We’ve been to Moab twice now, and still feel like we just barely scratched the surface of this beautiful corner of Utah. This is a roundup of our favourite spots!
Arches National Park
This is seriously one of the coolest parks we’ve ever been to in the US, and probably in the world. No wonder it’s consistently rated among the top 10 national parks in the US, and is one of the “Mighty 5” parks of Utah.
There are so many different hikes and areas to explore here. If you’re not into hiking, there’s about 938471923847 viewpoints you can just pull over at on the side of the road and soak in the beauty of Utah’s Mars-like terrain.
Here are some of our highlights!
This is a given – you can’t come to Arches NP and not visit this icon. This is the arch that’s on all of Utah’s license plates and is reason enough to come to Moab.
It’s a fairly easy 3-mile in-and-out hike that’s mostly uphill. You can hike it any time of year, weather permitting. We hiked it in February and although there was not much snow on the trail, the wind was so strong we couldn’t stand up straight when we got to the top viewing area. We had to pretty much crawl our way across to see the arch (not an easy feat with a baby in a carrier!) The nice part about going in the winter though is there’s significantly less people and you don’t have to fight tooth and nail for a good viewing spot 🙂
However, if you DO like the thrill of long lines and taking the same photo as 340980098 or so other people, I have some good news! In the summer, there is generally a single-file line originating a few feet away from the arch and wrapping around to approximately where the above photo was taken. It’s gotten so popular as a photo-op that we witnessed a graduation photoshoot and a proposal happening here all on the same night!
The most popular times to do this hike are sunrise and sunset. Golden hour really accentuates the redness of the rock, and the colours of the arch become incredibly saturated. Keep in mind that you still need to hike back for about 40 minutes so you might need to bring a flashlight.
If you’re lucky enough to go on a trip to Moab with your parents or someone who can watch your kids at night, you should absolutely hike up to Delicate Arch for some epic stargazing. I had the luxury of doing this with my brilliant-photographer-dad while the kids were sleeping at our Airbnb, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Ever.
The Milky Way rises perfectly behind the arch, and the night sky here is stunning.
There’s nothing but you, the stars, the arch, and the 2349582934857 other similarly-lucky souls who hiked up here at night. (It wasn’t that crowded by night, I’m only mostly kidding)
This is one of those easy-pull-over-on-the-side-of-the-road kind of stops. Not much of a hike, but there’s a paved path going up to the rock.
It’s also a fantastic spot for seeing the Milky Way! We pulled over here on the way back from Delicate Arch and were spoiled by the full view of the Milky Way across the sky. We could also see the glow of Moab on the right, and the glow of the rising moon on the left.
This is short, easy 15 minute hike which conveniently shares a parking lot with Windows and Turret Arch. They’re all pretty cool and there’s lots of terrain to explore in this section of the park, but if you’re tight on time I would pick Double Arch.
There is a great post covering Windows and Turret Arch here!
Once you’re fully arched-out, head over to Fisher Towers. I promise, there are no arches there.
This place is seriously super cool. The hike is about 3 hours in-and-out, and is fairly moderate. Our 2.5 year old champ was able to hike the first hour before she conked out on dad.
There was one part that was a little tricky, where you had to climb up/down a ladder. Aside from that, it’s completely doable with kids and our toddler loved the climbing aspect of this trail!
Baby sat on me the entire way, and I only took her out for a quick snack at a strategically epic view point
This was my view 🙂
Canyonlands National Park
This is a huge park with lots of trails. The most famous stop here is Mesa Arch, and people line up here with tripods at ungodly hours of the morning to catch the sunrise peeking through the arch. We went here in February, and despite it being winter there was a huge crowd of people already lined up. It’s only about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot, if you can find a spot.
Another cool stop is Shafer Canyon Trail and Shafer Canyon Overlook. They overlook the same spot, but one has a parking lot with a small trail and the other is just a pull-over-on-the-shoulder-of-the-road kind of lookout.
There’s a ton more stops and trails and lookouts in this park but we had to cut our drive short and head home because our toddler fainted in the backseat without much warning! Anyone else travel with breath holders..?
Corona Arch Trail
If you happen to find yourself in Moab with a dog, you’ll quickly come to realize that dogs are not permitted at National Parks. They are, however, permitted at some state parks, including this wonderful trail! We went here solely to get our dog a proper hike, and ended up really enjoying it.
It’s a 2 hour in-and-out hike that’s mostly flat. It gets a little tricky near the end since you have to balance on inclined rock and climb some ladders, but we still felt safe enough to hike with a baby carrier.
Dead Horse Point
This is a gorgeous lookout that’s easily accessible by car. We came here right after watching the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. The colours were absolutely stunning during golden hour. You have a near-360 view of the canyon, so make sure to spend some time here walking around!