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Moab is a wonderful hiking/biking/landscape destination – it’s a unique, world-class landscape and worth the effort it takes to get to. Really glad we didn’t stay in the town itself: it’s a crunchy outdoorsy town of the Lone Pine variety. Food was very uninspiring. But ignore that, consider camping, go to the parks!

Hotel options

  • We stayed at *Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa. It’s a lovely place, and we really liked being outside of Moab. Service and food are a bit lacking, however, and I don’t think the cost is worth it.
  • Red Cliffs Lodge was right nearby. It’s bigger, but looks fairly charming.
  • My sister has had luck with the cottages offered by https://www.moabvacationlodging.com/
  • *Moab Under Canvas is not recommended, numerous friends have called it too expensive and just not that nice. And really cold.

Food options including notes from Jeanne and Dave

  • **Love Muffin Cafe for breakfast or lunch (have the patatas bravas dish and sandwiches)
  • [haven’t been] 98 Center for lunch/dinner: Asian fusion place with hipster vibes. Also, the best cocktails we had in town but worth noting the cocktails are “good for Utah’, likely due to the liqueur requirements.
  • *Moab Grill: yuck, skip
  • **Moab Brewery: fine, not awesome but friendly and edible.
  • **Moab Diner: again fine, below average but edible

The Parks

***Dead Horse Point State Park: at the entrance to Canyonlands, and really shouldn’t be missed. Allow about an hour to go to the point and walk around it.

***Canyonlands (Island in the Sky Side): awesome! Amazing scenery, we loved it in winter (light dusting of snow, almost no people). It’s a good driving park with a lot of opportunities for short hikes. It looks like it would be great for mountain biking, it’s huge, great terrain. As hikers, we did every lookout and minor hike along Sky Park Road, hiking about 5 miles over the course of the day. The one thing I’d call optional is Upheaval Dome, a must for serious geology nerds but not quite as interesting for the layman.

***Arches National Park is quite something. It’s a Vegas showgirl of a park – everything on display. In many ways it’s the opposite of Canyonlands – the spires are up, versus the downward views in the canyons. You can drive it in 2 hours, or spend 4 and take a lot of short walks to the major sites. Do make sure to stop at Park Avenue, my favorite. If I went back a second time, I’d drive straight to the end and do a long hike. I’m not sure I’d consider this in the Spring-Fall at all – the crowds in December were almost too much to take. It’s wonderful, but clearly everyone thinks that.

Next time: La Sal Loop Road: We didn’t have time for this, but it looks awesome. It also has campgrounds in cooler locations for summer.


On the way in…

  • ***Sego Canyon Rock Art: love! Drive through a creepy defunct town, then an equally creepy trailer park, drive a few more miles past hunters with guns, and you’ll arrive at a lovely canyon with spectacular Ute drawings on the rocks. It’s small, but majestic.
  • **Cisco: a ghost town; featured in Thelma & Louise. Very dead, not worth going out of your way to see, but vaguely interesting if nearby. However,  ***Highway 128 (Cisco – Moab) – gorgeous! It’s worth driving to Cisco to enter Moab this way – the views are incredible.

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