Moab is deep in canyon country, and while the city is relatively quiet, its spectacular scenery speaks volumes on its behalf.
Moab’s close to some of Utah’s best National Parks. Whether you want to find the best Zion hikes or things to do on a day trip to Salt Lake City, Moab is well-positioned to explore the best of Utah.
Of course, Moab is not just a gateway to other destinations. There are many Moab attractions to keep you entertained during your stay, including outdoor activities, Jurassic, and cultural attractions. In fact, there are so many things to do in Moab that we’d recommend staying for at least a week! Here is our take on the best things you should do in Moab.
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 we’d recommend researching where everything is located ahead of time – you don’t want to run out of itinerary space because of ill-planned driving time!
A Quick Look At Moab…
So, let’s have a quick rundown on how Moab is laid out.
Downtown Moab is hip meets hospitality. We suggest heading downtown for a night out, dining out, or souvenir hunting. You will find most of Moab’s cultural attractions here, too, including the city’s galleries and breweries.
If you want to stay somewhere full of attractions, hospitality, and a consistent buzz, Downtown Moab is for you. You can choose from many one to three-star accommodation options. Downtown Moab has hostels, inns, classic hotels, and a campground.
Uptown Moab is just North of the city center. This district is quiet, with fewer attractions than in Downtown Moab. Luckily, these attractions are mostly only a half-an-hour walk away. And instead, you’ll benefit from a more relaxed, residential atmosphere than you would downtown. Uptown Moab is also closer to the Arches National Park – often providing better views from your accommodation. Springhill Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites are particularly renowned for their poolside views.
Staying in Moab is great, but don’t rule out finding accommodation in its surrounding towns.
Spanish Valley is less than a fifteen-minute drive South and provides plenty of campgrounds and remote cabins. If you want an even quieter atmosphere than Uptown Moab, Spanish Valley is a good choice.
La Sal is a thirty-five-minute drive and is scenically situated at the foot of the La Sal mountains. La Sal’s accommodation choices are limited, mostly offering cabins and a retreat accommodation experience at Shaman on the Mountain. However, if you want proximity to the mountains, we’d recommend La Sal as an area choice.
Best Things to do in Moab
Now that the city’s layout is covered let’s delve into the best things to do in Moab.
1. Explore the Canyonlands National Park
You may recognize Canyonlands National Park from the image of a snaking river canyon. The mighty Colorado River splits by the Confluence Overlook, with half the river continuing and half flowing into the Green River. The Green and Colorado Rivers run throughout the national park – creating a beautiful contrast to the desert environment.
Of course, the desert environment has plenty to offer. Canyonlands National Park has some incredible rock formations, including Mesa Arch. The Mesa Arch is an arch of sandstone rock perched precariously on a cliff edge.
If you’d prefer to drive a scenic byway through Canyonlands National Park, head to the Island in the Sky Visitor Center. You can use the restrooms and pick up a free map and route advice from the rangers.
2. Go river rafting
You can’t stay right next to the mighty Colorado River without experiencing its power for yourself! River rafting is one of the best things to do in Moab, and there are plenty of rafting trips that you can embark on.
We recommend that beginners choose from the many rafting experiences that offer pick-up from Moab. These experiences are targeted at tourists with less practice, usually tackling Class 1 or 2 rapids. Beginner-friendly rafting is run on quiet sections of the Colorado River.
However, Cataract Canyon is deservingly one of the most famous rafting spots. If you are experienced, we’d recommend tackling this 14-mile section, which features challenging rapids of up to Class 5. Even if you can’t tackle them firsthand, watching others from the vantage point on the Colorado River Bridge is worthwhile!
If you are feeling really adventurous, choose from the multi-day rafting trips and venture even further along the winding Colorado River.
3. Try mountain biking
Mountain bikers will find plenty of biking trails. You can head to the Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, or stay close to Moab at the Slickrock Trail.
