Moab is a special place to me. The first trip I ever took, my friend and I loaded up the car at 5 AM on a Saturday, slept in the back of my Subaru, and then drove back Sunday night. We just wanted to go experience it even for 36 hours to see what all the hype was about. I fell in love that weekend. I had truthfully never seen a place like it in my whole life – the brilliantly red rock formations, grandiose arches, canyons for as far as the eye could see. It was so different from any topography I had experienced thus far. I just took my fourth trip to Moab last weekend and felt hella inspired to put together my top activities! In a town with TWO National Parks, one State Park and seemingly endless options, having some guidance of where to start is crucial. Especially if you’re crazy like me and want to fit in as much as possible over a weekend or short trip! So here is my 3-day guide on how to squeeze in all the must-see Moab spots, along with some tips and lodging options!!
- First off, take a day off of work. If you really want to enjoy what Moab has to offer, it’s best to have at least 3 days.
- Try to avoid Moab in the heat of summer. Going in July will ruin your life. *Not really but it’s pretty miserable* I recommend a spring or fall trip. Obviously check the weather before you go though to prepare for whatever temps you will be experiencing and pack accordingly.
- Plan for some potential crowds in the parks and traffic as you enter the town of Moab, especially if you visit over a holiday weekend!
- If you plan on hiking in the parks, leave the pups at home. Dogs cannot hike in National Parks. The hikes in Moab are also quite hot and lacking in water sources for dogs so I’d recommend getting a sitter for your dog regardless.
Camping- If you don’t know of any dispersed spots (search BLM in Moab), not to fear because there are numerous AMAZING cheap campsites in Moab! There are many *outside of the parks* I recommend because of their views and close proximity to all the good stuff. You will need cash upon arrival (anywhere from $10-$20 per night) and these types of sites are typically first-come-first-serve:
- Grandstaff Campground
- Fishers Towers
- Upper or Lower Onion Campground
- Goose Island Campground
- Kane Creek Campground
- Hal Canyon Campground
- Drinks Canyon Campground
- Slickrock Campground
Here are some campgrounds *inside the parks* that will require reservations through the National Park Service in advance:
- Arches National Park: Devil’s Garden Campground
- Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky (Willow Flat) Campground, or The Needles Campground
- Dead Horse State Park: Kayenta Campground, Wingate Campground, Wingate Yurts, Moenkopi Yurts
For more camping/lodging options check out https://www.discovermoab.com
DAY 1: After snagging a campsite and unloading, head to Corona Arch. This gorgeous natural arch is outside of the parks, making it a great option if you don’t arrive first thing in the morning. Plan to hike around 3 miles roundtrip but still bring plenty of water, factoring in that Utah heat. Next you will want to head to the Moab Brewery for some food and bevs. Plus you’ll get to check out the adorable town of Moab! Next I recommend heading into Arches National Park about 2 hours prior to sunset. Go to the Delicate Arch trailhead, pack some water, snacks + a headlamp and prepare to hike to one of the most iconic arches (think Utah license plate)! The hike is 3 miles total. I recommend doing this in the evening to avoid the bulk of the crowds and a line just to get close to the arch. Plus if you time it right you can catch sunset there! Just be sure you have a park map and your headlamp to get you back to your car safely 🙂
DAY 2: Plan to either cook a quickie campfire breakfast or head to The Moab Garage for a truly lifechanging breakfast burrito (plus amazing coffee). After that you’re on your way back into Arches National Park to hike to Devil’s Garden. You’ll want to get an early start on this because it’s an 8 mile hike with hardly any shade. However in my opinion it’s a must-do. You’ll hike over and through incredible red rock formations and pass 7 small arches on the trail. Plan to be hiking for up to 4 hours and pack accordingly. LOTS of water and snacks. If you’re finishing up with with hike around 1 PM, you’l then head back to town to grab a quick lunch and rent a UTV for the afternoon! When I did this recently, we rented through Moab Tour Company and had a great experience! You can either rent for the afternoon or 24 hours depending on how much you’re wanting to use it. They will hook you up with your map/route for the evening. Plan to drive the UTV (not trailer required since you can drive it on the roads) directly to Hell’s Revenge. After driving around there you can pop over to Fins & Things, which is right next to Hell’s Revenge. And if you’re not quite sure about venturing out on your own, they also provide guided tours! After a jam packed day of adventures you will be so ready to enjoy a big dinner; either at your campsite or at Zax Restaurant in town. BONUS ACTIVITY: Go stargazing up at Gemini Bridges!!!
DAY 3: Today you’ll get up early enough to go catch a sunrise at Dead Horse State Park! Head straight to Dead Horse Point for the most epic sunrise view! From there you’ll be pretty close to Canyonlands National Park, where you’ll spend the remainder of the day. *Be sure to pack coffee, water and food with you for the day since you won’t be close to town anymore* Once you’re inside Canyonlands, head to the Mesa Arch! It’s a super short hike with an amazing view. From there, you can either head to Aztec Butte trail (2 miles total), or for a longer, more challenging trail you can opt to do Upheaval Dome (7 miles total). If you want one more easy/quick trail with STELLAR views of the famous Island in the Sky formation, definitely do Grand View Point Trail (only 1.8 miles total). You’ll also get a park map with trail information so you’ll have plenty of options depending on how much hiking you want to do, how much time you have, and how much driving you’re willing to do.
So there ya have it! I hope this 3-day guide to Moab is everything you need to do some trip planning!!! I can’t recommend this place enough. Remember to factor in weather, crowds, park pass fees and camping reservations 🙂
HAVE A BLAST!