Preparing for Moab 'Zu Zoo V
...Homework for Isuzus Short Cuts

By: Michael Clark - 2/2002


Moab 'Zu Zoo I, Photo by Kammy Burleson
Two Amigos, a Rodeo, a Passport, and a Trooper at Moab 'Zu Zoo I.

That special time of the year for Isuzu enthusiasts is fast approaching. Every year, spring marks a massive migration of Isuzu rigs (and their owners) to Moab, Utah. In addition to the usual suspects, many other makes, along with our favorite 'mongrelized' beasts, also make the journey. People come from all parts of the country to participate in four days of four-wheeling fun in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. What precipitates this influx of rigs to the sparsely-populated state of Utah? It is the annual Moab 'Zu Zoo event, of course, and this year is the fifth anniversary, Moab 'Zu Zoo V.

The preceding four years have been highly successful, each year bringing more Isuzus to Moab than the past. The first event in 1998 started with only 10 Isuzu vehicles. Since then, the gathering has grown dramatically. In 2001, 75 rigs made the trek. In keeping with tradition, this year will prove to be even bigger and better.

Moab 'Zu Zoo V is a great chance to put faces (and personalities) to those people who you have met only virtually during the past year(s). Most of these people are members of 4x4Wire's Isuzu Forum. In addition to the great company, it is an excellent chance to experience some of the best 4x4 trails available.

My first year at a 'Zu Zoo event was last year. It proved to be truly one of the most awesome things I have ever experienced, 4x4-related or not. In addition to being able to meet numerous people, make many new friends and exchange endless stories (Isuzu-related, of course), I was able to leave Moab wanting to come back and do it all again in exactly no more than 365 days.

Not only is Moab 'Zu Zoo, the third-largest permitted four-wheeling event in Moab, it also attracts many of the vendors who supply aftermarket parts for Isuzus. Last year American Isuzu Motors themselves showed up, as well as CALMINI, Darlington Off-Road Products, Independent4x, Marlin Crawler, and Tera Manufacturing. Some of those companies were also event participants and brought their own rigs out on the trails. What does this mean? It means that you get a chance to shake hands and talk to those who truly support, not only the sport of four-wheeling, but specifically those who support Isuzu four-wheelers. Firms such as ARB, Delorme, Fleet Air, Gene's Automotive, Warn, and Winch Weight were not able to be present in Moab, but they showed their on-going support through generous donations of items for the raffle. California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs, East Coast 4x4 Experience, Planet Isuzoo, Total Escape, and West Coast Four Wheel Drive Club all donated prizes to the raffle, and even individuals pitched in, such as Kammy Burleson, Jason B., Steve Gardiner, and Debbie Maurer.

Pay attention the Isuzu Forums at 4x4Wire for updates and discussions regarding the event. It is also the place to ask any questions you may have. Registration information, the schedule of events and the online registration form will be available from 'Zu Zoo, Inc. Click on to get there.


There are a multitude of places to stay while in Moab. The Portal RV Park (campground) will be the base of operations for the organizers of Moab 'Zu Zoo V event. This is where a majority of people will be camping. Other than Portal, there are many other places to stay (with and without roofs) that will accommodate all ranges of preferences (and the preferences of significant others). 'Zu Zoo, Inc. has more information about where to stay.


One of the most common comments is, "My rig is stock. There is no way it would do well in Moab." Pashaw!! The terrain in Moab is unique and varied. The slick rock gives almost super-natural traction for every tire on the rig (sometimes even the spare!). There are also enough trails for ever kind of tastes -- from stock to mild to wild, nobody will go unsatisfied. Everybody has a blast, and many learn for the first time what their rig is capable of. That surprise is often accompanied by a desire to build bigger and better for next the year.

No matter what you are driving, it is important to come prepared. One of the most important things that can be done is making sure your rig is mechanically prepared. This has nothing to do with lifts, lockers, tires and armor. The basic maintenance items are important to consider in order to make sure your ride is road-worthy and trail-ready. First off, nobody wants to be stranded in Moab (well…some might, but…) due to something that should have been done before leaving home. Not only might you miss the trails, you also might be held hostage by the local parts store and repair facilities.

In addition to the basic maintenance items, you need to make sure your rig meets the basic requirements set forth by 'Zu Zoo, Inc. This includes equipment such as a matching sized spare tire (mounted on a rim, please!!), secure battery tie down, front and rear tow points, a tow strap with looped ends, a jack, and a functional CB radio. It also helps to have all of your modifications installed when you arrive in Moab. But, if you choose to roll in with parts in the back, it does make for some entertaining midnight wrenching sessions at the campground.

Moab 'Zu Zoo I, Photo by Kammy Burleson
Mike Riley's Rodeo in Mirror Gulch at Moab 'Zu Zoo I.

Trail Etiquette

Each trail will have about 10-20 rigs in attendance. This means that there are certain rules that need to be followed to ensure that everyone has a good time and things move along at the proper speed. Each trail will have a Trail Leader and Tail Gunner. Some trails may also have a Waist Gunner present. The trail staff is there to make sure that everyone remains safe and that they do not get lost. Please listen to Trail Staff.

If you have not had the opportunity to wheel in a large group of rigs, this is an excellent time to a) see what excellent organization and staffing can do and b) learn how to be part of the fun. Safety is stressed above all other things. Safety includes proper spotting and sensible selection of obstacles and lines. Safety also includes making sure the drivers, passengers, and animals make it back to camp in one piece. If you are new to the sport (or a seasoned veteran), it is important to remember there are going to be about 19 other drivers who are more than willing to hop out of their rigs and lend a hand. It could mean the difference between making it through a section of trail safely and not. Don't hesitate to ask for help.

Your Trail Leader will review these rules (and more) before each run. Keep in mind that the number of rigs on each trail means that it is important to keep the group moving. Simple rules such as only trying three times at an obstacle before bypassing or taking a strap will give everyone a chance at the obstacle but minimize time spent waiting.

In addition to making each trail safe and fun, there are a few items that will need to be packed to ensure that your day is perfect. This includes food and beverages, but no beer or alcohol! Water is strongly suggested as the drink of choice, because temperatures can get quite warm and you will most likely be moving more than expected as you get in and out of your rig. Appropriate clothes and sunscreen are also smart to bring along. Clothes should be comfortable and footwear should be sturdy, with good traction. Open-toed sandals are risky at best and should be avoided, no matter what the weather is like.


Between now and May 16 is the time to start getting ready. Find time off of work; get the rig back together, find a place to stay and pre-register for the trails you want to run. Remember, you can always find another job, there will only be one Moab 'Zu Zoo V. I and everyone else look forward to seeing you there!!

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