The Slickrock Bike Trail is right next to the Sand Flats Recreation area – only a ten-minute drive or thirty-minute cycle from Moab city center. We recommend brushing up on your cycling skills here before mountain biking around the surrounding national parks. The Slickrock Trail is a challenging area with a loop where advanced mountain bikers can practice circuits and perfect their technique. Be prepared for some technical sections and steep climbs! But be reassured that the desert views make it all worthwhile.
If you’d prefer to bike with a specialist company, Solfun mountain biking tours have an office in the center of Moab. You can drop in from 08:00 am until 6:00 pm to organize a tour or enquire further.
4. Walk with the dinosaurs
Remember our earlier promise of Jurassic attractions? Well, here they are. Experiencing real dinosaur remains and the modeled Moab giants are some of the most exciting things to do in Moab.
Families should make sure to especially prioritize a visit to the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. Visitors walk a desert trail through the dinosaur park, spotting life-sized models of all the dinosaurs that would have roamed Moab in prehistoric days. The Moab Giants Dinosaur Park is a must-visit for any die-hard Jurassic Park movie fans!
Skip the Moab giants for real dinosaur tracks and skeletons if you are into history and archeology. The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is a short two-mile return hike with fossilized dinosaur tracks to view up close. While if you can hike a little longer, you should tackle the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail to the preserved skeletal remains!
5. Spend a day in the La Sal mountains
Even if you didn’t decide to stay in La Sal, we’d recommend spending a day in the La Sal mountains. Make the most of scenic hiking and mountain biking trails, then treat yourself to a meal at a café in La Sal afterward.
Bull Canyon Overlook has sweeping mountain views and hiking trails of varying lengths if you want to experience the area within a time limit. Alternatively, dare yourself to tackle one of the most physically challenging things to do in Moab and climb one of the mountains. Mt Waas, Mt Tomasaki, Mt Peale, Mt Tukuhnikivatz, and Manns Peak are all popular summits.
6. Have a quiet morning at Moab Museum
A morning wander around Moab Museum is one of the city’s most relaxing tourist attractions. The Moab Museum is small but covers a lot of historical topics! Recap what you’ve learned about Moab’s dinosaurs, learn about the Indigenous People’s history, and find out about the lives of the early pioneers. The museum has a lot of original artifacts and provides a unique, capsule-like, and slightly eclectic insight into Moab’s history.
We’d recommend visiting the Moab Museum in your first few days, as it will inform your appreciation of the rest of Moab’s tourist attractions.
7. Try a local beer at the Moab Brewery
Where better to relax with a well-deserved beer than at a brewery? Moab Brewery is a microbrewery that has been producing ales and IPAs since 1996.
Visitors can dine at the restaurant and pair on-site brewed beverages with American cuisine. Sample a Moab Pilsner and tuck into some desert chicken drummies.
For those heading on overnight trips to experience camping in remote areas, you can also stop by Moab Brewery to purchase a crate of evening refreshments.
8. Embark on a sunset hummer safari
Combine sunset, beautiful National Parks, and adrenaline-pumping 4WD adventure with a hummer safari.
The desert is even more impressive at sunset when the natural glow emphasizes the existing redness of the rocks. Forget driving a scenic byway – you’ll get to cross exciting terrain and access areas of the National Parks that non-specialist vehicles could never reach. As far as outdoor adventures go, a hummer safari is an exhilarating way to blend entertainment and nature.
9. Stop by the Wilson Arch
Wilson Arch is a natural sandstone arch. The arch takes its name from a 19th-century pioneer named Joe Wilson. The natural feature is red-tinted, huge, and surrounded by desert – cutting a dramatic picture.
Unlike many attractions, the Wilson Arch is completely free to access. Visitors can pull straight off of Route 191 and park at the Wilson Arch Scenic View Area – making the short hike up to the rock feature if they wish. Wilson Arch is only a half an hour drive from Moab and located just after the turn-off for La Sal. If you visit the mountains, it is worth detouring to reach.
10. Go horseback riding
With so many National Parks surrounding Moab, horseback riding is a fun way to experience nature in Utah. Many horseback riding trips offer a pick-up service from Moab. However, you can also easily drive out to nearby ranches.
