Best things to do in and near Moab (Utah, USA)

Best Things To Do in Moab Utah

In North America, USA by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

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.

Must see places and must do experiences near Moab in Utah USA

 

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.

However, 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.

Delicate Arch is a must in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch

 

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 the best hikes to do in this area.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park Utah

Mesa Arch

 

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.

Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park Utah USA

Dead Horse Point State Park

 

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.

The scenery along the Colorado River near Moab is astonishing and rafting trip is a great way to experience it. An absolute must do in Moab!

Rafting on Colorado River is a must when visiting Moab in summer

Rafting on the Colorado River

 

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.

Scenic Utah State Road 128 near Moab

Scenic Utah Byway 128

 

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 Moab, take a look at our hand-picked selection of the best Moab accommodation for any budget.***

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5 best things to do in Moab, Utah and trip itinerary for 2 to 3 days

See the best of Moab with this 3 day itinerary that brings you to all the must see places in the area

 

Comments

  1. Hi!!! Jurga ! 😊 My name is Marcelo, I will go to travel to Moab in May 19, With my dog, She is very friendly and quite !!! like a service dog…. like emotional support…. but when I was reading restrictions to dog and definitions of service dog in Moab parks, I was unhappy…. I would like to ask to you advice to enjoy the Archers park, Canyonlands parks, and Moab with my dog…. She is my baby and I would like to spend the time in Moab with her… Not leave her alone in the hotel…. Thanks So Much!!! Marcelo.

    1. Author

      Hi Marcelo, I really can’t help you with this as I have no experience with traveling with dogs. I’m sure there are many nice areas (at least outside the parks, not sure about the rules in the National Parks) that can be explored with a dog.
      I encourage you to check the official websites of Arches NP and other places you are planning to visit for more information.
      Have a wonderful trip!

  2. Hi Jurga,

    Great post!
    By the way, just wanna ask is it okay to go in Arches National Park with a 1 year old baby? My husband and I plan to go this year either last week of May or 1st week of June. Then maybe we just stay in Moab 1 day, actually we came from Arizona visits our family.

    1. Author

      Hi Grace, I wouldn’t know why not. Just dress for the weather conditions and foresee some shade for the baby. I would think May-June will be warm, but not as hot as it was in July. I think it’s a beautiful time to visit. Just make sure you have plenty of water with you and also some snacks/ baby food.
      You can’t do a lot with a stroller (just drive the scenic loop and stop at the main lookout points), but if you are prepared to carry the baby (use a baby carrier like this or something like this), you can also do some hiking. If you do just one hike, I suggest the Delicate Arch. Also Landscape Arch is a relatively easy hike if you have more time.
      PS I strongly suggest you stay at least two nights in Moab – one full day is really the minimum in Arches. Here you can find some suggestions on the best places to stay near Arches NP. Also the nearby Canyonlands NP is well worth a visit.
      Enjoy your trip!

  3. This is such a helpful resource – I was just looking for some new things to do when I’m out in Moab, we visit at least once a year and just came across it.

    I’d love to add that anyone who is an adventure seeker should totally check out canyoneering. Next time you’re out in Moab, you should try this for something unique.

    1. Author

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your experience, but we don’t allow any advertising on our website. We get so many comments with company mentions and it’s impossible for us to know how genuine it is… So I edited your comment and linked to all the canyoneering tours that I found in Moab. That way our readers can decide for themselves if it’s something they like to try.
      Thanks for your understanding.

  4. HI, loved your recommendations, wonder if you could give me some advice, I have a trip to Utah planned in Sept 2019, my plan includes all 5 parks, with at least 3 nights w/ 2 full days in each, with the exception on Capital reef national park, For the Moab area (seems to be a lot to do) we will arrive Thur afternoon have all day fri, sat, sun and leave very early on Monday to head to SLC for a flight. Im trying to decide if I should do a one of the 4×4 excersions. (Canyonlands National Park Needles District by 4×4) or Canyonlands National Park White Rim Trail by 4WD, I know I really want to plan a night to do the boat ride during sunset. I just was thinking after hitting zion, brcye, capital reef, we might want to take a day not walking or hiking so much. Any places that are total must see and do

    1. Author

      Do you mean these two tours, Teresa? Canyonlands NP Needles District 4×4 tour vs. Canyonlands White Rim Trail by 4WD? We haven’t done any of these two, but saw the White Rim Trail from above. My first impression is that the Needles District is a bit more special in terms of landscape. I’m sure they are both excellent tours and the reviews are great for both.
      And yes, it might be nice to do something different than hiking for a change.
      For Arches NP, you can find some suggestions here. Make sure you don’t miss the Delicate Arch trail! And if you are looking for accommodation ideas, please check this post for the best Moab hotels.
      Enjoy your trip!

