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Moab is an adventure lover’s paradise in Utah, filled with otherworldly red rock formations, lots of wide-open spaces, and exciting outdoor opportunities that you just don’t find anywhere else. This small Utah town has a friendly vibe and welcomes adventurers from all over the world, and it has inspired many artists with its rugged landscapes that take your breath away no matter how many times you’ve been here before. Here are our top picks for things to do in and around Moab.
Experience Arches National Park
It simply doesn’t get much more epic than the red rock formations at Arches National Park. This iconic park is home to more than 2,000 natural rock arches, balanced rocks, tall pinnacles, and picture-perfect trails, especially at sunrise and sunset. Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in the park and shouldn’t be missed. The Windows Section and Devil’s Garden are also very popular. Rock climbing, canyoneering, road biking, backpacking, photography, camping, and stargazing after dark are all great things to do here.
Hike in Canyonlands National Park
While Utah is full of beautiful parks, the Moab area is fortunate to be surrounded by some of the best national and state parks that highlight and preserve the region’s natural beauty. Another amazing national park to visit when you’re in Moab is Canyonlands National Park. This is an ideal spot to get off the beaten track and into the backcountry to go four-wheel driving, mountain biking, and backpacking. There are hundreds of miles of trails here, but just make sure to get a permit for overnight stays at backcountry campsites. This is a huge park that’s made up of four districts, so allow plenty of time to explore.
Set Up Camp Among the Red Rocks
Visiting the Moab area on a day trip is great, but you can really immerse yourself into the landscape and desert culture by pitching a tent or bringing along your camper. There are some excellent places to camp in and around Moab, including private campgrounds, park campgrounds, and off-the-grid spots on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. You can camp at the Devil’s Garden Campground inside Arches National Park, the campground at Dead Horse Point State Park, the Willow Flat Campground at Canyonlands National Park, or private local spots, such as the Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground.
Go Mountain Biking
Moab is a world-class mountain biking destination, so bring your bike or rent one at a local shop to experience what all the hype is about. While Moab is a favorite spot among expert bikers, there are also lots of easy routes too that are perfect for beginners. Top-rated mountain biking trails in the area include Porcupine Rim, Alaska, Bull Run, the Brand/Bar M trail system, and Navajo Rocks Chaco Loop. Ask a local bike shop for recommendations based on your skill level and interests.
Check Out a Slacklining Festival
Slacklining is part of rock climbing culture and involves basically tight-rope walking from one cliff’s edge to another with an ankle tethered to the rope. It takes a lot of balance and guts, but it’s also thrilling to watch each Thanksgiving at the annual GGBY Highline Gathering over the canyons of Moab. It takes place at the Fruit Bowl Highline Area and has been a local tradition since 2007, originally as an informal get-together and today as a more well-organized and publicized event.
Go Off-Road Jeeping
It’s impossible to not notice all of the Jeeps while you’re driving around the town of Moab, but many of these Jeeps spend their time off-road and in the backcountry too. Off-road Jeeping is a popular adventure sport in the Moab area because there are so many dirt trails that run through the desert and require four-wheel drive to climb up and down the rocks that provide fun driving obstacles with the right kind of vehicle.
Go Horseback Riding
Another fun way to get around in the Moab area is to go horseback riding, and there are quite a few local outfitters that will take you out on the trails on horseback. It’s fun to join a guided group and travel through the places where old western movies were filmed throughout the 20th century. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time when you ride through the red rocks outside Moab on horseback and have the opportunity to truly take in your surroundings in a peaceful way.
Learn About Western Filmmaking
To learn even more about old western films that were shot in this area, check out the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage at the Red Cliffs Ranch. Here you can learn about more than 100 years of cowboy culture and filmmaking history in the rugged Moab canyonlands. The museum is free to visit, and the lodge can set you up with all kinds of other local adventures too.
Hike to the Corona Arch
The Moab area the highest density of natural stone arches than anywhere in the world, so don’t limit yourself to just Arches National Park to check them out. Another beautiful arch that you can reach on a great hike is the Corona Arch, which is west of Moab. You can reach it after hiking 1.5 miles from Utah’s State Route 279 for a three-mile round-trip hike that also passes by Bowtie Arch. This is a moderate-difficulty trail but one that inexperienced hikers and children can often do as well.
Explore the Downtown Shops and Galleries
A trip to Moab doesn’t have to be all outdoor activities and extreme adventures. Moab also has a cute and quaint downtown area with lots of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and outdoor outfitters. Some spots to check out are the Moab Rock Shop, Tom Till Gallery, Hogan Trading Company, Back of Beyond Book Store, and the Moab Brewery.
Go for a Swim at the Aquatic Center
If you encounter adverse weather in Moab or just want to switch up your activities a bit, head to the Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center. Here you can swim some laps for exercise, keep the kids entertained at the pool, and work out at the fitness center.