If you’ve had enough of city life and are looking for a change of scenery, coming to the town of Moab in the state of Utah might very well be the best move you can make. The nature and the mountains around this charming little town are absolutely stunning, so no matter if you’re looking for a breath of fresh air or some more demanding activity during your one day in Moab, you will have plenty of choices. And if you’re looking for tips on what to do and see, this itinerary has got you covered. Read on and find out what awaits you in eastern Utah!
What’s the best time to visit Moab?
Thanks to the incredible nature that surrounds this town, we would argue that the best time to visit Moab is spring and/or fall.
In spring, you will see plenty of flowers blooming everywhere, and the temperatures are quite comfortable, so it’s a great time to go hiking and just enjoy the great outdoors. Plenty of trails are all set for visitors, meaning you will have a great time no matter if you’re on a bike or on foot.
Fall offers a similar experience, with mild temperatures, great trails, and beautiful nature, but the colors that come with the season give the area an almost surreal look. On top of that, there will be much fewer visitors afters summer.
Summers here are pretty hot, so you may not be able to hike as much as you’d like, but Moab winters are absolutely magical! When the snow falls the whole scenery looks as if a fairytale has come alive, so if you don’t mind the cold, by all means, visit Moab in winter.
A few facts about Moab
Moab was founded in 1878 and today has only about 5500 inhabitants. However, every year the place receives thousands of tourists thanks to the stunning nature that surrounds it and the fact that two national parks – Canyonlands and Arches – are very close.
The name Moab is actually a Biblical reference to a piece of land east of the Jordan River and was almost changed twice (to Vina and Uvadalia, respectively), but both petitions eventually failed.
Thanks to its surroundings, Moab is a great place to shoot pictures, pieces like The Rio Grande, starring John Wayne, were created here.
Unfortunately, a part of Moab was also used as a prison for Japanese Americans during WW2, but today it is a vibrant little town, extremely popular as a vacation spot all year round.
One day in Moab itinerary
If you’re aiming to spend one day in Moab, you will want to spend it outdoors, surrounded by pristine nature and fresh air. However, there are still plenty of things to see and do here, so having an itinerary can be really handy. Here’s what we suggest! Be careful, though – you may need to mix and match some of the activities here, depending on the time you have.
Start your day with a drive to Dead Horse Point
Get an early start in Moab, hop into your car and drive to Dead Horse Point State Park. The park is actually on the very edge of Canyonlands National Park, but skipping it would be a big mistake. If you don’t feel like driving, there’s also a jet boat tour that will take you there.
You can get here in about 45 minutes from Moab, and the view of the Colorado River meandering below you will be absolutely astonishing.
You will also notice a road below you. Well, that’s Potash Road, the next item in this itinerary because it hides a very special place.
Stop at Thelma and Louise Point
Movie lovers surely know that legendary scene in which at the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT!) Thelma and Louise drive off a cliff in their car. Yes, in the movie it is said that this happened in the Grand Canyon, but the truth is that the scene was shot here.
Now, the actual place is quite easy to miss because the road is not that great and there are very few signs, but you will find a gravel parking space at the location. The view is nothing short of breathtaking, but if you continue up Potash Road, you will find many equally beautiful places.
You just can’t beat a morning drive here, that’s for sure.
Enter Canyonlands National Park
At this point, you will be right on the edge of Canyonlands National Park, so head on in because it would be a shame to miss it.
You can head on towards Mesa Arch, for example, one of the best-known places in the park from which you can enjoy a perfect view of the area below you just spreading out all the way to the horizon.
And should you come here at sunrise, you will be treated to one of the most beautiful dawns anywhere in the world, so definitely consider heading here first!
Close by is Island in the Sky, another incredible place offering magical sweeping views of the plains below. There’s a visitors center here too, so you can stop by for some info about the area in order to understand it better. If you have time, definitely check some of the interesting tours like scenic flight tour, self-driving tour or sky 4×4 tour.
Head back to Moab for lunch
After a busy start to your day, you’ll probably start thinking about some lunch at this point. So, head back to town and just drive along Highway 191 – there are loads of eateries to choose from here.
Moab Diner, for example, is a great place with an old-school vibe that serves breakfast all day long, but they also make one heck of a burger and will even provide you with a box lunch if you’re in a hurry. Thai Bella Moab is a great place for some noodles, whereas Desert Bistro takes things up a notch and offers a more intimate atmosphere and some excellent wines from their wine cellar which go great with their Southwestern dishes.
Apart from these, there are other good places to eat, but don’t skip on the food trucks around here, either – they are a great solution for a quick bite!
Go for a hike in Arches National Park
You’re here to see what nature can do, so rest a bit after your lunch before you head out to Arches National Park. Once there, you should climb up to Delicate Arch, probably the park’s most famous landmark.
This fascinating feat of nature has a wonderful location that provides you with a fantastic view if you want to see Delicate Arch up close, so it really pays to invest about two hours or so into the hike.
