The ruggedly beautiful southwestern state is filled with adventure and surreal views.
Moab, Utah, isn’t necessarily the first place people of color think to go when looking to plan a getaway. However, this small town packs a lot of culture and history within its borders. With a population of only about 5,300 residents, this Eastern Utah destination relies heavily on its thriving tourism industry.
Home to several National Parks, including bucket list-worthy Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Moab is the perfect place for the traveler that loves the outdoors as well as adrenaline pumping activities that will have your friends and families saying, ‘wow, you did that?’
From its surreal yet picturesque backdrops to a deep indigenous culture and history, here is everything you need to know before navigating Moab and Arches National Park for the first time.
Where to Stay
No matter where you stay within Moab’s limits, you’ll always be just a short drive away from the town center and all the action. A great option, especially for traveling families or those staying more than just a few days, is The Moab Resort, a WorldMark by Wyndham Associate Resort.
A newer property in Moab, suites range from studios all the way to 4-bedrooms— so you can literally bring the entire family. Rooms are equipped with everything you need to enjoy your meals on-site, if that’s what you prefer, including full kitchens or kitchenettes as well as utensils and other items you would need. You can even grill out at one of the many picnic areas around the property, too.
There is a poolside restaurant, Sandstone Café, which has everything from a full-service bar to dinner options and dessert. In addition to the pool, there are two hot tubs, a fitness center, as well as a game room.
What to See and Do in Moab Town Center
A short 5-minutes drive away from Moab Resort, and pretty much any hotel in the area, is Moab’s town center. Here, you will find several locally-owned eateries, art galleries, and quaint shops that tell the story and history of the many Native American tribes that once inhabited and currently inhabit the area.
Adrenaline junkies, this is definitely your happy place! Off-roading is a very popular activity in Moab. You can rent all types of 4x4 vehicles, including: Jeeps and UTVs. A popular tour operator in the area is Moab Tourism Center, and it offers several packages that will take you through Hells Revenge— a desert area filled with rocky cliffs named for its dry and often very hot climate. On this tour, you’ll go up and down steep, rocky terrains in your vehicle with stops along the way for photos, including a stop to Grandstaff Canyon, which is a beautiful canyon named after William Grandstaff— a formerly enslaved Black man who made his way to Moab, where he started and ran a very successful agriculture business within the canyon in the 1800s. During the tour, your guide will also make a stop to show some of the many discovered dinosaur tracks. (There are also a few dinosaur museums in Moab if you have little ones who are fascinated by the prehistoric creatures).
Other must-see and do things in Moab’s town center are: eating from the many trucks at the Moab Food Truck Park, visiting one of the many Native American Art Galleries to see handcrafted pieces from local tribes, as well as driving along the nearby roadways to get a glimpse at the many petroglyphs carved into cliffs by some of the first indigenous people known to walk the land.
Arches National Park is one of the country’s most stunning National Parks, and for good reason. With more than 2,200 natural arches in the park’s borders, thousands of visitors make their way to the park each year to marvel the larger-than-life red-hued rock formations.
Since the park reopened after the global pandemic, it has adopted a timed-entry system. This means, you will need to purchase and reserve your time slot in advance for your visit. You can drive your own vehicle through the park, or like many, you can hire a guide to take you through.
Venture Moab is a Black woman-owned company, owned by Alexandra Gabrielle, that offers a range of guided tours and excursions in Moab, including those to Arches National Park. Your knowledgeable guide will pick you up from your hotel, and drive you to the park, so you wouldn’t need to purchase the timed-entry tickets if this is the route you choose. You can opt for a private tour or a general group tour, and your guide will take you to the park’s most scenic spots while also helping you avoid the crowds as much as possible.
As far as what to wear, you’ll want to wear loose, comfortable clothing, especially in the summer months when temps can easily reach over 100-degrees. Be sure to wear shoes that you don't mind getting dirty (this goes for your entire stay in Moab), as much of the terrain in the park is red sand that has fallen from the rocks over time. Finally, be sure to hydrate but also mix in salty foods like chips or jerky, as suggested by one of the Venture Moab guides— this helps to replenish the electrolytes in your body as you hike the park’s various trails. Trails range in effort and length, but many are considered on the easier side, with only a few small climbs or steps involved.