What to see in Moab and above all what to experience and how many adventures to enjoy in this surprising and fascinating portion of “red land” of the Southeastern Utah?
Moab and its neighborhoods are pure magic, know it!
Whether you are lovers of trekking, nature and landscapes definitely out of the ordinary, great boundless spaces, Native Cultures – among the most authentic, ancient and uncontaminated ones – or simply lovers of the South West USA, its primordial beauty and its unforgettable red fire sunsets.
I’ve come back in Moab after 5 years about – during my latest on the road through the South West – and I’ve found it even more incredible than I remembered it.
Two wonderful National Parks – Arches NP and Canyonlands NP – several State Parks, National Monument, National Forest and Recreation Area with a series of excursions, scenic byways, trails and experiences that a month wouldn’t be enough to try and experience everything.
Over 2000 natural arches of the Arches National Park, the boat tour by night on the Colorado River, the exciting discovery of the history and the origin of the Natives of Utah, the viewpoints – “to be breathless”, people would say hereabout – the Dead Horse Point State Park, the boundless of Canyonlands National Parks.
“America’s National Parks make a great contribution
to the culture of the world without any doubt”
(Frank Frase Darling)
The relaxing walk along the Moab Main Street, its typical stores, the cafés where to relax and the local restaurants where to eat after an intense day of excursions, the incredible experience in Hummer at sunset in the Sand Flats. And he possibility to go over the Dinosaur Track in a small part – a track used by dinosaurs millions years ago which still keeps the traces (and the footprints) of their passage.
And so much more!
Not for nothing the statement used by the body of local tourism to present (and so tell about) this land to the world is… “Moab, where adventure begins”
What to see in Moab, Utah: visit Arches National Park
Arches National Park, one of the most suggestive and visited parks of the Utah.
Over 2000 natural arches – that added to the 1500 ones outside the park make the Moab the area with the major concentration in the world – shaped over time by water, ice, climate change and by a non-stop underground saline movement which causes literally their creation and destruction over hundreds of thousands years.
A National Park relatively “small” – about 305 square km – which can be visited in a day thanks to the Arches Scenic Drive, a convenient asphalted road which leaving from the Visitor Center allows to go through the whole park and reach extremely easily the several viewpoints and trails. Ask for the detailed map at the entrance to plan your tour at its best.
Not to miss:
- Park Avenue – a simple track (1 and a half km) leading to a rocky canyon with high walls and balanced rocks
- Balanced Rock – a very easy track of 1km around the famous “suspended rock”
- Windows – a track of little over 1km to reach the wonderful couples of arches, just called “windows”
- Double Arch and Sand Dune Arch – both tracks of few hundred meters to admire some among the most suggestive arches of the park
- Delicate Arch – the most famous and visited arch of the park, so iconic that it is used as background in the plates of the Utah states. The trail – about 5km – is upwards for a good part, average difficulty.
- Landscape Arch – it is one of the longest arches in the world (the trail to reach it is about 1,5km long) and it is included in the Devil’s Garden Area together with other 8 arches.
Admission is included in the National Park Pass. Otherwise, the amount is $30 per car. Arches NP is located about 8km far from Moab and it can be reached going along the Hwy 191. Inside it there are no refreshment points, so it is recommended to get organized in advance with a packed lunch.
In some areas camping is allowed.
What to see in Moab, Utah: visit Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park, the biggest park in the Utah, considered – rightly – one among the wildness (with wild areas still unexplored) of the USA. A boundless portion of the Colorado Plateau carved over the millennials by the atmospheric agents and by the erosion caused by the Green River and Colorado River which cross it in a good part.
Due to its extension, about 1400 square kilometers, it is divided in three different areas, with different accesses and a series of trails with different difficulties and overlooks.
- Island in the Sky (to the north) – this is the most visited area, both for the amazing viewpoints over the canyons (not by chance Island in the Sky is considered the watch tower of Canyonlands) which convey clearly the idea of the vastness of the park with viewpoints ranging beyond 100km of extension, both for the easiest access from Moab through the Hwy 191 before and the 313 immediately after. Mesa Arch Trail, Grand View Point Trail and White Rim Road cannot be missed
- The Needles (to the east) – an amazing, boundless landscape of needles, pillars, canyon, arches end rocky gorges. The mainly shapes are right the Needles, the unmistakable white and red rock pinnacles. The scenic road can be driven from the Visitor Center (about 90km from Moab or 60km from Monticello, with a detour from the Hwy 191) and stop at the viewpoints: here the trails become longer and hard so it is necessary to reckon in advance trail and stops. My tip is to reckon the excursion by helicopter from Moab which allows to enjoy an amazing view of the whole area
- The Maze (to the west) – the wildest and less explored area, characterized by an infinity of canyons, towers, mesa and butte with the most unusual and original shapes. It can be entered by the Goblin Valley through the suggestive Utah 24
Admission is included in the National Park Pass; otherwise, the amount is $30 per car. My tip is to download in advance the detailed map of the park from the Canyonlands NP official website and reckon the area to visit according to the trails and the time in your hands.
