Moab Travel Guide
Moab, Utah attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s definitely an outdoor playground featuring national parks, world class mountain biking trails, and so many other outdoor activities that can be as low key or as wild as you want them to be. It’s a small town, packed full of personality and adventure. There’s a reason why so many people flock to the desert every year, and after living in Utah for nearly 25 years, I’m glad I finally made the trip myself. This Moab travel guide is a detailed list of all the things we did, saw, ate, and sipped on! If Moab wasn’t on your travel bucket list before you read this post, I’m sure if will be after!
Buckle up, because I’m breaking down all of the trip details farther down in the post (and it’s a long one), but you can watch the Moab travel guide video below, to get a taste of what Moab has to offer!
Moab is just slightly over a 3.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City, so me and a bunch of my best girlfriends packed up a truck and made the drive down to the Southern Utah desert.
We spent an extended weekend exploring, hiking, eating, jeeping, glamping in the wilderness, and having a blast. And I’m detailing it all for you in this Moab travel guide. I hope it helps you find some new things to explore!
Where to Stay –
When we first started talking about taking a Moab trip, I knew I wanted to stay at Under Canvas. It had been on my travel bucket list for awhile and I knew they had a Moab location. Once I showed the girls the details, it wasn’t hard to convince them. This is “glamping” at it’s finest. Not to mention that Under Canvas was awarded one of the ‘Top 15 Resort Hotels in the West’ by Travel + Leisure, and one of the ‘Top 25 Resorts in the US – Midwest & West’ by Condé Nast Traveler, so there’s a good reason why it made it onto this Moab travel guide!
There are a few different sleeping tents that you can choose from, but all of them include comfy king size beds, West Elm leather camp chairs, USB battery packs to change your electronics, and a wood burning stove to keep things cozy at night. (These are not your average camping tents!)
Some of the tent options include private attached bathrooms and queen sized sofa beds too. They even have a kids tent that you can add onto a regular tent rental, which comes complete with two twin beds. Most of the tents comfortably sleep two people, but you can also add an extra cot to your tent if you have a larger party.
Overall I felt they were roomy and had enough space for luggage and lounging too.
The grounds are gorgeous! I definitely felt one with the outdoors without having to worry about pitching a tent and packing a sleeping bag.
The campground is located right in the middle of the Utah desert and is surrounded by nature and close to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Plus, you can’t beat the stars at night from this secluded location. They were incredible!
There’s a main gathering area at the check-in tent, where you can lounge around, play some board games, grab snacks, or gather around the community campfires at night to make s’mores! The site also has nice bathroom facilities (complete with organic bath products, hot showers, and flushing toilets) that are a super short walk away, if you book a tent that doesn’t include an attached bathroom.
Where to Eat –
Jailhouse Cafe – A cozy little pink building serving up breakfast every day. The building was the first County courthouse in the area, hence the name, but the restaurant has been around for almost 30 years now and has a cute little patio too. The menu includes all of the traditional breakfast options, but no matter what you order, make sure to try the soul bacon! Also, plan to get here early because they close at noon!
Quesadilla Mobilla – This one is a great spot for a quick lunch on the go. It’s a food truck that offers…you guessed it…quesadillas! They’re big and delicious. The “Enchanted Chicken” and “The Dirt Bag” were a few of our faves! Find it parked on Main Street.
Moab Coffee Roasters – A great spot to grab a quick bite and coffee in the morning. They offer all the usual caffeine favorites and the pastry case is also stocked with muffins, bagels, and breakfast burritos too. Plenty of outside tables for seating and the line moves pretty quickly. If you’re looking for a substantial and filling breakfast, this isn’t the spot to hit, but it’s great for something quick and easy!
The Broken Oar Restaurant – Considered one of the best restaurants in Moab, this log cabin spot is a little off the beaten path. Everything we had on the menu, including the burgers, wings, and tacos were good. It’s only open for dinner and does get crowded, so plan to get here early, if possible. And it’s true what they say…get the sweet potato fries!
Zax Restaurant & Watering Hole – We stopped here to grab dinner one night after a day of hiking. They serve a little bit of everything including, burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. I’d definitely recommend trying their honey crust pizza dough (the recipe goes back over 25 years!). If you can’t decide on just one pizza flavor, opt for their pizza buffet option instead. Located on Main Street.
Sunset Grill – One of the oldest operating restaurants in Moab, it sits on top of a hill with a lovely view overlooking the Moab desert. Some people complain about the drive to get here, so if you have the time, schedule their free shuttle service to pick you up from your hotel. The food is decent, but the view and location is what makes this spot worth it. If it’s not too hot, opt for an outside table to take it all in.
Other places that were on our list, but we didn’t have time to try included Doughbird (donuts!), Antica Forma, and Milt’s Stop & Eat. Hopefully I can visit again soon and add them to the Moab travel guide in the future!
Where to Grab a Drink –
Moab Brewery – I added this spot to the drink list, but it’s actually also one of the biggest restaurants in Moab. They’ve been around since 1996 and serve up glasses of cold brews daily (including Sundays). They’re known for their “Dead Horse Ale”, which is named after a scenic overlook near Canyonlands National Park, but all of the beers we tried were good. We even took a few cans of the “Moab Pilsner” back to our tents with us. After a day of hiking, it’s so nice to head here and relax with a cold beer. If you’re hungry, order some food, and also get the “beerimusu” (their take on the classic Tiramisu).
Moab Distillery – Though technically not a spot where you can sit down and grab a drink, I wanted to mention this spot, which is located right next to the Moab Brewery. They make their own vodka, gin, blue agave, and whiskey, so if you’re into liquor, it’s a great opportunity to try some locally made and award winning spirits. You can pick up any of their bottles at the Moab Brewery store.
Castle Creek Winery – When I found out that Moab had a winery, it was automatically on the list. Ha. They have a variety of house wines, including Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Red Blends. I really liked “The Outlaw” blend. Tastings are $1 a glass, but are limited. This is Utah after all.
All in all, the wine was decent, but it’s no Napa winery. Regardless, it’s a fun place to stop and take a break from all of the outdoor adventures during the day. The grounds of the winery are gorgeous and so is the drive to get there. Overall, it’s worth making a stop.
(I have read some information about the winery closing next year, but I’m not 100% sure on details).
What to Do –
Go hiking – Obviously, this is a big one and a majority of how we spent our time while there. There are SOOOO many places to hike and so many amazing things to see that’s it’s hard to narrow it down if you’re only spending a few days in Moab. We packed in as many hikes as possible, given our short stay, but managed to explore a few different trails in three of the main parks. I’m including the hikes that we did and a few that we wanted to do, but didn’t, in this Moab travel guide.
Arches National Park:
The Arches entry fee is $30 per car/van (up to 15 people) or you can buy a Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass for $55. An America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass ($80 for all National Parks) will also get you into the park.
Delicate Arch Trail – I think it’s safe to say that this trail is the most popular trail in Moab (and maybe all of Utah). After all, this is the famous arch that you’ll see on all the license plates in the state. The trail is 3.2 miles long and is generally very busy with a lot of foot traffic. If you want to avoid the crowds and have ample time for photos and taking it all in, I’d highly recommend getting up early and visiting the arch for sunrise or going around 9am when the morning crowd is heading back down. During the afternoons and busier times, there will be lines of people waiting to get photos. Overall, the hike is generally easy, but there is about a mile of an uphill climb and it does get hot, so make sure to bring some water. This hike is definitely worth the trek, so don’t skip it. And if it’s windy, make sure to hold your hats 😉
Landscape Arch – This arch is believed to be the longest natural rock span in the world. It’s an easy 2.5 mile hike round trip, which starts at the Devil’s Garden trailhead entrance. If you don’t mind adding another half mile to your trip, make a detour and check out Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch before continuing on the path to Landscape Arch. It’s an equally easy trail, and you get to check two more impressive Arches off the list. The majority of the path is a wide gravel trail, and you’ll walk through some cool scenery and impressive sandstone formations. You’ll hit a little bit of sand right before getting to the arch. An old trail used to go underneath the arch, but it was closed in the 90’s after pieces of the arch fell. There’s now a fence in place, blocking anyone from getting much closer than this view, but it’s definitely worth seeing regardless.
Sand Dune Arch & Broken Arch – The trail heads for these two hikes are located on the same path in the Northern end of Arches National Park. The Sand Dune Arch trail is exactly as the name implies…sandy. It’s a super easy hike, with the arch only 0.2 miles from the trailhead. The path to the arch is generally shaded most of the day thanks to being in a slot canyon. There are some narrow spots, but it’s a great hike for families, older family members, and beginners too. A lot of people even take off their shoes to feel the sand between their toes as they hike. Highly recommend this hike, even if you just fit it in quickly. The views are gorgeous and it’s worth the stop.
