How to Spend Two Days in Moab, Utah

Travel Itinerary
0 ratings

Kat Smith
Itinerary by: Kat Smith
10 months ago
Travel Writer
Duration: 2 days

Itinerary Introduction

Moab seriously exceeded my expectations and let me go ahead and tell you, I had pretty high expectations. Every time I mentioned to someone we were heading to Moab, they gushed over the quaint desert town and now I find myself doing the exact same. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, unique landscapes, and are up for some adventures, Moab is the place for you. 2 days isn’t enough time to do everything Moab has to offer but it will give you enough time to see the highlights...and leave you wanting to come back again! Most people would agree the highlights in Moab includes: Arches National Park, Canyonland National Park, and Dead Horse State Park. I’ve also included a list of alternative things to do in your 2 days if you want a break from the parks or to do something a little more off the beaten path. Pictures in header by me, Kat Smith.

Useful information about Moab, Utah

Best times to visit Moab, Utah

The weather will affect what you can and can’t do while in Moab so it’s a good idea to have a general idea of what the temps will be when you’re visiting. WINTER IN MOAB In the winter, the highs average in the low 40s and the lows average in the 20s. It gets far colder than many people assume the desert does so don’t underestimate the winter here, especially at night. You’ll want to pack more layers than you might assume you’ll need. SPRING IN MOAB In the spring, the highs average in the 70s and the lows average in the 40s. It’s a nice time to visit Moab as there are less crowds and ideal weather for hiking or other outdoor activities. SUMMER IN MOAB In the summer, the highs average in the high 90s and the lows average in the 60s. The days are longer so you’ll have more daylight to explore but it can reach the 100s on some days so the heat might derail your plans, especially if you’re into hiking. It’s also the most popular season for tourist to visit so expect larger crowds. Since it’s the desert, you’re more likely to be in the sun without much shade protection. That could make hiking in the middle of the summer a lot tougher than it is in other seasons. Carry lots of water, bring sunscreen and wear a layer to keep your skin protected. If you’re traveling with your dog, like I always do, always check the ground temperatures before taking them on a hike. Trust me, that red rock heats up! FALL IN MOAB In the fall, the highs average in the 70s and the lows average in the 30s. Just like spring, fall is a fantastic time to visit Moab. The weather is great for outdoor fun and there aren’t as many people visiting as there is in the summer. Do note that altitude will affect the temperatures. If you aim to spend most of your time in the La Sal Mountains, keep in mind the temperature will most likely be lower than the general average.

Getting to Moab, Utah

There are two main options to get into Moab: by plane and by personal vehicle. We opted to drive to Moab from Arizona and if you have this option, I’d definitely recommend it! The drive took us through Monument Valley which is another incredible desert destination just 2 hours and 40 minutes south of Moab. It made for a great roadtrip on quiet desert roads. Your other option is to fly. The closest airport is the Moab Airport (Canyonlands Field Airport), just 10 minutes from Moab. This is catered towards small, chartered planes, so although an option, it’s not the most feasible for most of us. Instead, most people fly into Salt Lake City Airport and rent a car to drive to Moab from there. The drive will take you a little less than 4 hours. Having a car, rented or your own, will be a huge advantage in Moab. With your own wheels, you’ll be able to drive through the national parks at your own pace and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want ample time at each of them.

Where to stay in Moab, Utah

There’s a large variety of places to stay in Moab so this decision will depend on your budget and preferences. From free to luxurious, there’s plenty of options! STAYING FOR FREE Yep, you read that correctly, there’s a free option! There are great camping areas in Moab that allow you to stay for free if you have a tent, van, or RV to sleep in. By using the iOverlander app or campendium.com, you’ll find plenty of options scattered just outside of town. We camped our nights in Moab and were spoiled by the desert views, La Sal mountain backdrop, and the plethora of stars we got to enjoy by our campfire. If you have the right vehicle to sleep in or a tent to call home, I highly recommend this option, regardless if you’re on a big budget or not. A BUDGET STAY If you’re on a budget but don’t have the means (or the desire) to camp for free, there are still great options that won’t break the bank. I’d recommend Inca Inn or Adventure Inn for locally owned hotels in the heart of Moab. Both of these options are on North Main Street, so it’ll be easy to walk to bars, restaurants, or cafes in the morning. They’re both also in a similar price range at around $50/night. A LUXURY STAY For those that want the full holiday experience, I recommend you add in a little sprinkle of luxury while in Moab. Consider staying at Red Cliffs Lodge or Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa for idyllic “treat ya’self” stays. Red Cliffs Lodge is right on the Colorado River and right between downtown and the entrance to Arches National Park. Sorrel River Ranch is a bit further down on the same road. Both offer excellent accommodations and amenities. A UNIQUE STAY For a stay unlike any other, try glamping! The word glamping comes from camping + glamour so you get the best of the outdoors, without having to slum it in a regular tent. Under Canvas Moab is located a bit north of Arches National Park but in the same direction you’d go to Canyonland National Park and Dead Horse State Park, making it a convenient location to visit both parks. It’s an experience you definitely won’t forget!

