Moab is a mecca for outdoor adventure. While the town itself is small, there is definitely no shortage of things to do in or around Moab to keep adrenaline seekers busy.
If you are itching for an off-the-beaten-path desert adventure, Moab is the town for you.
While nearby National Parks Arches and Canyonlands are usually what draw travelers to Moab, the town itself is full to the brim of adventurous things to do, as well.
Three to four days is enough time to complete everything in this guide but be prepared to want to return, time and time again.
This Moab itinerary includes can’t-miss hikes and adventures in town, as well as must-see attractions in both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. You’ll be romping around town, exploring the trails, adventuring to nearby National Parks, and sleeping under the stars, in no time.
Table of Contents
A Complete Moab Itinerary for Outdoorsy Lovers
Things to Know Before Visiting Moab
How Many Days Do You Need in Moab?
Three or four days in Moab is enough time to hike a handful of epic trails, join a guided tour or two, take some day trips to nearby National Parks, and enjoy some quiet, starry nights at your campsite.
More days in Moab means more time to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park without feeling rushed, while also enjoying the town of Moab itself.
While you can knock out this Moab itinerary on a short visit, you also could spend weeks in Moab and still feel as though you left adventures unturned.
What’s the Best Month to Visit Moab?
Per all desert adventures, spring (March-May) and fall (September-October) are the most temperate times of year to visit. Moab is no different.
While during these months the weather is showing off and the trails are beckoning, the visitor numbers are also at their highest. If you don’t mind the heat, summer is a fine time to visit Moab as the days are long and the high temperatures scare off some of the crowds.
However, as I always say, there’s no wrong time to take an adventure. Especially when visiting a town as rad as Moab.
What’s the Best Way to Get To Moab?
Moab is a bit of a trek away from any major airports. You can fly into smaller regional airports to get closer, with the nearest one to Moab being Canyonlands Field Airport.
As far as international airports go, there are a couple of options:
- Salt Lake City International Airport: 3 hours and 50 minutes
- Denver International Airport: 5 hours and 42 minutes
- Las Vegas International Airport: 6 hours and 54 minutes
We flew into Las Vegas intentionally, despite it being the furthest away, and took an epic Arizona-Utah road trip.
I’m convinced it’s a trip I’ll be talking about until the day I die.
Another pro to taking the long way about getting to Moab is the chance to visit Utah’s Mighty 5. If you’re just taking a long weekend to explore Moab the Las Vegas Airport probably isn’t the best option. However, if you have the time it’s a once-in-a-lifetime road trip I highly recommend.
The Perfect Moab Itinerary
Most Moab itineraries only have you visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks while having you completely skip over all the magic that lies just outside the parks’ boundaries.
This Moab itinerary is unique in that it has you dip your toes into adventures beyond the parks, while also making time for the iconic sights in both Arches and Canyonlands.
Day 1 – Explore Moab
Many people visit Moab dead set on exploring the National Parks that they skip all of the other epic trails. There are several hikes in the Moab area, not within the National Park boundaries that you don’t want to miss.
Hike Castletown Tower Trail
Kick-off day one of your Moab itinerary by hiking Castleton Tower Trail for sunrise.
The trek up Castleton Tower Trail is hot, steep, and scrambly. It is hands down the hike I recommend others do while visiting Moab.
Though the trail is rated as “difficult” it’s only 2.6 miles round trip and begins mellow. You hike through a unique canyon area that takes some maneuvering before crossing a dirt road. Once you cross the road, the real fun starts and you come to understand how the hike got its rating.
Keep in mind that Castleton Tower Trail is more of a climbing access trail than a maintained hiking trail. As you near the top, the path becomes illusive, enveloped in loose gravel, and the very definition of the word adventure.
Once you reach the tower, however, the views are rewarding and endless.
Enjoy the Colorado River
What better way to cool off after a hot and challenging hike than taking a dip in the Colorado River?
We took a guided whitewater Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) tour down the Colorado River and had a blast. We originally booked a rafting tour but when the guide asked if anyone was brave enough to try SUP’ing the rapids, Cole and I jumped all over the opportunity.
You don’t have to be an experienced rafter to join a tour. The rapids are generally class two and safe for everyone.
However, if adrenaline water sports aren’t your style consider opting for a good book and finding a nice spot along the river to relax.
Grab a Beer at Moab Brewery
Cheers to your first adventure day by stopping by the Moab Brewery. Moab Brewery is the town’s only microbrewery and a great place to grab a beer and some food.
If you’re an IPA lover like Cole and me, make sure to try Johnny’s American IPA as it was the Utah Adventure Journal Editor’s Pick of the year.
Stargaze at Corona and Bowtie Arch
For your final stop on day one of this Moab itinerary, head to Corona and Bowtie Arch Trail for sunset. We are indebted to the friendly locals who gave us the heads-up on this incredible trail.
The Corona and Bowtie Arch hike is an easy-to-moderate 3-mile trail that’s great for hikers of all ages and experience levels.
