Moab is a small resort/adventure town in southern Utah. With two National Parks located just minutes form the main downtown, the city's largest tourist draw comes from visitors to those parks. However hiking and sightseeing aren't the only attractions; museums, shopping, art, skydiving, and great wine and food are all options while you're in town. DiscoverMoab.com can do a better job than us highlighting all of the attractions and activities available.
Below you'll find all the info you will need about food and drink plus some of our favorite scenic experiences in Moab and the adjacent areas.
Arches National Park and Moab are in the Southeast region of Utah and are part of the Colorado Plateau. This region is known as a “high desert” and experiences wide temperature fluctuations. May is during their temperate season, when daytime highs average 80° F and lows average 40° F. The area averages less than an inch of rain during the month of May so hopefully we'll avoid any weather issues.
We recommend bringing a variety of clothing types. During the day, a light jacket, blended material shirt and shorts (or convertible pants...but those aren’t very fashionable) would be best. As soon as the sun starts to go down, the temperature starts to drop. Be sure to have warm clothing in case the temperature gets down into the lower 40’s.
Eat & Drink
We can't personally vouch for too many places in Moab but have put together a list of the best reviewed places in town.
- City Market — This is a pretty well stocked grocery store in the middle of town. We found everything we needed. They also have delicious baked goods. Their French bread and Country Crock are top notch - be sure to get some paper towels if you are planning on eating this on the road...it’s pretty flaky.
- Milt's Stop & Eat — $ — A Moab staple, this spot elevates diner and fast food enough to be a roadside destination for tons of people hiking the parks each year.
- Moab Brewery — $$ — This is Moab’s largest restaurant and only microbrewery. Their Dead Horse Ale is popular with locals and tourists and it gets it’s name from scenic overlook near Canyonlands National Park.
- Desert Bistro — $$$ — American style food in the heart of downtown Moab
- Sweet Cravings Bakery + Bistro — $$ — Great spot for a quick breakfast or to pick up some lunch for activities in the park.
- Eklecticafe — $$ — Good breakfast or sandwich place on the healthier side.
- Love Muffin Cafe — $ — Breakfast and sandwiches also. Can get a bit busy by mid-morning so make it out early if you're looking to try this one.
- Jeffrey’s Steakhouse — $$$ — One of your nicest options for a meal in Moab. If you're looking for a nice date night or just a nicer meal this is your place.
- Ye’Ol Geezer Meat Shop — $$$ — Mostly a butcher stop, so if you're renting a house and want to cook some delicious meat then this is your place. Also offers some higher quality deli meats and cheeses if you need some provisions for a good post-hike sandwich.
- Paradox Pizza — $$ — Pizza and garlic knots and beer. What more could you want? Well delivery is nice but they won't bring you the beer.
- Sabaku Sushi — $$ — Sushi in the desert. Great for a sushi place in a small town in the desert. But remember it's sushi...in a small town...in a desert.
- Wendy’s — $ — Let’s be honest...sometimes you just want a good batch of hot fries and chicken nuggets.
For those that want to toss back a few and those looking to get tipsy…Moab's long growing season coupled with its fertile, sandy soils has resulted in production of quite a few world-class wines.
- Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery — Conveniently located just a few miles south of Moab - the perfect way to relax after a hike in Arches or near Moab.
- Castle Creek Winery — Located just 15 miles from Moab, along beautiful Scenic Byway 128. Its location makes it the perfect destination after a sightseeing drive down Highway 128, or a hike to the Fisher Towers.
Nearby National Parks & Public Lands
If you are thinking of going to multiple National Parks or public lands managed by the federal government, consider getting an annual pass. It is good for one year from the first use and can basically pay for itself. It’s $80 for one vehicle (4 passengers per vehicle). The cost for Arches is $25/vehicle. The cost for Canyonlands is $25/vehicle. Grand Canyon is $30/vehicle. Do your research and see what works best for your visit. We did and ended up with more money for souvenirs!!!
Arches National Park
We fell in love with Arches very quickly. We started off by hiking Delicate Arch at sunrise. It was beautiful to watch the sun rise over the mountains and watch the light change in the park. There are a ton of hikes throughout the park - ranging from easy to strenuous. We recommend doing some research and really planning out your time in the park. Google maps offers drive directions (with time) within the park so you can really estimate how long it will take you.
View the chart on this page to see the difficulty ratings and times of each of the hikes in the park. Really if the arch, viewpoint, or hike has a name you can't go wrong.
Here are some of our favorite arches in the park
- Double Arch
- Delicate Arch
- Landscape Arch
- Navajo Arch
- Partition Arch
- Double O Arch
- Pine Tree Arch
- Tunnel Arch
- North Window
- South Window
- Turret Arch
Here are some of our favorite hikes and viewpoints in Arches:
- Park Avenue Viewpoint & Trail
- Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
- Balanced Rock
- Panorama Point
Canyonlands National Park
We absolutely loved Canyonlands. The park is huge and comprised of three areas - The Needles, The Maze, and Islands In The Sky. Be sure to check out Islands in the Sky. It is only a short drive from Moab (only about 40 minutes to get to the Visitor’s Center) and very easy to get to. Islands in the Sky provides visitors with a variety of hikes depending on how you are feeling. We did quite a few hikes in the park and none of them were too extreme or difficult. In fact, most were pretty level and easy.
