search Buscar

    Moab Utah what to see: the gateway to the most beautiful parks in the state

    Who I am
    Lluis Enric Mayans

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    Unfortunately, many West Coast tours skip it on a par, but Moab in Utah it is a really crucial city for the visit of at least half of the phenomenals Mighty Five, and not only! It is no coincidence that we have talked about a large number of destinations of natural interest in this area of ​​this delightful town located in a truly fortunate position in southeastern Utah: from Arches a Canyonlands, passing through small goodies like Goblin Valley o Dead Horse Point State Park, as well as a substantial list of itineraries, walking routes and excursions in the rich surroundings.

    To understand the tourist importance of this town of just 5000 inhabitants or a little more it would be enough to think of Moab as if it were the Page of Utah: both are an indispensable destination due to all the immense natural beauties of the surroundings, but the main difference is that in itself Moab - with its rustic style and its green spaces - it is much nicer than Page.

    But let's get back to us: what see in this small town? Which ones are they attractions and places of natural interest that you can visit by stopping in the city? In this article I want to make a useful summary of all this information, and give you some advice on the strategy to choose the best possible accommodation.


    • What to see in Moab: the map with all the possibilities
    • Parks
      • Moab - Arches National Park (8 km)
      • Moab – Dead Horse Point State Park (53 km)
      • Moab-Canyonlands (variable distance)
      • Moab-Goblin Valley (160 km)
      • Moab-Capitol Reef (235 km)
    • Scenic roads
      • Upper Colorado Scenic Byway (UT-128)
      • Potash Road e Shafer Trail
      • Kane Creek Road
      • La Sal Loop Scenic Drive
    • Other excursions and places of interest
      • The Moab
      • North of Moab
      • South of Moab
    • Quirky shops and Jurassic attractions
    • Moab climate and temperatures: when to go?
    • Tours organized by Moab
    • Where to eat in Moab
    • Sleeping in Moab: useful tips for booking

    What to see in Moab: the map with all the possibilities

    Whoever stops here usually does it for 2-3 days, because the amount of things to see in Moab it is really overabundant. Here is the map with all the attractions indicated in the article.


    The natural parks closest to Moab are Arches, the district Island in the Sky by Canyonlands e Dead Horse Point State Park, but I will also mention other equally unmissable ones, which are usually included in this part of the itinerary. Here they are, in ascending order of distance from Moab.

    Moab - Arches National Park (8 km)

    Let's start with an absolute must: Arches National Park. If you already know a little about Utah's famous parks, perhaps there is no need to tell you more, because perhaps it is for him that you have reached Moab. However, for all others, it is worth remembering that Arches contains many exceptional views over the red rocks and especially some of the natural sandstone arches most impressive in the whole area. In the article what to see in Arches you will find numerous insights on how to best visit the park, and on which are the natural arches and other rock formations that you absolutely must reach by car or on foot. Among others, I point out the sumptuous Delicate Arch, the "aerodynamic" Landscape Arch and the arches of the area The Windows.

    Moab it basically acts as an antechamber to the park, barely being located 10 minutes south compared to the Arches Visitor Center: just take the US-191 S and exit on the right where indicated by the brown sign, nothing more convenient.

    Moab – Dead Horse Point State Park (53 km)

    The second stage that I point out to you is my passion: the Dead Horse Point State Park. Yes, because Moab, like Page, has its Horseshoe Bend, the unmistakable signature of the Colorado River. In the article dedicated to Dead Horse Point State Park we have indicated the peculiarities of this underrated state park, which has little to envy to much more noble views of the area and which above all is really easy to visit, being on balance an observation point with attached parking that does not require long excursions to be reached.

    To arrive da Moab a Dead Horse Point it takes about 35 minutes, of which a good part (about 17 km) to be done on the aforementioned US-191 S. You will then find a detour on the left: it is there that you take the UT-313 W, a road that you will have to travel not only for Dead Horse Point State Park, but also for one of the Canyonlands districts: Island in the Sky. I'll talk about it soon after, but let's already say that, for strategic reasons, it makes sense to combine the visit of Dead Horse Point with that of Canyonlands.

    Moab-Canyonlands (variable distance)

    Exactly, between Moab and Canyonlands the distance is "variable": what does all this mean? You will find out by reading our in-depth article on how to visit Canyonlands, another important component of the Mighty Five reds, and perhaps the most complex to explore in its entirety. In a nutshell, Canyonlands is divided into three districts very distant from each other: the aforementioned Island in the Sky, Needles, and the impenetrable The Maze.

