Moab Adventure

Moab is the de facto adventure capital of Utah – a sort of holy site for outdoor junkies. Perfectly situated between two national parks and surrounded by public lands, there is an almost endless amount to do. So to help you out, we’ve built this little guide. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure for Moab.

Where to Start?

Trail Blazing
Motorized Madness
Time to be X-treme

Trail Blazing | Hiking & Biking

It would be entirely possible to spend all your vacation time on the trail. Both Arches and Canyonlands are within easy reach of Moab, and between the two of them you are spoiled for choice. Here are some of our favorites:

Easy Hiking:

Grand View Point (2-miles roundtrip)
This is probably the best vista in Canyonlands National Park. The trail leads you to panoramic views of Island in the Sky Mesa. Cutting through the mesa are canyons formed by the Colorado and Green Rivers. It truly is a view not to be missed.

Moderate Hiking:

Delicate Arch (3-miles roundtrip)
Located in Arches National Park, this hike is an essential Utah experience. (Heck, Delicate Arch is even on our license plates.) The terrain is mostly flat with some steep sections, having an overall elevation change of about 500-feet. The arch stands alone above a bowl-shaped depression in the rock mesa, with fantastic scenery in the background. Be sure to see it from all angles.

Strenuous Hiking:

Devil’s Garden Trail (7-miles roundtrip)
The Devil’s Garden is the best way to see Arches National Park, bar none. This loop will take you past about a dozen arches – including Landscape Arch, which is the largest natural arch in the United States. Most of the loop is well maintained, but some of the spurs are considered “primitive trails.” Don’t let this scare you, just follow the trail markers and cairns.

Druid Arch (10-miles roundtrip)
This spectacular arch is found in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The trail begins at the Elephant Canyon trailhead, leads through forests of stone pinnacles and then into Elephant Canyon. At the head of the canyon, you will find Druid Arch – which looks kinda like Stonehenge, hence the name.

Easy Biking:

Hurrah Pass (20-miles roundtrip)
Fairly level with well maintained roads, this route will allow you to focus on the views. Bikers travel through Kane Springs Canyon, splash across small streams and ascend Hurrah Pass to look into Canyonlands National Park far below.

Moderate Biking:

Slickrock Trail (12-miles roundtrip)
Slickrock Trail is an immensely popular biking route in the Moab area. The trail attracts almost 100,000 bikers each year, making it the most visited biking trail in the world. Located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, this route will test your abilities. Take your time when navigating the slickrock surface, and don’t forget to check out the views.

Strenuous Biking:

Poison Spider Mesa Trail (14-miles roundtrip)
One of the most technically challenging routes, Poison Spider has sand, gravel, slickrock and a final terrifying descent known as Portal Trail. Just be sure to sign the register if you make to the end, to immortalize your name forever. In addition to massive bragging rights, the route will give you picture-perfect views of the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area.

Motorized Madness | Jeeping & Off-roading

Sometimes hiking or biking just won’t satisfy. If you feel the need to test your skills (and your rig) then try out one of these nail-biters. We’ve also included some easier routes, in case you’ve got a stock vehicle.

Easy Routes:

Long Canyon Trail (7.5-miles one way)
An easy trail that connects Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands. Expect lots of switchbacks and a fairly steady uphill climb. You also get to drive under a massive boulder that straddles the trail – which is pretty fun. Be sure to admire the amazing geology and awesome scenery as you go along. Long Canyon trail ends when it intersects Highway 313.

Shafer Trail (18.5-miles one way)
Shafer is another easy trail, manageable for most stock vehicles. Located in the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands, Shafer has some pretty impressive switchbacks and even more impressive views of Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park. Be sure to check out Louise Point (where that famous scene in “Thelma & Louise” was filmed.) Shafer trail ends when it connects with White Rim trail.

Tough Routes:

Moab Rim Trail (12-miles roundtrip)
A tough route with pretty of obstacles, Moab Rim will definitely test your mettle. The trail starts out on slickrock and is extremely steep. The worst obstacle is the Devil’s Crack – where you must preform a death-defying maneuver to keep from falling off the edge. After that there are ledges and steps and stairs to navigate, all leading to a couple of Overlooks, where you’ll be able to look down on Moab far below.

Hell’s Revenge (14.8-miles roundtrip)
This is probably the best known Jeeping trail in Moab. It is also one of the hardest. There are an almost uncountable number of slickrock hills, and some are incredibly steep. Black Hole and Whale’s Tail are probably the worst, so steep you won’t see what you’re driving on. Then add in some large pits that will swallow you whole, sand, and plenty of random boulders, you’ve got a truly white-knuckle trail. (Which hopefully is what you wanted.)

Time to be X-treme | Rocks & Rapids

For those of you who just won’t be happy until you’re in mortal danger. Conquer these heights, shoot these rapids, and squeeze every last bit of adventure out of Moab.

Climbing Routes:

Big Bend Bouldering Area (V0 – V5)
Big Bend has something for everyone, no matter your skill level or age. Located just 9-miles outside of Moab, Big Bend is a convenient place to hone your skills. It can be a great place to practice before doing traditional routes.

Wall Street Area (5.6 – 5.12b)
There are over 120 routes on Wall Street, mostly sport and mixed-sport climbs and under 100-feet. (We do suggest bring some trad gear, since sometimes bolts can be missing.) There are also a descent amount of crack routes. A wide range of ratings makes Wall Street very popular, so expect lots of company. If you only have time to climb one area near Moab, this is a great choice.

Fisher Towers (5.7 – 5.11b A3+)
Probably the most iconic, and the most difficult place to climb near Moab is at Fisher Towers. These massive sandstone monoliths provide breathtaking views for miles in every direction. All routes are trad routes, and several require aid climbing. If you’re up for a challenge, Fisher Towers will give you one. But it will be worth it.

Whitewater Rafting:

Fisher Towers (Class II rapids)
A fairly easy river run, the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River makes a great one-day trip. You get to focus on the fantastic river-side views of Fisher Towers (and maybe see some rock climbers), and the plethora of desert scenery in Castle Valley. Most day-trips end after the White Rapids section of the River. Fisher Towers is generally suitable for all ages.

Cataract Canyon (Class V rapids)
Cataract Canyon is an isolated section of the Colorado River that runs through Canyonlands National Park. It also happens to have some of the best rapids in the state. The best way to experience Cataract Canyon is on a multi-day trip, which gives you a chance to hit all the rapids as well as to hike in some of the canyon’s spurs. Most trips begin in Moab and end at Hite Marina on Lake Powell.

Conclusion | Guides & Rentals

Let’s talk about guides and rentals. For a lot of these outdoor adventures, it can be a good idea to hire a guide. They can help you stay safe and sound on your trip. Plus, most of them offer equipment rentals, in case you need some extra carabiners. Here is a link to some of the best guides in Moab, courtesy of Utah.com.