Moab is small town in eastern Utah with close proximity to both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. It attracts many tourists to these parks. In addition, it is an extremely popular base for mountain bikers and off-roaders.
Where to Stay
Quality Inn Moab Slick Rock Area
Over 80% of the rooms were booked the weekend I arrived in Moab. From the limited inventory on Hotels.com I selected Quality Inn Moab Slick Rock Area. There is more than one Quality Inn in Moab, so take note not to stay here. The reservation and check-in process was easy. The loved the front desk clerk’s eagerness to help. The free breakfast was standard for chain hotels.
I likely could have ignored the noisy heater and the running toilet, if the cleaning hadn’t been reprehensible. There was a large blood stain on the side of the toilet roll which really bothered me. I was pleased that housekeeping took it away after I removed it from the wall and placed it on the floor.
Expectedly, they also took the trash and changed my towels (despite me hanging them up). But leaving my bed unmade and the bathroom counter dirty made me wonder what else in the hotel room hadn’t been cleaned. I would not stay here again. Not to worry, there are a selection of hotel chains, campgrounds and even a few boutiques from which to choose.
Aarchway Inn, Moab
For a reasonably priced hotel just on the outskirts of town on the way to Arches, I would try Aarchway Inn, Moab. This place looked very nice and popular. And the reviews speak for themselves.
Red Cliffs Lodge
For a fancier and perhaps romantic option off the beaten path, reserve a room at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab. During low season (November), which I think is perfect season, I found a room which cost just $20 more than some of the chains. The atmosphere alone, a ranch tucked beneath red, sandstone cliffs and situated on the Colorado is worth $20. Though the wi-fi stinks, the Lodge offers a variety of activities and tours. There are also many tours available at Viator or Get Your Guide.
Places to Eat
98 Center Moab
I had a craving for Asian food and found a Vietnamese restaurant that serves excellent Pho. I ordered the beef pho, took my number, and paid at the counter. Large and flavorful, the bowl of pho warmed my insides. 98 Center Moab did not disappoint!
For a beer, try the only Microbrewery in town, Moab Brewery. The brewery also hosts the largest restaurant in Moab and has a distillery. This popular eatery, with a selection of American bites, almost always has a wait. Go early!
Things to Do
Visit a National Park
Some of the biggest attractions for tourists in Moab are the National Parks. Arches National Park is closest, but both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are worth a visit. Take a scenic drive or explore one of the many hiking trails.
Arches National Park
The hike to Delicate Arch is a classic. I would say any visitor that can hike up and down three miles on slick rock will complete this trail. The famous, free-standing arch stands 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. It is popular all times of the day though rather special at sunrise or sunset. For less crowds, Devils Garden Trail is an excellent, alternative choice. The 5+ mile trail leads hikers past several arches.
Canyonlands National Park
Though farther away from Moab than Arches, Canyonlands is also a wonderful place to visit. Its northern entrance leads to the Island in the Sky section of the park. There is a variety of easy, interesting trails in Island in the Sky. My top picks to collectively hike six miles are Mesa Arch, Whale Rock, Upheaval Dome Overlook, and Grand View Overlook. For a harder, much longer hike, try Syncline Loop.
Moab is known for its world class off-roading. The most iconic drive is Devil’s Backbone via Hell’s Revenge. Hire a tour company or conquer it yourself. Be careful not to end up like my friends on one of their off-roading experiences!
Sight See on Potash Road
Potash Road (or Hwy 279) is a scenic byway whose entrance is located just north of Moab. The road follows the Colorado River for 15 miles before it turns into a 4WD track. Not to worry, there are many sites to visit along the first few miles including wall street, petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks and arches!
Wall Street is a sheer cliff popular with rock climbers. Cars line the side of the road as climbers scale the formations.
Just after Wall Street, petroglyphs may be found right by the side of the road. The pull off is signed. No hiking needed! Enjoy the rock art includes antelopes and people that dates back hundreds of years.
The dinosaur tracks may be reached from the Poison Spider parking area. The short quarter mile trail is located on the northern end of the lot. The southern end leads to a popular ATV route. The sandstone path to the dinosaur tracks climbs up a rocky hillside. The tracks are marked, thus easily found.
The more adventurous may scramble up the rocks to a plateau below a rising cliff to see more petroglyphs and enjoy a nice view of the Colorado River.
This same trail also leads to Longbow Arch for anyone wishing to take a 2.4 mile hike.
Explore Castle Valley
Castle Valley is located just northeast of Moab off of scenic byway 128. This road, which also follows the Colorado River, is peppered with campgrounds and provides a plethora of activities. Take the whole day for a hike at Fisher Towers, a scenic drive on La Sal Mountain Loop, a stop at the free Movie Museum, and wine tasting at Castle Creek Winery.
Fisher Towers might have been my most favorite hike while in Moab. The 4.4 sandy and slickrock trail follows undulating terrain past AMAZING towers. Every turn afforded a different angle and shadow of these sandstone spires that looked like giant drip sand castles! From a distance, the tips on these towers looked razor thin.
Under closer inspection and a zoom lens, however, I watched climbers reach the narrow summit! It is unnecessary to hike the whole trail in order to enjoy the towers, but it is worth it to reach the end. The final view from the mesa provides a spectacular panorama of the valley, distant cliffs, The Colorado River, and the Fisher Towers.
La Sal Mountain Loop Road
After an early morning hike, back track a few miles to La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Take a scenic drive to Castle Valley and Mill Creek Overlooks. Many movies are filmed in this area so the paved road, though steep and winding, is well constructed.
Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage
Wonder which movies were filmed in the area. Stop in the Red Cliffs Lodge, turn left and head down the stairs to the free Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage. The small, three room museum features movie posters and paraphernalia. A video of history and interviews runs on a continuous loop as visitors browse the displays.
Castle Creek Winery
The Castle Creek Winery is located 14 miles down Hwy 128 next to the Red Cliffs Lodge. After visiting the museum, enjoy happy hour at the winery. $2 buys a taste of three different wines, many of which have won awards. After tasting wine, enjoy dinner at the Lodge or head back to Moab.
Stroll Main Street
Need a recovery day after playing outdoors for days? Stroll Moab’s Main Street. Admittedly, it is not terribly inviting as the main street is more like a highway, but there two blocks of cute stores and restaurants. It’s worth stopping in the Tom Till Gallery, the book store and surrounding retail shops.
Visit the Museum of Moab
Another quiet, indoor activity includes a visit to the Museum of Moab. Though currently undergoing a remodel, next year the museum will feature all-new exhibits featuring the regions geology, history, and culture.
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