With its saturated sandstone mesas, wide-open spaces and enough extreme adventures for the not-so-average explorer, Moab is a haven for both adrenaline-pumping undertakings and peaceful desert reflection.
Camping is a mainstay in the arid desert of Moab and waking up to a prismatic sunrise over a large expanse of maroon earth is otherworldly. No seriously, it’s like waking up on Mars. We set up camp at the Porcupine Rim Campground. The road there was long, bumpy and full of sharp turns and winds, but the view in the morning was worth the carsickness the night before. We tossed up ole Clementine (our orange tent) right next to the cliff bordering the breathtaking canyon pictured below. You can also find campgrounds in outside of town, near Canyonlands and along the Colorado River.
For the non tent-friendly, there are plenty of hotels and motels in town. Campers must also be wary of Moab’s unpredictable winds and rains, which can cause flash floods.
As you drive into town, the first thing you’ll notice are the multitudes of storefronts offering mountain bike rentals, ATV tours, canyoneering guides and more. You’ll also notice signs for Arches National Park, Canyonlands State Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and the list goes on. Here you’ll find crowds of park-goers ambling through the dusty walkways, zooming by on bike or puttering around on rented ATVs.
While Arches is undoubtedly the most famous, I would be sure to leave room for Canyonlands, which will be far less crowded during season. You’ll find hikes, walks and bike trails in both parks suited for any skill level.
Intermediate mountain bikers can take on the notorious Slick Rock trail, while avid hikers should check out both the Needles and Island in the Sky districts in Canyonlands.
The town is no stranger to the hoards of tourists seeking warm desert weather either. Restaurants range from steakhouses and breweries to vegetarian, Mexican and Italian faire. We opted for a quiet lunch on the patio of Peace Tree Juice Café, where the fresh selection of sandwiches, burgers, smoothies and salads is just what you need to fuel a day in Moab. Expect your burger bun to bear an emblazoned peace-sign brand on top, Peace Tree’s signature calling card. Follow up a healthy lunch with hearty espresso and sweet, creamy gelato from Moab Coffee Roasters, and then your day can officially start.
Putz around the throng of West-inspired souvenir shops, but don’t forget to book that adventure! As an avid rock climber and hiker, I decided I wanted to do something outside my realm of activities in Colorado—ATV rides.
I read a few reviews and decided that one particular guide sounded eons above the rest. We booked a sunset ride with Dave from Xtreme 4X4 tours after reading the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. Dave’s tour is a one-of-a-kind romp through the desert in his rebuilt Chevy Suburban. The machine is decked out with race-car-style hydraulics and a roll cage, so you can at least have some peace of mind while crawling up a vertical rock face like a spider.
“If it looks like we shouldn’t be going that way, chances are that’s the way we’re going!”
That was Dave’s warning, as we sped past groups of other ATVers, scooting along beside us at a snail’s pace. Dave would wait for his break then really open up his monster machine, cruising through the desert sand at such a high velocity it was impossible not to grin like an idiot.
Whether you have two days or two weeks in this desert adventure town, Moab offers something for everyone. Bring your family, a throng of friends or come alone the bottom line is, go!