It is hard to imagine a better place for an outdoor vacation than Moab, Utah. Located between red rock marvels of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Deadhorse Point State Park, it offers an easy access to breathtaking La Sal Mountains where you can catch a break from the heat of the desert. The town itself is charming and offers lodging for every budget as well as excellent dining choices. See for yourself why Moab became a mecca for adventure seekers.
My recent visit to Moab, Utah, was a part of my two week long trip to the West. I was traveling with my friend, Lori, who is a big fan of a red rock country. We arrived in the middle of the summer for a three-night stay. I was hot! With temperatures reaching 103 degrees F during the day, we tried to schedule our activities early in the morning and late in the evening.
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Most popular activities in the area are hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting. sky diving, and jeep and hammer tours. We couldn’t pack all of them into our short stay so we picked ones that are must-do in the area.
Canyonlands National Park – Easily Accessible from Moab
Canyonlands National Park is characterized by canyons, mesas, and buttes cut by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The area is divided into three distinctive districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze.
That was my second visit to the park and I still feel that I got just a glimpse of it. It is a huge terrain so other than enjoying it from designated viewpoints or easily accessible hiking trails, I would not recommend to venture inside on your own. It is way too risky! Next time I visit, I will take jeep tour into the park to experience it up close.
Arches National Park – Practically in Town of Moab
This is an amazing park, unlike any other in the world. As its name suggests, the predominant features are arches, defined as an opening of at least three feet wide. There are over 2000 of them in the park! This number is constantly changing with some arches collapsing and others being created. Other features include balanced rocks, beautiful pinnacles, and massive fins. Painted with vibrant shades of orange and red, they create spectacular images, especially at sunset.
Majority of attractions can be reached on foot from the main road, but during the summer even a short hike can take its toll. Make sure to wear a hat and drink plenty of water. It is a high elevation so that too should be taken under consideration.
Deadhorse Point State Park
Deadhorse Point State Park, probably because of its state versus national status, receives significantly less visitors than its famous neighbors. Nevertheless, it is equally attractive. This park can be described as a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. This why most people think that the famous end scene from Thelma and Louise movie was filmed in the Grand Canyon while in fact it took place in this relatively unknown park.
What I love the most about the area is that you can actually see the mighty Colorado River below. The park is visited mostly by photographers so it is a perfect place for those seeking solitude in a breathtaking scenery.
Sunset Hummer Tours from Moab, Utah
One of the attractions you need to try in Moab is a jeep or hummer tour. I would suggest touring Arches or Canyon national parks but with limited time you can substitute them with tours closer to town.
We took a sunset hummer tour. It was a great adventure. We rode through some rocks that you would never imagine were passable, but our drivers knew what they were doing. When we reached the top of the hill, the scenery was fantastic. There, we took a break to eat and enjoy the sunset. Ride down in a dark was a bit scary again but a lot of fun.
Negro Bill Canyon Trail Hike – to Escape the Heat
This is a great hike that starts at the edge of town and it is a good alternative to hiking national parks during the heat of the day.
The trail winds along the stream through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees, cut off from the desert above by towering sandstone cliffs. For the most part, it is shaded by the walls of the canyon.
The stream is cool and refreshing and in places suitable for a swim. At the end of the trail, you will be awarded with the sixth largest natural bridge in the USA called Morning Glory. Unlike in national parks, dogs are allowed at that trail.
Other Spectacular Locations for Red Rock Lovers:
Flaming Gorge, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah