Craving Adventure? Eight Things to Do in Moab this Summer
For most Utahns, the year wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Moab, a desert wonderland that excites any adventure lover. Whether you’re from the state or traveling through, Moab is a must-see destination in the spring and summer due to its otherworldly scenery and almost infinite options for outdoor recreation. From hiking to biking to swimming to climbing, Moab really does have it all. There’s plenty more than what’s on this list, but here are 8 top summer activities to do in this magical town.
Not going while it’s warm? Use our Guide to Winter in Moab.
1. Hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Roundtrip Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 480 feet
If you are a first-timer to Moab, visiting Arches National Park is a must. World-renowned for its insane sandstone formations, the park features more than 2,000 documented arches scattered across more than 76,000 acres, making it the densest concentration of arches in the entire world. The most famous and photographed arch is named Delicate Arch, due to its thin pillars. While this hike usually involves heavy foot traffic, the powerful views as you approach the turning point are more than worth it. For an added touch of beauty, soak in the views at sunrise or sunset.
Moderate to Difficult Hikes in Arches National Park
The Windows Hike
This easy yet rewarding 1-mile round-trip hike leads you to a gorgeous view of North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch.
Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail
Arguably the most difficult hike in Arches, this is a 7.2-mile round-trip alternative route to Double O Arch. You’ll traverse along high, narrow ledges and scramble up slickrock.
Climb up steep rocks, and cross sand dunes and sandstone fins on this 2.6 mile hike.
2. Visit Island in the Sky in Canyonlands
While Canyonlands is more than quadruple the size of Arches National Park at 337,598 acres, this vast landscape receives less than half of the visitors. Formed by the Colorado River and the Green River more than 200 million years ago, the views are sure to impress any local or traveler. It’s split into four districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Rivers. Island in the Sky is the most convenient section of the park to visit, with plenty to do.
Viewpoints and Trailheads in the Island in the Sky District
Mesa Arch Loop
Mesa Arch is one of the more popular landmarks in Canylonds, and the loop takes just about 30 minutes. The arch aesthetically frames the White Rim and the La Sal Mountains, and sits on an edge above Buck Canyon, stretching 1,200 feet below.
Grand View Point
This epic viewpoint is one of the most popular looks-outs and allows visitors to see the Needles district, known for its colorful spires that flourish in the area.
White Rim Overlook
This hike is less than two miles and offers swapping views of the White Rim. It’s less popular than some other viewpoints in Island in the Sky, so consider opting for this route for some solitude.
3. Paddle Down the Colorado River
In the dead of summer, Moab can reach extremely high temperatures, often rising above 95 degrees. Thankfully the Colorado River runs through the area and offers not only a place to cool down in the chilled water but dozens of opportunities for recreation as well. While it’s worth laying down a towel and soaking in the sun on one of its sandy beaches, consider testing your balance by floating on a paddleboard down the Colorado River.
There are plenty of tours to choose from, but you’re also allowed to use your own paddleboard, kayak, duffy, or even floaty. You’ll just need to sort out transportation, and remember to wear a life vest!
4. Mountain Bike in the La Sal Mountains
Whether you’re a seasoned biker or you just want to try something new, Moab is home to amazing mountain biking trails. Closer to Moab, you’ll weave through inspiring rock formations on technical singletrack ranging in skill levels. While the desert below has endless majestic trails to explore, you can opt to escape the heat by riding in the less-visited La Sal Mountains for both a change of scenery and lower temperatures. Be aware that most of these trails are for more advanced riders.
Trails in the La Sals
Clark Lake and Moonlight Meadows
Visit one of the several small lakes as you bike through flowery meadows on this trail stretching 10.8 miles.
If you’re looking for something slightly less demanding, Squaw Springs may be your best bet. This trail is only 4.3 miles long, but you’ll still get a solid workout, pushing through several steep ascents and descents. Take a break at one of the viewpoints or once you reach the springs.
The Whole Enchilada
This is a truly unique and world-famous trail, where bikers can descend from lush alpine mountain peaks to red rock desert. At 34.1 miles long with extremely steep terrain, this trail is known for being very difficult.
Other Biking Areas in Moab
- Amasa Back Area
- Dead Horse State Park
- Gemini Bridges Road
- Klondike Bluff
- Spanish Valley
5. Float in a Swimming Hole at Mill Creek
Within the town of Moab, you’ll find Mill Creek, where you can hike along a flowing stream with several waterholes. There are several places to start your hike, but the North Fork Trailhead is the most popular. If you go to the left, downstream, you’ll find several areas with generously sized swimming holes, perfect for an afternoon picnic. But if you continue on the trail upstream, you’ll find a gorgeous hike through a wide canyon that leads to a flowing waterfall and swimming hole. Scramble up rocks, get your feet wet, and enjoy the scenery.
6. Climb Wall Street
Total Routes: 138
Route Types: Mainly trad and sport
Height: 40-100 feet
Grade: Ranges from 5.3 to 5.12
Known for its dense sandstone cliffs and unique rock formations, Moab offers climbers of all levels access to hundreds, or even thousands, or routes. Wall Street is literally right of Potash Road, making it one of the densest and easily accessible climbing areas near Moab with more than 130 routes in just a single mile. If your time is limited, this is a great option, as there is relatively no approach to climbs along Moab’s Wall Street. Be aware, there is no shade on these climbs so it’s best to visit them during the morning and early afternoon on hotter days.
Other Climbing Areas:
- Indian Creek
- Ice Cream Parlor
- Big Bend Boulders
- Fisher Towers
- La Sal Mountains
Not up for climbing? There are also tons of canyoneering opportunities in Moab, including professional tours for those without experience or equipment.
7. Go Off-Roading
Jeeps are a coveted vehicle in Moab, where you’ll find a wide array of 4×4 trails that tackle some really intense terrain. If you don’t have your own decked-out Jeep, you can rent one from one of the many shops in town. Pick your trail wisely, as some trails may barely be passable for even vehicles with the most advanced equipment. If you’d prefer not to be in the driver’s seat, or would at least like an advanced off-roader with you, consider signing up for an organized tour.
This 54-mile trip will generally take about three to four hours to complete. You’ll drive through Kane Springs Canyon, Hurrah Pass, and the Colorado River.
Fins and Things
This trail is only about 20 miles but is recommended for experienced drivers. With steep rocky hills, spectacular overlooks, and lots of slickrock, drivers will need to be prepared to face a challenge.
8. Jump Out of a Plane
Moab is home to one of the most popular skydiving drop zones in the state. Experience an unprecedented thrill as you jump out of a plane 14,000 feet above the ground and plummet toward the earth at up to 120 miles per hour. You don’t need any experience for a tandem jump, which is when you will be strapped to an experienced skydiver. If you’re feeling really adventurous, Skydive Moab also offers classes for those looking to take the plunge by themselves. You’ll learn the proper forms for exiting an aircraft, how to fly your parachute, and how to land your parachute. Either way, you’re sure to have the experience of a lifetime.
The Sky’s the Limit
You could argue that Moab is essentially one of the largest adult playgrounds in the country. It’s almost impossible to get bored in this small town, because within it and just beyond, lies endless hikes, bike trails, climbing routes, watersports, and more.
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Featured Image – Canyonlands National Park, United States by Rich Martello.
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