15 Best Things to Do in Moab, UT

Moab, UT
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Situated on the south of the Colorado River, Moab is the largest city and the country seat of Grand County.

Its proximity to the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and the Slickrock Trail draws casual tourists and mountain bikers alike.

There are various stories about the origin of its name, with some historians suggesting that the city’s first postmaster, William Andrew Pierce, believed that the Biblical land of Moab and this part of Utah were “the far country.”

Some believe that the name originated from the Paiute word “Moapa,” which means “mosquito."

Moab was historically a farming area, but in the early 1900s, large deposits of uranium and vanadium were discovered, and in the 1950s, it was named the “Uranium Capital of the World”.

Today, the city attracts adventure enthusiasts with its unique landscape.

Here are the best things to do in Moab, Utah:

Take a Hike at Delicate Arch

View of Delicate Arch
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Delicate Arch is a 52-foot-tall natural arch in the Arches National Park.

The park has numerous natural arches, but if you only have time to visit one, the Delicate Arch is a must-try, as it’s considered the park’s landmark.

The postcard-worthy rock formation is especially stunning during sunset when sunlight illuminates it with an orange color.

View of Delicate Arch
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Fun fact: the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City passed through this arch!

A roundtrip hike to the arch is 3.2 miles long, and most of the trail is over rocks, so avoid taking this hike midday, and be sure to bring water.

Take a late afternoon or evening hike and catch the sunset at Delicate Arch.

View of Delicate Arch
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Join the Festivities at the Moab Music Festival

The Moab Music Festival (MMF) on East 300 South Moab is a unique musical experience that lets world-class musicians perform in gorgeous red rock venues.

The festival was the brainchild of Moab Music founders Leslie Tomkins and Michael Barrett.

Held annually every September, MMF hosts around 20 concerts throughout the week in different venues, including ranches, the historic Star Hall, and outdoor locations such as a Colorado River grotto.

There’s also a musical raft trip where guests are taken to the Westwater Canyon via boat, with musical performances every day throughout their three-day/two-night stay at a campsite.

If you want a concert experience like no other, check out the Moab Music Festival if you find yourself in the city in September.

Take Photos at Corona Arch

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Corona Arch is a natural sandstone arch above the Colorado River Canyon.

Its opening measures 140 feet wide and 105 feet high, earning its moniker “Little Rainbow Bridge.”

The 1.5-mile trail to the arch is accessible via Potash Road and takes around two hours out and back.

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This trail also passes the Pinto Arch and the Bowtie Arc; both pothole arches formed when a pothole above eroded into a cave below.

Corona Arch is outside the Arches National Park, which makes it an excellent location for those who want to enjoy the arches far from crowds.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and wear a hat because there’s little shade along the trail, and it can get hot during the warmer months.

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Try Moab Diner’s Green Chili

Located on South Main Street, Moab Diner is famous for its green chili sauce that goes well with almost anything on its menu!

The Diner opened in the 1960s under the name Poor Boy Drive-In, which became a popular burger joint among locals.

It became the Grand Ice Cream Parlour in the 1970s until Geoff and Teri Thomas purchased it and developed it into Moab Diner that patrons know today.

Slather their green chili sauce on your Breakfast Burritos or dump it on your hash browns.

Don’t miss Moab Diner’s Sweetwater potatoes; never leave without trying their banana split.

Test Your Endurance at the Slickrock Bike Trail

A biker at Slickrock Bike Trail
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The Slickrock Bike Trail is a 12-mile-long series of trails that will take you to petrified dunes and eroded ancient seabed.

Located on Sand Flats Road, this trail is popular among riders looking for challenging terrain, with its notorious sandpaper-like surface providing an excellent grip for rubber tires.

Early settlers in the area used the name “slickrock” to describe the low traction between the horses’ metal shoes and the rock’s surfaces.

A biker at Slickrock Bike Trail
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The entire loop takes around four hours to complete, so you should pack some water and snacks to recharge.

First-timers are encouraged to try the 2.3-mile Practice Loop to have a feel of the surface before taking the 6.8-mile main trail.

The Practice Loop is no easier than the main loop but is shorter and close to the trailhead.

Test your endurance and bike the Slickrock Trail!

Bikers at Slickrock Bike Trail
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Join the Moab Artwalk by the Moab Arts and Recreation Center

The Moab Arts and Recreation Center was founded in 1997 to expand arts opportunities and arts programming in Grand County.

In East 100 North, MARC is housed in a former Latter Day Saints chapel constructed in 1926.

When a new church opened in 1959, the building was repurposed into a kindergarten to serve the town’s growing population because of the uranium industry boom.

In 1974, Eleanor and Clifford Zimmerman purchased it and turned it into an arts and crafts store named Zim's Canyon Country Crafts.

Today, MARC hosts community art exhibits, art and dance classes, as well as meditation and yoga workshops.

Join the Moab Artwalk on select Saturdays from April through November, stroll throughout downtown Moab, and see what participating galleries and shops have for you.

Marvel at Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park

View of Dead Horse Point State Park
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Accessible via State Route 313, the Dead Horse Point State Park is 5,362 acres of high desert that offer spectacular views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

Its name has often raised some eyebrows, but its origin is believed to be the horses that died of exposure when the area was used by cowboys as a natural corral in the 19th century.

