Outdoor Recreation in Moab

  • Mountain biking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Hiking
  • Off roading
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park

Moab, Utah is a town that grew into a thriving tourist destination. The city is located near Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park and about a four hour drive from Salt Lake City. It is a base for lots of outdoor recreation in a beautiful setting. The best way to explore the southern Utah desert is enjoying outdoor recreation in Moab such as mountain biking, climbing, hiking, off roading and exploring the nearby national parks. If you’re visiting Moab, Utah, you’ll find that there are plenty of things to do in the area. 

Mountain Biking

Moab is one of the premier destinations for mountain biking in the world. The trails are well mapped and there is a lifetime of high-quality mountain bike trails to choose from. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is something for you.

One of the more popular Moab trails is the Slickrock trail. It is an intermediate 10.7-mile lollipop loop. This trail features a few natural humps, rock ramps, and half pipes. You’ll also find a few ledges and climbs. Captain Ahab is another popular trail with great scenery and fun 

Another popular trail is the Whole Enchilada trail. It starts with a 1,000-foot climb up Burro Pass, and descends almost 8,000 feet back to town. Although it is a black-rated trail, it is mellower than most black-rated trails in the area. It includes Porcupine Rim and is considered the greatest mountain bike ride in the world. There are regularly scheduled shuttles that leave from downtown Moab to bring mountain bikers and their bikes up to the La Sals before they ride down through the alpine and into the slickrock red desert. This is a must do mountain bike ride for anybody who seriously loves mountain biking.

There are a variety of outfits in town that offer guiding and mountain bike rentals that offer high-end mountain bikes for rent. They can also do repairs and tune-ups if your bike breaks while riding the rugged trails.

mountain biking in Moab

Rock Climbing

Moab is one of the best places in the country, if not the world, to rock climb. The city has a plethora of rock climbing areas and is a great destination for both beginners and experts alike.

Most people visit Moab in the fall, winter, and spring for rock climbing. The colder temperatures allow for better grip of shoes on rock. Amongst seasoned rock climbers, these are known as “sending temps”. Summer is fine if that’s the only time available, but plan on getting on the rock early in the morning before the sun bakes you off the wall. It can be over 100º F in the middle of the summer.

Some of the more popular Moab areas include Kane Creek Canyon, Wall Street, Potash Road, and Castle Valley. These are excellent spots to experience all the sport, trad, and bouldering Moab has to offer. Those who are seasoned rock climbers will know how to look for routes and such on Mountain Project as well as in local guidebooks.

If you’re a new rock climber and want a first day out or just plain general help having a great experience, there are a variety of shops and guide services that can help you. Ancient Art is a very popular climb to the top of a unique tower that is often done by guided groups on their first or second time out. 


Moab, Utah is an adventurer’s paradise. The town is located along the Colorado River, near two national parks. Aside from its stunning scenery, there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails to enjoy. It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo here.

While hiking in Moab, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines. The desert is a fragile environment, and human impact can have a significant impact. When you hike, be prepared to carry everything you need and to leave nothing behind. Also stay on established trails because cryptobiotic soil takes decades to re-grow and is an important part of the ecosystem.

Moab gets hot, is very dry, and receives a lot of sun, especially during the summer. Wear sunscreen, reapply two or three times during the day, and plan on consuming about one gallon of water per person per day to maintain hydration.

To be most comfortable hiking especially in the summer, go out near sunrise or sunset. This is also when the light is most spectacular across the desert landscape.

Popular hikes are Corona Arch, Fisher Towers, as well as what the national parks have to offer.

outdoor recreation in moab

Off Roading

Off roading is another popular form of outdoor recreation in Moab. The 1.8 million acres of public land offers an unmatched variety of trails. Its picturesque landscape is composed of red rock formations. If you want to experience some off-roading in Moab, you can rent a vehicle or take a guided tour.

