Discover Moab: Utah's Desert Playground

It’s like a huge, red, outdoor convention center for every kind of weekend warrior.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Desert playground. Outdoor mecca. Disneyland for men who shave their legs and women who don’t. These are all fair titles to give to Utah's tiny town of about 5,000 and you'll understand why after spending a weekend exploring Moab's wealth of staggering beauty and endless potential for all things outdoors. Sandwiched between two of Utah's amazing National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands, Moab is just a (beautiful) 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Salt Lake City. The combination of incredible outdoor recreation and great food and drink make Moab an ideal destination for your next weekend escape.


Photo: Srikanth Jandhayala

The area surrounding the town of Moab has a ton of first-come-first-served camping and all of the campgrounds are incredibly scenic. People flock here on the weekends, so if you feel a touch of the Friday-flu coming on, head down Thursday night and get a prime location. One of the best places to start looking for a campsite is along Hwy 128 and the Colorado River. Granstaff Campground is a great spot and there are many more scattered along the river on either side of Hwy 191. Check out the BLM website for more details and maps of all the campgrounds in the area. You can also reserve a campsite in one of the National Parks, like Devils Garden in Arches. If camping isn't in the cards for your trip to Moab, try one of the many great accommodations in town. (They book up early for spring and fall, so plan ahead.)


Photo: Andy Best

If you do camp at Granstaff Campground, you'll be just across the street from the trailhead for the gorgeous hike into Negro Bill Canyon. Excellent hiking is a given in both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. If you're looking for something quick and iconic, check out Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah's most iconic natural feature/photography subject. Park Avenue is another popular trail with amazing views of massive sandstone formations. If you're looking for a longer hike, head south to the Needles District in Canyonlands, where you can easily extend a day hike into an overnight backpacking trip.


Photo: Lindsay Daniels

Moab is home to first-class climbing and attracts sinewy forearms from all over the world. Don't let that intimidate you if you're new to climbing though. Wall Street offers hundreds of routes ranging in difficulty and style, accommodating new climbers and seasoned veterans. If you have more experience under your belt, try the cracks in Indian Creek or tackle one of the world-famous climbing features like Moses or Ancient Art Tower.

Mountain Biking


With its rolling sandstone and rugged red dirt, southern Utah is known for incredible mountain biking. (If you've seen videos from Redbull Rampage, you know exactly what we're talking about.) Moab definitely lives up to this reputation. One of the most fun — and gnarly — rides in Moab is the Porcupine Rim Trail, which takes riders on a steep climb to epic views, followed by technical cliffside singletrack. If that ain’t your cup of tea, or if you just need to rent a bike, stop by Chile Pepper Bike Shop in town, chat up the staff, and grab a trail map. There are endless trails for all skill levels.


Photo: Western River Expeditions

If you want to give up the reins on planning the logistics of your Moab trip and still guarantee that you'll have the time of your life, a guided rafting trip in Cataract Canyon may be what you're looking for. Hook up with Western River Expeditions and spend four days rafting whitewater rapids, camping along the Colorado River, and seeing Canyonlands National Park from the deep chasm of Cataract Canyon, where the Green River joins forces with the Colorado. They'll provide flights, food for the whole trip, all the gear you'll need and lively guides with great stories to tell.

Food and Drink

Photo: Roy Luck

Moab's Main Street is full of great places to eat. The Love Muffin Cafe is the spot for breakfast and coffee. For a quick and tasty lunch, hit up the Quesadilla Mobilla for Mexican on the go or Milt's Stop and Eat for burgers, fries, and old fashioned milk shakes. If a cold microbrew is calling your name after a long day in the desert, try Moab Brewery. You also have the option to make a short drive out of town and try one of the fantastic local wineries like Castle Creek Winery or Spanish Valley Vineyards.

Cover photo: Joel Bear

Discover more adventures near Moab here.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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