  5. HI Jurga,

    Planning a long trip out West and (since I’m “sort of” in the area) I must stop at Arches NP. I am trying to squeeze in a lot and I wanted your advice on this area. Do you think 2 days is enough to explore Arches? I have been to the Western side (Bryce/Zion) but really want to explore Arches. The plan would be to continue on to Wyoming after Arches so I don’t really want to venture too far. Thank you in advance for your advice.
    Cheers,
    Jannette

    1. Author

      Hi Jannette, yes, you can definitely see the highlights of Arches NP in two days (and also at least some of these other places nearby). It sounds like you are doing (partially) similar trip to what we did, so you may find some inspiration in our American road trip itinerary that includes Arches and Yellowstone.
      Please also check this post about visiting Arches NP – we did it with kids, but it covers all the main places, so should help you just as much.
      Enjoy your trip!

  6. Hi Jurga. I found your post above l very, very interesting and helpful. Thank you!
    I am flying into Utah with my wife and two teenage kids in July and we plan to spend eight days (including flights in and out). We enjoy driving, sight-seeing, biking and leisure hiking (if there is such a thing). We’ve also done some water rafting. We’re interested to see nature but also the friendly little old towns of Utah. Given all this, may i ask your advise on how we may maximize our time and see the very best of this state which were visit g for the for the time?
    Looking forward to your tips! Thanks a lot!

    1. Author

      Hi Dennis, sounds like you are planning an amazing trip with your family! Utah is amazing, just keep in mind that it will be VERY hot in July.
      As for the itinerary, sorry, but I really have no time to give tips for individual itineraries. You can find some suggestions for Moab area in this article. Please also check our guide to Arches National Park with kids. Please also read the comments of other readers and our answers – maybe that will give you more ideas of how to spend your time in Utah. I think that you can easily spend 3-4 days in Moab area (Arches and Canyonlands NP – check this guide for the best places to stay in Moab) and then maybe also 2 days for Zion and 1 day in Bryce Canyon. In addition, you could maybe try to add the Monument Valley to your itinerary.
      Hope this helps a bit. Have a great trip!

    2. HI Dennis,

      I hope you don’t mind if I “chime in”…………I’ve been to Bryce Canyon and really wanted to see Arches but ran out of time. I am travelling back this year to see Arches. I will tell you, it’s quite a long drive (at least 5-6 hours) from Arches to Bryce Canyon BUT if you have the time, I promise it’s worth it!! It is nothing short of extraordinary!! Bryce Canyon is super easy to get around in, well paved roads to the different look-out points, and the canyons can be hiked all you want. If you still have time after Bryce, keep driving to Zion. It is beautiful as well. I personally liked Bryce more because you can drive all through that area. Sadly, Zion you cannot. You have to park in town and walk to an area where you catch a shuttle. You have to depend on that shuttle all through the park. It’s very HOT and crowded there in July and being stuffed in a shuttle was not fun. Angels landing is super cool BUT very dangerous to hike. Hope this helps!! Enjoy your trip and safe travels.

  7. Two couples planning Utah trip early May. Suggestions on what part of Utah to stay to be in area convenient to see most parks and scenery. One week stay.

    1. Author

      Hi Kathy, not sure what you are planning to see during this trip. Utah is huge, so it’s a bit difficult to advise.
      If you are planning to visit some of Utah’s most known National Parks (Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef) I think that you better stay in 2-3 different accommodations, otherwise you’ll end up driving too much. One week is also a bit limited time if you are going to all the 5 parks, on the other hand if you don’t plan to hike a lot, you can definitely see all the Utah’s Big 5 in a week. Your trip could look something like this for example:

    2. 3 nights in Arches NP (with a day trip to Canyonlands NP). It’s best to stay in Moab (here you can find Moab accommodation guide). Here you can find more ideas on the best things to do in Arches NP
    3. On the day when you drive between the two places, you could make just a short stop in Bryce NP and see the main viewpoints there OR you could spend 1 night close to Capitol Reef instead. In that case Torrey may be a good area to stay.
    4. 3 nights in Zion. It’s best to stay in Springdale. One of the nicest hikes in Zion is Angel’s Landing, but if you are not planning to do that, you may want to spend less time in Zion and maybe add a night close to Bryce.
    5. Hope this helps a bit. I’d first try to decide what exactly you want to see, then check Google Maps for driving distances and times between the parks, and book accommodations accordingly.
      If you don’t like to drive a lot and just want a nice vacation, then Moab is definitely a place where you could spend a week as well. There is a lot to see and do in the area.

    6. Can you recommend some full hookup campgrounds in Moab 30 foot 5th wheel . My husband will be mountain biking so near trail heads? Thanks in advance
      Carol

  8. We are flying to Denver for a week renting a car and we would like to spend time in Moab and end up in aspen for a few days any. Thoughts we would love to hear from you.

    1. Author

      Hi Julie, our recent American road trip started in Denver, Rocky Mountain NP, Aspen, and then Moab. Check it out – it might give you some ideas on how to plan your trip.