View of Dead Horse Point State Park
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With its elevation of 5,900 feet, the park has several viewing decks where you can enjoy panoramic views of geologic formations.

The park has eight miles of thinking trails overlooking the East Trim and West Trim Trails, while a 17-mile single-track Intrepid Trail System is perfect for mountain bikers looking for a challenging terrain of slick rocks and sandy washes.

See breathtaking views when you hike the Dead Horse Point State Park.

View of Dead Horse Point State Park
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Famed landscape photographer Tom Till established the Tom Till Gallery on North Main Street.

The gallery showcases colorful photographic prints of the Utah landscape in different mediums.

Throughout Till’s career, he has published over 30 books and had thousands of his images displayed worldwide, earning him the “Lord of Landscape Photography” title from Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

His images of UNESCO World Heritage sites sponsored by UNESCO and the U.S. State Department were displayed in different parts of the globe.

Today, Till and fellow photographer Dan Norris offer personally guided photography tours throughout Moab’s treasures, such as the Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Tours are conducted before and after sunrise and sunset, but night excursions are also a popular choice.

Whatever level of photography experience you have, this tour with the Tom Till Gallery team is a must-try.

Take a Four-Wheel Drive at The Needles

View of The Needles
The original uploader was Molas at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The Needles Division of Canyonlands National Park is famous for its spectacular landscape that resembles a stack of needles.

It’s popular among hikers and 4WD enthusiasts looking for a thrilling ride.

Here, around 50 miles of backcountry roads leading to campsites and trailheads await you.

The roads are challenging, so inexperienced drivers are discouraged.

One of the best routes is the Colorado River Overlook, which starts from the Needles Visitor Center.

There are 26 camping sites at Squaw Flat available on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you’re looking for a challenging drive, take on the roads of The Needles.

Do the Thelma & Louise Road Trip

"Thelma & Louise" is a 1991 feminist film about two best friends who set out on a road trip that turned ugly when they committed crimes and tried to escape authorities.

The supposed Arkansas to Arizona road trip was shot in the deserts of Moab.

Pay tribute to the 1990s classic by following Thelma and Louise’s tracks and visiting the exact filming locations.

Drive to the Courthouse Towers and hike the Arches National Park on Day 1.

On Day 2, drive to the Dead Horse Point Overlook, where the film’s final scene was shot.

Fun fact: Production had to strip 3 Ford Thunderbirds to make them light enough to be catapulted into the air; the first attempt was a failure, but the car soared in a perfect arc on the second try.

On Day 3, visit the ghost town of Cisco, where the police chase scene was filmed, and on Day 4, drive to the town of L Sal and see the 12,000-foot mountain range up-close.

Descend the Schafer Trail

View of Schafer Trail
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The Schafer Trail is located on the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park and descends 1,500 feet to a colorful sandstone cliff.

It got its name from the Schafer family—Mormon pioneer settlers who used it to move cattle from the mesa top down to the White Rim sandstone.

View of Schafer Trail
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Though John Schafer is credited for the trail’s improvement, the Atomic Energy Commission widened and extended it to allow trucks to transport uranium-bearing rocks for processing.

Today, Schafer Trail is known among thrill-seekers looking to drive down its challenging terrain.

Rent a jeep or a 4WD and expect a lot of dips and rocky and rough roads along the trail.

Meet the Giants at Moab Giants Dinosaur Park

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Set against Utah’s gorgeous rock formations, Moab Giants Dinosaur Park is located on State Route 313 and features state-of-the-art, life-size dinosaurs.

The park’s desert location provides a real-life picture of how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals roamed around the region.

Follow the half-mile Dinosaur Trail that features over 100 full-size replicas of dinosaurs and the footprints that they left behind.

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Let the kids discover their inner paleontologists with the Dig-It-Out Sites, which are partly shaded sandboxes with replica dinosaur fossils buried in them.

At the 5D Prehistoric Aquarium, discover deep sea creatures from millions of years ago through a virtual “walking theater.”

Take the kids to the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park and let them learn about the giants that once walked the Earth.

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Watch the Night Sky with RedRock Astronomy

If you think Moab’s Red Rocks are gorgeous during the day, wait till you see them at night.

RedRock Astronomy will take you to places in the city where you can view the nighttime sky using telescopes.

The skies above Moab’s rock formations are perfect for stargazing with its relatively high elevation and low pollution level.

Some sites are near the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, so you’ll have a chance to see these wonders of nature in a different light.

Alex Ludwig conducts the tours, and he’ll guide you using a high-powered telescope.

Book your tour and watch the night sky with RedRock Astronomy.

Get a Brisket Sandwich from The Broken Oar

Located on West 400 North, The Broken Oar is a family-owned eatery that serves American classics in a lodge setting.

They’re known for their savory meats, barbecues, seafood, and pasta.

One of the crowd favorites is the Beef Brisket Sandwich served on a toasted ciabatta bun and special barbecue sauce.

Their sweet potato fries are addictive with a house blend glaze made of cinnamon sugar, salt, caramel, and lemon zest.

Another must-try is the Sriracha Lime Salmon with just the right kick.

Cap off your tour of the Arches National Park by enjoying a hearty meal at The Broken Oar.

Final Thoughts

Spectacular landscape highlights the city of Moab.

With its unique terrain and beautiful scenery, it’s every adventure seeker’s dream destination.

If you’re up for the challenge, explore this city and try the best things to do in Moab.

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