Never heard of it? There’s no reason why you should have: Moab’s just a tiny dot on the sizable Utah landscape, but its not the town that would bring you here. Situated within a brisk stroll of two of America’s most enticing (and less explored) national parks, those who come through Moab usually do so on the trail to bigger and better things.
Arches National Park is the nearest draw, and home to literally thousands of slight sandstone arches formed over millions of years. Delicate Arch, the most famous, even features on Utah license plates. Of course, you didn’t come all this way for just arches, and the varied geographical features of the park include everything from pinnacles to colored layers where years of geology have been exposed to the open air. The largest Arch, meanwhile, stretches for very nearly 100 meters. Hiking (stay on the footpaths – it only takes a glance to see the issues surrounding soil erosion here) and photography are obviously the major draws of the park, though the wildlife is a major attraction, too, including bizarre looking kangaroo rats and mule deer.
Only a little further from Moab you’ll find Canyonlands National Park, which is divided into three thrillingly named areas – ‘the Island in the Sky’, ‘the Needles’ and ‘the Maze’. The fairytale ‘Island in the Sky’ is the best place to start, offering perfect panoramas of the rest of the national park, a desert scene full of canyons that seem to be tearing the earth in two. Like Arches, the geology here is exceptional, with the capacity for exploring almost unfeasible rock structures immense. It’s a desert climate, and the deep gorges can be accessed by a series of trails that drift up the sides of the steep sides to plateaus, or through longer trails that take in stopovers at campsites.
The Maze district of Canyonlands has very bad four wheel drive trails.
The combined scenery of the two national parks together with the outdoor opportunities mean Moab’s status as largely an oversized collection of hotels catering for the parks is easily forgiven. The town is filled with great energy. It seems as if everyone is partaking in some outdoor activity. Use the town as a hub, and make the most of some intense and wacky scenery.
Arches National Park has the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches in the world. These arches are the result of forces of nature over millions of years. Over 2000 arches have been…