Rough Draft: 3 Day Itinerary for Moab, Utah

May 2020

Rough Draft: Moab, Utah

Due to the COVID quarantine, I am creating rough draft, “off the shelf” travel itineraries for when travel resumes normal operations so we do not waste any time getting out and exploring!

One of the biggest request from you guys was itineraries for visiting the National Parks which happened to be one of my 2020 goals. This may have to be a 2021 goal as I think everyone (EVERYONE) will be flocking to National Parks as a post-COVID escape plan. Many of the photographers we traveled with on our storm chasing trip frequent the country’s National Parks capturing unbelievable pictures and they could not speak more highly about visiting these areas. I have not hit many of the iconic National Parks so I will be taking the next couple itineraries to discovery them.

Off to Moab, Utah!

While I know there are many types of accommodations for National Park trips, one that I am so excited to try is Under Canvas. My cousin (thank you!) introduced me to this kind of glamping style camping that looks just amazing! You are staying among the sweeping landscapes and I can only imagine what it is like to have a sunrise morning or under the stars roasting smores kind of evening. If you do not want this type of experience, the town of Moab there are plenty of accommodations there for easy access to the park entrance.

The great thing about Moab is you get two parks for the price of one – Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Here is the park guide for Arches and Canyonlands full of details for visiting.

For each park, there is a $30 fee per vehicle or a $15 fee per person without a vehicle, both are valid for 7 days. If you plan on visiting both parks (as you do when in Moab), there is a Southeast Utah Park pass for $55 and it is good for a year. One step further… If you make National Park hopping a priority, make sure to check out the American the Beautiful Pass – $80 for the year and included entrance to over 2000 sites!

Let’s review the most popular trail options at Arches:

There are lots of easy trails that are under an hour to complete which makes this a desirable destinations for those that may not be into hiking but want to experience the great views.

Delicate Arch

  • Delicate Arch is the iconic structure is why you visit Arches National Park. This difficult trail is 3 miles and should take between 2 – 3 hours to complete.  Many people prioritize this for sunrise or sunset to get the best view.

Devil’s Garden

  • There are three trails that make up Devil’s Garden – Landscape Arch (easy, 1.6 miles), Double O Arch (difficult, 4.5 miles), and Primitive Trail (difficult 7.2 miles). These offer more variety for the longer hikes but also offer an easier trail as well.

Let’s review the most popular trail options at Canyonlands:

This park is comprised of three areas – Islands in the Sky, The Maze and Needles. The Maze and Needle district are quite a distance from Moab so for this short trip, we will be using the Island in the Sky area for visiting. 

Mesa Arch

  • This is the most popular trail in the Island in the Sky area. It is an easy 0.5 mile, 30 minute route that leads to a cliff-edge arch and is a fantastic spot for sunrise.

Grand View Point

  • For panoramic views to the canyon edge, this easy 2 mile trail takes under 2 hours

Upheaval Dome

  • While only 1 mile long to the first overlook, it is a steep trail that gives a clear view of the dome. There is also the option of continuing onward another 1 miles to the second overlook.

In addition to hiking, there are plenty of places to explore at both parks including white water rafting, jet boating, rock climbing, canyoneering, and mountain biking.

One thing I am really looking forward to is stargazing! They have recommended spots you can do on your own or they hold events guided with rangers.

Based on the duration of the hikes and the proximity to each other, here is how I would structure a 3 day itinerary. The closest airport is Salt Lake City and from there is about a 4 hour drive. You can also use Denver for a 5 hours trip to reach Moab. As with most 3 day weekends, I like to fly on Thursday after work to get the most out of the three days at the destination.

Activity
Day 1 Afternoon Flight 
Evening Drive to campsite
Day 2 Morning Delicate Arch

Devil’s Garden

The Windows

Double Arch

Balanced Rock

Afternoon
Evening The Windows for stargazing
Day 3 Morning Mesa Arch

Grand View Point Overlook

Upheaval Dome

Afternoon
Evening Dead Horse Point for sunset

Chill at campsite

Day 4 Morning La Sal Mountain Loop Road 

Oowah Lake

Warner Lake

Afternoon Drive to airport
Evening Flight home

I wouldn’t necessary commit to doing the trails in this order but the groupings are what is important. I also would not want to commit to the  longer trails on the last day of the trip cause I would be stressed out about missing the flight in case it is a bad hiking day and it takes longer to complete. And do not forget to check the National Park website frequently as the trail status can change.

I did not include a food section in the itinerary because most of the food here is trail snacks and lots of water! There are several grocery stores in town to stock up for hiking. I did look in the area to see what Moab has to offer and here are some of the popular spots:

  • Sweet Cravings Bakery and Bistro- wraps, paninis, sandwiches, and baked goods
  • Eklectica Coffee – for Kevin’s coffee fix
  • Red Rock Bakery and Cafe- cafe food
  • The Spoke – burgers
  • Moab Diner- all day breakfast
  • Desert Bistro- Southwestern cuisine
  • Moab Kitchen- vegan
  • Spitfire Smokehouse- North Carolina styled BBQ

Also, if you stay at Under Canvas they have a tent for meals and to-go food.

If you have been to Moab, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!

Don’t forget to check out all DESKRIB itineraries here!

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