Arches National Park; Moab, Utah.

Original photo featured at M.Buchholz Photography.

The Basics

Is Moab worth the hype? In one brief word, yes. If I may add another, absolutely. 

What should we do? Do it all! Moab is the kind of word you associate with adventure-laden dreams.  A place with a reputation touted by many, but experienced by few. Its dusty, red earth is travelled to by a host of adventurous souls, and those looking for outdoor spunk. If this sounds like you, read on.

  • Mountain biking: this one is a no-brainer. Moab is famous for its incredible mountain biking terrain. Many of the trails in the area are world famous, and highly technical. Interested in mountain biking but not sure where to start? There are plenty of options for all types of riders! If you don’t have your own gear, we’d recommend getting outfitted by Chile Pepper Bike Shop. We found these guys to be professional and knowledgeable, and felt comfortable renting from them.
    • Rental cost: For $48/day, you can rent a “standard” mountain bike. For mid-range and higher-end options, you’ll be paying $10-$20 more.
    • Shuttle service: The bike shop does not arrange shuttles, so if you need a shuttle service to transport you and your bike to the trailhead, you are responsible for arranging that service. We ended up going with Coyote Shuttle which had been recommended to us, but we would not recommend again. Our driver was remarkably unpleasant, so not sure if it was just a bad day, but we took notice! We also were not told ahead of time that we needed to pay in cash at drop off, so this took a bit of finagling (luckily, between the six of us, we had enough to cover the cost). The cost of shuttle/person is between $17-30, depending on the trailhead you’re going to. For us, we paid about $20/person to be transported to Kokopelli.
    • The ride: There are a number of incredibly options to choose from, but we ultimately went with the Kokopelli Trail. This trail was amazing, and offered everything from technical singletrack to routes which overlook the canyons below. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you can swing it (or just take your time), it’ll be an experience you won’t forget!
  • Hiking: A number of hiking opportunities exist in and around Moab. Your best bet is to start with a couple of the national parks in the area, including:
    • Arches National Park– Home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, this park is probably one that you’ll recognize most from postcards. The park is home to 120 square miles of trails, canyons, rock climbing opportunities and more. Best piece of advice is to plan ahead of time what you’re looking to see, as the park is huge. For a comprehensive “first time to Arches” suggestion, we’d recommend hiking Delicate Arch (3.2 miles), Devil’s Garden (7.8 miles) and Balanced Arch (0.3 miles).
    • Canyonlands National Park– Another equally scenic national park in the area is Canyonlands, located about a 35 minute drive from Moab. This is another park that you can drive through the majority of it, and pull over for photo opps or short hikes. We’d recommend hiking the Island In The Sky Trails, as these offer beautiful views above the canyon.
  • Camping: While in Moab, why not enjoy the beautiful outdoors a little longer by sleeping under the stars? A number of great options exist for camping, including very basic (and affordable) roadside camp sites and other, more established sites within the national parks. We found an awesome spot along the river at the Jaycee River Campground. No reservations required, but booking is first come/first serve. The campground has 7 camp sites, one drop toilet, and not a whole lot more. The site is adjacent to the Portal Hiking Trail, and at $15/tent, it’s a bargain deal!

Food? Beer? A couple of different options exist for food and drink in the area, but I’m not going to lie: all of our meals were either a) cooked by ourselves at the campsite or b) consumed at the Moab Brewery. The brewery is Moab’s largest restaurant and only microbrewery in town, so it did well to accommodate our party of 10 each and every time. The food is pretty tasty, and the beer does the trick. What more can be said?

*If you’re not interested in a brewery (though…why not?), the main street that runs through town has an assortment of options, ranging from typical American fare (Zax Restaurant & Watering Hole) to Mexican (Fiesta  Mexicana).

Getting around: Rent a car. If you’re interested in seeing the most of the area, a car is your best bet to cover the long distances. For the die-hard athletes, you might get away with bringing only a bike. But God help you on all those hills. 

When to visit: Your best bet is to visit during the late spring or early fall, when temperatures are mild. If your schedule doesn’t permit traveling during either of these times, don’t sweat, as Moab is delicious at all times of year! Just brace yourself for the dry heat if you’re traveling in summer.

Kokopelli Trail; Moab, Utah.

Kokopelli Trail; Moab, Utah.