Located in Utah’s high desert region, Moab is situated directly between two amazing National Parks: Arches and Canyonlands. No matter what your outdoor sport is, Moab is the perfect location for outdoor adventure. Hiking, biking, great restaurants – this 3-day Travel Guide to Moab will highlight some of the best Moab has to offer.
What to do in Moab
A scenic 5-hour drive from our home base, Flagstaff, AZ, we approached Moab from the south – meaning the southern part of Canyonlands National Park was our first stop. This part of the park is known as The Needles.
Day 1: Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is a HUGE park.
This was my first time in this southern section of the park and since it was off-season, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Towering spires and mushroom shaped rocks make for some amazing hiking. The hike we chose was the Chesler Park loop trail. It’s one of the best hikes in Canyonlands.
Starting at the parking lot at the Elephant Hill Trailhead, the roundtrip was about 9 miles and took roughly 4 hours with lots of photo ops and gazing at the amazing vistas.
Our Loop: Elephant canyon (2 miles) then Chesler Park connector (1228 feet). Chesler Park trail (2 miles) to Druid Arch trail (2 miles), returning back to Elephant Canyon Trailhead.
With a little extra time, you can add the Joint Trail and have a fun experience squeezing through tight rocky spaces like this.
Since it was still winter, the white covered peaks of the La Sal Mountains were a perfect backdrop to the red sandstone.
Day 2: Biking in Moab
One of the most famous rides in Moab is the Slick Rock Trail. Mountain biking over smooth sandstone mounds makes the unique Moab biking experience.
As I am a novice mountain biker and probably always will be, we chose to ride a beginner/intermediate 8-mile loop in Navajo Rocks. Our route: Big Mesa (3 miles) > Big Lonely (3 miles) > Coney Island (3 miles) > Middle Earth (1/2 mile). It did have a few technical areas, but I made it and got to experience riding on the Moab rocks.
For skilled mountain bikers, my husband suggests riding the Captain Ahab trail. I did some leisurely hiking while he rode this trail. From the parking lot on Kane Creek Blvd, the Amasa Back access trail is a nice short hike.
The Jackson Trail follows the Colorado River.
Day 3: Arches National Park
On this trip to Arches National Park, we explored the 9 mile loop of Devil’s Garden. This loop has 7 arches plus a few more that you can see from the trail. Each arch has its own special features and formation. It’s the best hike in Arches National Park if you want to view multiple arches in one hike.
It’s marked as a strenuous hike, but really it just has a few sections of rock scrambling and walking along fairly wide rock ledges. Perhaps not suitable for young children, in fact, we saw a family turn around for that reason.
My favorite arch, the Landscape Arch, is pretty much at the beginning of the trail. So if you are afraid of heights, you might just stop at Landscape Arch and turn around.
The arches are concentrated on one side of the loop trail. The other side of the loop is marked as Primitive Trail and also labeled strenuous. It is most definitely not difficult except for one spot where the rock ledge is narrow, but not a huge drop-off. Definitely not something that can be attempted in snow or icy conditions. The majority of the Primitive trail is wide open and rolling.
Where to Eat in Moab
It’s important to note that Moab is very much a spring/summer/fall destination. So many restaurants straight up close for the winter season.
We realized this as we sought out a few places I had bookmarked to try. While we were disappointed that we couldn’t try all the places we intended to, there were still some great foodie spots that were open! These are the two that really stood out during our trip and we plan to definitely go back to!
Love Muffin Cafe: Breakfast + Lunch
Breakfast burritos, Doma coffee, sandwiches they’ll pack for hiking and of course some darn good muffins!
Sugar topped, this vegan green eyed monster muffin has a matcha swirl in the middle!
We ate here twice, 3x if you count the time they packed us a lunch-to-go. We love the muff!
We wanted to try Jailhouse Cafe, Doughbird + Moab Garage. All were closed for the winter season.
98 Center: Lunch + Dinner
We also ate at 98 Center twice; once for lunch and once for dinner. You can’t go wrong with Asian fusion. And apparently the owner is from Philly, so if you’re into it, they make a bomber cheesesteak.
There’s a list of interesting beverages – we had yuzu limeade, hibiscus “hi-c” and golden-aid. Many of them made with tinctures from the local Sundial Medicinals. I wanted to check out their shop, but it was only open M-W.
For lunch we had tofu bahn mi sandwiches + super fresh greens. Note: watch out for the serrano peppers!
At dinner we enjoyed a super delicious vegan pho + tried IPA water with grapefruit bitters.