Moab, Utah is one of my favorite destinations. By itself, it is a small community of only 5,000 residents; however, the town swells with tourists, anxious to see what Moab has to offer. This place is the ultimate playground for adults that crave adventure.
There are so many reasons why this city amazes me, but here are my top 7 reasons:
Never before have I seen so much beauty in the desert. Moab and the surrounding area has red rock formations, wide open and blue skies, verdant valleys, the powerful Colorado River, and a rich cultural and geographical history within its landscape.
Adding to the red desert landscape are the La Sal Mountains, southeast of Moab. The contrast of the snow-capped mountains, the red desert rocks, and the green valleys make Moab a rainbow of color.
One of two national parks just outside of Moab, Arches contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch are the most popular arches.
Arches’ Balanced Rock, Fiery Furnace, Windows section, and the Great Wall are also highlights of the park. Be sure to get reservations if you want to hike in the Fiery Furnace. It is a moderately strenuous hike, that is led by park rangers (as there is no trail) and requires a fee.
Forty-three arches are known to have fallen within the park since 1977. Go now to see the amazing arches while you can. Click here for more information on Arches National Park.
When I first laid eyes on the canyon in the Canyonlands, I was amazed. I had no idea that it would remind me of a vast Grand Canyon. Canyonlands National Park is huge, and for the most part, isolated and rugged. The Colorado and Green Rivers divide the park into three sections: the Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze. The Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands is the most accessible of the three sections, and is closest to Moab.
While we were here, we did the driving tour – stopping at lookouts and taking short hikes from the road. I was moderately surprised how quiet the park was. This was definitely one of those parks where you can really escape humanity. Even the one Visitor’s Center at the Islands entrance was small, with maybe only 2 rangers working. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful place. I actually preferred this park over Arches. I just wanted to get in the canyon, to climb down to the rivers and explore. Note that this is a popular park for cycling and AWD vehicles due to the high amount of rugged trails. Contact the park for more information.
Not only is Moab rich in petroglyphs (ancient rock drawings) but in dinosaur history as well. There are numerous dinosaur track sites around Moab. They include: Mill Canyon; Willow Springs; Copper Ridge; Bull Canyon; and Poison Spider Dino. Scientists have not only found dinosaur tracks in the area, but also dinosaur remains within the rock formations. Click here for more information on dinosaur sites around Moab.
There are also many petroglyph areas where Native Americans once lived on the land and recorded their history. These areas are federally protected areas – take care to only look, not touch, the native art. The art we visited was on Highway 279, the Potash Road rock art. Also near the area, is the Jug Handle Arch and the Birthing Scene. Click here for more information on visiting petroglyphs around Moab.
While in Moab, my family and I did not partake in ATV activities, so my knowledge is limited. Because most of the land surrounding the national parks in Moab is public, off-roading is a popular pastime. You can ride your own ATV or rent one. Check out this website for licensing and registration for in-state and out-of-state ATV drivers. It is required that you stay on the trails.
Jeeps, mountain bikes, and other off-road vehicles are available for rent within Moab. Due to the nature of these vehicles, certain safety equipment, including helmets are required. Note that fees for ATV rentals and tours can be high. The infamous Slickrock Bike Trail, a 9.6 mile ultimate biking experience, is in Moab, as are other biking trails. Check out this link for more info on Moab mountain biking.
The scenic Colorado River flows near Moab, providing ample opportunities for adventure. Kayaking, rafting (white water too), stand up paddle boarding, and canoeing are all possible here. My family took a half day rafting adventure with Canyon Voyagers Adventure Company and loved it!
When we rafted, it was an extremely hot July day, so we took a break from rafting to cool down in the river. It was pretty exciting for my kids to take a dip in the mighty Colorado. Whether you seek high-class rapids or a leisurely boat tour, Moab has it all. DiscoverMoab.com has more information on river activities here.
Although I have not visited Moab in the winter, there is no shortage of winter fun. Moab is close to the La Sal Mountains, the second highest peaks in Utah. Winter recreation abounds in the La Sals with cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling. Because the La Sal Mountains are steep, there is an increased risk of avalanche. Extra caution is imperative. Access to most winter activity areas is off Geyser Pass Road. Keep in mind snowmobiles share most trails with cross-country skiers.
As you can see, Moab has anything and everything for outdoor adventure. From the extreme adventurists to the family vacation, Moab has something for everyone.
Sources: discovermoab.com, moabhappenings.com