Moab is a small town with many lodging options. It is close to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. To explore the backcountry, you can rent a sport utility vehicle (SUV) or four-wheel drive.

Moab, Utah is known as America’s Off-Road Capital. There are hundreds of miles of trails to explore, with challenging routes for experienced drivers and easy ones for novices. Most off-roading in Moab takes place in the early spring or fall.

When planning your off-roading adventure, make sure you have a strong vehicle and a spotter. You should also plan to take a water bottle and some first aid. Make sure to research the trails before you go. This will help you avoid getting lost.

The Moab Mountain Ranch Trail is a challenging trail that requires high ground clearance. The trail includes two bypass routes and some extreme corners. It requires big tires and a locker.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a beautiful national park with lots of short hikes among beautiful rock formations. There are over 2000 known arches within the national park as well as many towers. Hiking trails wind through, around, and under these unique rock formations. During the summer months, Arches National Park is so popular that it requires an advanced reservation just to enter the park. 

There are very short hikes in Arches National Park, such as the 100 yard walk from the parking lot to the Windows arches and Double Arch. One of the longest hikes is to Double-O Arch and is 4.1 miles round trip. Delicate Arch is probably the most popular hike, and is the arch most depicted as representative of Utah. It is even on the license plates! 

Another popular way to see Arches is to go on a ranger-guided tour. They will take you to a variety of areas that you would not normally be able to get to. The Fiery Furnace is one of these and requires a reservation in advance.

outdoor recreation in Moab

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is a very large national park near Moab. It consists of three major sections that are divided by the Green and Colorado rivers and their confluence. 

To the north of the confluence is the Island in the Sky section of the national park, which is the most visited. It offers short hikes and sweeping vistas all around. Mesa Arch is a short hike on the eastern side of the Island in the Sky that is very popular. Island in the Sky is the most accessible piece of the park from the town of Moab, and most of the scenic vistas can be reached by driving.

For those who want a big adventure from the Island in the Sky, driving or biking the White Rim Trail is an option. It is a 100 mile road that descends from the top of the Island in the Sky down towards the Green river, wraps around the Island in the Sky Mesa, and travels along the Colorado River before ascending back to the Island in The Sky mesa. It is often a 2-3 day journey by car and a 3-4 day journey by bicycle. Everybody on the White Rim Trail must have a permit.

The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park is the southeast corner of the park and is about 75 miles away from Moab by car. Most people enjoy hiking amongst the rock towers. There are 60 miles of hiking trails and one of the more strenuous hikes is the hike to the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, an 11 mile round trip excursion.

The Maze district of Canyonlands National Park is remote and difficult to access. Four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance are mandatory. This is a popular place for trips longer than three days for people who want to be self-sufficient and spend some time away from everything. There is no food, no water, and no fuel available for travelers to The Maze.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is a small but beautiful park near the city of Moab, Utah. This park offers visitors a great view of the Colorado River. The park is also home to a popular mountain bike trail. It’s a beautiful mesa that makes up the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, and it’s also a nice place to see the night sky.

If you have time to drive up to Dead Horse Point, you can enjoy a sunset, a mountain bike ride, or just take in the beautiful scenery. In addition, you can visit the visitor’s center and campground.

There are also numerous hiking trails. These range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. One of the more difficult trails is the Twisted Tree Trail. Several overlooks are situated at the point as well, giving you a chance to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

You can also stay in a yurt at Dead Horse Point. However, this is a popular tourist attraction, so make sure to make reservations in advance.

Another interesting fact about Dead Horse Point is that it is an International Dark Sky Park. Thanks to its dark night skies, it is perfect for stargazing and astrophotography. To learn more about the night sky, there are programs offered by the park’s staff.

Get rid of some of the tasks on your to-do list with White Cloud Concierge while you are taking a weekend trip to Moab. We can take care of your chores while you are playing outside. To learn about other outdoor recreation opportunities closer to the city when you aren’t on a trip learn more about summer outdoor recreation in Salt Lake City.