Alternative locations

While heading to all 3 parks is by far the most popular way to spend 2 days in Moab, they aren’t your only options. If you’re looking for something more unique or more adventurous, consider switching one of the park days for one of these activities instead. CORONA ARCH HIKE If you’d rather spend less time driving and more time outside, I highly recommend the Corona Arch Trail Hike. This is also a great option if you’re traveling with your dog since this trail is dog-friendly. The trail isn’t too long, only 2.4 miles out and back, with the option to add about a mile to also go to the Pinto Arch. There are two parts of this hike where you’ll need to use a ladder and a rope to help you climb up. We read a few reviews on AllTrails that made it sound really intimidating but after completing the hike, it wasn’t nearly as steep as many people made it out to be. Instead, it was just a bit of added fun compared to your usual short hike. The Corona Arch Hike is great for less crowds. We had the arch and most of the trail to ourselves on a Saturday in late October. There were some people out there, but not nearly as many as we saw in the parks. MOUNTAIN BIKING Mountain biking is an adventurous option compared to hiking or driving through the parks. For something different than the status quo but extremely popular in Moab, mountain biking is for you! For experienced mountain bikers, challenge yourself at the Slickrock Bike Trail. This trail is famous in the mountain biking community so it’s highly recommended for people who only have time for one trail. There are plenty of other trail options for less experienced or beginner riders so you won’t need to bite off more than you can chew. RIVER RAFTING Another unique and adventurous option is river rafting the Colorado River. There are plenty of tour companies offering tours for anything from a half-day trip to several days, camping along the river as you go. Although possible to raft on your own, I’d highly recommend going on a guided trip. They have the equipment and expertise of the Colorado River so you’ll be in the best hands possible. WINTER ACTIVITIES If you’re in Moab in the winter, you might want to visit the La Sal Mountains. These are the mountains that provide a constant backdrop in Moab and are even more beautiful up close and personal. You can try cross country skiing, sledding or snowmobiling while in town during the winter. Between the recommended 2 day itinerary and the alternative options, you’re set to enjoy an action-packed vacation in Moab, Utah. It’s seriously one of my favorite places in the US and I think it’s safe to say it’ll be high up on your list, too at the end of your trip.

Moab, Utah - Travel Itinerary

Day 1

10:00 - 15:00

Arches National Park

Arches National Park, Utah, USA
Start your time in Moab by going to it’s icon: Arches National Park. This will get you excited for the rest of your holiday and the incredible landscape will give you a lot of “oohs and ahhs” moments. To enter into Arches National Park, you’ll either need to pay a $30 entrance fee per car or use your America the Beautiful National Park Pass for yearly entrance to all national parks for only $80 per car. If you plan to visit more than 2 national parks in a year, I highly recommend you purchase the America the Beautiful Pass. You’ll quickly see upon receiving your park map at the entrance that Arches is small compared to most other national parks. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in incredible views, unique landscapes, and, of course, tons of natural arches. The main thing you need to do in the park is drive the entire scenic route. Without any stops, it’ll take you about 1.5 hours but I highly recommend you take your time and stop plenty to really enjoy the views. Off the main road, you’ll pass a lot of parking areas with trails, all marked on your park map, ranging from a few 100 feet to a few miles to get up close and personal to the arches. If you have the time, enjoy the longer hikes, but if you arrive later than expected, just taking advantage of the short walks to the arches will still be amazing. If you only have time for one hike, head to the Delicate Arch. This is by far the most famous arch in the park and the one you’ll see on all of the Utah license plates while in the state. The Delicate Arch hike will take you 3 miles roundtrip but is worth the walk. Just note that if you’re traveling with your dog, you can’t take them on any trails in most national parks, including Arches. Although famous for the number of natural arches located in the park, the entire park’s scenery is epic and unique. Don’t just rush from arch to arch, take some time to soak up the in-between spots, especially when combined with snowy La Sal Mountains in the backdrop. It’s a seriously great contrast! Picture by me, Kat Smith.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Arches National Park
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 30.00 USD
Members 0.00 USD

Notes

Your first morning in Moab will most likely be spent arriving into town. If possible, aim to arrive by morning or early afternoon so you still have the rest of the day to explore. Once you’ve arrived and checked into your hotel (or tent), you’re ready to go!

16:00 - 21:00

Moab Brewery

686 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532, USA
Moab Brewery is a great place to enjoy a beer in the center of Moab's downtown. Enjoy this microbrewery by sitting on the patio and people watching while you enjoy some of Utah's best brews. Picture by me, Kat Smith.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Table
Prices for Moab Brewery
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 5.00 - 50.00 USD

Notes

After you’ve explored the park, it’s time to check out downtown Moab. If you’ve hiked, you might want to run off to your hotel for a quick shower but otherwise, go straight to Moab Brewery and treat yourself to a local beer. You’ll quickly see just how small Moab’s downtown is. What’s great about this is that everywhere is walkable, especially if you’re staying at Inca Inn or Adventure Inn. From the brewery, take some time to walk the downtown area (Main Street). There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and some cute shops along the way. If you’re camping or glamping though, I suggest you skip the bar scene and instead head back to your campsite to build a fire. Grab a few beers, get some hotdogs and s’more supplies to roast over the fire and settle in for a quiet night in nature, soaking up the stars as they light up the sky. Whether you enjoy your night downtown or by a fire, be sure to get some rest though because day 2 is action-packed!