It’s recommended, however, that you avoid coming here in the middle of the day because it can get pretty hot, especially in the warmer part of the year. Later part of the day is ideal, especially if you’re here when the sun sets.
It should be mentioned that you can book an organized trip to the national park which includes a guide, but you can also take your own car. Either way, this is a fantastic way to start your one day in Moab.
Stop by Bartlett Wash
Once you’re done with the arch, you should head to Bartlett Wash, another fascinating feat of nature around Moab. Here, you can enjoy a nice walk and soak in the views, or you can bring out your mountain bike and enjoy a memorable ride.
The rock here is incredibly smooth and quite porous, and these two features work together to create an expanse like no other in the world. No doubt, this is a great place for all of you who want a great photo that will immortalize your one day in Moab.
In any case, if you’re sticking to our itinerary, this is a place that will add a lot to your visit to this town without taking too much of your time. Definitely, worth a visit!
Plan your evening in Moab
Evenings in Moab can be extremely entertaining. You can spend them in the town itself and check out the offer of the aforementioned numerous restaurants here, visit some of the microbreweries, or you can go and see some of the more unique places such as Moab Backyard Theater.
But you can also go for one last hike and explore the night sky with the help of rangers in the nearby parks. There are special programs that take place there every spring and fall, so you will be able to hear a lot of interesting things. And since there is practically no light pollution here, the image above you will show you the night sky in all its glory.
Where to stay in Moab?
Hoodoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton
111 N. 100 W., Moab, UT 84532
If you really want to live it up in this town, book a room in Hoodoo Moab. This beautifully designed hotel has everything you could need, from comfortable modern rooms to a great pool. It also serves a variety of different breakfast types and is just two miles from Arches National Park (32 miles from Canyonlands). Great location and an even better stay!
La Quinta by Wyndham Moab
815 South Main Street, Moab, UT 84532
La Quinta by Wyndham Moab has a lot to offer, and its pool, hot tub, and fitness center are just the beginning. Many of you will be glad to hear that pets are allowed, plus the rooms are very big and comfortable, so you’ll be able to rest well after a whole day of hiking. Just 15 minutes from Arches National Park, La Quinta should definitely be on your radar if you’re looking for accommodation in Moab.
Wingate by Wyndham Moab
1260 South Highway 191, Moab, 84532
Wingate by Wyndham Moab is another great choice when it comes to hotels in this town. Modern interior, a great sun terrace, comfortable and clean rooms, and an outdoor pool are just some of the reasons why you can expect to feel very good here. Pets are allowed to, which is certainly something to be considered, too. All in all, another excellent hotel in Moab.
Comfort Suites Moab near Arches National Park
400 North Main Street, Moab, UT 84532
Comfort Suites Moab are a great place to stay for a variety of reasons. First, you can reach Arches National Park in literally five minutes by car from this location, but you can also enjoy a pool, a great breakfast and very comfortable rooms here. Furthermore, the suites come with a fridge and a microwave. No doubt, this hotel will get you your money’s worth!
Day trips from Moab
If at all possible, stay more than one day in Moab. There is a whole lot to see and enjoy here, and having more time opens up loads of great opportunities in front of you. These are just some of the great places that can be the focus of your day trips.
If you like adventure and excitement, head to Westwater Canyon for a day of rafting. Not only will you tackle the mighty Colorado River, but you will also get to enjoy fantastic scenery and maybe even see bald eagles in the sky and otters and beavers in the river. One of the best ways to experience nature in this part of the world.
The state of Utah features some truly remarkable places, and spending one day in Bryce Canyon will make your jaw drop in amazement. The four hours’ drive from Moab is well worth it when you know that you’ll see geological formations that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Stunning viewpoints, awesome hiking trails, and mesmerizing night sky won’t let you leave this enchanting place.
Chesler Park is hidden deep within Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District, which is why booking a tour on a 4×4 vehicle is the best way to experience it. With a competent guide, you will see many amazing places, take in incredible sights, learn about what nature is capable of, and generally have an awesome day. Definitely a great day trip from Moab!
Hop in your own special vehicle and drive over the incredible rock formations of Hell’s Revenge. While not a day trip per se because it only takes about two and a half hours, the feeling of driving across this terrain and enjoying the incredible views that come with that is quite indescribable. If you’re looking for something more like a half-day trip from Moab, this one is definitely very hard to beat.
Extra tips for visiting Moab
– The rocks in the area around Moab can heat up quite easily, so it may be best to avoid hiking during the middle part of the day, especially during summer. Plan an early trip or a visit in the (late) afternoon instead.
– Hiking and exploring and not without their dangers here. You CAN get lost. Plan ahead, use a map, and tell someone when you’ll be back to your accommodation, if possible.
– Inspect your gear and vehicles before taking off. Of course, make sure you have enough water with you.
– Stick to designated trails and roads when hiking. Not doing so could cause long-term harm to the unique soil that surrounds you.
– Some off-road vehicles can be used on roads too in the state of Utah. There are some conditions they must meet, though, so make sure your vehicle is eligible if you’re planning something like this.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.