I am absolutely crazy about Utah. Every time I pay the state a visit I find a new reason to fall in love. My most recent trip to UT included a week in Moab and I had the time of my life. It’s also where my husband and I got engaged!
We had 5 main activities on our Moab bucket list: off-road, hike, visit Canyonlands National Park, visit Arches National Park and drink local beer. Okay, actually Matt had 6 items on his bucket list since he did pack a diamond ring! We took the most beautiful engagement photos in Arches National Park, so if you’re interested in taking a peek I’ll put them at the end of this post. Here’s a preview:
When to Go
My recommendation is to hit up Moab in the offseason from November through February. I love avoiding a crowd and this is the perfect time to do that! Just keep in mind it can get a bit chilly and not all restaurants/shops are open due to the slowdown. We went the first week in December and it was perfect for us.
Where to Stay
Let’s start with the BEST place to stay in Moab. You know I’m big on camping, but I’m also a sucker for a charming hotel setup. We stayed at Moab Springs Ranch and I could rave all day about how perfect this place is. There are bungalow and townhome options. We stayed in a bungalow that was both functional and adorable. It was also perfectly located close to Arches NP and just a few minutes from restaurants and shopping.
Where to off-road
I have two options for you based on your level of skill and how intense you want your ride to be.
*Disclaimer- Attempt at your own risk*
Hell’s Revenge is straight up terrifying from beginning to end of the 9-mile loop. That being said, I still highly recommend this thrilling trail if you have adequate off-roading equipment, experience and a whole lot of guts! Just be careful and take it easy. Along the path you get amazing views of both the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River. Make sure you give yourself enough time to take in the sights! The whole trail takes most drivers about 3-4 hours. What I like about this trail is that it is pretty clearly marked and you have options for some challenges around the trail. We challenged ourselves to “Hell’s Gate” and I’ll be honest… our little adventure ended with a tow truck. I did not want to do this challenge but my husband decided to go for it. You can imagine my reaction when we got stuck. I am happy to tell you there is cell phone service on this trail. I do not want to downplay the gravity of the situation because this can be VERY dangerous. If you want to see Hell’s Gate (and the rest of this trail), I found this awesome YouTube video. Skip to about 12 mins to see where we got stuck. If you find yourself in the same situation, here’s the number for Tic Tac Tow (yeah that’s seriously the name!) (435) 260-0619
Shafer Trail is a more mild ride and offers stunning views as it winds you through about 20 miles of Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. We started at Canyonlands and ended by exiting through Dead Horse Point SP. When starting in Canyonlands, you will have about a 3,000 mile descent. So the top of this journey does have steep drop offs that are not a good fit for anyone with a fear of heights. As you get to the bottom, you drive through mildly rocky terrain and often you cruise right along the Colorado River. It’s just magical!
Where to Hike
Devil’s Garden in Arches National Park is the perfect place to enjoy Utah’s unique geography. There aren’t just arches; you’ll also find spires and other gravity defying rock formations. There is a wide range of hiking options through the garden from an easy walk to Landscape Arch to a full on scramble on the Primitive Trail. Primitive Trail is an alternative route you can take to or from Double O Arch and it is intense. In fact, it is considered the most difficult hike in the park. If you do choose to take this somewhat sketchy path, be prepared to scramble and scale some very slippery rocks accompanied by steep drop offs. DO NOT do this without proper hiking shoes and prior hiking experience. Should you choose the Primitive Trail option, I also recommend following the signs to Private Arch. It is offers extreme solitude and access to a really cool hidden arch. Primitive Trail is 7.2 miles out and back and you will want to take a lot of pictures so give yourself a lot of time for this one!
I’ve been told next time I got to arches I should get a permit and hike fiery furnace. While I did not do this on my own trip, it may be something you want to try! Do take note that a reservation is required in advance.
Where to Drink and Eat
Moab Brewery was our favorite spot to grab a drink. As beer connoisseurs, Matt and I always make finding a local brewery a part of our plan. They also have yummy food and a huge menu! My favorite beer on the menu was the Moab Dead Horse Amber Ale but they have a huge variety and you’ll want to try them all
Address: 686 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532
The Broken Oar is the most high end dining experience we found in Moab, but in a city like this it’s still chill and you can show up in your hiking clothes. We feasted on the ribs and it was one of the best meals of my life!
Address: 53 W 400 N, Moab, UT 84532
Love Muffin offers great coffee and quick breakfast options so you can get on with your day!
Address: 139 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532
*We also heard Moab Garage Company was amazing for breakfast and sandwiches but it was closed during the slow season. Address: 78 N Main Moab, UT 84532*
Where to Simply Take in the Sights
Dead Horse Point State Park is a great reason to go to Moab all on its own. I recommend packing a meal and sitting on the edge of the canyon as you gaze down 2,000 feet at the Colorado River.
While we did not camp, I hear this is an awesome place to pitch a tent… or choose from a variety of other options. This park has cabins, yurts and even teepees available!
Arches National Park offers more than just the hiking adventures I mentioned previously. It’s actually the perfect park for driving around and sightseeing. You can drive from arch to arch, check out the spires and see balancing rocks that will blow your mind! If anyone in your crew has limited mobility, this is really a great park for you because there is so much beauty to behold from the comfort of your car or with just a brief walk.
Angela Hays took our engagement pics and we can’t give her enough praise! We were able to incorporate so many meaningful parts of our trip into the photos from the Jeep to the beer and, of course, our national parks passports. Take a look!