    • Island in the sky it is the easiest to reach from Moab: the distance of about 50 km can be covered in just under an hour, even if afterwards you have to drive inside the park to reach the various points of interest. The car route to take is the same as indicated for Dead Horse Point State Park, but there is also an alternative with a high adventure rate: the Potash Road. I'll talk about it later.
    • Needles, with its imposing sandstone pillars, it is somewhere else: to reach the park you will have to move from Moab in a southerly direction, covering about sixty kilometers on US-191 S and then following the UT-211 W state road westbound for as many kilometers.
    • The Maze it is full of wonders but utterly remote. If your base is Moab, we do not recommend it, because to reach it you need to take a much longer tour. Hans Flat Ranger Station is 3 hours from Moab, however rangers discourage visits that are less than three days.

    Moab-Goblin Valley (160 km)

    Un 1.40 hour trip awaits you if you want to visit the bizarre and mysterious Goblin Valley starting from Moab: it is a journey a little longer than the others and in fact, both for the Goblin Valley and for Capitol Reef (which we will talk about soon after), Moab should be considered more than anything else a stage of arrival after visit.

    If you don't want to miss the peculiar rock shapes of this park, its armies of squat sandstone gnomes (or ogres?) And mighty rock castles, take note of the directions to get there from Green River, an important hub on the I-70 highway, northwest of Moab: you can find them in our article dedicated to the Goblin Valley.

    Moab-Capitol Reef (235 km)

    Also in this case the same argument is valid: the 2 hours needed for moving from Moab to Capitol Reef they may seem excessive, even though the distances in America have to be evaluated with a different meter. In any case, if you are coming from the west, a passage to Capitol Reef before reaching Moab is an idea to consider.

    In our article on Capitol Reef we have given you all the tips to visit this somewhat neglected park in a few hours or in a day: in our opinion it can be done, especially if your program includes a stay in southeastern Utah and you have Moab as a reference point for the next stop.

    Scenic roads

    Around Moab there are some scenic roads of exceptional beauty, well known by the local people, but often underestimated by tourism. Important detail: 3 of the 4 roads I will tell you about run along the Colorado River, which makes them more unique than rare experiences.

    Upper Colorado Scenic Byway (UT-128)

    I have rarely seen such spectacular views as those of the UT-128, an alternative road to US-191 that connects Moab to I-70 in the direction of the state of Colorado. Oh yes: when I found myself walking there Upper Colorad Scenic Byway in the heart of Professor Valley, with a view of the rock formations of the Castle Valley I was reminded of none other than Forrest Gump Point, the famous viewpoint of the legendary Monument Valley.

    But it doesn't stop there! With short detours you can reach natural areas of great beauty where you can make unforgettable excursions, such as the Fisher Tower, Grandstaff Canyon (formerly Negro Bill Canyon) and, last but not least, the ghost town of Cisco. All without forgetting that you drive following the impetuous course of the Colorado River, just like in a western movie.

    Potash Road e Shafer Trail

    A little above I told you that there is a much more adventurous way to reach Island in the Sky from Moab: the Potash Road. This mythical road full of surprises takes place partly on paved road and partly on dirt road, crossing the exceptional views of the Shafer Canyon (Canyonlands) up to the Shafer Trail, a path that climbs dangerously up the wall of the canyon itself.

    In my article dedicated to the Potash Road I gave all the necessary information to those who want to do this experience, also describing all the paths and on the road that can be traveled by leaving the car on the side of the road. With shorter or longer detours, exceptional natural arches such as the Corona Arch and the Bowtie Arch, the profound and scenographic Long Canyon Road, the multicolored potassium evaporation tanks and the famous Thelma & Louise Point, overlook made famous by the film.

    Kane Creek Road

    As Potash Road runs along the north side of the Colorado River, the Kane Creek Road instead it follows the south side. This excellent scenic route is much less known than the others, but it will delight those who like to drive on dirt roads inside the red canyons typical of the area. The first part of the journey actually takes place on a paved road, giving access to some trails in the canyons (Moonflower Canyon and Pritchett Canyon); then the road leaves the Colorado River and becomes a dirt road as it enters Kane Creek Canyon.

    You can continue driving (preferably with a tall car with four-wheel drive) reaching the archaeological site of Birthing Scene Petroglyph and the start of the path for the Funnell Arch (also known as Cable Arch). Then you can decide whether to proceed further along the narrow serpentine of the canyon, passing the junction with theHunter Canyon (with a camping area) and thus reaching an open and wild landscape, where another road begins: the Chicken Corner Safari Route. From here I recommend that you go back when you feel satisfied with the trip.

