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If you’re looking for a trip that combines adventure with beautiful scenery, look no further than the charming town of Moab, Utah. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for desert fun including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. When you’re not out exploring, Moab is a nice place to call your home base when you’re ready to shop or unwind in the pool.
If you’re wondering what to do while you’re in the area, take a look at what our family did during our three nights and two full days in Moab. For this post, I’ll only be sharing the activities we actually participated in, though we only scratched the surface. There is plenty more fun that we didn’t have time for on this visit to Moab, which happened to be our first! We had such a great time, we hope to return one day.
Our Moab, Utah, Itinerary
Since it was our first visit to the area, we weren’t exactly sure how to go about exploring the Moab area. Plus, we had a couple of unexpected things pop up that changed our plans a hair here and there. We’ve always believed in flexibility, so in the grand scheme of things, these “mishaps” weren’t that big of deal.
Check in to our cabin (we arrived after dark)
Day 1 and Night 2
Morning: Dead Horse Point State Park; Canyonlands NPS Visitor Center at Island in the Sky
Afternoon: Swim at the campground; early dinner at the cabin
Evening: Arches National Park; Windows area, Fiery Furnace area, attempt to hike to Delicate Arch
Night: Stargazing in Arches National Park
Day 2 and Night 3
Morning: Canyonlands National Park; Grand View Point Road; Hike to Mesa Arch
Afternoon: Shopping in Moab; lunch at the food trucks in Moab
Evening: Arches National Park; Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers area; ; Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Night: Dinner at the cabin
We checked out and continued our road trip the next morning. Our next destination: Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. To read more about Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, click here. To read about our relaxing hike at Bear Lake, click here.
Where We Stayed in Moab, Utah
We stayed right outside of town at the Moab KOA Holiday. It was our first stay in a cabin at a KOA, but it wasn’t our last. These cabins are super nice, and ours had a bathroom, a kitchenette, and air conditioning. We had a grill and a firepit. I feel like we get a taste of camping in a campground while still having the feel of a hotel. This is nice for when you don’t want to haul a bunch of gear across the country.
Of course, if you have an RV, this is a great place for you, too! If I were tent camping or had an RV, I would probably consider staying up near Canyonlands or Dead Horse State Park. The stargazing there would be awesome. We could see more stars at the KOA than we could at home, but there is still a bit of light pollution near Moab. I would go into the wilderness for the best experience.
Where We Dined in Moab, Utah
One of my favorite food experiences during the entire road trip was eating at this food truck in Moab. Quesadilla Mobilla is a chain, apparently, but this one was the first we’d ever encountered.
These quesadillas are so yummy and filling!
Since the pandemic was on, and it was before vaccines were available, we were reluctant to eat indoors. Food trucks to the rescue! Though there is also a food truck park next door to this food truck. There are all kinds of options.
It’s also worth noting that the food trucks are right in the middle of town. You’ll see the area when you drive down the main strip in Moab.
We also grabbed Pizza Hut and took it to the cabin one evening. Another night, we grabbed groceries and grilled at the cabin.
What We Did in Moab, Utah
National and State Parks
As noted in the itinerary, we spent most of our time in the parks in the area.
Arches National Park
We spent the most time in Arches National Park, and it is probably the most popular. We visited in July, and I never felt like it was crowded or overrun with people. Still, we traveled in 2020, so the pandemic was on. Also, since it was so hot, we visited Arches in the evenings.
Arches is a park you can easily drive through and stop at viewpoints and short hikes. There are also longer hikes if you’re interested in that. We should’ve set out for Delicate Arch much earlier, and we didn’t make it to the arch. If you’d like to read more about experiences in Arches National Park, click here.
Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky
We spent two mornings at Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky. The first morning, we had a slight detour in our plans because I’d left my purse in a restaurant an hour away the night before. We spent some of our touring time retrieving it. Luckily, it was only an hour away!
When we did get to Canyonlands, it was really starting to warm up. We did the visitor center and a viewpoint before heading to Dead Horse State Park and making a plan to return to Canyonlands the next morning.
Canyonlands National Park has two other sections that we didn’t even make it to! You could definitely plan to spend more time in this area. We also didn’t do any 4X4 tours that are popular, and we didn’t do any long hikes. You could easily spend a week here and still not do everything!
Dead Horse Point State Park
If you’re into gooseneck river overviews, be sure to check out Dead Horse Point State Park. There are a lot of trails, but we just walked around the main viewing area. It’s a view not to be missed!
Exploring Downtown Moab
Though many people claim to not enjoy “touristy” areas, we embrace them! We love checking out the local shops and restaurants. For us this is half the fun!
We usually try to get a magnet, and t-shirts are never out of the question.
I also bought a small piece of Ute pottery. I love having little pieces of our trips in our home.
If you are traveling with kids, you’ll probably want to make time for some swimming. It is hot in July, and if your place of lodging has a pool, you’ll probably want to take advantage of that.
Moab, Utah: The Wrap-Up
This is one of my favorite places we’ve explored. You have the parks and adventure, but you also have the tourist town to explore. The area is gorgeous–as Midwesterners, we’d never seen the red rocks of the Utah desert before this road trip. We hope to make it to the area again. One thing I’d like to do is complete the hike to Delicate Arch. I’d also like to check out the other sections of Canyonlands National Park. Plus, we didn’t get to try a lot of restaurants this time. I’d be game to repeat this part of the trip anytime!