With its large red rock formations, buttes, mesas, and Native American rock art, this eastern Utah city provides much to see and do. Let’s investigate some of the things to do in Moab, Utah so that you can decide if it is a destination of choice for you and your family.
In addition to the stunning beauty of this area, you will also find archaeological artifacts and dinosaur bones. In Copper Ridge and Bull Canyon Overlook there are actually dinosaur tracks.
Some History of this Area
In the nineteenth century this area served mainly as a Colorado River crossing along the Old Spanish Trail. A permanent settlement was established for Moab in 1878. Brigham Young was mostly responsible for this. Then on December 20th, 1902 Moab was incorporated as a town.
Although originally based on agriculture, the economy of the area shifted to mining vanadium, uranium, manganese, potash, and later gas and oil. The rich deposits of uranium ore contributed to the economic boom of this area where in the 1950s it was known as the “Uranium Capital of the World”.
During this time the population grew nearly five hundred (500%) percent to about six thousand (6000) people. But after the cold war the population declined as the uranium mines began to close.
Many movies have been filmed in this area using Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park as backdrops. In fact, in 1949 the John Ford film, Wagon Master, was filmed in this area.
This is a favorite area for photographers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, rafters, and hikers. Since the 1970s tourism plays a major part in the economy here. Many people are attracted to this area for owning second homes since the winters are relatively mild and the summers very pleasant.
Now for a Few Basic Facts
- The current population is approximately five thousand three hundred and twenty-two (5,322)
- It is the largest city in Grand County
- It is located on the Colorado Plateau with an elevation of 4,025 feet (1227 meters)
- Moab is eighteen (18) miles (29 kilometers) from the Utah/Colorado state line
- The name Moab is a biblical term which refers to the land located east of the Jordan River. Some have speculated that the name has Paiute origins with the name of “moapa” meaning mosquito
- The climate is semi-arid
- The medium household income is thirty-two thousand six hundred and twenty ($32,620) dollars
- The medium family income is thirty-eight thousand two hundred and fourteen ($38,214)
- There is a regional campus in Moab for Utah State University
Plenty of Outdoor Activities
This is the place to explore if you enjoy being outside. Just the sheer beauty of this area makes it mandatory to bring your camera and take a few photos as you journey along.
Many of the activities which you can enjoy include rock climbing, road biking (home of the annual Skinny Tire Festival), hiking and backpacking, slacklining and highlining (the world record for long highlines took place here), kayaking and whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, camping trips, and even BASE jumping is legal in many areas near Moab.
Now let’s get a little more specific on things to see and do. First, check out this video which will give you a good visual of what we are talking about here. Then we will outline a few “must sees” when you come to this area.
* Take a Drive along the Utah State Road 128 — Whether you choose to be active in all the numerous outdoor activities or not, you can certainly enjoy the scenery and stunning landscapes in the area. There is no better way to take this all in than to take a ride along Route 128. The desert scenery is out of this world, and you most certainly want to have your camera handy. Riding along the canyon as well as the Colorado River is breathtaking. At many points on the drive you will be stopping to take pictures at practically every curve. The interesting thing about this road is even with all this fantastic beauty and scenery, you will see few cars and tourists. The road goes from Cisco to Moab and takes about an hour to drive. It’s about forty-six (46) miles.
* What About Rafting the Colorado River — This is a great summer activity with a variety of rafting trips available dependent on you level of adventure. They have family friendly trips as well as the more extreme ones. Again, the scenery along the river is absolutely gorgeous. Now for those who want to skip all this type of excitement, there is the Sound and Light Show with Dinner which takes place on a very slow moving boat on a calm part of the river near Moab. This takes place during the summer through October.
* Canyonlands National Park — This is a huge park which is divided into many areas, and it is one of the lesser known national parks. From Moab the closest part of the park to visit is Island in the Sky. It’s about a forty (40) minute drive from Moab (30 miles or 48 kilometers). There is a scenic drive which loops around which allows you to take in a number of viewpoints and vistas. This area looks a lot like the Grand Canyon minus the large amount of tourists. For some breathtaking scenery hike over to Mesa Arch. To figure out the best hikes to do in the area stop at Island in the Sky Visitor Center where you can obtain info on the best hiking trails in the area. Now the Needle District of the park is a bit further away and it is best to set up a guide for this part of the journey.
* Arches National Park — This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the entire country. You can take a scenic drive through the park and make a few stops along the way. Some of the best places to check out are Park Avenue viewpoint, Double Arch, the Balance Rock, and the Windows. You can find some rock art the Delicate Arch Trail, which also is one of the best trails in the park.
* Check Out the Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park — Just a short drive from Moab on your way to Canyonlands National Park, you can locate several viewpoints from which to take in the sunset in this park. The most popular viewpoint is Dead Horse Point, but there are several others to consider, especially the one at the end of the road.
* Plenty of Events in the Town — This town has a plethora of festivals and different kinds of events for you to take in and enjoy. For example, there are skydive festivals, pride festivals, jeep festivals, art festivals, Scottish festivals, bike festivals, and music festivals to name a few. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, then you can check out a few other events and activities such as quilting shows, car shows, marathons, parades, and even rock and gem shows.
* Small Town Hospitality — Combined with the beautiful red rock scenery, national parks, and other outdoor activities, there is the relaxing atmosphere of this charming town. The people are friendly and welcoming.
* A Perfect Place to Stay — Although there are a variety of choices for accommodations to suit all budget levels, there is one place which will most definitely give you the total experience of this area is Moab Springs Ranch. It’s in a most beautiful setting among the cottonwood trees and surrounded by red rock. You have a choice of townhouses or bungalows.
* Courthouse Wash — Better than going to a museum, you can just head north on Highway 191 and when you cross the Colorado River bridge you will find nineteen (19) feet (5.7 meters) high, fifty-two (52) feet (15.8 meters) long art panel full of ancient Native American Art. Actually older drawings were discovered behind the white shields held by the figures.
* A Zip Line Adventure — You are provided quite an exciting day by Rim Zip Line Adventures. Your day begins with hopping on an off-road four-wheel drive vehicle which will transport you to the high desert area of Moab. It is here that you will find six (6) zip lines as well as a suspension bridge to test your mettle.
* Moab Giants — Take a walking trail among life-sized dinosaurs. In addition to the Moab Giant’s walking trail, you can also spend time in the Tracks Museum where there is much to see as well as learn about fossilized footprints. There are many great exhibits within this museum with 3-D movies about covering the Age of the Dinosaurs from two hundred and twenty (220,000,000) million years ago. Don’t forget while your are traversing the outside trail you can spend some time digging up a few dinosaur bones.
* Movie Sites — The longest running film commission in the world is the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission. This dates way back to the old classic westerns. There are many film sites to see all around this area.
An Outdoor Person’s Dream
For folks who enjoy the great outdoors this is a perfect place to visit and spend some time. For adventure seekers, there is so much to do that you will not get bored. Families have plenty of activities as well. Just showing up here with a camera will suffice for many who just want to take in the alluring scenery.
Even spending time in town you will have plenty to do with all the events and festivals. There is a unique combination here of magnificent scenery, the Colorado River, and small resort town hospitality. And one thing I failed to mention is the downtown business district is full of shops, galleries, restaurants, and microbreweries. As far as the cuisine is concerned, you can find great regional southwester dishes as well as world-class gourmet.
The shops downtown are a variety of places to pick up souvenirs, t-shirts, and southwestern jewelry and art. The Moab Information Center will provide you with all the details which you need to know about this area.
Given all the attractions around here as well as the hometown hospitality, this just may be a place you would want to visit at some point in time.
Once again, Happy Travels.