Known for their spectacular rock formations, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are easily accessible from hwy 191 just north of Moab, UT. Use Moab as your base and schedule at least a full day in each park to get a feel for the geological wonders of both.
-See: Delicate Arch at sunrise. While many people hike the moderate 3-mile hike to Delicate Arch at sunset, our decision to go early in the morning was well worth it: no crowds, cooler temperatures, and the unique experience of hiking in the dark!
-Hike: Devil’s Garden trail. This moderate trail features seven major arches. Landscape Arch – one of the world’s longest at 308 ft – is not to be missed.
-Hike: Fiery Furnace. This extremely popular 3-hr ranger-led hike takes you through the incredible maze of stone fins that make up this area of the park. Reservations are required and can be made online anytime (AM hike) or in-person up to 2 days in advance (PM hike).
Canyonlands (Island in the Sky section only)
-Hike: Upheaval Dome – this mile-wide crater is a mystery even for geologists. Was it created by a meteorite or a salt dome? A moderate hike (2-mi rt) leads you to two overlooks so you can judge for yourself. The Syncline Loop (strenuous 11 mi) leads you into the crater but is not recommended in the Utah summer heat.
-Hike: Grand View Point. Easy 2 miles starting from Grand View Point overlook. Hikers are rewarded with outstanding views of the park along the entire route.
-See: La Sal Mountains through Mesa Arch. This popular viewpoint is a short distance from the scenic drive.
-Note: A small complaint some visitors have about their visit to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands is that you can’t actually see the Colorado River from the national park. Dead Horse Point State Park, adjacent to Canyonlands, offers spectacular vistas of the area, including the Colorado River. A short visit to this park is well worth it.
-Note: If you have a second day to spend in Canyonlands, explore the Needles section. Due to its remote location (75 mi south of Moab) it’s like visiting a separate park.
-Stay: Inca Inn. Conveniently located on hwy 191 as you enter Moab, this hotel turned out to be one of our favorites on our trip out West.
-Eat/Drink: After a long day of hiking, enjoy a great meal and cocktails at Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. Reservations are strongly recommended.
-Eat/Drink: Moab Brewery. Standard pub fare and local brews.
-Eat: There are no food services in either Arches or Canyonlands. Visitors should plan on taking a picnic lunch (Love Muffin Cafe opens early and makes food to-go) or returning to Moab to eat (both Peace Tree Juice Cafe and Eklecticafe offer light meals in a relaxed atmosphere).