Hauer Ranch offers horseback riding and mule rides and is only half an hour from Moab. Choose to ride along the Colorado River, to old movie film sets, or just stick to classic desert loops. Experienced horse riders can also book a private ride, where you can ride at faster paces and explore more technical terrain.
11. Try out your paddleboarding skills
After hearing about going rafting through rapids, going paddle boarding on the Colorado River might sound a little ridiculous! But it is one of the most fun but beginner-friendly things to do in Moab. You fall off? It doesn’t matter. This water activity is the definition of trial and error.
Plus, when traveling the Colorado River at a slower pace, you can actually appreciate the canyon walls and scenery. When crashing down the Colorado River and hitting rapids at full speed, there is undoubtedly less time to appreciate your surroundings.
12. Visit the Goblin Valley State Park
If the Arches National Park and Canyonlands seem dauntingly huge to visit for just one day, Goblin Valley is the perfect state park alternative.
The Three Sisters are an impressive sandstone rock formation to visit, which we recommend combining with a trip to Goblin Overlook. Goblin Overlook has a covered picnic area and free toilet facilities to use. Goblin Valley is ideal for families or elderly visitors who want the National Park experience but with helpful facilities.
Goblin Valley is an hour and forty-minute drive from Moab, so it can be completed as a day trip. Alternatively, use the Goblin Valley Campground and plan an overnight stay.
13. Grab a bite to eat at the Food Truck Park
Forget fussy, pretentious dining and head to Moab’s Food Truck Park to fill your stomach. The seating and serving process street-food style and the prices are too! If you want a budget-friendly meal in Moab, the Food Track Park is where to go.
The park offers international cuisines, with Chinese, Mexican, American, Hawaiian, and Italian serving food trucks. The Hokulia shaved ice is particularly appealing after arriving back from a long day hiking in a nearby National Park.
The Food Truck Park is open from 6:30 am until 20:00, so you can really choose from breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
14. Spend a day hiking Moab’s nearby trails
You are spoiled for choice for trails when staying in Moab.
Moab Information Center is on Moab’s main street and a great place to enquire about the best seasonal hikes for your fitness and ability. Of course, just five miles north of the city center, you can also visit the Arches National Park Visitor Center. Here, the rangers can provide you with trail maps and specialist guidance on seeing specific natural landmarks.
Hiking the Delicate Arch Trail is one of the most popular options in the Arches National Park while hiking to Canyonlands’ Green River Overlook is a shorter option for families or less able walkers. We suggest planning at least one hike when visiting Moab, whatever your trail preferences.
15. Visit the Dead Horse Point State Park
While the Dead Horse Point State Park sounds far from appealing, it is one of Moab’s prettiest. The park sits on a cliffside, with views over the Colorado River and the renowned Intrepid Mountain Biking Trail.
Dead Horse Point State Park is only a forty-minute drive from Moab and next to the Canyonlands National Park. You may wish to stay overnight at a campsite in Dead Horse Point State Park to maximize a full day to explore Canyonlands next door.
The Dead Horse State Park is well worth visiting in its own right, though, with enough activities to easily keep you entertained for a full weekend.
16. Go rock climbing
With mountains, canyons, and world-famous rock features, it is no wonder that rock climbing is one of the best things to do in Moab.
You can visit the Moab Adventure Center to organize a climbing tour with a pick-up service or head out independently if you are an experienced climber. Forgotten your climbing gear? No problem. Pagan Mountaineering is a climbing shop located on Moab main street and the ideal place to stock up on all your equipment and supplies.
17. Spend a half-day at Sand Flats Recreation Area
While we say allow half a day, be prepared to stay longer at the Sand Flats Recreation Area. The area covers 9,000 acres, with bike trails, hiking routes, natural formations, and even 4WD tracks.
Hell’s Revenge and Fins and Things are the most popular 4WD routes, and you can rent a vehicle or experience the drive as a passenger on an off-roading tour. Just don’t attempt it in a 2WD! At best, you will struggle, and at worst, you’ll land yourself with a huge mechanical bill.