  9. My husband and I are going on a river rafting trip in Moab, UT, and we’re looking for other activities to do while we’re there. Your article had some great tips about the best things to do in Moab, and I really liked you point to see the sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park, and that its hard to find a bad view of the sunset in this place. Thanks for the helpful post, we’ll be sure to consider these activities.

    1. Author

      Good to hear that you found this post useful, Jocelyn. Enjoy your trip to Moab!

  10. We have done Arches. What can you recommend in the area for someone who is fearful of heights?

    1. Author

      Hi Gloria, I guess you could still find some suitable hikes in the area, but I am not sure about which ones would be suitable in this case. There are, however, many other activities, scenic drives, rafting trips, biking, horse back riding, etc. There is a Dinosaur Park and also some museums. I think you can find plenty to do for all interests and age groups.

    2. The calm water kayak trip is very good.

      1. Author

        Thanks for your recommendation, Fred.

  11. This post is great! I’m going to Utah this summer and will definitely be booking a rafting trip now! Thanks for the advice x

    1. Author

      Good to hear you found this useful, Katie. Rafting is a must in Moab in summer, and make sure to jump into the water for a short swim. It’s so much fun for the whole family!

  12. Thanks for the quick and easy tips for visiting Moab. My husband and I will be staying in Moab for 2-3 nights in July and these activities and destinations are just what we’re looking for! I especially like the tip to drive Route 128. In the research I’ve done thus far, I haven’t come across it, but it looks like a must do.

    Happy traveling! 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feedback, Candelle, and glad you found this useful. It’s so strange indeed that this beautiful road isn’t mentioned in many travel guides. It starts a bit plain at Cisco, but the further you go, the more impressive it gets. We loved it! Enjoy your trip!

  13. Jurga – I love your blog. We are excited to head to Moab this Friday and hike with our daughters. We will be there week and look forward to exploring. Did you bike while in Moab? My husband is exploring renting Fat Bikes while we are visiting.

    1. Author

      Hi Christine, no, we didn’t bike. We just had a few days and it was too hot to even think of something like that:)
      If you are unsure about your kids being able to do it, why not just call the tour company and ask their experience and if they have the right size bikes for kids.

  14. We will be staying there 5 days in July and plan to do a river day trip…. and some hikes in the arches and Canyonlands. Any additional must-dos for the time we have? Or specific hikes?
    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Terri, there are many more things you can do in Moab area. When Discover Moab shared this post on Facebook, people immediately started replying with their favourite things to do in the area. Here are some ideas: Hells Revenge, Negro Bills Canyon, Mickeys Bath tub, Corona Arch (this hike seems to be really nice), Castle Valley, Slick rock bike trail, La Sal Mountains, horseback riding, mountain biking, etc.
      So you should find plenty of inspiration in the above list. Just remember that July is really hot. Plan to do hiking early in the morning or late in the afternoon and spend the warmest hours in the pool. Have a nice trip!

  15. Great post!
    I read somewhere that you should hire a guide for Arches…we don’t really like to do that.
    The jet boat light show cruise sounds a little to touristy. (A half day rafting trip sounds perfect).
    Hummer, 4 x 4 trip.

    What are your thoughts on all of those. We have a little more time..we’ll be there 4 nights.

    1. Author

      Hi Christine, you don’t need a guide for Arches NP. All the main highlights can easily be visited individually (here you can find our suggestions for best things to see and do in Arches NP), especially since you have more than enough time. I’d only consider a 4WD tour if you want to visit some places that are a bit off the main road, which might be nice.
      We didn’t do the jet boat with light show. I also think it’s a bit touristy, but everyone has different expectations I suppose. And maybe rafting is not for everyone so it’s an alternative way to explore the area. We really enjoyed rafting and a half day trip we took was very easy-going, so perfect for families and those who just want a relaxing trip with a beautiful scenery. It’s something I definitely recommend doing.
      I’m not sure what you mean by Hummer, 4×4 trip?

      1. Thanks Jurga,

        I think I will try to find a scenic boat ride or rafting trip…we care more about sights than thrills! ha ha.

        The hummer & 4 x 4 (I think that’s just a 4 wheel drive trip) I think we will skip as well. I think we can see the major sights via hiking and we love to hike!

        Chris

        1. Author

          Arches and Canyonlands are amazing for hiking. So many beautiful hikes! Enjoy it.

  16. Any suggestions on nearby accommodations?

    1. Author

      Hi Susan, I guess you missed my link to this post for accommodation suggestions: Best Moab Hotels (Moab is the best place to stay for Arches NP).

  17. I appreciate you sharing these tips. I also enjoyed visiting these places in Moab

  18. This is a great wrap up of an incredible place. Moab was one our favourite places to visit on our USA road trip. I just wish we had stayed there for longer than two nights as there is so much to do.

    1. Author

      Same here, Nicci. We stayed three nights and could have easily filled a week here. Beautiful area.

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