While the path to both arches is relatively mellow, it can be hard to discern which way to go at times because the trail becomes so wide. Make sure to take note of the blue and green paint marks on the rock and follow rock cairns when you see them.
After two slightly technical sections of the trail, the two arches come into view. While neither Corona Arch nor Bowtie Arch lie within Arches National Park boundaries, they give the National Park a run for its money.
If you trust your navigational skills and came prepared with a headlamp, wait out sunset for a miraculous star viewing.
Day 2 – Moab + Dead Horse Point State Park
Go on a Canyon Adventure
You can’t visit a place like Moab and not spend a day gamboling around the red rocks. There are several ways you can enjoy the iconic scenery of Moab but I’m clearly a fan of taking the adrenaline route.
Jumpstart day two of your Moab Itinerary by booking a guided canyoneering or climbing tour. We joined a canyoneering tour and it was a highlight of our entire Arizona-Utah road trip.
You don’t need any prior experience, the guides are great, and the views are surreal. You can also up the ante a bit and try your shot at rock climbing. Or, for an unguided adventure, head to Big Bend for some bouldering action.
Either way, get out there, play, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Grab Food at the Moab Food Truck Park
For a late lunch or early dinner, swing by the Moab Food Truck Park. Who doesn’t love a great outdoor atmosphere to chow down on some food and drinks?
Food truck lots are always a great place to stop on any vacation as they are bound to have something to satisfy everyone’s post-adventure cravings.
Catch the Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park
To top off day two of this Moab itinerary, make your way to Dead Horse Point State Park for a spellbinding sunset.
Hike the Rim Loop Trail, covering as much or as little of the trail as you want. The key is finding the best spot along the trail to pop a squat and watch the sun cast fiery golden shadows all across the canyon.
For us, Dead Horse State Park was a last-minute decision turned core memory. There really are no words for how beautiful the desert is at sunset.
Best part? We seemingly had it all to ourselves.
Day 3 – Arches National Park
You can’t visit Moab without spending at least one day in Arches National Park.
While one day in the park isn’t enough time to do and see it all, it is enough time to experience some of the most iconic sights. Be prepared to start your day early and end late.
Begin the day by checking off my three top trails in the park. Beat the crowds to Delicate Arch Trail arch for sunrise, then make your way to Devils Garden Trail, before hitting up my favorite hike, Tower Arch Trail.
There are several other quick trails and viewpoints you can throw in the mix as well, like Sand Dune Arch, The Windows, and Park Avenue.
For a detailed itinerary, check out my One Day in Arches National Park guide.
Timed Entry System
Take note of the park’s new timed-entry system implemented in 2022 when planning out your Moab itinerary. Tickets to enter the park are competitive and go on sale three months in advance. Purchase your timed entry ticket here.
Day 4 – Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park
If you have a fourth day to spare, add a day at Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky District to your Moab itinerary.
I put a full day at Canyonlands on the bonus fourth day for a couple of reasons: (1) It’s the farthest destination from the center of Moab, (2) of the two National Parks, we preferred Arches, and (3) the Needles District was my favorite district in Canyonlands, not the closer Island in the Sky District.
With that being said, Canyonlands National Park is beautiful and absolutely warrants a visit.
Start day four of your Moab itinerary at Mesa Arch for sunrise, then spend the day hiking the more difficult, 4.2-mile Gooseberry Trail, and finish your day with a sunset at Green River Overlook.
Canyonlands is full of incredible viewpoints and you could literally spend a whole day stopping at each of them.
Other viewpoints to note:
- Grand View Point Overlook
- Shafer Canyon Overlook
- Buck Canyon Overlook
- Upheaval Dome
- White Rim Overlook
Camping in Moab
While there are several lodging options in Moab, you can’t beat the adventure of sleeping under the stars. And dang, do the stars put on a show in Moab.
Take note of Moab’s camping restrictions. Camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds within 20 miles of the town’s limits. The town also has a pack-it-out human waste ordinance. Plan accordingly.
The Willow Springs BLM camping area is the perfect off-grid location to pitch a tent or park an RV. There are no designated campsites but obvious pull-out options spread out across the large area.
While there isn’t much shade and no amenities, you can’t beat the close access to all of the stops outlined in this Moab itinerary.
This once-free camping area now charges a $15 fee per vehicle.
Devils Garden Campground
Devils Garden Campground is the only campground inside Arches National Park and is conveniently located just across the road from Devils Garden Trail.
We would have loved to camp there during our stay but the campground was already full during our trip dates. The campground is first-come, first-served during the months of November-February, and reservation only during the months of March-October. Sites go quickly so book in advance.
There is potable water and toilets, but no cell service.
Sites are $25.
Jaycee Park Campground
Jaycee Park Campground is located next to the popular climbing destination, Wall Street. Sites here are walk-in only and $20.
The campground has no water or electricity but does have toilets. We enjoyed this campground because of its location and its shady sites — a luxury that’s hard to come by in Moab.
This campground is not suitable for RVs.
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