    Kane Creek Road take it from the center of Moab, deviating from the main road at this point and driving west. In total, as indicated by the map below, I suggest you drive 10-12km from the time the Kane Creek Road runs alongside the Colorado River.

    La Sal Loop Scenic Drive

    As you can easily understand from the name, this one panoramic road climbs for about 1300 meters on the The Sal Mountains, the Utah mountain range that stands out against the backdrop of almost all of Moab's sights. It is a long one 100 km loop departing and returning from Moab, which follows a stretch of UT-128, crosses the Castle Valley and then it climbs the western flank of the mountains, offering exceptional views of the latter, but also the whole valley of Moab.

    Along the main route there are also crossroads with secondary roads to reach the numerous ones lakes in the area: Oowah Lake, Warner Lake and Kens Lake. The final part of the loop takes place on US-191 N, which rejoins at the Spanish Valley, south of Moab.

    When exiting Castle Valley, you must carefully follow the signs for Scenic Drive, but it may be of further help to follow the map below.

    Other excursions and places of interest

    If the parks and scenic roads mentioned are not enough for you, keep in mind that the Moab area is truly blessed beyond all expectations, so much so that a week may not be enough to see all its beauties. So, in addition to mentioning once again Fisher Towers, Grandstaff Canyon, Corona Arch, Bowtie Arch as excursions to do absolutely deviating briefly from the aforementioned scenic roads, I also point out the following excursions to Moab and surroundings, more or less easily accessible by car.

    The Moab

    Hidden Valley. Photo by Stanislav Sedov
    Sand Flats Recreation Area
    Mill Creek Falls
    • Sand Flats Recreation Area: the town of Moab is located in the heart of a wide valley defended by high red rocky walls. On the top of the eastern slope it is located Sand Flats, a paid recreational natural area much loved by campers and, above all, by bikers and off road enthusiasts. While cyclists and hikers ride the petrified dunes of Slickrock Trail or the Porcupine Rim Trail until overlooking the Colorado River, 4 × 4 experts venture on the ridge driving on the Hell’s Revenge, one of the most dangerous roads in the area. Due to the extreme technical difficulty of the guide, unless you are an expert driver, it is advisable to book a guided excursion at this link. Here is the address of the Sand Flats Recreation Area.
    • Mill Creek Falls: always on the eastern side of Moab, along the Mill Creek creek there is a nice path that allows you to escape from the high temperatures, especially during the hot months. The car park is located at this address, a few kilometers outside the city center. You will find yourself in front of the waterfall generated by the Mill Creek Power Dam, then, after a few hundred meters, a easy ride into the canyon (2.6 km round trip) which leads to a natural swimming pool into which a waterfall. You walk on smooth rock (be careful, it can be slippery), often in the shade of trees. Almost at the end of the path, before reaching the falls, you have to cross the small river to stay on the North Fork of the river: don't be afraid, it's a simple undertaking. If it's really hot, don't give up diving into the pool at the bottom of the path!
    • Hidden Valley: at the top of the western slope of the Moab valley is the Hidden Valley, a practically unknown valley that many expert hikers in the area define as one of the most precious gems in the area. Unlike Mill Creek Falls, Hidden Valley is a bit of a trek uphill, as the trail starts practically at the base of the face. The trailhead is located here, at a parking lot with explanatory signs of the excursion. After a few hairpin bends, you reach the top of the canyon by gradually climbing for a difference in height of 200 meters. You are on a sandy path surrounded by low vegetation, in a jagged landscape of sandstone cliffs, sharp rocks and domes as far as the eye can see. In total, the path is long almost 10 km, so it will take you at least 3 hours.

    North of Moab

    50 minutes north of Moab, in Thompson Springs Sego Canyon, a real open-air archaeological site. About 5.5 km later Thompson Springs, you will find on the left the signs for Sego Canyon Rock Art. Leave the car in the parking lot and take the short path that leads in front of the impressive ones petroglyfi, the oldest of which date back to around 8000 years ago. A little further on, the asphalted road gives way to a dirt road.

    Turning to the right after just 800 meters, you will reach the ancient cemetery while 3 km later you will find the remains of Tallow, now one ghost town that is falling apart. Here the coordinates to reach it.

