We’ve already shared here about how much we loved our time in Arches and Canyonlands National Park. In part, it’s because of our stay in Moab, the gateway town that serves both parks. If you’re looking for some great ways to spend you day in Moab, Utah we’re sharing some of our top recommendations.
While we love the national parks (and recommend lots of hikes and things to do in Arches and Canyonlands as well), there’s plenty of things outside the park you wont want to miss.
10 Ways to Spend Your Days in Moab, Utah
1. Arches and Canyonlands National Park
Our top way to spend your day in Moab, Utah? In a national park! There are two amazing options for national parks near Moab. Even though Arches and Canyonlands are close together, they still showcase very different environments on the Colorado Plateau. Arches is your best spot for seeing–you guessed it–arches! Canyonlands protects the confluence of the world-famous Green and Colorado Rivers.
Need ideas on what to do in the parks? Check out our destination guides to Arches and Canyonlands.
2. Hike to Corona Arch.
Even if the crowds cause closures at Arches National Park, it’s still possible to get an up-close experience with one of the tallest arches in Utah. Corona Arch is located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property just a few minutes outside of Moab.
The moderate to streneous hike was one of our favorites on the entire trip and near the top of our list of things to do in Moab.
3. Raft the Colorado River.
While we didn’t have enough time on this trip, on our next adventure to Moab we’ll be dedicating some time to rafting the Colorado River. There are plenty of outfitters offering half day, full-day, and overnight trips departing from the Moab area. We love the idea of rafting the Grand Canyon someday, but think dipping a toe in the Colorado here would be a terrific way to spend your day in Moab.
4. Drive Upper Colorado Scenic Bi-Way - Highway 128
One of the choices we had to make when planning our Utah road trip was how to arrive in the Moab area. We’d heard some really terrific things about the routes in the area, and made a last minute decision to take a slightly longer route off I-25 on Utah Highway 128.
Known by the locals as “the river road,” the Upper Colorado Scenic Bi-Way, stretches 44.6 miles north of Moab. The route is a MUST-SEE during your time in the area. The hiking trails and 0ff-spur routes will keep you exploring for days. And the route is where you’ll find the Fisher’s Tower Loop hike, one of the most famous hiking trails in all of Utah.
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5. Check out the movie sites
As we approached one of the overlooks in Dead Horse State Park, a fellow tourist mentioned to us that it was “where the car goes over the edge in the movie Thelma and Louise.”
That started us down a rabbit hole of film history of all the incredible movie scenes that have been shot in the Moab area. Since the 1940s, directors and movie producers have chosen the red rocks and desert landscape of the Upper Colorado River to shoot movies. The Moab Information Center in downtown Moab maintains a brochure of all the locations and former film sets since the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission (the longest running film commission in the world) has been in operation.
A few of the famous movie scenes shot from the Moab area.
6. Stroll along the Mill Creek Parkway
One of the evenings after we’d spent a full day in Canyonlands National Park, we were looking for a quiet spot to wander, grab some ice cream, and just enjoy the sights of Moab. After grabbing a bite to eat at one of the local grab-and-go spots, we found ourselves wandering the Mill Creek Parkway through downtown.
Mill Creek starts high in the La Sal mountains and wanders it’s way through Moab to finally reach the Colorado. Within the city limits, the parks department maintains two miles of wide, paved bike and walking path along the river. There’s public art in several places on the trail, and easy on-and-off spurs leading into the neighborhoods around downtown.
7. Check out the local food scene.
Like most gateway towns, after you’ve spent your day in Moab’s national parks, you can easily find a place to put your feet up and enjoy a great meal. Moab has a growing local food scene, the Moab Brewery, and the Moab winery. We opted for the Spanish Valley Winery (just south of town) during our stay and packed a few bottles of estate-grown wines to take home for souvenirs.
8. Visit Dead Horse Point for Sunset
Although it’s not a national park you can check off the #parkchasing list, Dead Horse State Park near Moab should still be on your travel bucket list. Ask a local where to catch sunset, and odds are they’ll mention the views from Dead Horse Point (especially at sunset). We think it’s pretty spectacular at sunrise and the rest of the day too.
9. Check out the White Rim Road
If “spending a day in Moab” turns into “spending a week or two in Moab” one of the must-see adventures to take is driving the White Rim Road through Canyonlands National Park. The 100 mile off-road, challenging route is one of the most famous driving routes in the world. Four wheel drive trips take 2-3 days and bike trips can take 4 or more.
Watch 15 seconds of YouTube video of driving the White Rim Road and you’ll understand why so many people take on the extreme conditions.
10. Visit the La Sal Mountains.
When we first drove into our campsite in Moab, I (Amy) remember saying to Greg. We get Arches, Canyonlands, and snow-capped mountains?!?!
How we missed the memo that we’d wake up each morning to the gorgeous La Sal mountains was beyond us. They became our quiet companions throughout the trip. Only 20 miles from downtown Moab, and always standing bright blue in contrast to the red desert below.
As the second highest mountain range in Utah, some of the 13,000+ foot climbs and alpine lakes in the La Sal Wilderness warrant a backpacking adventure of their own.
Guess that means we’ll need another trip to Moab…