What to do in Moab
When considering what to do in Moab, you will not be short on experiences. “Moab” isn’t just a name from the Bible; it’s an amazing U.S. city. And on your trip to Moab, Utah, you may even begin to wonder whether or not “amazing” is an understatement. There’s just so much to see and so much to do here that it’s near imperative for any respectable traveler to stop by for at least a few days.
There are three major parks that are central to the Moab experience – any one of these parks should be on your “what to do in Moab” list. Canyonlands National Park is notable for its multiform terrain and top-notch rafting; Arches National Park, for its rain- and wind-carved arches; and Dead Horse Point, for its scenic overlooks and vistas. In addition, the hiking and mountain biking in these parks is nothing short of extraordinary.
Outdoor activities abound in Moab. You can go trout and catfish fishing in the lakes of the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River, respectively. You can also take a Jeep or an ATV over the rocky terrain that defines the area. The danger is real on these trips, but that’s what makes them fun! And for an even bigger adrenaline rush, go skydiving. There’s nothing quite like waking up, climbing on a plane, and jumping out at 10,000 ft.
What to do in Moab #1
4-Wheeling Jeep Tours – Moab has many mining roads and trails designed for 4x4s. On these tours, you’ll enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime, off-roading experience across the less-charted parts of Moab. You can travel these parts by taking a guided tour; or, if you’re more experienced, you can just rent a vehicle or bringing your own. Some of the trails are extremely challenging, however, so make sure to do your research and speak with locals prior to setting off alone.
Hummer Sunset Safari
For the perfect combination of beauty and strength, select this two-and-a-half-hour sunset safari. You’ll climb aboard a Hummer H1 on your way to the fabulous Moab wilderness while the sun falls in the distance.
Among the trails you should attempt if you’re a rookie is Chicken Corners, which follows the Colorado River downstream before weaving through Kane Springs Canyon, down Cane Creek Anticline, and then up Hurrah Pass. Watch for petroglyphs on the roadside, too! Also good for beginners is Secret Spire, which will give you long looks at the Entrada Sandstone bluffs, popularly referred to as Needles Rock and Rainbow Rock, and the spire itself, which is an old Navajo sandstone formation.
For a bigger challenge, hit the Golden Spike Trail, which features aptly-named spots like Double Whammy and the Body Snatcher, and ends with a particularly difficult mile as you drive toward Gold Bar Rim. Even more difficult is Pritchett Canyon Trail. On it, you’ll encounter a series of precarious ledges and hundreds of creek-bottom boulders to overcome. When thinking about what to do in Moab, Off-road touring is high on our list!
If renting a Jeep and going it on your own is not your idea of fun, why not go on a guided 4×4 of of Moab’s Amazing backcountry.
What to do in Moab #2
Arches National Park – At #2 on our “what to do in Moab” list, Arches National Park. This is a unique destination as the park contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, as well as some other incredible formations such as sandstone fins, balanced rocks, and many ranges. You can travel through the park by vehicle, or hike on foot. There are many different trails for all experience levels. Guided tours are also offered through the park to allow you to learn more deeply about the geology, the formation of the various rock structures, and resemblances they bear to other natural landmarks.
Arches Airplane Tour
Among the many rock formations you’ll pass over include the iconic Delicate Arch, the skyscraping Courthouse Towers, and the fin-like rocks in the Devil’s Garden.
One of the most popular ranger-led tours is the three-hour foray into the Fiery Furnace, which is held in the spring, summer, and fall. This demanding hike takes you onto narrow ledges, loose sand, uneven ground, cliffs, and areas where you’ll need to pull or prop yourself up. It is not for the faint of heart or for those who lack strength or endurance.
Other intense activities include rock climbing, most of which is for advanced climbers only, and canyoning, in which participants repel down canyons using equipment. There are also countless trails that vary in difficulty and length, from the 0.3-mile Balanced Rock Trail that takes you under the base of a famous rock that’s balancing on a butte, to the Devils Garden Primitive Loop, a treacherous 7.2-mile journey that offers plenty of striking arches.