    South of Moab

    Anticline Overlook
    Needles Overlook
    Wilson Arch
    Looking Glass Rock

    A south of Moab, making more or less short detours from US-191, you can find some points of interest easily reachable by car: minimum effort, maximum result. Here's what they are:

    • Looking Glass Rock: an impressive hollow rock in the middle of the desert. To reach it from Moab, you must leave US-191 at this point, taking the Looking Glass Rock Road. You drive on a wide dirt road for 3 km and then turn left. Parked the car, you need to go around the dome walking on the very smooth rock, until you are in front of the hollow part of the rock, which looks like a huge natural theater. There is also the possibility (a bit dangerous to be honest) to enter inside the dome, climbing the smooth rock to the top and entering through an open "window" on the side wall, visible above the parking lot. Not recommended for those suffering from vertigo!
    • Wilson Arch: Approximately 40km south of Moab you will find a large lay-by on the right hand side of US-191. Park the car and contemplate the Wilson Arch, a majestic natural arch that overlooks the street.
    • Needles Overlook: we are a bit distant from Moab, but this observation point also has Moab as a city reference point. Needles Overlook is so called because it offers an exciting view of the district Needles di Canyonlands. To reach it, you need to turn right at this point and drive on a somewhat monotonous asphalt road for 35 km to the observation point, managed directly by NPS. From there, take half an hour to enjoy the immense panorama.
    • Anticline Overlook: at this point of the route between the US-191 and the Needles Overlook there is a crossroads: turning left you reach the latter, while continuing straight on a dirt road for 26 km you reach theAnticline Overlook, an excellent vantage point over Dead Horse Point and Island in the Sky.

    Quirky shops and Jurassic attractions

    In these parts there is no shortage of attractions and shops that hold high the star-striped kitsch banner. Since I like them a lot, I decided to tell you a couple, in case you want to browse a bit:

    • Hole N” The Rock, noteworthy this flashy and eclectic shop carved into the rock which, with its huge white lettering and dune buggy atop the ridge, pops up at any moment along US-191 south of Moab. If you like the kitsch soul of Route 66, here you will find a branch of sorts in Utah! We talked about all its oddities in our article dedicated to Hole N ”The Rock. Enjoy the reading!
    • Moab Rock Store: while Hole N ”The Rock is located a good bit south of downtown, the Rock Shop Fossils welcomes you north of Moab, not far from Arches. What is it about? Let's talk about a shop specializing in stones, fossils and ... dinosaur bones! If you have a few thousand dollars to spend you can take home a tyrannosaurus femur, otherwise settle for some more modest fossil or a gold nugget to pretend to be a pioneer of the far west. On the outside are locomotives, mining vehicles and rusty mine carts from the last century.
    • Moab Giants: the testimonies of the presence of dinosaurs in this area are innumerable. Good, Moab Giants is a small theme park designed specifically for fans of T-rex and company. If you've come here for the natural beauty, Moab Giants may not be the first thing you want to visit, but if you are with children (or have remained so yourself!) You might want to consider a visit for a couple of hours. Among the main attractions, in addition to various workshops for children and a museum collection of fossils and dinosaur footprints in the area, I point out the Dinosaur Trail, with over 100 life-size (or nearly so) dinosaur specimens; the 5D Prehistoric Aquarium, a virtual experience to discover underwater monsters; the 3D Theater, a kind of exciting prehistory lesson in three dimensions. Moab Giants is located here, at the intersection of US-191 and UT-313: if you are going from Moab to Island in the Sky or Dead Horse Point, you cannot miss it!
    Hole N” the rock
    Moab Giants

    Moab climate and temperatures: when to go?

    The top of Moab is very well defined, being characterized by very hot summers and severe winters, with the seasons in between acting as a buffer between the two extremes. It is also a very dry climate; think that the wettest month is August when there are on average only 6 days of rainfall in total. So let's see in more detail what temperatures to expect during a holiday in Moab.

    in summer months (June, July and August) on average, the minimum temperature you can meet is 14 ° in the first days of June, while the maximum will settle around 37 ° in July which is the hottest period of the year (the record recorded is 46 °). In autunno (September, October, November), as mentioned, the temperatures begin to drop. In fact, we pass from a month that is still quite hot like September (maximum 30 °, minimum 11 °) and we arrive in November when the cold season is almost upon us, given that the maximums will almost never exceed 13 ° and the minimums could go just below zero. October it is in my opinion ideal for a visit.

    THEwinter (December, January and February) is very rigid, during the coldest month of January the highs barely exceed 6 ° while the lows can reach -7 °. On the other hand, if the weather is not mild, this is the period in which hotel prices are lowest since we are in the middle of the low season. During these months it is also possible to encounter a few days of snow. During the spring (March, April and May) we experienced a rise in temperatures in March when from 10 ° in February it goes to over 17 °, while in May we are practically already in summer as the maximums are over 28 ° while the minimums do not they almost never drop below 9 °.

