A trip to Moab can mean mean many things, such as appreciating the landscape’s astounding beauty, experiencing the charm of a unique desert town, enjoying world-class outdoor recreation, and even reconnecting with the wild magic found in nature and your own soul. It can also mean enduring maddening traffic jams and crowded trails in sunstroke-level heat. If you would like a Moab experience that is a bit off the crushingly popular beaten path, consider the following itinerary.
If you are coming into town from the north, make your first stop at Moab Giants. To call it a dinosaur museum would be an understatement. Family-friendly Moab Giants features an outdoor dinosaur exhibit spread along a half-mile trail. The dino models are interactive, life-size,
and in living color. Two semi-shaded sandboxes along the trail contain fossils for little hands to unearth. Indoor attractions include the 5D Prehistoric Aquarium, a 3D theatre, and Interactive Tracks Museum.
If you are coming in from the south, hit up the roadside attraction called Hole N the Rock, named for the 5,000 square foot home that former owners carved into the high rock wall.
In addition to guided tours of the unique architecture, Hole N the Rock has an exotic zoo, which is home to zebras, bison, and others,which love to nibble on grains and carrots, which you can purchase on site. There’s also an assortment of interesting antique items, and an overall vibe that is sui generis.
While the area is best known for iconic red rocks, the La Sal Mountains, located just south of Moab, are an alpine treasure. They offer an escape from the heat as well as numerous recreation opportunities, including trails for hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders, and OHV
While you are up there, unplug for a day or two—or more—and enjoy the simple yet profound joy of backcountry camping in a Talking Mountain yurt. Yurts are circular, semi- permanent structures, and offer about the same protection from the elements as a simple cabin.
Talking Mountain has three yurts for rent, each at a different site in the La Sal Mountains.
Inside, there are beds and a dining table made to accommodate up to eight persons, as well as cookware, a propane stove, and other necessities of yurt camping. You do need to be down with foregoing electricity, bringing your own bedding, and using an outhouse.
In town, turn off Main Street at Kane Creek Boulevard and go about 3.5 miles to Moonflower Canyon. Next to the parking area, you’ll find ancient petroglyphs that are fascinating despite some vandalism, and a ladder in the rock that you can climb at your own risk. A dirt trail winds through the canyon in ample shade, crisscrossing a small stream and leading to a natural amphitheater with a waterfall at the canyon’s end. It’s about 0.6 miles round trip.
The nearby national parks, Arches and Canyonlands, can still be visited without the “waiting in line at Disneyland” feel that comes from sitting in gridlocked traffic to share a well- trod trail with a few hundred strangers. The secret is this: go very early, or very late. Nearly all
visitors go to the parks between 7am and 6pm.