Moab, Utah – home to Arches & Canyonlands National Parks

Moab is one of the most unique towns we visited during the tour. Located in a valley along the Colorado River between these two magnificent parks, it is a home to adventurers, outdoors men & women as well as the traditional cowboy and free thinkers of the West. It was a four corners outpost until Charlie Steen, a miner who discovered a large uranium deposit, got rich and then lost much of his fortune within thirty years. The Sunset Grille, his former home, is a restaurant we visited that is still run by family – it’s perched on a cliff above the city offering spectacular views of sunset and wild weather as well as good food. Uranium was used for medical and energy purposes and provided the boom to Moab in early 20th century.

Moab soon discovered it could not depend on mining so adventure trips, park exploration and river rides became new tourist attractions. This quaint place also attracted artists and other folks who were interested in a more laid back environment surrounded by nature’s own cathedrals. Over the decades movies and television show production companies have used the area and continue to bring business to Moab. You never know who you might run into at a restaurant or on a rafting trip.

We spent five days here and loved so much we plan to return another time to do more exploring. We did an evening cruise punctuated by a thunderstorm and rainbows, a rafting trip on the Colorado, twice visited Arches but had our Canyon lands National Park visit cut short by a huge thunderstorm with flooding – a once in every ten to twenty year event. We also stopped in Dead Horse State Park with it’s smaller version of the Grand Canyon – it’s where the famous “off the cliff ” scene in the “Thelma and Louise” movie was filmed.

Horseshoe Canyon below is an amazing view and is a wonderful photo opportunity.

Weather was quite unique during our visit with temps ranging from the 100s in daytime to the 60s in the morning – we had blazing hot sun, rain, thunder and lighting storms ending in rainbows and ghostly fog along the cliffs. The residents take the extremes in stride but it makes sense for visitors to be prepared. Hats, sunscreen, hiking boots, and rain gear need to be in your luggage when visiting Moab.

North of the town along the river is a restaurant and winery with a museum that has all sorts of movie artifacts as well as a tribute to John Wayne, a beloved Moab visitor. It’s a quick visit but fun for any movie aficionado.

The winery was one of the few we found in Utah a pretty dry State with arcane liquor laws partially due to the Mormon heritage. We sampled a few of the vintages and bought two cases – thus making their day!

Arches National Park is one of the most visited parks and gets crowded and hot if you don’t go early. Go early. It’s beautiful – there are over 100 Arches – with strange formations depicting animals, people and architecture. Hiking trails are everywhere – do a hike – but prepare with comfortable clothes/ correct shoes ( no flip flops) and plenty of water – it’s always farther than you think to that amazing arch! We did a five mile hike that felt farther due to the unpredictable terrain and heat. Take your time and enjoy the spectacle.

Areas like this abound with evidence of early settlements including those who lived in caves within these protected lands. We saw remarkable petroglyphs that seemed to depict space men in cliffs along the river as well as huge dinosaur footprints in petrified stone plaques.

Moab has many good eating establishments ranging from haut cuisine to basic cowboy fare all ready to please your palate and run by fun engaging people. Visit this evolving cowboy town, spend some time and enjoy the vibe. We will definitely be back for another visit someday.

Author: kateamirault

Retired well traveled and Experienced woman

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