Moab is one of the coolest places we’ve visited since it has such a scenic landscape and so many outdoor adventures available.
Driving through downtown Moab, you may feel a little out of place since you’ll see a bunch of OHV’s (off-highway vehicles) sitting next to you at the stoplight. Apparently it’s totally cool with local law enforcement. All of these off-road vehicles are heading out to some of the best trails in the country.
There are several places to rent dirt bikes, four-wheelers, or even Jeeps and Hummers. For more information on the off-road trails and requirements, check out www.discovermoab.com/atv.htm.
Along with some of the best off-road trails in the country, Moab is also home to some of the best biking trails as well. This includes both paved and unpaved trails. There are dozens of trails that are rated Easy, Intermediate, and Difficult to accommodate all levels of bikers.
There are also plenty of options when it comes to bike rentals in Moab, so if your old Schwinn isn’t up to it, rent a legit bike. For more info on the biking trails check out www.discovermoab.com/biking.htm.
Moab is a city of outdoor adventure and what better way to get in the spirit of that than to do some rock climbing. You can be a seasoned veteran or a beginner. There are plenty of guides that will take you out and show you the best place to climb for your skill level. This can even include inside Arches National Park.
There are definitely rules on what you can and can’t climb on in the National Park, so check out www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/rockclimbing.htm for all the details of climbing in the park.
If sailing the high seas is your game, rafting the Colorado River is definitely something to check out. Ranging from a scenic float in the Fisher Towers section of the river to a raging Class IV near Westwater and Cataract Canyon, there’s something for everyone and every family. There is also kayaking and stand up paddle boarding allowed on the river. Check out www.discovermoab.com/colorado_river.htm for more information.
It’s no secret that we love national parks and southern Utah is the holy grail for national park lovers. When visiting Moab, you have the opportunity to visit both Arches and Canyonlands. Along with these two epic national parks, there are also fantastic state parks and recreation areas that make this part of the country so amazing.
Arches National Park is about 5 miles north of Moab, with the entrance to the park on Highway 191.
Upon entering the park, the visitors center is just off to the right. Stop in and talk to a ranger about hikes they recommend or things to look for during your visit. You can also catch a short video that gives a great background on the geology and landscapes in the park.
Also if you have kids, be sure to grab a Junior Ranger booklet to complete while you’re at the park. There is also a small gift shop in the visitors center so you can pick up something to remember your visit.
The park consists of an 18-mile nicely paved road that takes you from the visitors center all the way back to Devils Garden. All along the way there are pull-outs to take in the beautiful views.
Some notable stops are Park Avenue, which are rock formations that resemble the famous street in New York City, Courthouse Towers, which resemble an actual courthouse, Balanced Rock, which is a gigantic boulder balancing on a very thin rock formation, The Windows Section, which are several arches that you can walk under and offer great picture opportunities.
There is also the Delicate Arch viewpoints, which offer some great views of the most iconic arch in the park, and finally Devils Garden which has short hikes to several arches.
Speaking of hikes, there are several in the park that are definitely worth doing. The Windows Section in the park has several short hikes that take you in and around some great looking arches including the North and South Windows as well as Double Arch.
Another great hike is going to Delicate Arch. This hike gets you right under Delicate Arch and offers a much more up close and personal view of the arch than the viewpoints do. This hike is a bit demanding even though it is only 3 miles roundtrip. It climbs about 480 feet and you travel over rocks, through sand, and around some breathtaking cliffs. If you’re brave, you can walk down the side-sloped rock and get a great picture standing under the arch.
Another great hike in Arches National Park is Fiery Furnace. To do this hike, you either need to sign up for the Ranger-led hike or obtain a special permit to do the hike. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, it’s not that bad. The problem is that the trail is not marked and there is a chance of getting lost if you’re not familiar with the route.
There are also some tricky spots during this hike including tight passages and getting over gaps that have a 20 foot drop.
We did the ranger-led tour and am very happy we did. We got a lot of great information about the park and loved having the ranger point out things we normally would have just hiked past.
While staying in or around Moab, head into Arches on a clear night for some amazing star gazing. We drove to Windows to check out the stars shining through the arches. It was pretty amazing!
For more information on Arches National Park, check out www.nps.gov/arch.
Another one of Utah’s Big 5 is Canyonlands National Park, which is about an hour and a half drive. Canyonlands is a pretty large park and is divided up into three sections: Island In The Sky is on the northern end of the park, The Maze is on the western end of the park, and The Needles to the southern end of the park.
We took the drive through this section of the park and took in the amazing views from several of the overlooks in the park. The cool thing about this park is that it really is an island in the sky because all of the overlooks are looking down at the geological structures below. It’s a whole different perspective.
The Maze is an interesting section of the park because it’s only accessible by unpaved four-wheel drive roads or by hiking in. There are several campgrounds in this section for those doing overnight trips.
When visiting The Needles, be sure to stop in at the Needles District Visitor Center to learn more about the park and grab something from the gift shop.
From there, continue the drive toward Big Spring Canyon Overlook. We stopped and hiked at Cave Spring, which was a short and fun hike. It led under big rock overhangs and up steep rocks where you had to use a ladder to get up. Our kids loved it!
We also hiked Slickrock Foot which was a bit more strenuous. Still only at 2.4 miles, it seemed longer for some reason. It may have been because it was rather warm and very dry. We all packed enough water, but we were all still thirsty throughout the hike.
For more information on Canyonlands National Park, visit their website at www.nps.gov/cany.
Another great hike and great arch is Corona Arch. The trail head is on Highway 279, 10 miles west of the 279/191 junction in Moab. This fantastic hike is about a mile and a half roundtrip, and includes chain supports and ladders to get you back to the arch.
The views along the way are amazing, but it’s the arch that is the jewel. It’s enormous at 140 feet tall and has a 105 foot opening. You can get great pictures under and around the arch.
For more information on Corona Arch, check out www.discovermoab.com/family_corona.htm.
There are a couple of scenic drives in Moab, one being Highway 279 and the other is Highway 128. Both follow along the Colorado River and both have spectacular views and scenery. Taking this drive at sunset is just amazing. Also you’ll see plenty of BLM camping along the way which offers free dry-camping.
For more info on BLM camping on this scenic drive, check out www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/recreation/campgrounds/highway_128.html.
Moab was a great little city to visit for all the outdoor adventure they offered as well as the close proximity to two of the best national parks in the country. I’d definitely recommend adding Moab to your travel plans.