Of all the small towns we drove through in our 3 month trip across the USA, Moab, UT was one of my favourites. It’s practically an adventurers’ paradise and there’s never any need to wonder what to do in Moab since there are just SO many options. You could spend the morning hiking in Arches National Park, go biking in Moab in the afternoon, perhaps go white water rafting, or even do some bouldering in Moab.
skyThere are just so many things to do in Moab, UT and that’s part of the reason I loved it so much. If you’re planning a Moab trip, here’s everything you need to know in this Moa travel guide, including important things like where to find the best coffee in Moab and where to shower in Moab if you’re not staying at a hotel.
Our trip to Moab
I found the city of Moab to be a mix of hippies looking to “get away from it all”, hikers hoping to explore the backcountry, muddy mountain bikers and petrol-heads wanting to tackle the 4×4 roads.
Even at the end of April when there were no holidays, Moab was busy. That meant finding budget accommodation was pretty tricky. But not impossible. Most of the campgrounds around Moab are BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property which tends not to include luxuries such as proper toilets and showers. There’s absolutely no chance of getting any wifi out there either – and you can forget phone signal once you leave the centre of Moab.
We spent three days in the Moab desert (for a grand total of $44 each) and in that time explored the town searching out the best places to eat, sleep, shower, browse the internet and shop. If you’re heading to Moab then this ultimate adventurers’ guide to Moab should help you!
Where is Moab?
Moab is in the state of Utah close to the border with Colorado in the east. From Grand Junction to Moab it’s 113 miles and Moab is 234 miles away from Salt Lake City, Utah.
How to get to Moab, UT
The most common way of getting to Moab is by driving and the distances and directions to Moab obviously vary depending on where you’re coming from. However, you can also fly to Moab. If you do fly to Moab then I highly recommend renting a car in Moab since getting around without one is nearly impossible. I use Rentalcars.com to rent cars around the world since they make it super easy to check I’m getting the best price.
Flights to Moab, Utah
The closest airport to Moab is Walker Field Airport in Grand Junction, Colorado. Salt Lake International Airport is another option although slightly further away.
There’s also the smaller, local airport near Moab that recently opened called Canyonlands Field Airport. Skywest DBA United Express flies to Canyonlands airport and this will usually include a stopover at another airport, such as Denver, Colorado.
I recommend using Skyscanner when booking flights. It’s super easy to find the best dates as well as the cheapest options.
What to do in Moab, Utah
With so many fun Moab activities to be found the hardest part is trying to fit them all of the fun things to do in Moab, Utah into your itinerary!
Go hiking in Moab
There’s a vast array of hiking around Moab. Whether you’re doing some of the best hikes in Arches National Parks, or hikes in Canyonlands National Park, or want to explore the Moab backcountry, make sure you pack your hiking boots!
I like to use Alltrails both to plan beforehand and when I’m on the trail too. If you’re hiking in the National Parks, most of the trails will be well signposted. While many people think that the only arches are in Arches National Park, there are in fact arches in Moab too. Some you can see from the road, others involve some hiking.
Some of the best hikes in Moab are on these hiking trails.
- Grandstaff Trail: 6.9km, 2 hours
- Corona & Bowtie Arch: 3.7km, 1 hour 15 mins
- Moab Rim Trail: 12.4km, 4 hours 22 mins
Visit National Parks near Moab
Moab is perfectly positioned for visiting some of the best National Parks in America. By visiting Moab you’re just a couple of minutes drive away from the entrance to the park.
Arches National Park is famous for the arch shapes in the rock and you’ve probably seen photos of Delicate Arch (the most famous) before. If you’re looking for more information about Arches National Park, check out this guide to Arches NP. One of the best parts is that Arches to Moab is only 8 minute’s drive away so you don’t have to go far at all.
There’s also Canyonlands a little further up the road from Arches. Moab to Canyonlands National Park takes just over 30 minutes. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Canyonlands National Park.
If you’re staying in the Moab area for a while, there’s also Capitol Reef National Park which is just over 2 hour’s drive away.
If you plan to visit at least 2 of these National Parks (and/or Dead Horse State Park mentioned below), it’s well worth getting the America the Beautiful Pass. This pass gives you access to ALL National, State and Historic Monuments for a year for only $80. Given each National Park can cost around $30 it’s so worth it.
Rent an ATV and go off-roading
One thing you’ll notice in Moab is that there’s a huge array of ATVs around town. That’s because Moab is surrounded by some of the best off-road trails! If you don’t have your own ATV you can book ATV rentals in Moab from one of the many places offering this, or you can take an ATV tour in Moab too.
Here are some of the best ATV tours in Moab.
Alternatively, you can go jeeping in Moab. Jeep rentals in Moab are popular and there’s no shortage of places offering rentals. Outlaw Jeep Adventures gets the best reviews. Find jeep trails in Moab here.
