a mess of beer cans and bottles scattered about the dirt and brush. A few screamed insults at the police from the cliffs above the campsite.
The owners of the Lyons Back said they held the concert to give the kids something to discourage them from fighting and getting into other trouble. It apparently didn't work, said Suzann Hill, who owns Lyon's Back.
She had planned to offer another free concert Saturday night, but she instead canceled the show.
"We didn't anticipate so many kids would show up," she said. "It was supposed to be just for our campers, but kids started coming in off the street. We won't do this again."
The sheriff's office brings in eight extra deputies to help out with such situations during spring break. The Department of Corrections sends two K-9 units and the UHP sends troopers and a helicopter to assist. Easter weekend is Moab's busiest of the year and authorities need all the help they can get.
Not only do thousands of high school students converge on the area, but the Jeep Safari brings in an estimated 5,000 visitors to the area. The jeeps and trucks get into all sorts of accidents and mountain bikers and hikers get lost all over the county.
"There's so many people down here this time of year," said Brewer, who's lived here his whole life. "If I were a tourist, I wouldn't visit Moab - at least not this weekend."
Searchers found five mountain bikers in the hills west of Moab early Saturday. Duputies found the bikers near the bottom of a trail. They had been reported missing Friday evening.
Suzzana George, 19, lost track of her group during a tour in Canyonlands National Park Thursday. The Provo woman was lost for 27 hours until she stumbled across some campers with a cellular phone Friday afternoon, said Larry Vanslyke, the chief ranger of the national park.
George slept on a large rock Thursday night that kept her warm. It had been exposed to the hot sun Thursday and maintained its heat for most of the night, Vanslyke said.