Adventurous Things To Do In Moab Utah
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If you are researching tips on what to do in Moab, keep reading because after our 2 week visit we have some great insights to share.
With so many cool and fun things to do in Moab, many people stop here when visiting this desert state, mostly due to its proximity to three awesome USA national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.
Doesnt that make for a spectacular region on its own.
We first came to visit Moab in 2006, but was so oblivious to anything outside the national parks, we didnt remember Moab at all and wasnt sure if we even stopped in.
But after spending 2 weeks based in Moab Utah on our recent 1 year USA road trip, we recommend you base yourself here for awhile and experience the many Moab activities outside of the national parks.
They are just as outstanding and full of adventure. And downtown Moab is pretty cool.
Many RV travelers base themselves for long periods of time. Not just for the proximity to adventure, but also a town that has loads of amenities and LOADS of free camping, or boondocking.
We enjoyed getting to know it on a deeper level, and were excited to share with you the many unique things to do in Moab national parks and beyond. Several of the experiences mentioned in this post on Moab things to do also made our list of places to see in Utah that no one tells you about.
Browse The Moab Rock Shop
When we first drove into Moab, I noticed the sign for the Moab Rock Shop and knew Id have to make a stop there it was actually something I dragged several of my fellow travelers to!
The Moab Rock Shop dates back to 1958, when Lin Ottinger began selling fossils, petrified wood, and minerals from the quirky building. Today its packed to the gills with specimens of all shapes, colors, and ages. If you stop by, pay special attention to some of the huge specimens near the entry: these are famous ones discovered by Ottinger during his career.
Family Dinosaur Field Trips
- Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail, contains traces of a variety of dinosaur species. Visitors can also view the remnants of an old copper mill and the Halfway Stage Station, a rest stop for travelers during the turn of the century as they traveled from the railroad at Thompson to Moab.
- The Copper Ridge Sauropod Tracksite discovered in 1989, reveals the first brontosaurus trackway reported from Utah, as well as trackways of four theropods of various sizes. The dinosaurs walked in several directions across a ripple-marked sand deposit that had accumulated in an ancient river channel.
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Top Things To Do In Moab Utah
We love the selection of geological, cultural, adventurous, and historical attractions Moab offers. The attractions are spread so widely that wed recommend researching where everything is located ahead of time you dont want to run out of itinerary space because of ill-planned driving time!
Swim In A Stunning Outdoor Pool At The Moab Recreation And Aquatic Center
Lounge in a pool chair under a bright blue umbrella and watch the kids splash around at the new Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. The outdoor pools are open mid-May through end of September and feature everything from a small-child pool with a waterfall flowing over red rocks to a lap pool for adults. The indoor pool features a huge covered slide.
Be sure to bring towels and water-friendly shoes because the outdoor deck really heats up.
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Birding At Matheson Wetlands Preserve
Overseen by the Nature Conservancy, this 890-acre preserve just west of town has great views and is home to over 200 unique species of bird. Come in the spring to catch migratory birds, including songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. In the summer, yellow warblers, common yellowthroat, black-headed grosbeaks, lazuli buntings, song sparrows and great blue herons nest here. You can also spot beavers, muskrat, mule deer and other wild critters. Its a really unique ecosystem, a lush oasis in a desert wasteland. A mile-long raised platform loop is handicap accessible.
Due to the delicacy of the ecosystem, the Nature Conservancy asks visitors to practice Leave No Trace pack out what you pack in and avoid setting fires. Camping is prohibited.
Floating The Colorado River
If you have a paddleboard, canoe or another floating device, you can paddle the Colorado River through Professor Valley with just a nominal parking fee. Its a beautiful run with Arches National Park on one side and the road on the other. There are a few smaller class II riffles here, so its not advisable to do this in an inner tube. And for gods sake, wear a personal flotation device . It can save your life.
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Canyonlands Scenic Drives In August
In August the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a nice activity to enjoy the AC in your vehicle as you stop at the various overlooks. There are 10 viewpoints from atop the mesa to see and photograph the canyons and landscape at this park!
Remember it will take 1.5 hours from Moab to reach Needles Canyonlands. The views there are quite a bit different from Island in the Sky. Stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty at the various points of interest.
Places To Eat In Moab
Here are some restaurants and diners in Moab to try:
- Moab Diner: Small restaurant and classic diner, located in the heart of Moab along the main road. As you can sit comfortably in a typical booth, you can eat rich and tasty dishes, including hamburgers and other meat dishes. Unusually though, the diner does not serve beer .
