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The 20 Best Things to Do in Moab, Utah for First Timers

Adventure Park Moab

Located in eastern Utah, Moab is a city that is considered the gateway to the Arches National Park, which is famous for its massive red rock formations. The area is also known for its archaeological sites, where many dinosaur bones have been found. Although most people come to Moab to enjoy outdoor activities, there are many other attractions to enjoy that will suit all tastes. To help you plan your vacation itinerary, here are the 20 best things to do in Moab, Utah for first-timers.

Scott Matheson Wetlands Preserve

20. See the Birds at the Scott Matheson Wetlands Preserve

Most of the landscape around Moab is desert with rock formations. However, there are also wetlands to explore, and these sometimes get overlooked by tourists. A great place to visit is the Scott Matheson Wetlands Preserve, which is particularly well-known as a spot for birdwatching. This wetland preserve covers approximately 875 acres of wetlands, including open water and marshes. It is home to more than 225 species of birds, some of which are unique to the Southwest. Although this is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year, the best time to visit is during the migration season.

Moab Brewery

19. Visit the Moab Brewery

The Moab Brewery was founded in 1996 by Dave Sabey and John Borkoski. It is the only brewery in the region, and it produces both root beer and a range of ales on tap. Their ales are named after areas of the surrounding landscape, so their brews include Raven Stout, Over the Top Hefeweizen, Derailleur Red Ale, Red Eye IPA, and Dead Horse Ale. The brewery also has a restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner. You will find Moab Brewery in the town on Main Street, so it is conveniently situated to pop in for a drink or a bite to eat during your stay.

Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage

18. Go to the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage

An interesting attraction to visit during your stay is the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, which is part of Red Cliffs Ranch along with Red Cliffs Lodge. It is on a working ranch that has been used as a shoot location for many years, and it was first used in the 1940s when director John Ford recognized the beauty of the area. In the museum, there are unique exhibitions of memorabilia relating to films shot in the area and western heritage. A highlight of the museum is the ‘100 Years of Cowboy History’, which has an exhibition of memorabilia and the chance to watch a film.

Utah Scenic Byway 279 Rock Art Sites

17. Visit the Utah Scenic Byway 279 Rock Art Sites

Moab is known for its ancient rock drawings, some of the best known of which are found at the Utah Scenic Byway 279 Rock Art Sites. You will find the start of these sites five miles south of the byway’s intersection with Highway 191. The rock art, or petroglyphs, were created between 1,300 and 2,000 years ago in the Formative Period of Native American art. On a panel measuring 125 feet, there are drawings and etchings of animals and abstract objects.

Colorado Riverway Recreation Area

16. Explore the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area

There are several areas of public lands along the Colorado River; these combine to form the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area. This is where you should head if you want to try some water-based activities, such as whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. In the recreation area, there are also picnic spots, hiking trails, and biking trails.

Horseback Riding

15. Go Horseback Riding

Although most people explore the stunning landscape of Moab on foot, an alternative way to explore the area is on horseback. This is a fantastic option for animal lovers visiting the area. There are various horseback riding tours available, and these take you over the Colorado River, through Professor Valley, and across winding creeks. Some also take you to the sites of famous movie scenes featuring cowboys. The horseback tours vary in length, and there are options for both novices and experienced riders.

Jeep Tour

14. Take a Jeep Tour

There are several companies in the Moab area offering jeep tours. This is a fun way of seeing the sights of the area, and it is quicker than trying to see everything on foot. The jeep driver takes you on an off-road adventure. They experienced guides with extensive knowledge of the local area, so they can point out all the best natural landmarks and give you information about each along the way.

Dinosaur Tracks Trail

13. Walk the Dinosaur Tracks Trail

Moab and the surrounding area were once home to dinosaurs, and there are many archaeological sites in this area devoted to uncovering dinosaur bones and fossils. Along the Dinosaur Tracks Trail, you can check out some huge footprints that were left by dinosaurs in prehistoric times. You will also see fossils embedded in the walls of the canyons along the way. The trail takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, and it leads you to the Colorado River. At the end of the trail, there is a museum that gives visitors more information about the dinosaurs that once lived in this part of the world.

Adventure Park Moab

12. Have Fun at Adventure Park Moab

A fantastic day out for all the family is a visit to Adventure Park Moab, which is located in the town. This park features obstacle courses, zip-lining, climbing frames, and rope bridges. There is a variety of courses to suit all skill levels. Adventure Park Moab also arrange many other activities and trips, including river trip and SUP rentals.

