Moab, Utah is a hub for outdoor enthusiast. Whether you explore back country trails by foot, two wheels, 4X4, or on horseback, Moab has you covered. There’s watersports as well. Some of the most famous parks in the country connect to Moab- Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. You can rent or buy nearly any kind of outfitting gear in Moab. So, if you are arriving by air- the locals have you covered.
First, a word about safety. The Utah desert is brutal. It can be very very dangerous. Now is when I put on my Girl Scout Leader Vest and tell you to “Be Prepared.” Seriously. Grand County Sherriff’s Search and Rescue Team is the busiest in Utah. They extensively train four separate operations teams to rescue people who are underprepared and overextend themselves. So, let’s review what you need to do to avoid being on the next incident report.
Dress appropriately. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, and lightweight clothes for day. Many times of year, the temperature in the desert drops drastically at sunset. Even if you plan to be back before night, bring a jacket, hat, and gloves, and an emergency blanket.
Bring more water than you think you need. The suggested amount is a gallon per person per day with electrolyte powder.
Bring Food. Salty trail mix or an energy bar are both good choices.
Have a contact person. Tell them where you are going and when you plan to return.
Know your location without relying on your phone. There are many places throughout Grand County that there will not be a cell phone signal. Have a map and compass and a GPS that doesn’t operate on cell signal.
Be honest with yourself about your skill and fitness level. Many trails in the area are expert level. The average tourist is not an expert.
Take a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries and a firestarter.
Bring a first aid kit and a cell phone. Even though cell signal is hit or miss, bring your phone.
Check the weather. Be aware of lightning, flooding, and heat. Also, in the Winter, there is danger of avalanche in the Le Sal Mountains.
And, of course, if you are going to be on the water-wear a life jacket.
Now that we have our safety talk out of the way, let’s get to the adventures!
Arches National Park
At the time of this writing, the National Park Service has issued a timed-entry reservation system for Arches. You can get your ticket at Recreation.gov. You can’t do this at the entrance station or the office at the park. It needs to be done advance online, on the app, or by phone: 877-833-6777. It’s just $2 per day reservation fee per vehicle in addition to the park entry fee. As always, if you are planning to visit more than one park this year, I suggest you purchase an interagency pass.
Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches. Stop at the visitor center for a trail map and suggestions. If you have kids, ask about the Junior Ranger Program.
From the park road, you’ll be able to see Balanced Rock. This rock formation is 128 ft. tall. The boulder that is doing the balancing act weighs 3600 tons!
Keep driving to the Windows Section of the park for some great short hikes around the magnificent Double Arch.
There is a large concentration of arches in this section of the park and it was my family’s favorite area to explore. We did all of the trails in this area.
The most iconic arch in the park is Delicate Arch. This is the one featured on the Utah state license plate. The hike to get to Delicate Arch is only 3 miles. But, it takes about 3 hours. It is rated difficult. It’s a steady uphill trudge 538 feet. Then, traverse a narrow rock ledge for 200 yards. There’s no shade and the rock is slick. The day we were at Arches, the park ranger on duty strongly discouraged us from doing it. It was a very hot day and she told us very plainly that it was too dangerous. She pointed to a worn water bottle on the counter that the rangers use as a visual aid. “At least 2 quarts of water per person is recommended on a normal day. Today, you’d probably need 4.” We opted to take the easy way out. The Delicate Arch Lower Viewpoint Trail is only 200 ft round trip. It’s level and has it’s own parking area. I got excellent pictures.
We spent the rest of our time in Arches driving and enjoying the air conditioner. The scenery is miraculous.
Afterward we headed out to find dinner. We really enjoyed Canyon Pizza Company. They have a gluten-free pizza! I was so excited that I may or may not have eaten an entire pie myself.
Other restaurants in Moab that we enjoyed were Pasta Jay’s and the Spoke on Center (for ice cream). There’s also a food truck park that was really cool.