Things to Do in Moab, Utah

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Moab has many things to do for the those interested in outdoor activities, in culture and art and in touring the beauty of the area and its two National Parks.

There are many hiking trails with the closest trailhead two miles from downtown and the farthest 23 miles. These include the Portal Overlook Trail, The Corona Arch Trail, Hunter Canyon, Fisher Towers Trail, Hidden Valley Trail and the Moab Rim Four-Wheel-Drive and Hiking Trail.

There is mountain biking and road cycling as well as downtown bike and walking trails. Horseback lovers will enjoy four local trails. There is also camping, four-wheel drive tours, sky diving, hot air balloon tours, jet boat and river rafting trips as well as tours of both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  

You can do an auto tour of the Moab area movie locations, made popular in many films since 1949. These include Wagon Master from 1949, Rio Grande from 1950 with John Wayne, Warlock from 1958 with Henry Fonda, The Comancheros from 1961 with John Wayne, the Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp from 2013 and many more. Movie lovers will also love visiting the Moab Film & Western Heritage Museum, located on the lower level of the Red Cliffs Lodge, which gives a history of the many famous Westerns that were filmed in Moab since the late 1940s.

Tom Till Tours offers private photography tours featuring Tom Till and Dan Norris. There are half-day, full-day and multi-day tours featuring night photography, the National Parks and Monuments, wildflowers, sunset and sunrise, fall colors in the Canyons, film and aerial photography. He also has the Tom Till Gallery located downtown at 61 N. Main.

Castle Creek Winery: This is a local Moab winery that produces eight red and white varietals. It is Utah’s first and largest winery that has won several national awards. The wines are made on site from locally grown grapes. The whites include a Chenin Blanc, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. The reds include a Malbec, a Petite Syrah, a Merlot and a Cabernet. I really enjoyed the Cab, the Syrah and the Malbec. These were my first Utah wines and I was very impressed! It is located at Mile 14, Highway 128 at the entrance of the Red Cliffs Lodge.

Arches National Park: The entrance to the park is five miles north of Moab on Highway 191. After entering the Park, make sure to stop at the visitor center for advice and a map. The park has no food or lodging but does have bathrooms on the road. The park has 76,519 acres and is known to contain the world’s largest collection of natural stone arches, as well as natural bridges, pinnacles and balanced rocks.

Four of the most popular areas to see and explore are Balanced Rock, Devils Garden, Delicate Arch and The Windows. There are parking lots at each location which frequently overflow with cars during the popular times and months. There are also viewpoints along the road where you can turn off and take pictures. The views are really stunning. Also make sure to bring plenty of water to keep hydrated particularly during the hotter months.

I chose to focus on the Delicate Arch which is one of the most famous and most photographed. You can take the more difficult trail which is a 3 mile round-trip hike that gets you the closest to the arch, or you can park in the lot and take the flat walk to the lower viewpoint or walk uphill for approximately 15 minutes to the upper viewpoint. It is worth the hike up to the upper viewpoint. The more adventurous can take the longer hike starting at Wolfe Ranch. It does however involve a steep climb with no shade and some exposure to heights.

Canyonland National Park: Canyonlands is much larger than Arches and has three distinct areas, Island in the Sky, The Needles and Maze. Island in the Sky is the most accessible with 20 miles of paved roads where you have access to the viewpoints from the 1,500 ft. mesa. One of the highlights to see is the famed Mesa Arch which is accessible by a short hike. The other areas will require extensive hiking and high-clearance 4×4 vehicles. I opted to view the Park from the Colorado River where I could view the stunning scenery from the jet boat on the way to the Grotto Concert for the Moab Music Festival which is in Canyonlands. The visitor center for Island in the Sky is approximately 40 minutes from Moab.

Fisher Towers is 20 miles northeast of Moab, along the scenic Highway 128. There’s camping here, as well as hiking trails that skirt the bottom of massive cliffs and skinny towers of striated sandstone.

Moab Music Festival: For 25 years, this is an annual festival from late August through early September that features an eclectic menu of concert offerings including jazz, classical and chamber music. The settings include several red rock venues in the area with such locations as the Red Cliffs Lodge and the Sorrel River Ranch, plus other venues in town including private homes. The music hikes are very popular as are the Grotto Concerts.

I signed up early for the last of the three Grotto Concerts of the 2017 season. You meet in Mohad and are bussed to a landing on the Colorado River. You then take a 45 minute jet boat trip down the Colorado River through stunning scenery to a natural grotto in the rocks along the river. Then you will listen to wonderful concert in the red rocks with amazing acoustics. The concert is followed by a reception of local wines and appetizers. It is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed.

The Red Rock Arts Festival in October includes a street festival, workshops and events plus plein air painting competitions. It celebrates art inspired by the land and local landscapes.

Moab Artwalk: This is local art walk on the second Saturdays from April through November of each year that features 11 galleries in downtown Moab. 

Moab Artists Studio Tour: This is an event for two weekends in early September that features the studios of over fourteen local artists in various mediums including paintings, drawings photography, functional and sculptural ceramics, collage art, jewelry and metal, wood and stone sculpture. Visit the website for maps and more info.

Shopping: There are some fun boutiques and galleries downtown to explore when you are in town. Many carry works by local artists with an emphasis on the beauty of the area. Make sure to visit:

Moab Made: This is an attractive boutique at 82 N. Main that features locally sourced artisan goods.

Gallery Moab: This is a local cooperative gallery, owned by a diverse group of painters, sculptors, ceramicists, photographers and jewelry designers. 87 N. Main.  

Tumbleweed: Featuring local and regional artists, this is a colorful shop where you will find hand crafted gifts and works of art including pottery, jewelry, recycled and repurposed art, original paintings, home and garden décor and photographs. 31 N Main St.

Crave Moab for gifts and decor items at 137 N. Main.  

 

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