Light Show on the Colorado River

11. Eat Dinner and Watch a Light Show on the Colorado River

One of the more unusual activities to enjoy in Moab is dinner and a light show on the Colorado River. Before embarking on your boat trip, you will enjoy a cowboy-style Dutch Oven dinner. This feast lasts for an hour, and then you board the flat-bottom riverboat. These boats have no canopy, so you can enjoy the surroundings and the night sky. At the end of the trip along the Colorado River, you can watch a light show that features 40 thousand watts of light illuminating the canyon walls.

Castle Creek Winery

10. Enjoy a Wine Tasting Session at Castle Creek Winery

If you are a wine enthusiast, then Outside Nomad recommends a visit to the Castle Creek Winery. The winery is part of the Red Cliff’s Lodge, and they are open to the public. You can take a tour of the facilities, then enjoy a wine tasting session. There is also the option to purchase some of the wine to takehome.

Mill Creek

9. Take a Dip in Mill Creek

Just outside Moab on Powerhouse Lane, you will find Mill Creek. It is a pretty spot with crystal clear water that flows from the La Sal Mountains. The creek has several calm wading pools where you can cool off from the Colorado heat. There are also some deeper pools that are fed by small waterfalls, and you can enjoy swimming in these pools. Once you are out of the water and dried off, you can take a stroll around the surrounding countryside. You should keep your eye out for petroglyphs along the way.

Night Skies

8. Enjoy the Night Skies

In the parks around Moab, there are no streetlights to detract from the beauty of the night sky. From the parks, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful views of the stars anywhere in the world. If you are camping at one of the campsites within the national parks, make sure you spend some time outside your tent to admire the night sky. There are also astronomy tours available that take you out into the parks with telescopes, and a guide teaches you about the different clusters and constellations.

7. Take to the Rivers

Land-based activities, such as rock climbing and hiking, are popular in Moab. However, there are several rivers running through this area, so you can also enjoy some water-based activities during your stay. There are several companies offering lessons and day tours that include water activities, or you can take along your own gear to have fun in the water. Some of the popular activities include rafting, kayaking, and canoeing in the Fish Towers River and the Dolores River. There are also multi-day activity tours in the Cataract and Desolation Canyons that combine water-based activities with hiking and climbing for those who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.

Museum of Moab

6. Visit the Museum of Moab

If you want to learn more about the history of the area during your visit, then the best attraction to go to is the Museum of Moab. The museum was founded in 1958, and it is dedicated to preserving the geology, culture, and history of Moab. In the museum, there is a dinosaur display that boasts bones, a cast of a dinosaur skeleton, and footprints. Some of the other exhibitions focus on rocks, pioneer history, and mining.

Giant Dinosaur Park

5. Go to Moab Giant Dinosaur Park

In addition to the magnificent landscape, Moab is also famous for dinosaurs. Therefore, you should visit the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park during your visit to Moab. The park is located in an area of Moab that is known for the discovery of dinosaur bones. Most visitors to this park start at the 3D cinema, where they can watch a film that teaches them about dinosaurs from the prehistoric world. After watching the film, they can then stroll around the park, which features life-size replicas of dinosaurs. Then, they can go to the museum, which has games, exhibits, and interactive activities to enjoy.

Dead Horse State Park

4. Enjoy the Magnificent Views at Dead Horse State Park

Vacation Idea recommends visiting Dead Horse State Park to admire the magnificent views. This state park covers 5,362 acres, and the diverse landscape includes desert and rock formations. From elevated positions in this park, you can enjoy panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River. There are several overlooks that offer spectacular views, a nine-mile loop hiking trail, mountain biking trail, a campground, and picnic areas.

Slickrock Trail

3. Go Mountain Biking on the Slickrock Trail

If you have taken your mountain bike with you on your travels, then the best trail for mountain biking in the Moab area is the Slickrock Trail. This trail has a three-mile test loop, but the full trail is 12 miles. On the test loop, there are fun sections where you can try out your skills before deciding if you want to tackle the main trail, which is best-suited to experienced mountain bikers.

Canyonlands Islands in the Sky

2. Explore Canyonlands Islands in the Sky

Just north of Moab is Canyonlands. One section of this is called Islands in the Sky, and it is a spectacular place to visit. The first stop is the visitor center, where you can learn about the geography and geology of the area before setting out to explore. If you are there all day, then you should explore as much of the park as possible. However, if you only have a couple of hours to spare, then try the Mesa Arch trail. It is a short loop trail that leads to the Mesa Arch, which is one of the most photographed landmarks in Utah.

Arches National Park

1. Hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

According to Planetware, the best thing to do in Moab, Utah for first-timers is to hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. As its name suggests, Arches National Park is famous for its arches, which are natural rock formations. One of the best-known of these is Delicate Arch. If you only plan to enjoy one hike during your trip, then this is the best hike. It is a three-mile round trip that has a gentle incline. You should take along some water and try to avoid being out in midday when the temperature is soaring.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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