Go mountain biking in Moab
Adventure on two wheels more your thing? Take your mountain bike, or make the most of bicycle hire in Moab and hit the trails. I use Trailforks when I’m heading out mountain biking (mostly so I don’t end up on a super hard unmarked trail). It’s great for finding out where to park and working out a route that’s within your abilities. There are so many bike trails in Moab that there’s something for everyone.
Some bike shops in Moab where you can rent a bike from include:
Visit Dead Horse State Park
Besides the National Parks, Moab has the beautiful Dead Horse State Park. Yeah, I know not the most beautiful of names either but there are no dead horses (usually).
Dead Horse State Park sits 2,000 ft above a gooseneck in the Colorado River. It’s a landscape full of canyons and cliffs and amazing rock shapes.
Just 20 minutes away from Moab, this is one park you have to visit. There’s more great hiking here and the Intrepid Trail System provides a great taste of what Moab mountain biking is all about.
Check out Goblin Valley State Park
With otherworldly scenery, Goblin Valley State Park is one place near Moab not to miss. It’s an area where the soft sandstone rock has been eroded into interesting shape some of which look lie, you guessed it, goblins! There are also some parts of the park where the rock forms maze-like playgrounds which are great fun!
Go rafting on the Colorado River
The Colorado River is one of America’s great rivers. It’s 1,450 miles long and is the river you’ll see at the Grand Canyon National Park as well as in Canyonlands. The best way to go rafting on the Colorado River near Moab (unless you’re super experienced) is to take a tour. This small group rafting tour in Moab gets great reviews!
Try rock climbing or bouldering in Moab
Love climbing? Moab is a bit of a mecca for bouldering. The Moab area alone has almost 2,000 climbing and bouldering routes!
Climbing.com has a great article about bouldering and climbing near Moab. You can also hire a climbing guide in Moab to cut out the research part and just get straight to the rock!
Canyoneering in Moab
Another way to adventure in Moab is to try canyoneering. Canyoneering is a unique thing to do in Moab that involves rappelling, hiking, scrambling, sliding, stemming and chimneying. There are several companies that’ll take you to some of Moab’s best canyoneering spots and provide all the equipment which is the perfect way to try this fun sport!
Take a scenic drive in Moab
If you’ve exhausted yourself then hit the road and take a scenic drive. The most famous of the scenic drives in Moab is the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway U-128. This drive follows the Colorado River and takes you past some beautiful scenery along the way. You can see all the details about this scenic drive in Moab here, including the ghost town!
Hotels in Moab, Ut and other accommodation in Moab
Moab is popular all year round, even at the end of April we discovered pretty much everywhere to stay was full. For this reason, make sure you book your Moab accommodation early. If you’re wondering where to stay in Moab, here are a few places I’d suggest that won’t break the bank.
These hotels in Moab, Utah are suitable for more of a budget trip, they’re not luxurious but they’ll do the job. You’ll also find all the likely suspects such as Super8 and Comfort Inn in Moab.
- Adventure Inn Moab
- Moab Gateway Inn at Arches National Park
- Days Inn by Wyndham Moab
- Moab Valley Inn
Moab camping and glamping in Moab
The vast amount of visitors to Moab come in huge RVs (seriously, some of them must be twice the size of my old flat in London) or campervans. There are plenty of privately-owned campsites in Moab, Utah but again, they get booked up quickly.
If you want to camp in Moab but don’t have the equipment, you can enjoy a spot of glamping. These campgrounds let you stay in an RV or Tipi amongst other things.
- FunStays Glamping in Moab: offer Rv camping, tipis and tents all fully set up.
- OK RV Park Glamping Tipi: Super cool tipi camping with free wifi included
- Under Canvas Moab: Luxurious glamping in Moab
Camping on BLM land in Moab
For cheaper camping in Moab, try BLM camping. There are lots of BLM campgrounds in and around Moab although you will have to pay for most of them. Those closest to Arches National Park cost upwards of $20 whereas those a little bit further are $15.
These get full earlier and earlier each day as the season goes on. Most of those closest to Arches National Park are full by 4 pm. If you have your heart set on staying in one it’s probably best to arrive early, find something to leave in your spot, then head off out adventuring.
These campgrounds in Moab have compost type toilets but no water or showers. Bring everything you need with you and take everything back out too.
Here is a map of BLM campgrounds near Moab.
Where to get the best coffee in Moab
For those of you who need your caffeine hit to get you going in the morning, this is where you’ll find the best.
Moab Coffee Roasters
Without a doubt, the best place to get coffee in Moab is the Moab Coffee Roasters. When you walk in through the door the smell of coffee alone is enough to wake you up. A sign on the wall says it’s so good because; it’s organic and Fairtrade, freshly roasted and freshly prepared.
