Dan Mick

After nearly 40 eventful years in Moab, Dan Mick is well known around town. To some he’s a businessman and a neighbor. To others, he’s a guide on their adventures. Sometimes he is Santa Claus in a Jeep. To his daughter Lacy, he looks fierce but really is “a big teddy bear.”

Mick has found success as the owner of Dan Mick’s Jeep Tours. However, when he came to town in 1978, he began by working for someone else. It was years before he had his own business, he said.

Mick, a Chicago native, met his wife in Snowflake, Arizona. The couple married at a temple in Mesa, Arizona, then began looking for a place to settle down and raise a family.

“Moab was a nice little booming town at the time,” Mick said.

In 1978, the couple moved to Moab and Mick found a job in an auto body shop.

Within a few years, he was able to get his own body shop but when Moab’s booming economy faltered, he closed the business and switched to offering Jeep tours.

In the early ‘80s, George Schultz started the Red Rock 4-Wheelers off-road club and Mick signed on as vice president. In 1983, the Moab Area Chamber of Commerce asked the club to take over organizing the Easter Jeep Safari, which the Chamber had started in 1967.

After Schultz died, Mick took over as club president. For the 20th annual Jeep Safari, Mick and the Red Rock 4-Wheelers transformed the one-day event into a weeklong celebration.

Since then, Jeep Safari has grown exponentially. As the event drew larger and larger crowds, the Red Rock 4-Wheelers had to put limits on the number of trails and number of vehicles per trail. The event is limited to approximately 1,800 vehicles now, Mick said, but those rules cannot stop people who are not officially participating from showing up at the same time.

The Red Rock 4-Wheelers promotes responsible use of public lands, Mick said. The club keeps trails clean and works to educate visitors about trail etiquette.

“There’s a million good people for the one that’s being a you-know-what,” Mick said. “Live and let live. Have fun.”

Though he is no longer club president, Mick still participates and said the club is doing well. This year will mark the 51st Easter Jeep Safari.

Mick has seen hard times in Moab, he said, and is glad for the current prosperity.

When his house burned down several years ago, the Bighorn Lodge provided housing for Mick and his family for a month.

He was a Moab City Council member when the recession hit in the 1980s and “seven out of 10 houses were empty on every block,” he said. The city only bought one dump truck that year, he added.

“The mayor and all of us council members got in that dump truck and rode it and prayed up and down Main Street just to try and instill some confidence in us with the people who were still here,” Mick said.

The way he sees it, recreation brings money into the valley and is worth the cost.

But Mick is troubled by the divisive politics he sees in the community today.

“I’d like to see people be able to get along,” he said. “I don’t understand all the different things that go on with people’s lives and what they do and how they think, but, you know, leave me alone. Let me do what I want to do. Don’t try to enforce your rules upon me and I’ll try to do the same to you. That’s the way it should be in this world.”

Mick now has three generations of family in Moab. As they grow older, he and his wife, Debbie, are still focused on church and family, he said.

“She’s been my eternal companion,” Mick said. “We’re already old, but we hope to grow older in Moab as we enjoy our grandkids.”

Dan Mick’s Jeep Tours is a family run business, Mick said. He works with his daughter, Lacy Ann Ford, and his son, Richard Mick. Ford enjoys working with her father, she said.

“Of course, there’s ups and downs because you can get a little bit more emotional towards your father than you can your boss, but it’s actually really nice,” Ford said. “You can be more open with him than you can a normal boss.”

Business is doing well, Mick said, adding that the number of tours increased last year.

“We’re expecting another good year this year. Reservations are rolling in … It’s going to be another good busy year for Moab,” said Mick. “Everybody will make money and everybody will be happy to see the tourists leave come November.”

Although the town has changed over the years, Mick still sees Moab as his home, the place he came to raise a family decades ago.

“Moab is my place. I’m proud of this little town and what we’ve accomplished. I’m proud of the building that’s gone on in the area,” Mick said. “Looking across the street, [there is] another big hotel. That’s people coming to Moab. I’m not so sure I like looking at that great big wall right there. It blocks the view of my mountains. But I can still get up on Hell’s Revenge and see my mountains just fine.”

ByBy Rose Egelhoff

The Times-Independent