Planning a trip to Moab? This remote city in Utah's southeastern corner makes a great base for all kinds of fun activities. The list of things to do in Moab is long, especially if your family loves national parks and outdoor adventure.
I live in Utah and Moab is a few hours' drive from my home. I've been visiting Moab since long before it was “discovered” and I love going back there with my own kids.
Spectacular scenery and outdoor adventure are the best reasons to visit Moab. There's not a lot to do right “in” the city, but it's an excellent base for visiting national parks, state parks and other great destinations nearby.
Here are my top things to do in Moab, Utah with kids.
Arches National Park
In my opinion, Arches National Park is the #1 reason to go to Moab. The park entrance is just five miles from the city's center. It doesn't matter how many pictures of Delicate Arch you've seen – there is nothing like that compares with seeing it in person.
Arches has become very popular in recent years, so much that visitors may be turned away if there isn't space for more vehicles in the park. I recommend that you start your day early, or later in the afternoon to beat the crowds. Avoid school breaks and holiday weekends, or plan for larger crowds.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park has three districts: Island in the Sky, Needles and The Maze. The Island in the Sky and Needles entrances are both within an hour's drive of Moab, in different directions. Both are accessible with any type of vehicle, fairly uncrowded and have a good variety of trails for families.
I recommend a half or full day in Island in the Sky or Needles, but not on the same day because the entrances are about 2 hours apart. If you have to pick one, Island in the Sky is my favorite.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point offers one of the best scenic views in the region. The Colorado River winds through the red sandstone plateaus, which seem to go on forever. This state park has a few hiking and biking trails, and a nice little visitor center and gift shop where kids can participate in a Junior Ranger program.
Sunrise and sunset are the best time to get photos here. I recommend stopping on your way to or from Canyonlands' Island in the Sky.
Moab is one of the best places in the world to go mountain biking. You'll find dozens of trails for all abilities. Hotels provide space to clean and store bikes. Rentals and tour guides are readily available.
Honestly, I'm awful on a bike. I have biked an easy trail or two in Moab, but I recommend that you visit Moab's official visitor website at https://www.discovermoab.com/mountainbiking for more information to help you plan your mountain biking trip.
Back when I was young and single, I visited Moab with a big group of friends. Two of the guys brought their customized 4WD vehicles and we spent an afternoon driving Moab's off-road trails. It was so fun.
I was amazed at the rugged terrain those trucks could handle and the spectacular scenery all around us. At one point, we found a bump that sent us sailing through the air when we hit it with enough speed. It was so fun that we went back and did it again.
Booking a Jeep Tour in Moab is a great way for anyone to experience this kind of off-road adventure. There are several tour companies to choose from. Get a list at https://www.discovermoab.com/guides-and-outfitters
The Colorado River winds past Moab, carving ever deeper into the gorgeous red rock canyons nearby. Moab and Green River (an hour north) are popular places to enjoy a day-trip or multi-day rafting trip in the summer.
I have not rafted in the Moab area, but I have taken one-day and multi-day rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. It's so much fun! Depending on the route, kids as young as 6 can go rafting. My kids LOVED our rafting trip in Dinosaur National Monument.
Moab has become an impressive dinosaur destination in recent years. There are several places where you can find dinosaur tracks and fossils in nature. My favorite is Mill Canyon where you can find both tracks and visible dinosaur bones with interpretive signs to help you identify them.
Moab also has a dinosaur museum, Moab Giants. It's a few miles outside of Moab, beyond the Arches entrance on Highway 191. With indoor and outdoor exhibits and lots of high-tech interactive fun, it looks like a fun all-weather activity for families.
Moab is also a great place to see ancient rock art left by the people who lived here hundreds of years ago. There are at least half a dozen petroglyph sites within a short distance of the city.
Newspaper Rock is a slam dunk. The petroglyphs are abundant, low to the ground and just a few steps from the parking lot. It's about 45 minutes' drive from Moab on the way to Canyonlands' Needles entrance.
Look for a big sandy hill across from the Arches National Park entrance on Highway 191. Save an hour or so to play here, and it might be your kids' favorite part of the trip. Climbing up and running or sliding down are a lot of fun.
Consider packing a large piece of cardboard or a sled for sliding down. This activity is especially good in spring, fall or even a sunny winter afternoon. The sand may be too hot on a summer day unless you go early in the morning or in the evening.
Moab's Main Street is filled with art galleries, outdoor outfitters, boutiques, home decor, souvenirs and more. Most of the shops are local and unique.
Moab's shopping district is just a few blocks long and interspersed with local restaurants and other visitor services, but you can easily spend a couple of hours or more happily browsing and buying.
Moab, Utah is a great year-round destination for families – especially those who love national parks and outdoor adventure. I hope that this list of things to do in Moab will help your family plan the perfect trip.