You’ve got to try one of their iced coffees. You know how usually the last bit of an iced coffee is just watery muck? These aren’t because the Moab Coffee Roasters freeze their coffee into ice cubes. So, as these ice cubes melt you just get more coffee. Genius!
Real coffee aficionados might kill me for saying this but I actually don’t think McDonald’s coffee is all that bad. Plus, it’s super cheap as it usually costs just $1 ($1.08 incl. tax).
If you’re a Starbucks fan you might be disappointed to hear that Starbucks doesn’t have its own premises. There is, however, a Starbucks concession inside City Market. There’s just nowhere for you to sit (and use their wifi).
Where to shower in Moab
After a day (or 5) or hiking, mountain biking, and just general living chances are you’ll feel in need of a shower. The good news is that even if you’re not staying in a hotel, motel or private campground, you can still find a shower in Moab.
Campgrounds you can shower at in Moab
We opted for the shower at Dowd Flats campground which is the cheapest in the whole of Moab. For $3 you get 5 minutes or brilliantly hot water and can add quarters to extend the time if needed. They were clean and it was the best $3 I spent during our stay in Moab.
Showers at Moab recreation centre
You can also use the showers at the Moab sports and recreation centre. Whilst you’re here you could also go for a swim if you fancy. It costs $5 for entry.
You can see a full list of places to shower in Moab on the tourism website.
Where to find free wifi in Moab
We have data on our phone but the phone signal was so poor throughout Moab that sometimes we just really needed some wifi. Here are the places we found that did the best wifi in Moab.
The Moab Laundry is the place to be not just for clean clothes but for some decent wifi. This was the most reliable connection and it was speedy too. If you’re feeling cheeky then just park up outside and connect.
Moab Coffee Roaster
This coffee and clothes/souvenir shop also has some speedy wifi – it was even good enough to upload a Youtube video. They also didn’t seem to mind when we sat in there all afternoon until closing while I edited photos and Thom coded.
The place we love to hate. Normally McDonald’s has some pretty reliable wifi. This one did have wifi but it wasn’t as good as the options above. It works well enough for emails but not enough for streaming.
Red Rock Bakery and Net Café
This café also has the internet and a few people in there had their laptops out even at busy breakfast time. If you haven’t got a laptop with you but want to use a computer, they also have one there for your use – Old Skool!
Where to eat in Moab
Moab has a myriad of food options from pretty much all cuisines. Some of the best restaurants in Moab, and the most popular are below.
There wasn’t a time we drove past this and it wasn’t heaving. We went here for dinner after hiking all over Arches National Park and would recommend it to anyone who’s feeling hungry after a full day of adventures in Moab.
Stick to the more traditional diner options (burgers and chips) as that’s what they do best. Some people were ordering roast turkey dinners that didn’t seem to go down too well but we were pleased with our burgers and milkshakes. Definitely the best burger in Moab! Oh and for reference the salted caramel milkshake is the best!
You’ll have to eat early if you want to eat here or go for lunch as it closes at 5 pm. We passed by on our last day and there were hoards of people outside. It’s regularly cited as the best food in Moab and it’s also the number one restaurant in Moab on Tripadvisor so hit it up for your dining in Moab needs.
Red Rock Bakery and Net Cafe
We ate breakfast here on our last day in downtown Moab. The place was packed and had a constant stream of people coming and going. I thoroughly recommend their cinnamon rolls and the breakfast bagel but not so much their French toast (it just seemed a bit dry and not at all eggy?). The cookies looked great too.
Where to shop in Moab
Whilst there isn’t a Wal-mart for miles, there are several smallish supermarkets in Moab to stock up on supplies. There are also a few cool shops worth popping into.
Grocery stores in Moab, Utah
City Market: You’ll find everything you need food-wise here. They even do pre-made sandwiches and salads to take with you for the day which doesn’t seem to be that common in the US.
- The village market
- Dave’s corner market
- Dollar General
- Walker Drug Company
Moonflower Community Cooperative
A favourite with the more hippyish population of Moab, Moonflower specialises in organic and natural foods. It’s the kind of shop I like browsing but don’t purchase anything due to the fact I can’t bear to part with almost $5 for a chocolate bar.
You ought to know by now that I love bookshops. The bookshop in Moab Is no exception. Not only do they have recent releases but they’ve also got an adventure section, a Wild West section and rare books towards the back too.
Made in Moab
For an arty souvenir for yourself or someone else, pop into Made in Moab which has jewellery, prints, clothes and toiletries all made by various local artists. My favourite was definitely the photos of LEGO men exploring Arches National Park.
Hopefully, that’s pretty much everything covered in the above ultimate adventurers’ guide to Moab. Where ever you stay, eat and drink your cup of morning coffee you’re bound to have fun!