Moab is one of those places that is just a little bit spoiled, surrounded by all kinds of opportunities to get your adventure on that are likely already on your bucket lists.
That makes It a fantastic base when you’re thinking about not only all the things to do in Moab, but around the Utah city.
Check out this guide to Moab, Utah, a base camp for adventure.
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Moab, Utah: Tips Before You Go
No matter how much time you have to spend in Moab, there are a few things you should know. Check out these tips before you head out and explore all of the things to do in Moab, Utah.
When should I visit Moab? The shoulder months of spring and fall are most pleasant in Moab, but summertime, despite the heat, is the most popular time to visit.
If you’re craving a bit of solitude as you’re out and about exploring the best of Moab, you’ll find more of that outside of those peak summer months.
Even winter is doable. Winters in Moab are mild, with temperatures rarely dipping below about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll likely see some snow at any destination at elevation, which is all kinds of magical, and you’ll have plenty of things to do in Moab in winter.
If you do plan on visiting in the summer, come prepared. This is the desert, after all. Do your most intense activities in the morning, and come prepared with lots of water and sun protection.
How do I get to Moab? Moab is served by the small Canyonlands Field Airport. If you’re up for Utah national parks trip, something I’d highly recommend, you’ll likely find better schedules and fares flying into the closest major transportation hub in Salt Lake City.
From there, it’s 234 miles to Moab along the shortest route.
You can also try to find a decent flight deal out of Colorado’s Grand Junction Regional Airport. It’s about a two-hour drive from there.
How do I get around Moab? It’s going to be easiest for you if you have a car to get yourself around Moab and all of the adventure opportunities in and around Moab.
Reserve your car ahead of time using a site like Hotwire or Priceline to find the best deals. You can search by car rental company, too, if you feel a loyalty there.
Depending on what you’re planning on doing while you’re in and around Moab, it may not be the worst idea to pick up something with 4WD. You won’t be limited in that case.
As Moab’s a base for all kinds of fun adventures, there are opportunities to link up with a small group tour to tackle some of the area’s more adrenaline-fueled activities. Throughout this post, I’ll include some highly-rated options for small group tours for you to enjoy some of these activities safely.
Where should I stay in Moab? It just so happens that Moab has all kinds of accommodation options available to you, as it’s the base for travelers exploring nearby parks like Canyonlands and Arches national parks.
Our pick was the Red Stone Inn. It wasn’t luxury accommodations by any means, but it was comfortable and perfectly located, with a creek nearby for evening strolls. Here are a few more options from Booking.com in Moab:
- Aarchway Inn: That’s just the way it’s spelled, OK? Guests love the spacious rooms, friendly staff, and bacon at breakfast. It’s the little things, right?
- Expedition Inn: If you’re traveling to Moab with the kids, the decor of this place basically screams adventure. Spacious rooms and extended pool hours only solidify that fact.
- Hyatt Place Moab: This one isn’t as centrally located as some of your other options, but there’s a shuttle bus that will take you where you need to go in Moab. This one is pet-friendly, too, although the parks aren’t great for pups.
Seeking an Airbnb in Moab, Utah? Check out these properties from Vrbo, my preferred Airbnb alternative:
- Moab Panorama Oasis
- Modern Condo + Hot Tub
- Quite Hideaway in Downtown Moab
- Views of Mountains and Red Rock Cliffs
- The Willow Cottage
Seeking even more wallet-friendly accommodations? Try Hostelworld. Their picks are heavily vetted and reviewed to offer you a safe experience on a budget.
How many days should you spend in Moab? You should spend at least two to three full days in Moab, and more if you’re planning on visiting the surrounding national parks.
Note: If you’re visiting any of the nearby national parks, always check with the National Park Service before you plan your visits. This part of the country is wild, with weather that can change on a dime. On top of that, the busiest time in the parks is also construction season; expect closures and delays if you’re traveling in the summer months.