I’m not sure why they gave Broken Arch it’s name, because it’s not really broken, but it is stunning. The trailhead is located east of the Sand Dune Arch trail. It’s about 1.7 miles total and you’ll be rewarded with a walk through the arch at the end. We were pleasantly surprised to find the trail (and the arch itself) pretty empty, which was awesome. Overall, it’s an easy hike. There is sand and you do have to scramble up a small rock section to get to the arch, but overall it’s a good flat trail for all skill levels and families.
The Windows Loop trail, Fiery Furnace trail, and Wolfe Ranch and Petroglyph trail were also on our wish list.
Canyonlands National Park:
Canyonlands entry fee is $30 per car/van (up to 15 people) or you can buy a Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass for $55. An America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass ($80 for all National Parks) will also get you into the park.
Mesa Arch – The hike to get to Mesa Arch is a 0.7 mile hike that is very busy. Much like Delicate Arch, this one is a popular spot and trying to avoid a crowd is difficult. Expect to wait in line to take photos. The backdrop directly behind the Arch is stunning and would be amazing to catch at sunrise or sunset. The hike itself is a fast and super simple loop, with the arch right in the middle. Great for all skill levels and great for kids too. Despite the crowds, still worth making a quick stop!
The White Rim Overlook trail, Druid Arch trail, and the Grand View Point trail were also on the list, but we didn’t have time to get them done.
Dead Horse Point:
Dead Horse Point is a State Park and they do charge entry fees. (It was $20 for up to 8 people, when we visited). It’s another popular destination and once you see the views, you’ll understand why. The mesa sits 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and some say it’s even better than the Grand Canyon. It also happens to be one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. There are miles of hiking trails in the park, including a paved trail which gives access to some of the most scenic views in the park.You may recognize the scenery from the show “Westworld” on HBO or the movie “Thelma and Louise”. There is also a mountain biking trail, which is family friendly. The park also happens to be one of the best places to stargaze in Moab! (Definitely need to work on adding that to the Moab travel guide!) Check the park’s calendar to see when the staff offer night time programs.
Go off-roading – None of us had experienced driving off-road, or “jeeping” in Moab before, but it’s one of the things that comes highly recommended when visiting, so I had to add it to the must-do list and the Moab travel guide. Because none of us felt comfortable driving, we decided to hire a guide for a tour. If you don’t have experience driving off-road, I’d definitely recommend booking one. Looking back now, it was the smartest thing we could have done. We were able to experience so many other things that a lot of the other drivers didn’t have access to, and we didn’t have to stress about falling off a cliff or getting high centered either. Haha. We were able to enjoy it (& scream a few times), which made it so much more fun!
(Yes, we’re in that jeep and, yes, it was seriously that steep. We felt like we were straight up the in the air).
We used Dan Mick’s Jeep Tours and I would HIGHLY recommend them. They were fun and knowledgeable, and really card about the trails and the environment too. (They also didn’t mind trying to scare us a few times either). I think we all agreed that it was the highlight of the trip. We did the Hell’s Revenge trail (including all the obstacles…look them up. They’re wild) and spent a few hours out climbing rocks in the Moab desert.
(A few of the obstacles are insane and not many people can do them safely, so when someone can, it tends to draw a crowd).
The trails can also get really busy, so it’s nice having someone else navigate them for you. Overall, all of us rated this a 10/10. Highly recommend!
If you have more time left in your schedule after hiking, wine tasting, and going off-roading you can also try to fit in mountain biking (Moab is one of the mountain biking capitals of the world!), canyoneering, horse back riding, jet boating, rafting, fishing, and golfing, just to name a few. We would have loved to do more, but we filled our weekend full of as much as we could, and it gives us an opportunity to go back to experience more! Moab really is an outdoor playground and you’re only as limited as your schedule.
Overall, the trip was jam packed with so many stunning landscapes, fun adventures, and amazing memories. I hope this Moab travel guide helps you figure out a few new things to add to your Moab bucket list, and if you’ve never thought about visiting, I hope it changed your mind. Happy travels!