What to do in Moab #3
Canyonlands National Park – Canyonlands National Park is one of the largest parks in Utah. The Colorado River and several of its tributaries cut through the desert park, dividing it into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers. While you can’t hit all four in a single day, each one has its own features that make the trip—and any repeat visits—well worth your time.
Colorado River Jetboat Tour
Dinner and a ride on the water in Canyonlands National Park — what could be better? On this 32-mile, sunset jetboat tour, you’ll enjoy the very finest in entertainment as you’re whisked off onto the Colorado River and Canyonlands NP for a one-and-a-half hour getaway.
The Island in the Sky is a popular mesa that sits 1,000 ft. above its surroundings. Its paved path provides you with a beautiful drive and the ease of staying in your car. If you’re a bit more adventurous, bring your hiking boots for a hike, or an ATV for backcountry driving. And make sure you stay for a sunset! White Rim Road encircles the Island in the Sky and is an excellent route to explore, though journeys around it must be done over several days if you’re on bike or ATV.
The Needles District is spectacular, too. Come see the Cedar Mesa Sandstone spires that tower over the land. Or hit Horseshoe Canyon for one of the largest rock art collections on the continent. Some of the etched figures are tall enough to look you in the eye! Finally, if you’re a whitewater enthusiast, no trip to Canyonlands is complete without a run in Cataract Canyon. This 14-mile section of the Colorado River hits Class V difficulty level, so it’s definitely not appropriate for beginners. Canyonlands is a must when thinking about what to do in Moab.
What to do in Moab #4
Mountain Biking – Moab offers the best mountain biking in the world, with trails for people of all levels. Regardless of a biker’s experience and the specific routes he or she takes, any visitor is certain to achieve great views of the area. There are several sections of Moab that may be biked, including Amasa Back, Klondike Bluff, MOAB Brands, and Dead Horse Point State Park.
Mountain Biking – Family Friendly
This off-road path is the perfect introduction to mountain biking. You’ll ride along the contours of a largely obstacle-free bluff that overlooks the Windows district of Arches National Park.
Mountain biking beginners may want to head to Bar-M Loop, an area next to Arches National Park that isn’t difficult but requires some endurance. The average grade is 3%, although some steeper hills encounter riders as they move north. An even easier loop is Rusty Spur. It’s under two miles, and covers a fairly smooth dirt and rock path.
For those with more experience, there is the notoriously difficult Slickrock Bike Trail. The 10.5-mile loop is both physically- and technically-difficult, and with no water in the area and temperatures topping 100 degrees, you must come prepared. Similarly difficult is the ironically-named Baby Steps Loop, which forces you to ascend over 1,600 ft. on a semi-technical ride that will take about three hours. There is a wide range of terrain on this loop, giving an ideal desert experience to riders that are up to the task. For active types, mountain biking should be on your “what to do in Moab” list.
What to do in Moab #5
Whitewater Rafting – The Colorado River offers some of the very best white water in the world, and Moab is the ideal location for trips that are full day, part day, or even multi-day. If you’d prefer some help, instructors and guided tours are always available. Wondering about what to do in Moab? Why not try whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.
Colorado River Whitewater Extreme
Take to the Colorado River – Isolated from civilization, you’ll find yourself marveling at the natural beauty around you—that is, when you’re not hanging on for dear life!
Take a two- or four-day trip down the Colorado River’s Cataract Canyon and get the rush of a lifetime. On these 100-plus-mile journeys, guides are vital for helping you navigate the sometimes difficult waters, and ensuring that you get to take in the sights safely. Shorter tours are in the four-to-five-hour range, and will stop by landmarks such as Raft Fish Towers and Ida Gulch. Excursions to the Green River are also available.
Please note that on many trips, you’ll have the option to select one of three boat types: oar boats, paddleboats, and two-passenger kayaks. All of the tours include bottled water and snacks, and almost all of them feature hot meals, as well. Extensions to your adventure are available, too; for example, you could add a horseback ride or safari to the end of your rafting experience, and continue the fun for another day.
So come to Moab. We promise you one thing: it’ll get your blood moving.