No matter when you’re going, be prepared for inclement weather and the kinds of elements you’d expect in a desert environment. If you’re just not sure what to pack, check out my Utah guide, which includes a ready-made packing list for you for each season.
Things to Do in Moab, Utah
Let’s get into all of the incredible things to do in Moab with this Moab visitors guide, shall we? These aren’t in any order of importance or impressiveness, as that’s impossible to do in these parts. It’s all awesome!
Photograph your own screensaver at Arches National Park.
You’ve all seen it, that image of the Delicate Arch all over screensavers, mousepads and the like. It’s likely a safe assumption that you already have Arches National Park on your Moab itinerary if you’re heading out that way.
If you don’t, you really should reconsider things, as Moab is just outside of the park and one of the easiest day trips you’ll have access to.
The best way to see Arches is to use my guide to Arches National Park with which to do so. See what I did there?
I’m mostly joking, but the guide will highlight the best hikes and scenic points you’ll want to check out, even if you only have a day in this spectacular park.
Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day. That means you can take advantage of an early start. If you’re hiking the Delicate Arch, I’d highly recommend checking it out at sunrise. Yes, getting up early is terrible, but it’s 100% worth it if you’re hiking the Delicate Arch.
I wouldn’t lie to you about something like that.
Generally, Arches is easily done on a self-drive tour. That way, you’ll be able to pick and choose the arches you’d like to target with the time you have to spend in the park.
If you’re looking to go into the backcountry or feeling a little bucket listy, check out the best Arches tours Moab has to offer:
Lose the crowds at Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands National Park is another national park with easy access to Moab. In about 40 minutes, you can be in the most popular section of the park, the Island in the Sky district, for a fantastic day trip.
For some tips on visiting Island and the Sky, check out my guide to Canyonlands, a park that won’t be much of a secret for long. That guide will also show you how to access regions in the park for the more intrepid travelers, too.
The Island in the Sky region is accessible without 4WD, but you’ll need a more rugged vehicle if you’re exploring the other regions.
The other option is to choose from one of the many guided jeep tours that take you to some of the more intense experiences available to you in the Canyonlands. Check out a few top-rated options below:
Experience Dead Horse Point State Park.
Dead Horse Point State Park shares the dramatic landscapes with the Canyonlands on a smaller scale, making it much more accessible for travelers with limited time for their vistas.
Adventurers looking for mountain biking opportunities will love the Intrepid Trail System, over 16 miles of singletrack trails with options no matter your skill level.
Beginning bikers will want to start with the Intrepid Trail, a short half-mile with little elevation change to get a feel for the terrain, all with beautiful views of the Colorado River to boot.
Check out the state’s trail information for more intel and maps if this sounds up your alley.
Fun fact: Dead Horse Point State Park is the Hollywood of parks around here. It’s been a shooting location for projects like Con-Air, the MacGyver television series, John Carter, and Mission: Impossible II.
The park is about a 45-minute drive from Moab, on the northeast corner of Canyonlands National Park.
I’m always all about a self-drive tour of our national and state parks, but if you’re looking for an excursion or a guided tour, check out the options below:
Raft down the Colorado River.
You’ll likely see views of the Colorado River more than once on your trip to Moab and its surrounding natural wonders.
If you want to get up close and personal, the river offers up some pretty epic whitewater rafting opportunities for those looking for a dose of adrenaline and fun things to do in Moab.
There are options for beginners and the more seasoned looking for the ultimate thrill: the infamous and intense Skull Rapids.
Interested in a small group rafting tour? Consult the Moab Adventure Center or check out these highly-rated options for the best time ever:
Take a scenic drive.
It’s as if Utah was made for road trips.
You already know about the easy access you have from here to places like Arches and Canyonlands national parks, but there is plenty more where that came from when you’re looking for things to do near Moab.
The 44 miles of the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway, or U-128, is perhaps the most impressive Utah scenic byway.
