Potato Salad Hill expected to draw thousands during Easter week

It’s not officially part of the Easter Jeep Safari, but plenty of activity will take place at Potato Salad Hill next week nonetheless.

A few thousand people traditionally gather at the site located just a stone’s throw from Mill Creek to watch drivers in all kinds of vehicles roar up the hill.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office will have a presence to keep things under control and to provide assistance if needed. Sheriff Steve White said “it is pretty mellow anymore” despite some rowdy behavior at the site several years ago.

Grand County Jail Commander Veronica Bullock recalled one particularly raucous time when men urged women to lift their shirts. An accommodating lady who did so was arrested and booked into jail, Bullock said.

Those at Potato Salad Hill passed a hat for donations and quickly raised the woman’s $325 bail. Bullock said authorities have cracked down on such behavior since then and similar incidents have not occurred.

“Alcohol and topless females in front of 3,000 people does not go well,” she said.

However, littering is a perennial problem during the event, said Sara Melnicoff, who helped organize Common Thread’s Operation Cooperation through Moab Solutions to help clean up trash at the site. Although a Salt Lake City-area Jeep organization, Rocky Mountain Extreme, provides 12 portable toilets and a Dumpster at Potato Salad Hill each year, revelers inevitably leave trash behind, she said.

Melnicoff and other Operation Cooperation volunteers gather early each morning of Jeep Safari week to pick up litter. She invites others to take part in the daily cleanup, which has included as much as 400 pounds of trash on Easter day in the past. Volunteers gather at about 7 a.m. just beyond the landfill off Sand Flats Road.

Melnicoff also has erected small rock barriers along the roads at Potato Salad Hill to discourage motorists from veering off legal trails and onto sensitive habitat.

She said she hopes such efforts encourage more people to adopt caring attitudes about the environment.

“Every part of the earth is sacred,” Melnicoff said. “I believe in interacting positively with the earth.”

She said there is no reason for some people who operate recreational vehicles to stray from legal trails.

“There are untold opportunities for them to explore,” Melnicoff said.

The BLM recently installed cables along part of the road near Potato Salad Hill to help keep vehicles where they belong.

ByBy Steve Kadel

Staff Writer