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

Best Things To Do in Moab Utah

In North America, USA by Jurga23 CommentsTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

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. 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.

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 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. Anyway, whatever 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. Must do!

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

If you found this post useful, bookmark it for future reference and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

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

 

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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

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

  9. 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.

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