Drive along the Colorado River gorge and marvel at the red sandstone cliffs until you hit an impressive backdrop, the spires of the Fisher Towers against the La Sal Mountains. The road will take you all the way to Cisco, a ghost town that was once a pretty hoppin’ railroad town.
The drive may only be 44 miles, but budget more time than you think you’ll need for photo stops on this one.
The La Sal Mountain Loop is another treasure, 60 miles of varied country and canyon scenery.
If you’re interested in additional scenic drives in and around Moab, check out a thorough list from the Moab Area Travel Council.
Hike the Fisher Towers Trail.
The Fisher Towers Trail is a popular way to see some of the state’s most unique landscapes on your feet.
On your 5.2-mile roundtrip hike, you’ll come across impressive viewpoints of the Colorado River Canyon, the 800-foot Cottontail Tower, and the trail’s namesake, the Fisher Towers.
The towers are made of sandstone but caked in a red mud, giving them that vibrant hue.
Rock climbers will love to hear that you can do some pretty epic climbing at Fisher Towers. It’s not for me, but I’m always a little envious of those little people traversing those rocks like they’re little mountain goats.
The hike is rated as moderate, with an elevation gain of 650 feet. If you’re hiking in the summertime, hike prepared. That means lots of water, appropriate footwear, and protection from the sun.
It’ll take you about 40 minutes to get out to the trailhead for Fisher Towers. You don’t need 4WD to get there, but you will be driving down a dusty road for about 2 miles once you get close.
Test your mettle on Hell’s Revenge.
Travelers come to Hell’s Revenge because of the name, but they stay for the ultimate adrenaline rush. Only the most experienced drivers should attempt the nine miles of this 4X4 trail, with vehicles made for off-roading.
The entrance to Hell’s Revenge, one of the most popular Moab attractions, is just past the Sand Flats Recreation Area Entrance Station.
This isn’t the place to practice your wheelies. Is that still a thing, by the way? There is a designated trail you must follow. If you choose to disregard this advice and do your own thing, you could be facing some hefty fines, or worse.
You could also book a guided tour to ensure you know how to keep yourself safe while you’re out there raising hell and getting your revenge or whatever. Check out these highly-rated options below:
Walk with dinosaurs at Moab Giants Dinosaur Park.
If you’re traveling with the kids, a visit to the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park is an obvious must-see on any itinerary of things to do in Moab with kids.
If you’re just a nerd like me who likes dinosaurs, the park is still a no-brainer, and a nod to Moab’s importance in the field of paleontology.
Attractions within the park include the 5D PaleoAquarium, a virtual journey that takes you eye-to-eye with a Megalodon.
If you’re looking for a leg-stretcher, a half-mile trail allows you to take all kinds of hilarious photos of yourself running away from giant dinosaur replicas. At the Interactive Tracks Museum, get hands-on with fossil footprints.
The city itself is lauded as one of the best records of dinosaurs in the country, making fossil hunting one of the top things to do in Moab. Dinosaurs found here have included a small carnivore from the Triassic period and a giant brontosaurus from the Jurassic, among many others.
If you don’t want to visit the park, you can walk the same paths the dinosaurs did along a number of sites in and around Moab.
The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is a popular option, with interpretive signs along the way to let you know what you’re looking at. The trail is rated as easy, and less than 2 miles roundtrip. For a map of this trail and what you’ll see along the way, check out this guide from the Moab Bureau of Land Management.
Fun fact: If you’re obsessed with The Land Before Time, you’ll appreciate this one. The movie was originally supposed to be dialogue-free. Can you imagine a world where you never hear Littlefoot begging for his mother to get up? Yeah, me neither.
Hunt for the area’s petroglyphs.
For evidence of historic peoples, you have a number of options in and around Moab to explore the area’s impressive petroglyphs.
One of the most popular areas for petroglyphs is Potash Road, home to petroglyphs from the Formative Period. You’ll find a number of pullouts on the road with interpretive signs to let you know where you look.
