Favorite things to do around Moab, Utah
Updated: Aug 13
Moab is the gateway to all things outdoors. You can spend weeks on end here without feeling like you've done it all. To help you sift through the countless options at your disposal, we've come up with a list of our favorite things to see and do around Moab. Wondering where to stay? Skip to the last section below for places to camp in or near Moab, Utah.
Remember, if you start your trip in Las Vegas, you can rent camping gear from us before departing on your adventure! If you don't mean to camp, you can rent just a water jug and cooler to keep you hydrated and fed during your journey.
Things to know before visiting Moab
Here are some frequently asked questions about visiting Moab:
Is Moab expensive to visit? Yes. Moab is very popular and it's the only big town for many miles! Staying here, therefore, is significantly more expensive than other towns you'll pass on your way here. Expect high rates for food and lodging year-round, and even higher rates on weekends and holidays.
What amenities does Moab have to offer? Everything! This is a small town with big city amenities. You'll find campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, a large grocery store, hospital, car repair shops, outdoor gear shops, and much more.
What are the outdoor activities that Moab has to offer? Hiking, rock climbing, mountain and road biking, birdwatching, hunting, rafting and other boat tours, skydiving, dune buggy driving and other jeep tours, skiing, visiting ancient Puebloan sites, canyoneering, hot air balloon rides, wine tasting, horseback riding, scenic helicopter flights, should I go on? Tons of companies in Moab offer guided adventure tours. They are all great! An easy one to go with is the Moab Adventure Center since they practically guide it all.
Is there any shade in Moab? The center of town is a true desert oasis. There's a park at the center of town with a surprising amount of shade, but it's important to remember that this is still the desert. Compared to most of the surrounding attractions, Moab sits at lower elevation and is therefore warmer than the vicinity. Outside of the city center, it could be difficult to find shade, but not impossible. Places along the Colorado River offer cooler air. You'll find some spots with large cottonwood trees for shade, but they are few and far between. In hotter months, as you go farther into the desert, you'll spend most of your days shade-hopping from one sandstone cliff base to another.
Where can I fill up on potable water? It's a good idea to carry extra water with you at all times when in the desert. Moab is no exception. Fill up a 7g water jug with potable water and leave it in your car for emergencies. The easiest places to fill up are spigots at the city campgrounds, but you have to ask for permission if you're not staying there. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks have water filling stations at the visitor centers. You won't find potable water anywhere else, so plan accordingly.
How do I get to Moab? There's a tiny airport here with reasonably-priced flights. But then you need to rent a car to get anywhere, so flying directly to Moab might not be the best economic option. Same goes for the airports in Grand Junction and Cortez, both less than 3 hours away from Moab. The better alternative is to fly to either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, rent a car there, and road trip for a week or two around the Southwest national parks, including a few nights in Moab. For reference, Moab is about 5 hours drive from Salt Lake City and 7 hours from Las Vegas.
What's the best time of year to visit Moab? There's no such thing. Each season has its own pros and cons. Go whenever you can.
Winter (Dec-Mar): Days are shorter than you'd like them to be, nights are colder than you expect them to be, but daytime is usually perfection for physical outdoor pursuits.
Summer (June-Sept): Summer is unrelentlessly hot day and night. If summer is the only time you can visit the park, you can avoid both the crowds and the summer heat by limiting activity to sunsets and sunrises, which are always stunning in the desert. If you just want to lounge around on the banks of the Colorado River, this is the perfect season.
Spring (April-May) and fall (Oct-Nov): There's no such thing as spring and fall. Some days feel like winter and other days feel like summer. You just never know what you'll get when you go, so prepare for all seasons.
Conclusion: Right now is the best time of year to go to Moab.
Best day hikes around Moab
All the hikes around Moab are incredibly varied. I recommend for you to stay at least one night near each destination below.
Arches National Park
Moab is just a few minutes away by car from the entrance to Arches National Park. Here's our post about things to do in Arches. I recommend that you dedicate one full day to exploring this park. Here's my ideal Arches day for avid hikers: Sunrise hike to Delicate Arch, followed by morning hike around Devil's Garden Primitive Loop, then complete the day with short walks at the Windows, Double Arch, Balanced Rock, and Park Avenue.
Canyonlands National Park - Island in the Sky
Here's our post about things to do in Canyonlands National Park. Moab is about 30 minutes away by car from the entrance to Island in the Sky. Mandatory stops here include White Rim Overlook Trail and Mesa Arch. If you're feeling ambitious, you can embark on the Murphy Loop Trail for a full day hike.