- Desert Bistro: This restaurant is located in a more secluded green area and has a parking lot. The menu at the Desert Bistro has a selection that includes a few more elaborate dishes than the Moab Diner, including some fusion dishes. If you get tired of grilled meat, come here and try something different .
- The Broken Oar: Compared to the two restaurants I have mentioned, the Broken Oar will also entice you with its meat menu will win you over with its Far West atmosphere. The whole structure, arranged on two floors, is built in a rustic-mountain style entirely of wood. Inside there is a fireplace and outside there is a porch that is similar to what you would find at saloons .
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Things To Do In Moab In March
Moab in March is pretty much our favorite time to visit because the weather is just right to spend your day outside.
This guide includes things to do in Moab, weather, what to pack, where to stay and more!
We live close enough to enjoy Moab at various times throughout year so we have lots of ideas and tips to share to help you plan a March vacation.
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy.
Float The Colorado River At Night
Finish the day off with a Cowboy-style Dutch Oven dinner and evening boat ride on the Colorado River. The evening begins with an hour long feast overlooking the majestic Colorado River.
Next youll board a flat-bottom river boat and cruise the canyon with over 40,000 watts of light to illuminate the canyon walls.
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Places To Stay In Moab
There are many options of places to stay in Moab at several price points. Top rated hotels in Moab on Booking.com include:
We stayed at two boondocking places we stayed in Willow Springs and the Airport.
The Airport boondocking place is only available for two weeks a year and I think they have even closed it down permanently. Check campendium for your favorite place to boondock in Moab.
The Maverick Gas Station as free dumping and potable water. Note it gets very busy. Avoid hours up to 11am as you may have a good wait.
Down the road has $5 dumping but will be tight for larger RVs.
La Sal Loop Scenic Drive
As you can easily understand from the name, this scenicroad climbs about 4300 ft up the La Sal Mountains, the Utah mountain range that is seen in the background of landscapes around Moab. It is a long 62-mile loop that begins and ends up in Moab, following a stretch of UT-128, through Castle Valley and then up the western flank of the mountains, offering exceptional views of both the mountains and the entire Moab Valley.
Along the main route, there are also junctions with secondary roads to the many lakes in the area, namely, Oowah Lake, Warner Lake and Kens Lake. The final part of the loop takes place on US-191 N, which concludes in Spanish Valley, south of Moab.
As you leave Castle Valley, you should follow the signs for the La Sal Loop Scenic Drive carefully, but it may also be helpful to follow the map below.
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Visiting Canyonlands National Park In August
You wont find shade when visiting Canyonlands National Park. In August plan to do all outdoor activities in the morning and late afternoons.
All five Utah National Parks are crowded during the summer. Canyonlands, Arches and the Moab area in general are popular destinations. We recommend getting into Canyonlands early to avoid the line of cars at the gate.
Check out this article detailing the services and things to do at the two different districts: Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles.
Mountain Bike In Moab
Each year, thousands of people head to Moab with one thing on their mind mountain biking. We prefer to mountain bike in the spring or fall when temperatures are mild and not too hot. Early May is typically perfect, with sunny skies and temps in the upper 70s.
Moab is well known for the world famous, and highly technical, Slickrock Bike Trail. This challenging 9.6 mile trail is considered to be the ultimate Moab bike ride. And while this route is often dubbed high technical, it does not require the same level of expertise as other alpine routes. The majority of this picturesque journey is paved with Navajo sandstone, a tacky surface for bike tires.
Why is it called Slickrock? Although slickrock is tacky for bike tires, pioneers in the 1800s had a different experience. The horses metal shoes made traveling on the sandstone difficult, so they dubbed it slick rock.
If youre looking for some longer rides a couple of our absolute favorites are Amasa Back and Mag 7.
If youre looking for something a little mellower, try Moab Brand Trails or Navajo Rocks
There are several bike shops in Moab that have mountain bikes for rent or of course you can bring your own and catch a shuttle through Chile Pepper bike shop to ride the famous Whole Enchilada!
Pro Tip: Make sure youre equipped for riding the rock in Moab by investing in some pads. Your elbows and knees will thank you!
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Shopping In Downtown Moab
This area of southeast Utah is known for outdoor adventures, so you wont find big-name shopping stores here. But there are some fun spots to shop in downtown Moab. Youll find boutique shops full of souvenirs, clothing and sports apparel.
Visiting the shops and restaurants in downtown Moab can be a nice break from high-adventure activities.
