Family Travel Bucket List: Moab, Utah, in the USA

Arches National Park from Moab

The incredible state of Utah is often missed when Aussies are planning their US trips, but I can tell you that you simply have to see it to believe it! Just how much we loved Utah came as a bit of a surprise. The fact that one morning we woke up in Salt Lake City, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and that afternoon we were in Moab on the other side of the state, with rugged red rock and desert in every direction, is just one of the reasons that Utah stole our hearts.

Staying in Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah

The small town of Moab on the eastern side of Utah thrives on tourism. Lined with hotels, diners, restaurants, grocery stores, art galleries and souvenir shops, Moab’s main street caters perfectly to families looking for a base to stay for a few days and explore the surrounding area. We stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites, situated on South Main Street. Awarded a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor in 2016, the hotel is reasonably priced and room rates include a light buffet breakfast each day. We found the rooms were clean, quiet, and generous in size (ours featured two queen sized beds, a microwave, mini fridge, desk, and plenty of space to move around). The hotel also has free Wi-Fi, free parking, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool – just right for relaxing at the end of a big day of hiking around the canyons! The staff at La Quinta Inn & Suites were super friendly, and were more than ready to offer advice on exploring Moab and beyond during our stay. Additionally, located just in front of the hotel is one of Moab’s most popular BBQ joints, The Blu Pig – highly recommended for a family meal in Moab, whether you stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites or not!

Find out more about La Quinta Inn & Suites, Moab at http://www.laquintamoabut.com/.

The best base for visiting some of Utah’s phenomenal National and State Parks

Arches National Park from Moab

Nothing comes close to the real-life experience of seeing the breathtaking rocks, canyons and arches of the National and State Parks that are found near Moab – words can’t quite describe it! In one day we visited Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, as well as Dead Horse Point State Park, though we could have easily spent a day or more exploring each destination. Each of these parks is very accessible by car, with several hikes and vantage points to take in the incredible vistas along the way. We recommend beginning your outing to any of these State or National Parks with a stop at each park’s visitor centres on your way in, where park rangers are readily available with a plethora of information to make the most of your visit. While you are there, be sure to check out the Junior Ranger program for kids so they can learn more about the things they will be seeing.

Take a look at our video below to get an idea of just how magnificent this area of the world truly is:

Arches National Park

Arches National Park from Moab

As you wind your way up into Arches National Park, you begin to get a sense of just how vast this area of Utah is. Layers of red rock form the thousands of arches, balancing rocks and canyons that scatter the landscape Arches National Park is world famous for. Along the surfaced main road that winds its way through the park there are dozens of places to stop and take in the view, as well as man-made lookouts and hiking trails that take you even closer to incredible sights such as Delicate Arch, The Windows Section (featuring some of the park’s largest arch formations), and Balanced Rock.

Planning your day at Arches

The entrance to Arches National Park can be found on the US 191, about 5 miles north of Moab. With no transportation options within the park, a hire car is a definite must. To see the major sights within Arches, you need to allocate at least 3 hours, however an entire day would mean being able to explore more at a slower pace that would be better for children.

Facilities at Arches National Park

There are no stores or restaurants located within Arches National Park, so planning ahead is vital. Water is available at the Visitor Centre upon entering the park, as well as at the Devils Garden Campground.

Arches National Park Entry Fees

Entry to the park as at 5th July 2017 is $25 per private, non-commercial vehicle, including all occupants (up to 15 people).

Camping at Arches National Park

Currently closed due to construction until 30th November 2017, camping is permitted at the Devils Garden Campground, which has 50 sites with fire rings, picnic tables, bathrooms and running water. Between November and February, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can reserve individual campsites from March to October. Camping fees do apply.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park from Moab

Driving through Canyonlands at times feels a bit like driving through the Australian outback. The major difference is, every few hundred metres you find yourself staring out at awe-inspiring red rock buttes, or down at breathtaking canyons only metres from the side of the road that demonstrate centuries of erosion caused by the mighty Colorado River and its tributaries. Each of the distinct sections of the park are vast and are separated from each other so that you must visit each individually. The districts include Island in the Sky, The Maze, The Needles, Horseshoe Point, and the rivers. Although the park is open 24 hours, the visitor centres at Island in the Sky, The Needles and at The Maze are only open limited hours depending on the season.

