I’ve had several friends and family visit Moab, Utah recently and just rave about it. It’s been a bucket list trip of mine for a while, and their encouragement really drove me to find a way to fit it into my recent road trip around the Western U.S.. My excitement to experience this red hot, desert town had been building for several months. So once I finally got there, to say I wasn’t disappointed would be a massive understatement. It was another world. Literally. I felt like I was on Mars.
My sister and I drove into town having spent the last seven days sleeping in a tent in various National Parks throughout the Western U.S. We were exhausted, sore, malnourished, and completely over the constant 100+ degree weather we’d been experience the last 5 days of our trip. So you know, here comes Moab, dead center of the desert, 106 degrees, with rocks and red dust EVERYWHERE. It was probably my worst nightmare at that moment. However, as Wu-Tang Clan was heaving from our speakers, we became glued to the increasingly foreign landscape. I felt like I had entered a John Wayne movie, which was fitting, since many of them were filmed there.
By some act of God, my sister had had the brilliant idea of booking an air-conditioned Airbnb, so we could leave her dog there while we explored the area’s famous rock formations. It was a serious lifesaver. I think I might’ve died if I had to sleep outside. My skin would have, literally, melted off my body. It was so hot that when it appeared to be raining above, the drops would actually evaporate before reaching us or the ground. Our little house was an A-frame log cabin in the middle of the desert backed up to The Rim which runs along the Main St in Moab. It was the perfect size and had all of the amenities we needed – basically, a shower, a bed, and A/C.
Again, with some sheer intuition, we decided to enter Arches National Park around 6:30pm (2 hours before sunset). We just couldn’t imagine hiking in the direct sunlight, and according to the locals, that was the perfect plan. We passed the soaring skyscraper-like monuments of Park View, which were more impressive than NYC. We drove our way out to the Delicate Arch, one of the parks most popular attractions. Most of the rock formations in the park are viewable from your car, or from a short walk from the car door. Please take note, Delicate Arch is NOT. We were severely unprepared for the almost 2 mile hike up basically a mountain in dry 95 degree weather with dwindling water supplies. If I ever thought I was going to die, that was the moment. The craziest part was that there were families pushing strollers next to us, and even a lady in a dress and heels. WTF?! I couldn’t. The hike went on, and on, and on. When we asked a passerby how much further to the monument, he answered, “oh you’re not even half way!”. Puke. But we made it up, and watched the sun set on the red world below us. It was unreal. Then, like magic, it seemed like the same sun was rising from the East. Obviously it wasn’t the sun, but it was the largest, orangest full moon I’ve ever seen in my life. That experience was unforgettable. Little did I know I would have many more of those kinds of moments in the next few days.
We woke up the next morning before sunrise. No, it was not easy, but was well worth it. We necessarily made coffee, filled up our Camelbacks with extra water reserves and drove into the peaking sunrise with our bikes. We spent the next few hours riding our up and down the Scenic Byway along the Colorado River. There were several stops for photo ops, and to see the Petroglyphs and apparent Dinosaur tracks (these are very cool, and some of the Petroglyphs date to 6,000 B.C.!!). The sunrise was, of course, stunning. The red, rusty canyons around us made it feel like we were standing inside the flames of Hell. We got home with a few hours to spare before meeting up with a local friend for some rafting down the river. If you are ever visiting Moab, a white water rafting trip is a MUST, especially if you’re there during the sadistic summer months. We were lucky enough to be invited on a trip with a friend of my sisters who just happens to be a rafting instructor in the area. We spent 6 hours kayaking through rapids, lazily floating, drinking beer, and swimming in the eddies. The views of the massive rock walls were exponentially amplified from the river. I cannot express enough how amazing that experience was. There are several great rafting companies in the area, so you really can’t go wrong.
Unfortunately, we only spent two short days in Moab, but there is so much to do and see that you’ll find yourself collapsing into your bed at the end of the day. I will definitely be visiting again, but this time, with the recommendation of the locals, I’ll be heading there in the fall! Here are some of my recommendations if and when you visit this special place:
Stay – Moab Under Canvas
, there are also an assortment of great Airbnb’s, but if you’re not visiting in the dead of summer, camping is a great option.
Shop – Moab Made, Pagan Mountaineering
Eat – Moab Diner, Sabaku Sushi, Sunset Grill, Milt’s Stop & Eat
Drink – Moab Brewery, Woody’s Tavern
Activities – Rafting/Climbing: Navtec; Hiking: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Mill Creek