Note: For those looking for a leg-stretcher, Potash Road is also where you’ll find the trailhead for the Corona Arch trail, which includes the Bowtie Arch, as well. These well-photographed arches are accessed on a moderate 3-mile trail that includes some ladders to climb for those who like some intrigue on their hikes.
The Courthouse Wash Rock Art scene is north of Moab, in Arches National Park.
The faint panel is impressive nonetheless, with images of humans, animals, and hybrids of both on display. This one has undergone quite a bit of restoration over the years thanks to vandal activity, so make sure you’re looking with your eyes, not your hands.
For more on the area’s petroglyphs, including a map of where to find these and several others, check out this guide from the Moab Area Travel Council.
Bike the Slickrock Trail.
I’ve mentioned some options for mountain bikers in Moab, but if biking is what you’re here for, you don’t want to miss the Slickrock Trail.
It’s a 13-mile trail that makes a challenging loop, so this one isn’t for those on training wheels. Expect steep descents and slick surfaces if you fall, hen
If you’re just not sure whether you’re ready, there is a 3-mile test loop at the start that will test your mettle right off the bat. If that loop feels too hard, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.
Indulge in the best restaurants in Moab.
The Utah national parks aren’t known for their food options, but if you’re lucky enough to be in Moab, you’ll be treated to some yummy food options that you can’t help being impressed by.
Keep in mind that many eateries throughout Utah are closed on Sundays, so factor that into your meal planning.
Consider the Love Muffin Cafe if you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or to-go options before your adventuring for the day.
If you’re spending time in Moab proper and just aren’t sure what you want in that moment, the Moab Food Truck Park will likely satisfy even the pickiest eater.
For the best views in Moab, head on over to the The Sunset Grill, a local favorite. You’ll be treated to panoramas all around as you dine, perched over 200 feet above the highway below.
Fine dining enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by the Desert Bistro, which specializes in unique preparations for local game and their fresh-baked breads and desserts. Reservations are recommended and available online.
If you’re looking for something more casual for dinner or just really need a drink after that big day you just had, head on over to the Moab Brewery.
In addition to the craft beers on tap, like their Dead Horse Amber Ale, they have a full menu. You can’t go wrong with one of their pub burgers.
Finish up your days at Castle Creek Winery.
Your bellies may be full from all of that delicious grub you ate your way through above, but wine lovers may prefer Castle Creek Winery.
The Moab winery offers up both reds and whites to visitors out of the Red Cliffs Lodge.
The wine is fine, but the views are better. I realize that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but you’re drinking wine in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, so that should be enough.
Have you visited Moab? What was your favorite adventure among all of the Moab things to do? Share it with me in the comments as I’d love to revisit the city and all the best things to do in Moab.
Photo credits: Jaida Stewart (1), Tevin Trinh (2), Joshua Case (3), Michael Hart (4), marekuliasz (5), John Foxx (6), Kamchatka (7), Aaron Hawkins (8), Michael Herren (9), herreid14 (10), Silvrshootr (11), Gagliardi Photography (12), Jeremy Christensen (13)
Ready for Moab?
Your Flight: I use a variety of tools to find cheap airfare, but if you’re looking to book during a particular period of time, especially during busy times (e.g. summertime, school breaks), you should use Skyscanner.
It’s a great tool for when you’re more flexible, too, as it allows you to compare travel based on length of travel, departure date, etc.
You’re not likely to find great flight deals to Canyonlands Field, the airport closest to Moab. You’re more likely to find flight deals to Salt Lake City, but that means a longer drive.
Still, I’d highly recommend spending time driving through this fantastic state. Reserve your ride using a site like Hotwire or Priceline to pick up at whatever airport you’re flying into.
Your Accommodations: Scroll on up for options on where to stay in Moab. I have Booking.com and Vrbo options for you there. If you need a hotel comparison tool, start with Hotels.com. Hostelworld is a good option for budget travelers.
Etc.: For general travel goodies, visit my Favorite Things page. For more information on planning your travel, visit my Travel Tools page.
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