Moab is surrounded by natural beauty. With the Colorado River flowing through it, two national parks in its backyard, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and three scenic drives this town is packed with adventure seekers between March and October.
Moab is one of the top adventure towns in the world. Whether you like hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, or driving OHV and off-road vehicles. This 4-day adventure-filled travel guide is geared more toward hikers, but we will provide optional adventures if hiking is not your cup of tea.
Getting to Moab
The easiest way to get to Moab is to fly into Salt Lake City and rent a car. It is almost a 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City to Moab.
Where to Stay in Moab
Where to Eat in Moab:
Sultan Mediterranean Grill
The Blue Pig
Places to visit in 4 Adventure-Filled Days in Moab
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky and The Needles
Dead Horse State Park
Day 1 – Arches National Park
Arches National Park is the closest National Park to Moab and the main reason most people come here. Arches is easily accessible to most people and some of the best views do not require any hiking. You can drive up to them, find a place to sit, and enjoy the views, but that also makes it very crowded.
Hikes We Recommend
Devil’s Garden – full loop trail is close to 8 miles and includes all 7 natural arches (Tunnel, Pine, Landscape, Partition, Navajo, Double O, and Private Arch) and Dark Angel. The beauty of this hike is that it can be modified to fit your timeline and physical ability and once you are past the Landscape Arch, the crowd thins out rapidly.
Tower Arch – remote and quiet hike in the Klondike Bluffs. This is a trail to do to get away from the crowds.
Delicate Arch – this is the most popular arch in the park and the best time to visit is during the sunrise or the sunset. It is a very busy 3-mile trail roundtrip with over 400 ft elevation change.
The Windows and Double Arch – an easy hike to the North, South and Turret Arches as well as a walk up to the Double Arch.
Day 2 – Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is huge and has three main districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze. Its landscape is carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers and each district is uniquely beautiful.
The Island in the Sky district is the closest to Moab, only a 30-minute drive away. For today, you can choose to do one big hike or multiple shorter hikes.
Hikes We Recommend
Shafer Trail Viewpoint – is worth seeing, and if courageous enough, maybe even driving on it.
Mesa Arch Trail – a short hike that leads to a cliff-edge arch. It is a popular sun rise spot, but it is just as stunning any time of the day.
Grand Viewpoint – a great walk on the canyon’s edge with stunning panoramic views. At the end of the one-way trail is a set of boulders that you can climb for even better 360-degree views.
Upheaval Dome – to the first and second overlook. This is about a 2-mile hike with a steep climb on the slick rock to a unique geological puzzle – Upheaval Dome. There are two theories on what created it: the Salt Dome Theory and the Impact Crater Theory.
Syncline Loop – this is a much longer hike than any of the other ones above. It is a challenging hike that leads around the Upheaval Dome and requires climbing and scrambling through boulder fields, with very little shade provided. This hike takes 5 – 7 hrs. to complete and can be combined with one of the shorter hikes if you still have the energy to go.
Other Adventures in Moab
Off-Roading Adventure – on your own or with a guide
Half-day Canyoneering tour – Canyoneering is the ultimate adventure! It utilizes different techniques such as hiking, rappelling, scrambling, down-climbing, and swimming to travel through a canyon.
Day 3 – The Needles, Canyonlands National Park
The Needles district is almost 2 hours south of Moab. Because of its distance, it is less visited than Arches or Island in the Sky, which makes it even more appealing to us. Unlike Island in the Sky where you are hiking or driving on the edge of the canyon looking in, in the Needles, you are down in the canyon looking up at the beauty around you.
Hikes We Recommend
Chesler Park/Joint Loop – this is almost an 11-mile hike and gives you the best views and feel for Needles Park. If you have only one day in the park, we strongly recommend this hike. We have a post about this hike that can help you figure out all the details – Chesler Park Loop Hike
Big Spring to Squaw Canyon Loop – this is almost an 8-mile hike and a great introduction to The Needles landscape.
Slickrock – this is only a couple-hour hike but offers wonderful 360-degree views.
Other Adventures In Moab
Half-day Paddleboarding – this can be arranged as a tour or where you only rent the paddle boards and shuttle ride to a starting point.
Zip Lining Adventures – gliding over sandstones and gaps above Moab
Dinner cruise on the Colorado River – 1.5-hour sunset cruise while enjoying Utha’s breathtaking scenery
Day 4 – Whitewater Rafting and Dead Horse State Park
If you are visiting Moab during the hot summer months, you will be more than ready to spend some time in the water. We visited Moab, in the last week of September and the beginning of October and the temperatures were still in the high 90s every day. Many tours offer full-day or half-day whitewater rafting options. With the half-day option, you can also visit the Dead Horse State Park for some more hiking, enjoy the scenic drive, or just for a wonderful sunset.
Other Adventures in Moab
Mountain Biking – in the Dead Horse State Park
Whitewater Rafting – a great way to spend an afternoon in the Colorado River
This is why adventure lovers flock to Moab! There are an endless number of things to do here however, make sure you come prepared for the weather and have a good grasp on the physical ability necessary for the activities you decide to do.
Other helpful posts…
Grand Hike in The Grand Canyon – South Kaibab to Tonto to Bright Angel Loop
Alternative Ways to Hike to the Observation Point in Zion
3 Epic Days in Zion National Park
Must Do Hikes in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Peek-a-boo and Spooky Loop and Lower Calf Creek)
17-Day Grand Canyon and Utah’s Mighty Five Road Trip Itinerary
The Best Hike In The Canyonlands Needles District – Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop
Easy Must Do Hikes in Capitol Reef