Moab, Utah is considered one of the best outdoor adventure towns in America.
Outdoor Moab adventures include mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, river rafting, off roading in Jeeps and ATVs and exploring the Utah National and State Parks in the area.
If you’re traveling with kids, there are many things to do like hiking, biking, junior ranger programs, and discovering dinosaurs! Moab is the perfect destination for outdoor family fun.
We visit Moab several times a year and have written this guide to help you plan your vacation:
• What to pack for a Moab vacation
• Best time to visit Moab
• Where to stay in Moab
• How to get to Moab
• Best things to do in Moab
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO MOAB
To make your trip to Moab, Utah as successful as possible, it’s essential to be prepared and pack for the weather that you’ll likely encounter while exploring the area.
1. Hiking Shoes: Avoid injury from improper footwear. Wear sturdy shoes with ample tread.
2. Darn Tough Socks: Seriously, these are the BEST socks ever. They help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and last forever.
3. Water: Due to the high desert and altitude in Southeastern Utah, you should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you during all hiking activities.
4. Food: Pack and eat plenty of healthy snacks and food. There may be NO services on the trails you’ll hike or drive.
5. Lip Balm and Lotion: Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin. You’ll want to carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when you’re out exploring the trails.
Clothing for Moab Outdoor Activities
Summer in Moab: Soaring temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight. Also avoid sun burn by wearing a wide brimmed hat and by generously applying sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.
Winter in Moab: Wear the right clothing to stay dry and warm. You can also become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat. It’s important to carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.
National Parks Pass
If you’ll be exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Park:
Other items to pack for Moab outdoor adventures:
- Fleece jacket
- Buff headbands
- Hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera gear
PLAN YOUR MOAB VACATION
Best Time To Visit Moab
Spring and fall are the peak times to visit Moab since the temperatures are more mild. During the summer temperatures can average 105 degrees. Even with the heat, summer can be a busy time.
During the winter there are days you could wear a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, or you’ll need to be bundled in layers depending on the weather. The off-season prices and fewer crowds make winter a terrific time to visit Moab.
Where To Stay in Moab
There are all types of lodging in and near Moab: hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, budget-friendly accommodations, campgrounds and RV parks.
Since there only campgrounds in Arches or Canyonlands, so most people stay in Moab. The town also has a variety of restaurants and places to shop.
People often ask us: “Where should we stay in Moab“? We visit Moab multiple times each year so Dave and I wrote a guide to help you find the best Moab lodging as you plan your trip.
How To Get to Moab, Utah
There are 3 ways to get to Moab: via Salt Lake City, Utah; Grand Junction, Colorado or Las Vegas, Nevada.
MOAB OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: BEST THINGS TO DO
Arches National Park Near Moab
Arches National Park is best known for the iconic Delicate Arch. The park showcases a collection of 2,000 arches, slender spires, and spectacular hikes.
People of all ages and abilities can see and explore the park. Many formations can be seen from the scenic roads and parking lots.
Arches National Park hiking trails are perfect for the avid hiker, causal visitor and families traveling with kids. There are numerous easy hikes for families with children. The more advanced hiker will find difficult and primitive trails like Devil’s Garden which lead to serenity away from the crowds.
For the best experience and photography in Arches National Park, visit early or late in the day as the colors are more vibrant, crowds are lighter, and it allows you to avoid the heat of the mid-summer day. Or plan a trip to Arches in the winter and avoid the crowds.
Canyonlands National Park Close to Moab
Canyonlands is a much larger park than Arches. It provides opportunities for day hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and driving off road.
Canyonlands is split into four distinct “districts.” Island in the Sky is closest to Moab and the most visited.
There are many things to do at Island in the Sky like hike to Mesa Arch, drive the Schaeffer Switchbacks and photograph the many awe-inspiring viewpoints 2,000 feet above the Colorado River.