    Tours organized by Moab

    Here are some of main organized excursions which you can take from Moab to reach nearby parks.

    • 4 × 4 tour to Arches: a perfect tour for those who want to visit the Arches National Park along paths that are not very popular with tourism which, thanks to the use of an off-road vehicle, can be undertaken in comfort. The duration of the excursion will be 5 hours thanks to which you can visit the viewpoints of Marching Men, Tower Arch and Eye of the Whale.
    • Colorado River Rafting & Canyonlands Tour: This combo tour lets you start your day by exploring Canyonlands National Park aboard an off-road vehicle, and after lunch, venture down the Colorado River to raft. The duration of the tour is approximately eight hours, divided equally between the two excursions.
    • Canyonlands National Park by 10WD: for those who prefer not to divide the day between two different activities, like the previous tour, but want to dedicate themselves exclusively to visiting Canyonlands this is certainly the activity indicated. A real XNUMX-hour full immersion in the national park thanks to which you will be able to visit practically everything from The Needles to Chesler Park with lunch included.
    • Canyonlands National Park Half Day Tour: If for time reasons you don't have the opportunity to spend a full day exploring Canyonlands this tour can be a good compromise. In about 4 hours you will travel along the White Rim Road, visit the Island in the Sky area and observe the view from the spectacular Gooseneck Overlook.
    • 4 × 4 off-road tour to Hell's Revenge: a tour designed specifically to visit an area of ​​Moab otherwise difficult to access. Thanks to the off-road vehicle you will be able to climb the red rocks of Sands Flat and observe spectacular views of the La Sal Mountains and the Moab Valley.

    Discover all the activities in Moab

    Where to eat in Moab

    Here are some tips on Moab restaurants and diners to try:

    • Moab Diner: small restaurant in the purest American style, located in the heart of Moab along the main road. Sitting comfortably on the typical sofas of these places, you can eat rich and tasty portions, from burgers to meat dishes. Unusually though, the diner doesn't serve beer (189 S Main St, Moab).
    • Desert Bistro: this place is located in a more secluded area, in front of a parking lot in a green area of ​​Moab. The menu of the Desert Bistro offers a few decidedly more elaborate dishes than the Moab Diner, with elements of fusion cuisine. If you are tired of eating grilled meat, come and try one of their dishes (36 S 100 W, Moab)
    • The Broken Oar: compared to the two restaurants that I have pointed out to you, the Broken Oar - in addition to tickling your palate with its meat menu - it will win you over with its far west atmosphere. The whole structure, arranged over two floors, is in fact in a rustic-mountain style, built entirely of wood: inside the room is embellished with a fireplace, outside there is a veranda that is very reminiscent of saloons (53 W 400 N, Moab).

    Sleeping in Moab: useful tips for booking

    Moab is a relatively small and somewhat remote village, caressed by Colorado and dominated by the red rock canyons all around: one would think that it is not so difficult to find a hotel a Moab. Nothing could be more wrong: precisely because of its fortunate geographical position, Moab it has gained a certain tourist fame and has become a reference point for outdoor and recreational sports, so much so that the accommodations in the area are always full and the prices very high.

    So it is good move in advance if you want to grab the best accommodations, without neglecting the exceptional ranch-resorts along the Colorado River, on the UT-128, including the Red Cliffs Lodge, reported below.

    Here are our tips:

    • Inca Inn: classic motel that thrives on the atmosphere of the place, but the quality of the service here is above average. Friendly accommodation from bicycle on the roof. The swimming pool is an important detail: remember that here in Moab it is quite hot in summer.
    • Bighorn Lodge: Quaint, rustic-style motel with wooden rooms embellished with Indian decor in a fairly central area of ​​Moab. A further point in favor in addition to the size, cleanliness and layout of the room is the presence of a City Market supermarket nearby: very well stocked.
    • Moab Valley RV Resort e Campground: a stone's throw from Arches, this resort-camping offers, in addition to the essential swimming pool, some excellent ones wooden cottage. All beautiful, even if a little sunny ...
    • Red Cliffs Lodge: we are a little way out of Moab, near the start of the Grandstaff Canyon, overlooking the Castle Valley. This lodge with outbuildings vineyards e western film museum he is one of the few 4 stars of the area and it is impossible to find fault with the hospitality ... Meanwhile, the Colorado flows a stone's throw away, and the red rock escarpments watch over your sleep.

    All accommodations available in Moab

    add a comment from Moab Utah what to see: the gateway to the most beautiful parks in the state
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.