Fisher Towers, Morning Glory Arch, Corona Arch
These are three short hikes that you can do in one day for morning, lunch, and dinner.
Fisher Towers in the farthest away, about 30 minutes from Moab. To get there, you must drive the extremely scenic Rt 128, and then turn onto a well-maintained dirt road for a couple of miles. There's a nice small primitive campground (no amenities) at the trailhead that I really like. Get up early in the morning and make this a sunrise hike. The trail follows the base of enormous dark red mudstone cliffs and opens up to the beautiful view of the valley.
Grandstaff Trail to Morning Glory Arch is best around noon because its thick vegetation and tall canyon walls offer a lot of shade. Watch out for poison ivy! The trail departs from Rt 128 across from Big Spring Campground. This is another nice primitive campground, but it is also one of the most popular thanks to its proximity to Moab.
Corona Arch trailhead is about 15 minutes south of Moab, still along the Colorado River. Hike this later in the day when the sun is a bit lower in the sky, but before sunset, because the trail has a few tricky sections of sandstone slabs that you want to do in daylight.
Other outdoor things to do near Moab
There are SO MANY outdoor things to do in the Moab vicinity. From mountain biking and rock climbing to rafting, canyoneering, jeep tours, and even visiting a vineyard. The Moab area will keep you entertained for weeks, if not months!
Guided outdoor activities
There are many great guided adventure companies in Moab, each specializing in a different sport. But for simplicity, the Moab Adventure Company pretty much does it all. Through them, you can book a Hummer tour of Hell's Revenge, a float trip down the Colorado River, guided rock climbing, canyoneering, and/or mountain biking. What else do you need?
Self-guided outdoor activities
Rent a jeep or a mountain bike, take a map, and go explore on your own!
Camping in or around Moab
Moab has a plethora of campgrounds to choose from in its vicinity. You can stay in a tent or RV in private campgrounds within the town borders or you can opt for organized campgrounds on public lands. The majority of campgrounds in this area only have vault toilets and no running water. Bring a water jug with you that you can fill in town before going to your campsite. We suggest having a high-clearance vehicle if the campground you're aiming for requires driving for over a mile on a dirt road.
RV Parks and Campgrounds in Moab
There is only one RV park, Sun Outdoors, near the center of town, making it a great choice for those who just want to park the car and walk to civilization. If you're in a tent, but want to stay in town, check out Up the Creek Campground. Finally, there are a handful of campgrounds on the outskirts of Moab with RV hookups, showers, swimming pool, and other amenities. They may be nice, but I don't see the point of staying here unless you absolutely need RV hookup.
Campgrounds in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
These campgrounds are beautiful but far away from just about anything. They all have pit toilets, but no running water or cell phone reception. For drinking water, you'd have to fill up at the visitor centers.
Our thoughts about these campgrounds: Moab has so much around it that I think it's better to find a campsite in a more central location. However, if you're looking for solitude and want to explore these parks to the max, then these are great options!
Reservations: Required March-October only in Arches. Book here
BLM Campgrounds around Moab
The Bureau of Land Management maintains 26 beautiful campgrounds in the Moab area. These campgrounds are fantastic! The only problem: They are very popular and you cannot reserve them in advance. These campgrounds all have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables, but no running water and no cell service. My favorites, based solely on location, are along Scenic Byway 128, as close to the intersection with Hwy 191 as possible. This is the place you want to go in summer to get some shade from cottonwood trees and pick up some fresh air from the cool river.
Our thoughts about these campgrounds: LOVE THEM ALL! But you have to be lucky to get a spot.
Reservations: First come first served. Try to arrive in the morning, about an hour before checkout time, and drive around looking for anyone who might be vacating their site. Bring exact change in cash to pay for your campsite at the self-pay station. Check nightly rate here. See map below to decide where to look first.
Dispersed Camping near Moab
Dispersed camping is a term used to describe free roadside camping. These are unofficial yet legal camping spots with no amenities whatsoever. Practice Leave-No-Trace principles and keep our public lands wild and clean.
If you'd like to practice dispersed camping near Moab, you'd have to drive at least 20 miles away from town. Within 20 miles, you can only legally stay overnight in designated sites, even if it is technically still dispersed camping. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a great map of places to camp for free.
Moab is a year-round destination with breathtaking rock formations and panoramic views. Don't forget to reserve your camping gear rental with us.
Try planning your next trip to the Moab area DetourOn! You can edit this template and download the free roadbook. If you'd like more information on any of the destinations mentioned please don’t hesitate to contact us.