18. Visit the Arches National Park
The Arches National Park is the city’s closest, and visiting is one of the best things to do in Moab. There are many incredible hikes in the Arches, most of which incorporate impressive rock features.
As we’ve mentioned, the Delicate Arch Trail is one of the most famous trails in the Arches National Park. The Delicate Arch hike is a three-mile round trip and of moderate difficulty. You’ll complete the hike with a reasonable fitness level, although aim to hike before or after the midday sun.
Apart from the Delicate Arch, the Courthouse Towers are another famed attraction of the Arches National Park. The tall stone columns are accessed via a trail through a section named Park Avenue, nicknamed after the likeness of the canyon walls to city buildings.
Allow at least a day, if not two or three, to dedicate to exploring the Arches National Park. The park has lots of routes and attractions to visit – on a bike, on horseback, on foot, or by car.
19. Head to Hole ‘N’ The Rock
Hole ‘N’ The Rock is wacky. As far as eccentric things to do in Moab go, it rates very highly.
Visitors will soon spot the home carved into the boulder, signposted with emblazoned white letters painted onto the sandstone. There is a zoo, graffitied disused vehicles, mining equipment, vintage signs, sculptures, and guided tours of the boulder house.
You can also purchase locally crafted Native American souvenirs on a visit to the tourist gift shop.
20. 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 Moab’s 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 doesn’t get much more immersive.
21. Stop by the Moab Rock Shop
After experiencing so many archaeological and geographical wonders, you can stop by the Moab Rock Shop to bring some home.
The Rock Shop sells fossils, rocks, and minerals that you can purchase and keep as a souvenir of Moab. Dinosaur enthusiasts can remember the Moab giants with a tooth or bone fossil, while
22: Travel to Bryce Canyon National Park
If you are looking for a National Park further afield, Bryce Canyon National Park is a four-hour and twenty-minute drive from Moab.
Bryce Canyon is the best option if you want to add a road trip through Utah to the end of your stay in Moab. There are many scenic locations around Bryce Canyon, including the Swamp Canyon Overlook. You can read our detailed guide to the twelve best Bryce Canyon hikes here for hiking inspiration.
So, we’ve covered all the best things to do in Moab, Utah. But there are a few extra things you should know before you visit.
How to get to Moab, Utah?
Moab does not have an airport, so you’ll have to fly into Canyonlands Field Airport.
Canyonlands Field Airport is just a twenty-minute drive from Moab, and you can rent a car on-site after you land. The airport has daily flights between Denver and Salt Lake City but is tiny with no facilities – so don’t expect lots of entertainment while you wait for your flight.
Getting Around Moab
Moab has no public transport, so you’ll rely on expensive tours to explore without a car.
You’ll be less limited and spend less money if you hire a car. The beauty of Moab is the freedom to drive along whichever scenic byway you wish and stop at whichever roadside attraction you want to. We suggest hiring a car – especially if you want to visit the nearby National Parks.
When is the best time to visit Moab?
We suggest visiting in February, the shoulder month just before the busy Spring season.
In February, the weather is cooler for outdoor activities, and you’ll find more accommodation choices. Whereas, if you wait until the November shoulder month, it might get a little too chilly!
Where to Stay in Moab?
The best budget accommodation in Moab is at campgrounds and hostels, although we recommend RV camping if you have a suitable vehicle.
If you are renting a vehicle anyway, it might be worth renting an RV – you’ll save petrol by avoiding backward and forward trips to attractions and pay for accommodation and transport at once.
Red Cliffs Lodge is a fantastic mid-range hotel, with the bonus of many tours departing from its lobby.
Thanks to the sandstone cliffs backing the property, the pool views are incredible. Guests can also visit the winery, film museum, tennis courts, and restaurants on-site.
Hoodoo Moab is a four-star luxury property and part of the Hilton’s Curio Collection. You can bathe in the outdoor pool, break a sweat in the fully-equipped fitness suite, relax in the spa, or enjoy a meal at the on-property steakhouse.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Moab. Whether you want State Parks or National Parks, canyon rafting, or dinosaur tracks, you’ll find plenty of attractions and places to remember.