Potash Road And Shafer Trail
In one of the previous sections, I told you that Potash Road is a much more adventurous way to reach Island in the Sky from Moab. This mysterious road full of surprises is partly a paved road and partly a dirt road, that crosses the exceptional Shafer Canyon and leads to the Shafer Trail, which makes a perilous climb up the wall of the canyon.
In my article dedicated to the Potash Road, I provided all the necessary information to those who want to venture on it and described all of the hikes you can go on by leaving the car on the side of the road. There are detours off of Potash Rd, neither long nor short, that take you to exceptional natural arches such as Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch, the deep and scenic Long Canyon Road, the colorful potassium evaporation tanks and the famous Thelma & Louise Point, an overlook made famous by the movie of the same name.
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Ready To Explore Moab
Pin this guide with the best things to do in Moab to help plan your adventure!
Hi yall! Were Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream , and enjoying nature.
Hiking In Canyonlands National Park
It lives in the shadow of Arches National Park, yet has scenery unmatched to no other. With hiking trails and views more spectacular around each corner, its a must do when youre in Moab!
Canyonlands National Park is huge, and the section of the park closest to Moab is called the Island in the Sky District. I was lucky enough to spend several days hiking here and I cant say enough good things about it!
Here are the Canyonlands National Park highlights you cant miss:
- Mesa Arch
Looking for more? Check out this article for the 10 best hikes in Canyonlands National Park.
Pro tip: make sure to bring lots of water and wear hiking shoes with lots of traction. Hiking on slickrock is no joke. Here are the hiking boots I wore and they were perfect!
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Air Tour Of Arches And Canyonlands
Seeing a destination from the air is a unique perspective and a totally different experience than seeing it from the ground. Its a thrilling new way to experience the natural beauty of the area.
There are several air tours in the area, so if you want to get your adrenaline pumping, choosing which tour is the next step. Usually youll need to book a small group tour, like 6 people, depending on the size of the aircraft.
Air tours near Moab:
Just a note about air tours they can be pricey. Id recommend putting tours like this in your vacation savings plan and budgeting accordingly. Also, be sure to book them in advance!
Visit The Ancient Rock Art
Of course, learning about Native American culture and history in Moab goes far beyond souvenirs. Moab is an important indigenous area and is home to lots of preserved culture.
Some of this preserved culture is Moabs rock art. Ancient rock art can be found in various sites around the city, with one of the most famous a fifteen-minute drives away on Kane Springs Road. This site is nicknamed the Birthing Scene Petroglyph and consists of ancient etchings on a huge sandstone boulder.
The best thing about this site is how close up you can get. To experience ancient art, standing face-to-face with etchings in the middle of the desert doesnt get much more immersive.
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What To Do In Moab: The Needles
The Needles is an area of Canyonlands National Park, famous for its huge red and white pillars that rise vertically from their base. The eroded sandstone pillars extend for many miles and are mingled with other natural rock formations such as canyons, domes, and arches. Visitors can also contemplate the rock-carvings and ruins of ancient Native Americans.
The rocks can first be seen from the Needles Outpost, which is a campsite, restaurant, and grocery store. The National Park Service Visitor Center is just beyond the Outpost, and the scenic four-wheel drive route begins here. If you are wondering what to see in Moab, the Needles are a beautiful place to visit. The rock formations can be seen from the route and also by hiking on several trails.
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Where To Stay In Moab
Hotel prices in Moab vary greatly between high season and low season, and some motels even close in winter. The best place to stay is right downtown, close to restaurants, tourist shops, and outdoor stores. Hotels are primarily mid-range and budget, and many are chain hotels.
Despite the very much middle of the road accommodation offerings, in peak season, the rates skyrocket.
Below are some highly rated hotels in central locations:
- offers modern, spacious suites with fridges, stoves, dishwashers, microwaves, and kitchenware. On-site is a heated indoor pool, gym, and business center.
- If you are looking for more of a country retreat, Red Cliffs Lodge, off Highway 128, about 30 minutes from Moab, is a great option. This charming property offers outstanding views over the Colorado River and surrounding cliffs. Rooms, suites, and cabins feature wood accents and ranch-style charm.
- At the northern edge of town, the Inca Inn provides clean, comfortable rooms a seasonal pool and complimentary breakfast. The location offers easy access to nearby Arches National Park.
- In the same vicinity is the pet-friendly Adventure Inn & Motel, also offering a free breakfast. The Bowen Motel is more centrally located in downtown Moab. The property has a seasonal pool and a variety of rooms, including family rooms.
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