Day 2

08:00 - 09:00

Doughbirds

125 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532, USA
Enjoy breakfast at Doughbirds, Moab’s delicious donut and cronut spot! Grab a classic donut or the more trendy cronut (croissant + donut hybrid) with a coffee. This is a great way to start your day before you visit the national parks in Moab. Picture by Anthony Cowan on pexels.com.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Table
Prices for Doughbirds
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 2.00 - 6.00 USD Plus fee

Notes

Good morning! Once you've grabbed a donut (or cronut) you're ready to head to Dead Horse State Park, coffee in hang!

08:00 - 09:00

Moab Garage Co.

78 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532, USA
Try out this great breakfast cafe in Moab, Utah. This is a great spot for a sit down breakfast and cafe with a wide variety of menu options. Picture by Anthony Gomez on pexels.com.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Table
Prices for Moab Garage Co.
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 2.50 - 18.00 USD

Notes

If you prefer a heartier sit-down breakfast, opt for Moab Garage Co just across the street from Doughbird. Regardless, once your belly is full, it's time to hit the road.

10:00 - 12:00

Dead Horse State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park, UT-313, Moab, UT 84532, USA
Dead Horse State Park looks like the Grand Canyon mixed with Horseshoe Bend so although not the nicest of names, the views will make up for it! Dead Horse State Park is a $20 entrance fee per car and is not covered by the America the Beautiful Pass since it’s a state park, not a national park. With only one day to cover this park and Canyonlands, I’d recommend just checking out the main viewpoint. Although, if you’d prefer to hike here instead of at Canyonlands, there are 2 rim trials (East and West) to choose from. Picture by Elizabeth Iris on pexels.com.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Dead Horse State Park
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 20.00 USD

Notes

After you’ve soaked up the beauty at Dead Horse, hop back in the car and head towards Canyonland National Park. It’s about a 20 minute drive.

12:30 - 18:30

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA
Canyonlands is huge! You won’t be able to cover it all in one day, so it’s better that you choose only 1 of the 4 different areas of the park. They all have different entrances and access points but if you’re coming from Dead Horse, you’ll go to the Island in the Sky. For a few hours well spent, hang out at the Island in the Sky area. There are many great view points and a few short hikes to choose between. If you want to go deeper into the park, you’ll need to explore one of the other areas: The Needles, The Maze, or Horseshoe Canyon. The Needles is fantastic for hiking, The Maze is the best for 4x4 driving, and Horseshoe Canyon is known for its significant petroglyphs. Another option is to explore the park via rafting the Colorado River, but I’ll talk more about rafting in the alternative itineraries below. If you’re more interested in The Needles, you’ll need to skip Dead Horse and go straight to The Needles from Moab since it’s easier to access from there. It’s about a 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Moab and a 2 hour drive from Island in the Sky. For Horseshoe Canyon, it’ll take over 2.5 hours to get to from Dead Horse, so while you would have time, it’ll mean spending more time in the car and less time outside. The petroglyphs at Horseshoe Canyon are some of the most significant found in North America so it’s an archaeologists dream! If you’d prefer to drive through The Maze, be sure to rent an off road vehicle because you’ll definitely need to take on these roads. It’s also only recommended for people with great driving skills and off road experience. It’s the most remote area of the park so it takes even more time to get to. I’m talking around 6 hours from either Moab or Dead Horse. So while fantastic, it’s something you really need to prioritize to make happen. It’s also an easier option if you have the ability to camp in your car, if needed. Picture by Sam Loveland on pexels.com.
Article By: Kat Smith
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Canyonlands National Park
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 30.00 USD
Members 0.00 USD

Notes

If you stick with Dead Horse and Island in the Sky, you won’t be disappointed in your day. Just be sure to get out of your car and explore either of the parks by foot for the best view points and to really grasp the depths of the parks. After you finish at the parks, it’s time to say goodbye to Moab! You’ll be ready to head back to Salt Lake City for your flight or will need to hit the highway to drive back home.

Privacy: public

About the author

I'm an adventurous wanderer who packed up and moved abroad 9 years ago. Since then, I've been a teacher, tour guide, yacht stewardess, and a volunteer on 4 different continents. A few years ago, I started my own company, A Way Abroad, to help other women move abroad and live out their dreams around the world. I'm currently back in the US for a few months, trying out vanlife with my husband and rescue dog, Bandido. Although this is home for now, who knows where we'll be next!

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