BEST HIKE IN MOAB + STAYING AT UNDER CANVAS
I discovered Moab about 4 years ago and have always wanted to go. It is a super popular and easy destination if you're staying in Las Vegas too. It's a quick drive from Las Vegas to Moab. We skipped Vegas this time around, but when I mentioned to friends and family that this place would be a stop on my road trip, 99% of the responses were "what's Moab?" Well, this is Moab....
Where do I begin? Moab, UT is like Mars. I could have stayed for a month, hiked 1-2 times a day, biked all over, and still wanted more. Aside from the hikes, the town is adorable. It's lined with bars and restaurants, the Moab Adventure Center that offers Moab rafting tours, and a huge variety of hotels near Moab that provide really unique experiences. It is covered in nothing but red rock and red dirt so much so that if you look at it long enough and then look down at your skin...it will almost have a greenish-yellow hue to it. That freaked me out the first time I noticed it, not going to lie.
While I absolutely loved Moab, there are some things I would have done differently if I went back that I wasn't aware of when I was working to plan my road trip. I'm not one for being in big crowds (especially on hiking trails) unless I'm at a music festival. So, if you're looking for what to do in Moab, here are some tips, thoughts, and my story from my experience there.
DAY 1: We arrived in the afternoon and stayed at the Red Cliffs Lodge. It was tucked away on the Colorado River, 14 miles down highway 128.
Many people will mention that you have to do the Arches Scenic Drive through Arches National Park...let me just tell you, do not miss driving (or cycling) down highway 128. It was mind-blowing. After seeing it on the way to the lodge, I decided I had to bike it. The lodge was awesome because each room felt like it's own little cabin and had a patio that opened up to the river.
DAY 2: I went for a quick run along the trail before checking out of the lodge. Katie and I drove back down the highway again, but this time stopping along the way to take photos and soak up the scenery. Our last morning in Moab was wide open, so I'd planned to bike highway 128 on our last day. We went into town to stock up on groceries before heading to our next stay at Under Canvas Moab. Under Canvas is basically the Ritz Carlton of camping (or glamping as we millennials like to call it). Our tent was about 250 sq. ft. with running water, a toilet, shower, misters for blazing hot days (which was the case when we checked in) and a king-sized bed that is about 10x more comfortable than my bed at home.
We had packed in our loaded down Jeep a yeti and a portable gas grill that was quickly becoming our lifeline by this point. The plan was to head to Arches National Park to do the Delicate Arch hike at sunset, come back and grill out then see the stars. Everyone told us we had to see the Delicate Arch - don't get me wrong, it was beautiful...but it was hard to enjoy when the trail was so full it felt like you were trying to file out of the arena after a sold out concert (ok, maybe not that bad - but it was busy)....not exactly the ideal situation in the middle of a pandemic. Nonetheless, the hike was a quick 3 miler made challenging by committing to running through the parts that could be run on. When we made it to the top, the arch was beautiful.
It's no wonder this is the arch pictured on the Utah license plates. I enjoyed a Maha at the top while Katie and I watched the sunset. Our hike back was in the dark. We had headlamps and it made it a bit more fun. We got to see the stars begin to come out as we made our way back to the car and by the time we got back to our tent at Under Canvas, the sky looked like glitter. I grilled corn-on-the-cobb and small filet mignons while taking photos of the stars. We were lucky enough to get a tent that looked out over nothing but wide-open spaces. It was so incredibly peaceful and meditative. The stars were the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.
I've spent way too much time in the city.
DAY 3: Thank goodness storms rolled in because I am not sure I could have taken one more day of 105-degree heat and no cloud coverage. We woke up at 5:30am to a cool mid-70's breeze and the smell of rain. We packed up and headed to Potash Road that led us to the trailhead for the Corona Arch Trail with the option of the Bow Tie trail as well. This trail y'all was my absolute favorite! It was so quiet, not heavily trafficked and the landscape was continuously changing. The best part was coming up a ladder that had been placed to help you get up a rock wall and seeing the Corona arch in the distance (fitting for the times, I know).
It was so massive and beautiful. I honestly liked this better than the delicate arch. You may have heard of the Corona Arch Swing...I highly don't recommend it. (from someone who loves a rush of adrenaline, have some respect for nature and let the sights be enough) There was something about how it was framed in the middle of a canyon. It is a trail that someone of any fitness level could hike and for those crazies who want to run it - it's doable. I would consider it moderate when it comes to difficulty. It rained on and off throughout the day. That even we headed back in to Arches when the sun finally came out. We finished the day with an easy sunset hike to the Landscape arch. I love hard hike, but the cool thing about multiple easy hikes is that you can cover so much distance without the stress on your body. Either way, you’re still building fitness and endurance.
DAY 4: I was so excited to do the early morning bike down highway 128. The annoying sound of an iPhone alarm went off at 5 am and came along with loud rain and thunderstorms. I’ve ridden in the rain before, but a ride in this storm was not an option. It would‘ve been too dangerous. Fresh coffee brewing on the front porch of our tent and listening to the rain though, that wasn‘t so bad. I guess the bike ride wasn’t meant to be this time, but I will be back. After coffee, we packed up and hit the road.
The biggest piece of advice I can give about accommodations in Moab is decide what kind of experience you want to have and what things you want to do. From there, select a place with those priorities in mind. Many of the lodging options are spread out from the center of town to 15-20 miles out. If you don’t plan accordingly, you will spend a lot of your time driving to and from. But if you enjoy unique stays and don’t mind the drive then it’s worth it.
Under Canvas Moab: About 10 minutes north of downtown, you are located right off of the main road and have easy access to all of the parks and trails. Some of the reviews said it was noisy but I didn’t think so at all. I felt so removed from civilization but with the comfort of knowing the front desk was there if you needed anything. It feels like camping but, luxurious.
Red Cliffs Lodge: Very far from everything. If you’re an all-inclusive type of person and looking to have someone guide you with reservations, experiences and adventures I totally recommend this place. But if you’re like us, and want to map out your own plans, it feels so far from everything. I do have to say though, the feeling of waking up on an isolated ranch in the valley of a massive canyon with the Colorado River running between and bright red sunrises and sunsets were pretty epic.
Other Accommodations: There are many, many hotels and motels in the downtown Moab area that are comparable in price to some of the properties that provide more of an experience. There is also no shortage of places to camp if you're looking for a Moab campground.
Moab is definitely a place of adventure and getting your hands dirty. There is no shortage of things to do.
HIKING: My top recommendation is the Corona Arch Trail and the BowArch Trail. If you head to the Delicate Arch, be ready for crowds unless you go at the crack of dawn.
CYCLING: Highway 128 and Potash Road are incredibly scenic byways that make you feel like you’re in another world. The traffic is not heavy and drivers are respectful.
RAFTING: Off of highway 128 there is a boat launch. I highly recommend tubing, rafting, or kayaking. There are many companies that provide the support needed for the experience. Check out the Moab Adventure Center.
If you visit in the summer, the heat is BRUTAL and the air is very dry. Make sure to hydrate more than you normally would and bring chapstick with sunscreen in it.
Don’t expect your cell phone to always work. Verizon is better than other carriers, but none of them have service fully throughout the area
Stay up to see the stars!
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM @alliforsythe
SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Until next time,