Our favorite hike was the White Rim Trail. The dirt is bright red along the trail and if you make it to the end (which isn’t very far) you will be greeted by a magnificent panorama overlooking Canyonlands and the La Sal Mountains. The Grand View Point Trail was an easy hike but a bit longer than the white rim at around 2 miles round trip, and you can walk all the way to the end and enjoy some peace and tranquility. The views from this viewpoint are spectacular and well worth the effort.
Here are some of our favorite hikes and viewpoints in Canyonlands:
- Mesa Arch
- White Rim Overlook
- Grand View Point Overlook
- Visitors Center just before sunset
- Buck Canyon Overlook
- Green River Overlook
- Upheaval Dome
Dead Horse Point State Park
This state park is located 32 miles away from Moab. It’s open year round and cost $10 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers/vehicle). Dead Horse Point State Park has been called one of Utah's most spectacular state parks. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands. The park offers miles of hiking trails, including a paved trail which provides easy access to some of the most scenic views.
La Sal Mountains Forest Land
Just 20 miles south of Moab are the La Sal Mountains, which are part of Manti-La Sal National Forest. At nearly 13,000 feet, these alpine mountains are the second highest mountain range in Utah. Numerous hiking and mountain bike trails, along with picturesque campsites, make these mountains a great complement to your visit to Moab.
La Sal Mountain Loop Road
The La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Backway features scenery ranging from the forested heights of the La Sal Mountains to expansive views of the red rock landscape below. This paved Scenic Backway begins on US 191, six miles south of Moab, and winds north over the La Sal Mountains through Castle Valley, ending at Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway U-128.
For those of you that love to drive and explore new areas by car, Moab is extremely close to three state scenic byways.
Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128)
This route along the Colorado River gorge begins at the Colorado River Bridge on the north end of Moab. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding red sandstone cliffs.
Length: 44.0 Miles
Time to Allow: 2 Hours
Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-279)
This Scenic Byway provides great views of the Colorado River, ancient rock art and dinosaur tracks. A late afternoon start is rewarding as the sunset on the reddish-orange sandstone cliffs along the route is especially beautiful on the return drive to Moab.
Length: 17.0 miles
TIme to Allow: 1 Hour
Dead Horse Point Mesa Scenic Byway (U-313)
Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, on Utah Highway 313, takes you through miles of red rock canyon country. After a few hairpin curves as you begin to ascend the plateau, the road levels out allowing you to appreciate the scenery.
Length: 35.0 Miles
Time to Allow: 2 hours minimum, but several additional hours are recommended to enjoy the state and national parks.
Sort of nearby
National Parks & Public Lands
Capitol Reef National Park
This National Park is 2 hours and 30 minutes from Moab. It has beautiful formations and you can visit most of it by car. We recommend passing through this park on your way down to Bryce Canyon National Park. Panorama point and Goosenecks Overlook are easy to get to and offer spectacular views of Chimney Rock and Sunset Point. Note that cell service is VERY limited.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Once you pass through Capitol Reef National Forest, take Hwy 24 to Hwy 12 in Torrey. Hwy 12 is a National Scenic Byway (Don’t forget to take a picture of the sign right when you get on the highway). You will drive through Dixie National Forest. It is absolutely stunning and offers pullouts for photos (as well as some restrooms) of the pine and birch tree forests.
You will not want to miss Grand Staircase Escalante if you are headed to Bryce Canyon. During our trip we planned to drive through it and it did not disappoint. The land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and they have provided nice pullouts for photo opportunities. This is where you begin to notice the color in the rocks changing from red to white and bits of orange on your way to Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park
OH. MY. GOD. Our jaws dropped when we turned onto the road that leads to Bryce Canyon. You are greeted by a glimpse of the magnificent hoodoos and bright orange and white colors. Stop by the visitors center for information about road conditions and to walk out to the prairie near the visitors center to see the prairie dogs (of course this reminded us of Jack). We visited the park in August and the temperature was around 80 and windy. Elevation goes up to 9,100 feet and the air is brisk and smells like Christmas! The pine trees are a deep green and offer a great contrast to the vibrant orange.
Zion National Park
“Beautiful and impressive contrast meets you everywhere: the colors of tree and flower, rock and sky, light and shade, strength and frailty, endurance and evanescence.”John Muir
Zion is breathtaking. From the moment we arrived, we loved our time in the park. We took the first shuttle of the morning to hike Angel’s Landing, a hike that climbs 1500 feet in elevation and the path can get as narrow 3 feet wide with steep drop offs. There are a ton of hikes available to everyone. Since the park is in a valley, the sun does not set or rise in the park, but it does get first light. No matter what time of day you go to the park, it will look different because the angle of the sun. Because it is in a valley, the park is very prone to flash flooding, so be sure to check the weather and plan ahead.