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How We Did Moab, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Moab

4 Days, 3 nights glamping, hiking, driving, exploring and more…

Summary

We understand why people love Moab, UT. It’s a simple sentence for a sophisticated region of the country. The Moab area is stunning landscape with the Colorado and Green Rivers carving their way through the 100+ million year old sand stone. There are arches galore, even a whole National Park dedicated to them. The needles, plateaus, canyons, arches, and rock formations that make up the massive Canyonlands National Park will leave you awestruck. The beautifully weathered red rock landscape can make you feel so isolated, small, and thankful for Mother Nature. Stories and video might not do this place justice. Moab is truly a playground full of hikes, backcountry camping, scenic drives, and much more.

Most of our trip was on foot, hiking on trails, or in the car on paved road. Moab is also extremely famous for its OHV trails, especially famous Jeep trails now tested by Wranglers and other off-road capable vehicles. We explored some of the Needles District and Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park; then we explored much of Arches National Park and still have much more to see; and after we drove along the Colorado River and explored some Bureau of Land Management public lands. Our entire trip was anchored by our stay at Glamping Canyonlands, 45 min south of downtown Moab, UT.

Getting Here

Our entire trip was on Google Maps. And by that we mean all locations are on the app. However, service is very limited in much of the area so we downloaded the area to offline map. This feature downloads the portion of the map you selected to your phone, allowing you to search an area without service and still have directions generated. We took the fasted route to Glamping Canyonlands. On our way back to Phoenix we stopped at Natural Bridges National Monument and took the Moki Dugway down to Monument Valley, which was different from our drive to Utah.

Our Itinerary

Thursday, Day 1
Lauren looking at Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park Needles District. A 11 mile round trip hike.

Canyonlands National Park – The Needles District

POI: Druid Arch

Hike: Druid Arch Trail

Trailhead: Elephant Hill parking lot

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

Length: 11 miles out and back

Difficulty: moderate

AllTrails

Google Maps

After we arrived at our glamping stay at Glamping Canyonlands we met our amazing host and then got on our way to the Needles District. Unfortunately for us the State of Utah was in the process of resurfacing their portion of the 211. Because of this they closed the road to one lane and we were stopped as we waited our turn for 45 minutes. By the time we got to the Elephant Hill Trailhead it was 4:00 pm and we were on our way less than 15 minutes later. To drive down Elephant Hill Road further, a permit is required. To backpack camp and leave your car at the Elephant Hill Trailhead, a permit is required.

This hike is incredible! Early in to the hike you can see some of the “needles” of the park and how the district got its name. As you walk along the mesa type area you slowly decent, eventually coming to the wash portion of Elephant Canyon. Much of the hike is along the wash and it’s gorgeous! Every turned corner is a photo opportunity. The towering cliff sides and needles make you feel so small. We recommend having the trail downloaded however you prefer. We use AllTrails Pro. At some points the trail goes along the side the wash, which is critical because the wash is impassable at points. Towards the very end of the trail is a metal later and railing installed by the NPS to help you up. At that point the Arch is visible. Soak it in!

Friday, Day 2

On our 2nd day we decided NOT to get up before sunset just to drive 90 minutes to Mesa Arch to capture it with the sunrise. It was nice to “sleep” in a little. Below is our itinerary for the day. Island is the Sky District is closer to Moab than the Needles District is. You have to drive through Moab to get to Island in the Sky.

An overlook of Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky District

POI: Shafer Canyon Overlook

Trailhead: soon after the the visitor center there is a parking lot

Length: 0.3 mile hike out to overlook

Hiking difficulty: easy

Drive: 19.6 miles point to point

Drive conditions: Dirt Road, 4WD required

AllTrails Hike | AllTrails Drive

Google Maps: Overlook | Drive

A view of Mesa Arch and beyond at Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky District

POI: Mesa Arch

Trailhead: parking lot

Hike: loop style

Length: 0.7 miles

Difficulty: easy

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

AllTrails

Google Maps

A view overlooking Canyonlands National Park needles and canyons from Grand View Point in the Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky District

POI: Grand View Point Overlook; great views of the national park

Trailhead: Parking lot

Hike: out & back

Length: 1.8 miles

Difficulty: easy

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

AllTrails

Google Maps

A view overlooking Upheaval Dome in the Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky District

POI: Upheaval Dome

Trailhead: Parking lot with shared picnic area

Hike: out & back

Length: 0.6 miles O&B to 1st Viewpoint | 1.2 O&B to 2nd Viewpoint

Difficulty: moderate (mostly incline)

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

AllTrails

Google Maps

After a long day at Canyonlands National Park we made a quick stop at the Arches National Park Visitor Center and then went out to see Delicate Arch from a distance.

