MOAB

Moab is a town located in the south east corner of Utah and would normally be reached from either Salt Lake City heading almost straight south, or as the turnaround point coming from Las Vegas in the west with many memorable places to see on the way.

Moab is dedicated to the big outdoors with two spectacular National Parks on the edge of town and many other adrenaline fuelled activities on offer. This is the area were Roddy Boyle movie 127 Hours was based. I would suggest at least 3 full days here, ideally 4, but you can also easily pack out a week. Worth noting it’s baking hot midsummer. Thankfully this is a nice base, with a good selection of restaurants, bars, funky craft shops and plenty of tourist tat too.

Across Colorado River (which later becomes the Grand Canyon) that borders the north of the town, is the entrance to Arches National Park. This needs a minimum of three and a half hours, but longer to really to do it justice. A road loops you around the park with arms that take you out to distinctive outcrops of rocky arches. A famous and well photographed arch requires a not especially hard half hour hike from its car park, so bank on spending some time out the car. As with most US National Parks, located from the car parks are various trails and hikes to take with differing durations to choose from. The geology here is spectacular and vast in scale. If time is tight and with an early start you can combing it with the north section of Canyonlands NP, but if time is on your side give it the full day, take a picnic, lots of water and a big hat.

Also across the river, but turn west after Arches and head towards Canyonlands National Park. This park is unusual as its cut into three distinct areas with the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. You cannot move between each part of the park without many hours of driving, especially true of the very isolated south east section. On the way into to the northern section its worth diverting into the First Nation’s land for Dead Horse point, then continuing on into the park itself for Island in the sky at 8000ft and Grand View point which is often used to illustrate natural Utah. The scenery is mind blowing. The next section ‘south east corner’ will need you to return through the town and head south then west to Needles Overlook. The last western section of the parks is half a day’s drive and is not accessible without an overnight, but you can add it into an itinerary when heading into or out of Moab via the west.

White Water Rafting and kayaking are very popular from Moab with many outfits offering trips. One of the best excursions I’ve ever done was here. A dawn pickup and a drive out to the desert along one of the disused uranium mine roads. We were then given a mountain bike and back pack, containing a ‘pack raft’ about the size of a rolled up sleeping bag and lots of bottles of water. As the sun came up we rode along gravel roads until we reached a huge canyon and wound our way down to the river way way below. After a mile or two we unpacked and blew up the rafts, removed the bike front wheels and mounted them on our individual rafts. Apart from a stop for lunch the next six hours we gently paddled and floated downstream. What a day to remember coming through the gorges.

Other options in Moab are guided canyoning trips, exploring and repelling into slot canyons. On the town’s south side is a huge rocky area, that 4x4s and mountain bikes can traverse. If using pedal power then be aware its hard stuff and brakes are more likely than grazes when crashing. Hummer rides, Jeep safaris and guided convoys of self-driven ATVs are on offer, lots of fun even if you’re not a petrolhead.

From Las Vegas you have to route either north or south of the Grand Canyon. North is Zion, Bryce and Capital Reef National Parks, with a possible detour to Grand Canyon’s more quiet north rim. The southern route includes the main Grand Canyon visitor centre, parts of the historic Route 66 and Monument Valley.

As an alternative, the shorter routing down from Salt Lake City has nothing like the attractions enroute, but there is a possible three hour side-trip from SLC to which will be a huge draw for many, butter in the summer when the salt is dry.

Moab is a must see destination, but how this is placed within your trip, will need much discussion. Feel from to call and chat.

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