Planning your day at Canyonlands

The entrance to Canyonlands National Park can be found off the US 191. The entrance to the more accessible Island in the Sky district is located north of Moab, on the UT 313. The Needles can be found south of Moab on the UT 211. The roads throughout The Maze are unsealed, and require a 4WD to access. To see the major sights you need to allow a few hours minimum for each district, taking into account that many hiking paths to the major sights are fairly hard going for younger children (and can feature cliffs not bordered by fences). Several areas of The Needles, The Maze and the rivers may require some hiking, or even boating to get close to the area’s attractions.

Facilities at Canyonlands National Park

There are no stores or restaurants located within Canyonlands National Park, so planning ahead is vital. Water is available at the Visitor Centres upon entering the park.

Canyonlands National Park Entry Fees

Entry to the park as at 5th July 2017 is $25 per private, non-commercial vehicle, including all occupants (up to 15 people).

Camping at Canyonlands National Park

Camping is permitted in two designated campgrounds at Canyonlands National Park. The Needles Campground, which has 26 sites with bathroom facilities, fire grates, tent pads, running water from Spring to Autumn, and picnic tables, has two ‘loops’. Loop A is open all year round, with bookings required for March 15 – June 30 and September 1 – October 31. Loop B is open from Spring to Autumn, with sites available as first-come, first-served. Willow Flat Campground is open year-round, and can be found in the Island in the Sky district. It has 12 sites with vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire grills, but no firewood or water available, and sites are available on a first-come, first served basis. Camping fees do apply.

Find out more about Canyonlands National Park at https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park from Moab

The scenery at Dead Horse Point State Park is the stuff of Hollywood movies – driving through red desert, gazing across gaping canyons, and being wowed by the winding Colorado River below. In fact, remember that scene in Thelma & Louise where they drive over the cliff into the Grand Canyon? That was in fact filmed at Dead Horse Point! It’s simply the most breathtaking view you could imagine, and very easily accessible from the main road through the park. The legend of Dead Horse Point is another story in itself – be sure to read all about it at the Visitor Centre!

Planning your day at Dead Horse Point

The entrance to Dead Horse Point State Park can be found 9 miles north-west of Moab, off US 191, 23 miles south-west on the UT 313. With no transportation options within the park, a hire car is a definite must. To see the major sights at Dead Horse Point, you need to allocate at least 2 hours.

Facilities at Dead Horse Point State Park

The Pony Expresso Coffee Shop is located near the Dead Horse Point Visitor Centre, and serves coffee, smoothies, other hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and wraps, snacks, and icecreams from 9am to 5pm daily. Bags of ice are also available. As all water is trucked into the park, RV water hookups and showers are not available.

Dead Horse Point State Park Entry Fees

Entry to the park as at 5th July 2017 is $15 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers), valid for 3 days.

Camping at Dead Horse Point State Park

Camping in Dead Horse Point State Park is permitted at the Kayenta Campground, which has 21 sites with tent pads and access to modern bathroom facilities, lighted shade structures, picnic tables, RV electrical hookups, and fire rings. There are also three luxurious yurts (glamping tents) available to rent overnight at Dead Horse Point. Camping fees do apply.

Find out more about Dead Horse Point State Park at https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/.

*The writer was a guest of Moab Area Travel Council. Visit: www.discovermoab.com*

Salt Lake City, Utah, is certainly not one of the first destinations that most Australian families consider when planning a trip to the USA, but it really should be in the top 5! Not only is Salt Lake City incredibly family friendly, with a huge selection of attractions for all ages to explore, but it serves as a great base for exploring the rest of Utah. Check out our full Salt Lake City review to find out why you should add it to your Family Travel Bucketlist.

Utah in the USA is rich with discoveries of dinosaurs who roamed the area extensively in prehistoric times, and for dinosaur lovers, Moab Giants, located on the outskirts of the town of Moab, is a thrilling discovery! Check out our full review of Moab Giants Dinosaur Park & Museum for something else to do while visiting Moab, Utah.

About the Author
Powell
Brooke Powell
Brooke has been writing for Brisbane Kids since 2012, when she submitted a park review for us and was ‘discovered’. Prior to stumbling upon her talent for stringing words together in spectacular fashion, Brooke worked in roles for high profile global brands including Allianz Insurance, Marks & Spencer and Westpac. A strong regard for superior customer service, coupled with a passion for discovering awesome things to do and places to visit with her daughters and husband makes her perfect for both reviewing and advocating experiences for Brisbane Kids.

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