A view of Delicate Arch from the upper viewpoint at Arches National Park

Arches National Park

POI: Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Trailhead: Parking lot

Hike: out & back

Length: 0.7 miles

Difficulty: easy to moderate (incline)

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

AllTrails

Google Maps

Saturday, Day 3

On Saturday we were up early, packed and ready to go before 6:30am. We were at the park by 7:30am. For us it was perfect timing because we missed the sunrise crowd plus lines, and we were able to go straight to the parking lot at Devil’s Garden. We found a spot without a problem! However, by the time we were back at our car around 11am, there was a long line of cars waiting for our spot or others to open. Here was our itinerary for the day.

A view of Double-O Arch in the Devil's Garden section Arches National Park

Arches National Park – Devil’s Garden

POIs: Double-O Arch, Landscape Arch, Private Arch, Black Arch Viewpoint, Pine Tree Arch, and Tunnel Arch. We did not go to Navajo Arch or Partition Arch

Trailhead: Large Parking Lot

Hike: out & back or loop via primitive trail

Distance: 4.2 miles out and back. Seeing some of the other arches added 0.5 miles

Difficulty: moderate (incline and uneven)

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

Google Maps

AllTrails

Nearby: Skyline Arch

A view up close of Double Arch in the Windows section of Arches National Park

Arches National Park – Windows Section

POIs: Double Arch, Parade of Elephants, North Window Arch, South Window Arch, Turret Arch

Trailhead: Large Parking Lot

Hike: out & back and loop with additional primitive trail loop option (1.2 miles)

Distance: Double Arch 0.6 miles + Windows Loop 0.7 miles

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

Double Arch AllTrails | Windows Loop AllTrails

Google Maps: Double Arch | Windows

After about 7 hours at Arches National Park we took a drive, east along the Colorado River on the 128. It’s such a beautiful drive through the deep, water forged canyon along the banks of the river. After the drive we went into downtown Moab. The small town of 5,000+ residents is cute with many small shops, boutiques, and places to eat. They see 3+ million visitors a year! We grabbed a late lunch then checked out the shops with a few purchases. To top off the day we went out to Corona Arch on BLM land also along the Colorado River. There are tons of campsites, boat launches, and even rock climbing options. We can easily see why so many people travel to and adventure to Moab.

Owen stands under Corona Arch on Bureau of Land Management land in Moab, Utah

Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch – Bureau of Land Management

POIs: Corona Arch, Bowtie Arch, Pinto Arch

Trailhead: gravel parking lot

Hike: out & back

Distance: 2.4 miles

Difficulty: moderate

Restrooms at Trailhead: yes

Google Maps

AllTrails

Sunday, Day 4

On our way home we planned to stop at Natural Bridges National Monument. This location was the first ever Utah park to become part of National Park Service, in 1908. This small secluded National Monument was 100% worth it. Most natural bridges have an easy and short to get to view point off the road. We went down the bottom of the largest bridge, Sipapu. The hike down was fun and required a few ladders. From the bottom you can walk along the canyon floor from bridge to bridge. It’s a primitive trail and considered strenuous by the park service. On our way home we took the 261 Moki Dugway south down past the entrance to Valley of the Gods and the turn off to Goosenecks State Park. Once we connected to the the 163 past Mexican Hat. From there we drove through Monument Valley.

Sipapu Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument – Sipapu Bridge

Trailhead: small parking lot, designated spots

Hike: out & back

Distance: 1.2 miles

Elevation change: – 436 ft

Difficulty: moderate

Restrooms at trailhead: no

AllTrails

Google Maps

A view dow the dirt road of the Moki Dugway road
The Moki Dugway
A view of Monument Valley from Forrest Gump Hill
Forrest Gump Hill, Monument Valley

2 thoughts on “How We Did Moab, Utah

  1. Visited in 2010. Went horseback riding and white water rafting. Had an awesome time. Great views.

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