Woods Cross High senior Brian Binks and his friends woke early Friday morning and ate what they called the perfect breakfast - a meal consisting of candy bars, potato chips, sugar cereal and Mountain Dew.
"Junk food, that's all we brought," Binks says while eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. "This is what camping is all about."After breakfast, Binks and about 20 of his friends, all from Woods Cross High, crowded into Jeeps and other 4-wheel-drive vehicles and set out to conquer the mountainous and rocky terrain of Grand County.
"There's just a lot to do around here," said senior Tagen Parker. "This is the first time I've been here, but I like it. You can bike, go four- wheeling and there's parties at night."
The group is among the thousands of high school students and other visitors who have set up camp against a stunning backdrop of the red rock formations and snow-capped mountains just outside of Moab.
Easter weekend is Moab's busiest. Not only does the annual Jeep Safari bring in some 5,000 people, but most Utah high schools are out for spring break.
"Easter weekend is by far the busiest time of year for us," said Michael Smith, program director of the Sand Flats Recreation Area. "No one from the staff can take this weekend off. I wanted to call in sick, but I knew I couldn't."
The area's campsites, mountain bike trails and four-wheel-drive roads were packed Friday, Smith said. He spent the day patrolling, mostly reminding people to respect the environment.
"Noisy campers give us the most problems around here," he said. "A group of partiers will camp next to a family, and we'll have to tell the noisy ones to keep it down."
Back in town, things were picking up. As the masses began to roll in, most of the motels displayed "no vacancy" signs, and the restaurants had waiting lists, some as long as an hour. Moab police officers were out in force patroling the cruisers on Main Street.
"Easter weekend is when this town comes alive," said 16-year-old Misty Rivenes, a cashier at the Main Street McDonald's. "Moab is a boring place to live during the winter, but in the summer it's fun because there's so many people here."
Despite weather forecasts calling for rain, the weather in Moab has been perfect so far. The sun shone through a cloudless sky Friday, and temperatures reached about 75 degrees. Who could ask for better conditions? People took advantage of the sunshine. Those lucky enough to find a parking spot at the bottom of the Slick Rock Bike Trail ran into heavy traffic. Bikers pedaling along the red rock had to compete with hundreds of other bikers. It looked worse than the morning gridlock on I-15.
Trains of jacked-up Jeeps and trucks snaked the four-wheel-drive trails above Moab. Four wheeling is a religion, and the mountain tops are the steeples to those who drive gas-guzzling trucks endless miles to get to Moab.
"It's fun just to come down and show off the trucks we spend all our money on during the year," said Eric Lewis, 23, from his restored 1976 Ford Bronco. "Some of these trucks don't have radios or even floorboards, but that's part of what makes them so cool. This is the only vacation I take every year."