Vacationland 2017: Moab

Canyonlands National Park is located just outside of Moab, Utah.


Canyonlands National Park is located just outside of Moab, Utah.

Delicate Arch is a popular hike and view at Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah .


Delicate Arch is a popular hike and view at Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah .

The slickrock around Moab draws mountain bikers looking for great rides and views.


The slickrock around Moab draws mountain bikers looking for great rides and views.

The Moab Music Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017.


The Moab Music Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017.

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.”

Thus began Edward Abbey, patron saint of Moab, in “Desert Solitaire,” his classic 1968 ode and elegy to the red rock country.

His most beautiful place was Moab, or more specifically, the country that surrounds it: “The canyonlands. The slickrock desert. The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky — all that which lies beyond the end of the roads.”

If your plans included nothing but looking — gazing at the expanses of impossible-seeming red, at the fantastical rock formations that look like geological fireworks, at the infinite arch of blue sky and the desert birds soaring — you would have an unforgettable vacation.

But Moab inspires doing and moving, getting out into those vistas on a bike or a raft, a jeep or on foot, then coming back to town for a stroll and a microbrew and an evening of live music as the desert breezes sigh.

In fact, said Elaine Gizler, executive director of the Moab Area Travel Council, repeat visits to the Moab area are common.

“We receive people from all over the world,” she said, “and they come to see the landscape, the arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point. There is so much to see you cannot do it all in one visit.”

And far from being just a summer destination, Moab offers something for visitors in every season. Some visitors even prefer the autumn and winter months for a visit removed from the summer heat, Gizler said.

“Mid-November to the end of January we have off-season hotel rates, the national parks are open, there’s no crowding and it’s great photography with snow on the red rocks,” Gizler said. “There’s cooler weather, biking, hiking and the scenic byways are available.”

Any time of year, though, there are certain constants, starting with the national parks. Moab is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, two of the most stunning jewels in the National Park system. And not to be overlooked is Dead Horse Point State Park, with its breathtaking vistas of winding river canyons and impressive rock formations.

While being known as an extreme sports Mecca, Moab also holds many options for those who favor a more desultory pace. Many businesses cater to those who like both. Spa Moab ( offers a 50-minute Biker’s Relief massage for those who spent the day on the trail and want to go back for more.

Plus, Gizler said, Moab continues to expand its cuisine and libation offerings. Moab Brewery has begun distilling vodka, which will be available to the public by mid-June. For information call 435-259-6333 or go to

That’s just the beginning, Gizler said, adding that in Moab, there’s something for everyone.

There’s one place to find a grand piano in a red-rock alcove and that’s the Moab Music Festival. With world-renowned musicians and unique concert settings, this festival celebrates its 25th anniversary Aug. 31–Sept. 11. (

Moab is world famous for the highly technical and tremendously breathtaking Slickrock Bike Trail in the Spanish Valley and Sand Flats Recreation Area. But it’s just one on a long list of mountain biking trails around Moab. Find the perfect one for you and your abilities at


CELEBRATE ART: The Moab Arts Festival, May 27–28, celebrates its 25th anniversary with a wide range of pottery, sculpture, photography, textiles, jewelry and other art representing a variety of media. The event begins at 10 a.m. each day in Swanny City Park. (

SLEEP OUTSIDE: Many visitors to Moab crave a wilderness experience but hesitate at buying all the gear. Deep Desert Expeditions provides all the equipment and set-up for a camping experience. (435-259-1565,

GREAT LIZARDS: PaleoSafari Moab Giants, 112 West SR-313 (9 miles north of Moab off U.S. Highway 191), has a museum with interactive exhibits and games, a 3D theater and outside trail that walks through the Mesozoic and reconstructions of dinosaurs and tracks. There are dig sites along the trail, a dino playground and more. (435-355-0288,

ON THE ROAD: Moab is known for sweeping vistas, and one of the best ways to appreciate them is via Utah Scenic Byways, which include:
■ Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway along Utah Highway 128, which takes visitors east from Moab along the winding Colorado River.
■ Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, which winds along Utah Highway 279, heading south from Moab and deeper into redrock country.
■ Dead Horse Point Mesa Scenic Byway, winding along Utah Highway 313 and offering vistas of mesas and winding, river-carved canyons. (

TWO WORLDS: Combine the Mongolian steppe with the Moab desert by sleeping in a yurt. ACT Campground and Environmental Learning Center has a 30-foot yurt offering about 700 square feet of space, which can be ideal for groups looking for an experience beyond the hotel. (435-355-0355,

TAKE A LEAP: If you make a real effort to keep your eyes open, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime view (and experience) as you jump from an airplane and skydive to the read earth thousands of feet below. Skydive Moab offers a complete jump experience, and even offers GoPros so you can relive the experience. (435-259-5867,

ROLL ON THE RIVER: Moab wouldn’t be the iconic landscape it is without millennia of carving by the Colorado River. Plus, there’s no better way to beat the heat than on its cool, rolling surface in a raft, canoe, kayak or paddle board. (

GREAT GRAPES: After a day on the trails, relax with a glass of local wine at Castle Creek Winery ( or Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery ( Sample local Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Gewurztraminer, among other choices, while enjoying views of the Colorado River and red rock cliffs.

SEE STARS: Hollywood stars, that is. Moab has hosted movie and television shoots ranging from the iconic John Wayne (“Rio Grande”) to “Thelma and Louise,” episodes of “MacGyver,” “127 Hours” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Get a movie location brochure at and take a self-guided tour. Also, stop by the movie museum at Red Cliffs Lodge, Mile Post 14 Utah Highway 128. (435-259-2002 or

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