The Needles distrcit is about an hour south of Moab. The various things to do at Canyonlands Needles include hiking, backpacking, driving 4×4 roads and photographing the unique sandstone rock formations.
The other two districts are the Maze which is remote and rugged and the Green and Colorado Rivers that offer rafting and paddling adventures.
Dead Horse Point State Park is a Moab Must-See
Dead Horse Point State Park provides breathtaking desert landscapes as well as dramatic panoramic vistas of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River.
Named after a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century, Dead Horse Point rests 2,000 feet above a gooseneck in the Colorado River. It is famous for being featured in the final ‘Grand Canyon’ scene of the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.
There are a variety of things to do at Dead Horse Point State Park like hike, bike, camp, and photograph the epic views!
Hiking Trails in Moab
Some of the best hikes in Moab are in the National and State Park boundaries. But there are also countless other hikes in the Moab area to explore.
The Corona Arch Trail often gets overlooked. This 1.5-mile trail wanders over a Slickrock landscape and is marked with cairns that make it easy to follow. The trail gains 440 feet in elevation, most of it coming on a few short, steep scrambles equipped with steel cables (a trail version of handrails) for support.
The trail leads to various attractions, including the Corona Arch, Bow Tie Arch, beautiful views of the Colorado River, and a vast slick rock canyon. The trail is suitable for all ages and levels of hiker and is best hiked in the early morning or early evening due to the lack of shade.
Off Road Jeep or ATV Adventures Around Moab
The most famous 4×4 trail in Moab is Hell’s Revenge. It’s known for its high steep climbs, heart-pounding descents and beautiful views of the La Sal Mountains and Negro Bill Canyon.
The most spectacular view is from the overlook where you’re high above the Colorado River.
Feeling a little on the adventurous side? Take a Drive Along Tour where you get behind the wheel of a Jeep, and under the watchful eye of an experienced guide, follow their vehicle along this trail.
You may also opt for the Ride Along Tour where the guide does the driving and you simply enjoy the ride.
We have used and recommend Outlaw Jeep Tours.
Moab Scenic Byway: Potash Road
Your Moab itinerary should include driving the Potash Road, a Scenic Byway where you can see great views of the Colorado River, ancient rock art, and dinosaur tracks.
Begin the drive in the late afternoon so you can enjoy the spectacular color on the red sandstone cliffs on the return to Moab as the sun sets. The scenic byway is approximately two hours for the 34 -mile round-trip drive to Jug Handle Arch and back to Moab.
Potash Road begins about 4 miles north of Moab, where it turns off of Highway 191. The road first enters the deep gorge of the Colorado River. A few miles farther look for rock climbers on the cliffs which locals refer to as Wall Street.
Just beyond this, you can admire the petroglyphs that are signed with pull-offs. Further down the road is the “Dinosaur Tracks” turnout, where you can see a series of three-toed dinosaur tracks. READ to find more dinosaur tracks in the area.
The final attraction on the road is Jug Handle Arch. Beyond this, the canyon widens and the sheer cliffs below Dead Horse Point State Park are visible in the distance.
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Stargazing Moab’s Dark Skies
As cities around the world grow bigger and brighter, the night sky becomes dimmed by light pollution. Stargazing has become a tourist attraction at many Dark Sky locations around the world.
Moab, Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point are all internationally recognized as the best places for viewing stars and photographing the Milky Way due to their remote locations, altitude, and clear skies.
The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” encourages visiting these National Parks in Utah at night and simply LOOK UP!
River Rafting Adventures in Moab
Rafting the mighty Colorado River you can experience a wonderful stretch of whitewater and famous red rock canyons.
You can enjoy this fun Moab adventure no matter how much time you have — from half-day and full-day rafting trips to multi-day rafting trips. Moab rafting trips are perfect for families or groups of friends.
There are calm sections of the Colorado River right outside Moab that are great for stand up paddleboarding.
TRY IT! A white water rafting adventure.