With a huge variety of things to do, Moab is a popular vacation destination in Utah (United States). If you have lots of time in Moab, you can go horse riding, mountain biking, walk dinosaur trails, and even visit a winery… But what are the must see places and must do activities in Moab if you are visiting for the first time and only have limited time…
This is in no way a complete list of things to do in Moab, but if you tick each of the items from the list, then you know you’ve seen the very best that this area has to offer. Find out!
TIP: You will need at least 2 full days to see each of these places. At the bottom of this post I also included our Moab itinerary for 2 to 3 days. It covers all the best things to do in Moab area.
Visit Arches National Park
One of the main reasons people come to Moab is to visit one of the most beautiful National Parks of the United States – Arches NP. So if you only have one day in Moab, spend it exploring Arches.
In one of my previous posts you can find all the suggestions for the best things to do in Arches National Park. Note that one day is a bit short for the park, so if you want to do some hiking and explore more, consider spending more time. But if you are short on time and want to see the best that Arches National Park has to offer, here are the main highlights: the scenic drive through the park with short stops at the Balanced Rock, Double Arch, The Windows, and Park Avenue viewpoint. The best hike in the park is the Delicate Arch trail where you can also find some rock art.
Visit Canyonlands National Park
The nearby Canyonlands NP is one of the lesser known national parks, but it’s well worth a short trip from Moab. The park is huge and is divided into several different areas.
Island in the sky area is the closest and easiest to visit from Moab (30 miles, 40 minutes). If you have half a day in Canyonlands NP, you can drive the scenic loop and stop at various viewpoints. The landscape here is truly stunning and looks a lot like the Grand Canyon, but without too many people. Don’t miss a short hike to Mesa Arch. Phenomenal scenery!
You can easily spend the whole day in this section of Canyonlands National Park as well. At the Island in the Sky Visitor Centre you can find all the information about best hikes to do in this area.
See the sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park
There are few places as beautiful at sunset as the Dead Horse Point State Park.
There are several viewpoints here and since it’s not really possible to be at several places at the same time, you’ll have to choose. The most known sunset view is probably at the Dead Horse Point itself, but we found that the view at the very end of the road was even more impressive.
No matter which one you choose, it’s a beautiful place to end your day in Moab area.
Go rafting on the Colorado River
Rafting on the Colorado River is a must-do activity if you visit Moab in summer. With a variety of choices, there is always a perfect rafting trip for everyone.
We opted for a family-friendly half day rafting tour and had the best time! With temperatures way over 100°F in July, being on the water was a welcome relief from exploring the national parks on foot. You can even jump in the river for a short swim. Must do!
Drive the scenic Utah byway State Route 128
Utah State Road 128 must be the best kept secret of the area. It’s an incredibly scenic road with unbelievable desert scenery. We found it more impressive than the famous Monument Valley.
Sections along the Colorado River and along the canyon are really beautiful too. Don’t miss if visiting Moab and Arches National Park.
We arrived from Colorado and left the Interstate 70 at Cisco. At first, it’s just a regular road with not much to see. But it gets better and better as you drive further in the direction of Moab, and by the time you’re half way you find yourself stopping for way too many pictures at every curve.
Despite it being so beautiful and its proximity to Moab, you’ll meet hardly any cars and even fewer tourists on this scenic Utah byway 128. The whole length of the road from Cisco to Moab is approximately 46 miles and takes about 1 hour.
We found that this was one of the most scenic roads from all our trips all over the world, so we highly recommend it to everyone as one of the highlights of Moab area.
Our suggested itinerary for the best of Moab in 2 – 3 days:
- Day 1 (half day/arrival): Drive the scenic road 128 and do a sunset hike in Arches National Park.
- Day 2: Explore Arches National Park to the fullest. Drive the scenic loop and do at least one longer hike. If it’s too hot for sightseeing, spend the warmest hours of the day in the swimming pool.
- Day 3: Go rafting on the Colorado River (or choose one of the many activities available in Moab). In the afternoon visit the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. End the day watching the sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park.
TIP: There is a big selection of activities in Moab area to choose from. You can go rafting on the Colorado River (half day or full day), mountain biking, join a family-friendly UTV tour, go horse riding, and even do a dinner cruise with sound and light show. 4WD tours are also very popular: 4WD tour in Arches NP and 4WD tour in Canyonlands NP, etc.).
In order to see all the main highlights of Moab I suggest staying in the area for at least 3 nights. There is so much to do in and near Moab that you can easily spend a week here, or even longer.
If you are wondering where to stay in the area, take a look at our hand-picked selection of the best Moab accommodation for any budget.
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