Located in the southeastern part of the state of Utah, Moab is the perfect town to stay in to experience all of the nearby outdoor adventures. From national and state parks to hiking and water activities, the Moab area has it all.
Arches National Park
The biggest draw to the Moab area is definitely Arches National Park. As one of the “Mighty 5” National Parks in Utah, it’s a must visit. Covering 76,680 acres, Arches National Park features more than 2,000 arch formations and officially became a National Park in 1971.
Arches National Park has many different areas to visit including:
- Park Avenue – featuring towering red rock walls and a canyon.
- Balanced Rock – featuring a 3,600-ton boulder balancing 128 feet on an eroding pedestal shaped rock.
- Windows Section – one of the more popular areas in the park featuring multiple different arches.
- Delicate Arch – the most well-known arch in the park is also the largest free-standing arch at 46 feet high and 32 feet wide.
- Devil’s Garden – featuring multiple long and short trails along the almost 8-mile round trip Devil’s Garden Trail. These trails will lead you to multiple arches.
One of the main activities in Arches National Park is hiking. From the popular hike to the most well-known arch in the park, Delicate Arch to the long or short hikes along the Devil’s Garden Trail, there are many different hikes for all abilities.
It’s not just hiking that will bring you to Arches National Park, there are many other outdoor activities including rock climbing, camping, sunset/sunrise viewing and star gazing.
Check out my post on Arches National Park to learn more about this highlight of your visit to Moab.
Canyonlands National Park
Another one of the “Mighty 5” National Parks in Utah is located just 30 miles from Moab. Canyonlands National Park is one huge park, consisting of 337,598 acres and the majority of us only see a small portion of this expansive national park. The park is split into three sections: Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze. The most accessible section of the park and the one that is closest to Moab is Island in the Sky.
In the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, there are many different hikes available for a wide range of abilities. From short walks to backpacking trails, there is something for everyone. Some of the more popular hikes include:
- Mesa Arch Trail – At just 0.6 miles roundtrip, this easy trail will bring you to Mesa Arch which is a popular spot to catch the sunrise.
- Upheaval Dome Trail – Although this trail is also just 0.6 miles roundtrip, it’s quite steep making it a moderate trail. You can add on another mile onto the trail if you go to the second overlook. The story of Upheaval Dome remains a mystery, some think it was caused by a geological feature called a Salt Dome, while others believe it to be a crater from a meteorite that hit Earth millions of years ago. There is some more recent research supporting the crater from a meteorite, but nothing definitive. I unfortunately did not get a chance to take this hike, I’ll just have to go back and decide for myself which theory I think is correct.
- Grand View Point – This easy trail is 1.8 miles roundtrip and will take you along the edge of the canyon with many different spots to stop and take in the panoramic views. I really loved this trail and it took me quite a while since I kept stopping and admiring the view.
If you are looking to get down into the canyon, take a ride 1,500 feet down along the Shafer Trail. Make sure to drive it in a high clearance 4WD vehicle. If you want a bit more of a backcountry experience, you can drive or bike into the canyon along the 100 mile White Rim Trail. This trail will take several days and there are campsites along the way. Plan ahead as backcountry permits are required for the White Rim Trail.
Dead Horse Point State Park
So many people visit the National Parks in Utah and don’t realize there are also some really beautiful state parks to visit as well. I was visiting Moab to run the Thelma and Louise half marathon, so I just had to visit the park where the iconic final scene of them driving off the cliff was filmed – Dead Horse Point State Park.
I am so glad that I decided to visit this park, it was absolutely stunning, my only wish was that I had spent more time there.
There are many stories as to how the park received its name. One of the more widely believed stories is pretty interesting but also very sad. Over a 100 years ago, the area was used as a corral for wild horses. The corral was located on the point with the cliffs below. At this point in the story, you probably think that the horses fell off the cliffs to their death, but no that is not what happened. The horses were actually left in the corral for some time without water and ended up dying of thirst just in view of the Colorado River below. A very sad and preventable story!
At Dead Horse Point State Park, there are 8 miles of hiking trails, 17 miles of mountain bike trails and campgrounds to feed your love of the outdoors. The park is a great spot to view the sunset and for star gazing. I highly recommend arriving a couple of hours before sunset to enjoy a hike in the park and then settle down and watch the rocks changing to different shades of red and orange as the sun sets.
Activities Along the Colorado River
Who doesn’t love getting out on the water? When in Moab, you must get out on the river for some water activities. At different spots along the river, there is plenty for everyone, from exhilarating activities to the tamer activities. Below is a list of water activities you can experience on the Colorado River while staying in Moab:
- Whitewater Rafting Trips
- Scenic Rafting Trips
- Scenic Boat Trips
As I am not a big fan of cold water, I tend to avoid the whitewater rafting trips, so when I was in Moab, I opted for a Sunset Scenic Boat Trip. And even though this was not as adventurous as a whitewater rafting trip, it was so worth it!
The views from the river are stunning. You really get a better idea of just how massive the red rock in the area is when you are viewing them from the water. Seeing the reflections of the large rocks towering over the Colorado River in the water was absolutely beautiful.
While on the boat, the tour guide gave us some information and history on the area and even pointed out some arches that are not part of Arches National Park that you can see from the water. One such arch was Jug Handle Arch (pictured below). I love how they name these arches; it definitely looks like a jug handle to me!
While the boat trip did not take place during the actual sunset, it was close enough to sunset time to see the changing of the shades of reds and oranges on the rocks as we were on the Colorado River. After the boat trip down the Colorado River, we received an included dinner and were able to see the sunset from the banks of the river, which was nice.
Other Outdoor Activities Near Moab
I’ve shared with you many places to hike, camp, watch the sunset, star gaze, and enjoy the water. There are so many other outdoor activities you can explore while visiting Moab, including:
- 4×4 off roading tours
- Horseback riding
- Zip lining
- Hot Air Balloon Rides
- Rock Climbing
Moab Lodging and Restaurants
Not only can you camp in the National and State parks in the area, but there are also many other campgrounds in and near Moab, including a glamping location. If you aren’t up for roughing it out camping, there are many hotels and vacation rentals in the area. I stayed at the Homewood Suites in Moab. The location could not be beat, just 5 miles to Arches National Park and within walking distance of restaurants and shops in Moab. The rooms come with a fully equipped kitchen and the hotel also offers a great free breakfast.
There are so many restaurants to choose from when in Moab, some of my favorites while I was there:
- Moab Garage Co – Cafe open for breakfast and lunch, great spot for coffee.
- Miguel’s Baja Grill – Mexican restaurant featuring delicious fresh food.
- Moab Brewery – Local craft brewery with full menu of food available.
- Moab Food Truck Park – If you love food trucks you must have a meal or two at the Moab Food Truck Park, featuring 14 different food trucks serving a variety of foods.
If you are looking for a summer vacation full of outdoor activities, you can’t go wrong with the southeastern part of the state of Utah and Moab is the perfect place to stay to be close to it all.
Beyond The Miles Travel is more than happy to help you plan your trip to the Moab area, contact us today.
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6 thoughts on “Moab Utah – Gateway to the Outdoors”
One day need to get out that way. One of the few places I have not been.
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It’s a beautiful area, I hope you get there some day soon
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Me too! A nice long family drive.
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I really need to take the drive up north to Utah and visit these sites. Great post!
I’ve been dying to visit this part of the country as long as I can remember! Your post has reignited that spark for me, I’ll have to start planning my visit soon!
Absolutely fabulous, the wonder of nature in Utah is breathtaking.
Definitely makes me want to visit..