What to see in Moab, Utah: visit Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park, more than a park it’s a wonderful and stunning viewpoint over the canyons carved by Colorado River and over a part of Canyonlands National Park which serves almost as entrance to.
A series of breathtaking overlooks and hard trails.
My tip – above all if you are going to visit Canyonlands and so have less time – is to go along the Scenic Drive as far as reaching the Dead Horse Point Trail, a short trail leading to the Dead Horse Point, a natural terrace on the Colorado River bend and on Canyonlands, become famous in the collective imaginary thanks to the final scene of the movie “Thelma & Louise”.
The park is 55km far from Moab and it can be reached driving the Hwy 191 northwards, going beyond Arches NP and then detouring on the Hwy 313 leading directly to the inside.
Admission – $10 each car – is not included in the National Park Pass.
What to see in Moab, Utah: boat tour at sunset along the Colorado River to discover the history of Utah and the Natives
The boat tour at sunset along the Colorado River to admire the rocky formations with an exciting lights and sound effect was certainly, one of the most emotional and magical moments of my latest stay in Moab: thanks to a skilled effect of colors and shadows projected on the red brownstone walls, the history of the birth of canyons and of Utah – through the legends and tales handed down by the American Natives, the original Mormons communities of the area and by the first pioneers – is told by an extremely suggestive way.
A typical meat, potatoes and vegetables dishes dinner served an hour before the embarkation is combined to the tour.
You can book the experience directly on Canyonlands By Night and Day official website.
Here you’ll find also a series of boat excursions by day along the Colorado River, besides a wide offer of personalized tours to have in the Moab area.
What to see in Moab, Utah: excursion by Hummer at sunset on the Sand Flats and Dinosaur Track
The High Point Tours in Moab – the seat is located at 301, Main Street – is one of the most famous and requested tour operator in Moab. It organizes a series of unusual and original tours by Hummer and Quad through Canyonlands NP, Arches NP and Sand Flats Recreation Area.
These are excursions of different duration – from 2 hours until the whole day – which allow to enjoy 360-degree the natural area, reaching unique elevation points and areas unlikely inaccessible.
During my latest tour in Moab I had the chance to have the tour by Hummer on the Sand Flats – a plateau of the Colorado Plateau to the south-east of Moab characterized by very high domes alternating with deep gorges and downright rock’s splinters – from the afternoon until sunset.
An experience – despite the initial fears due to the slope and the tortuosity of the track – definitely exciting and more than recommended. It was made even more suggestive by the passage on the Dinosaur Track, the ancient track of Dinosaurs marked by their original footprints in some points, and by an unforgettable fire red sunset over Moab.
You can look the High Point Tours official website up to choose and book directly the tour you prefer.
What to see in Moab, Utah: other excursions and tips for the tour
From Moab – besides those ones quoted above – it is possible to organize a series of very particular experiences: the private tours with local guide, the horse-riding excursions or excursions by 4X4 in the various National and State Parks, rafting, full day river cruises along the Colorado River, tours by helicopter or airplane to fly over Canyonlands and be able to admire its inaccessible and wild areas from the top.
Please, look the Discover Moab official website of the whole area up – rich in info and useful tips to get organized at one’s best – for further info about all the activities and the events scheduled during the period of your stay.
What to see in Moab, Utah: a tour in downtown, where to eat and sleep
Besides being the ideal starting point for who wants to explore this portion of Southeastern Utah – and consequently the perfect place where to stay overnight, with a wide choice of Inns, Hotels and Motels, relax and get refreshments – Moab is a nice small town, extremely enjoyable and lively, rich in venues, restaurants and stores where to spend a couple of hours relaxing between one excursion and the other one.
Everything takes place mostly along its very cared and colorful Main Street, starting from the Moab Information Center – at the crossroads with E Center Street – where to get maps and brochures about parks and excursions.
A few tips for breakfast and meals:
- Moab Garage Company – ideal for breakfast (very good and variegated, you can peek and choose between sweet and salt), quick lunch and ice-cream and/or Espresso (one of the best drunk in the area) break,
- Desert Bistro – nice restaurant with meat, vegetables and soup specialties. Limited seats, it’s better to book, above all in the high season. High-average prices
- Moab Diner – quick service, American classic cuisine dishes, hamburgers, salads, sandwiches and cakes. Superlative Cinnamon Roll Rage. Average prices
- Fiesta Mexicana – decent venue where to taste typical Mexican cuisine, abundant portions, average prices
Remember that in Moab many restaurants close within 9pm, so get organized in time.
However, the very supplied City Market is opened 6am-Midnight. Inside there’s also a well-supplied deli and a Starbucks.