An easy 350 mile road trip from Denver, Moab is one of our family’s favorite destinations. Home to two wonderful national parks, Canyonlands and Arches, there is always plenty to do . Visiting the national parks is always a great family vacation, our kids even keep track of all of the parks we have visited using their national parks passports. Finding accommodations is the most difficult part of planning these types of trips. Most national parks offer either camping inside the park or very expensive lodging. Staying outside the parks is usually an option but usually requires a lot of time spent driving back and forth. In Moab, there are plenty of accomodations to choose from and the town is located right outside Arches National Park. There are plenty of hotels, an abundance of camping spots, restaurants galore, and a town with lots of character. Besides its convenient location, Moab is a great spring getaway for those that want to thaw out after Denver’s winter. Here are our top picks for family friendly activities in the Moab area.
- Arches National Park– This is our kids’ favorite national park and there is plenty to see and do. You can drive through the park and see a lot of the wonderful rock features but to see some of the really great sites get out and hike some of our favorites.
- The Windows– An easy 1 mile hike, this leads you to 3 arches with incredible views.
- Delicate Arch– This is the arch that graces the Utah license plates and it was chosen for good reason. Depending on the age of your kids you can do the easy hike to the viewpoint which is only about 100 yards or do the full 3 mile moderately strenuous hike to the top which pays off in a view that is unlike any other.
- Balanced Rock– This is a great photo opportunity for those with little kids that are not up to hiking very far. An easy .3 mile of a walk or you can view it from your car while driving the park.
- Double Arch– Only half a mile round trip this is a good one for littles and an impressive two huge arches.
- Devils Garden– This hike is one of our favorites and has the highest concentration of arches in the world. You can make this hike as long or as short as you want based on the age and hiking abilities of your kids. The first arch you arrive at is Landscape Arch and if you decide to stop there, it is an easy 1.6 round trip hike. After Landscape you can cut up to a couple of side hikes to see Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. Continue on to Double O Arch if you have some good hikers, lots of water, and are not scared of heights. The hike is 4 miles round trip and the view along the way is the real pay off. Feeling really brave and you can return using the Devils Garden Primitive Loop which is a lot of fun but is 7.2 miles if you do round trip and has some tricky parts if you have little ones.
- Canyonlands National Park– Canyonlands is actually divided into three separate parks; The Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. Because of the rivers in between the park areas, you have to enter the park in different areas which are pretty distant from each other. Scheduling wise you can really only fit one part of the park into a day.
- Island in the Sky- This is the northern part of Canyonlands and there are a lot of great spots throughout the park to pull over and enjoy the amazing views of the canyon below. As far as hikes, the Mesa Arch trail (.6 miles), Whale Rock trail (1 mile), and Upheaval Dome (1.8 miles) are our favorites. Some of the park can only be accesses with four wheel drive.
- The Needles- This is the southeast part of Canyonlands and is named for the sandstone spires in the area. The majority of this side of the park is only accessible with four wheel drive but there is still plenty to do without it. Our favorite hikes include Cave Spring (.6 miles), Pothole Point (.6 miles), and Confluence Overlook (10 miles).
- The Maze– This is the part of Canyonlands that is the least accessible. It is further from Moab and I have heard you need at least a couple days to explore it. Using a 4 wheel drive is required and for these reasons, we have not explored this part of the park as of yet.
- Dead Horse State Park– You pass right by this state park on the way back to Moab from the north side of Canyonlands and it is worth the stop for the incredible views. You can drive to the parking lot at the end of the scenic drive and get out at the overlook or take one of the hikes available in the park.
- Corona Arch– Just a little outside of Moab, this is a great hike that our kids love. The 1.5 mile hike includes a short ladder climb but otherwise is an easy hike. There is hardly any shade however so it is a good one to schedule towards the beginning or end of the day when it is cooler.
- Morning Glory– This 4 mile round trip hike offers more shade than most in the area so it is a good one for a hot day. The trail crosses back and forth across a creek guaranteeing at least one kid will end up with wet shoes by the end. At the end of the trail is the Morning Glory Bridge which is the 6th longest rock span in the United States and has a spring coming from the side of the rocks.
Besides all of these scenic hikes, the area also offers family friendly biking paths, rock climbing, and rafting. Whatever you choose to fill your day, make sure you end the day with burgers and shakes at our favorite diner Milt’s Stop & Eat.