Moab runs on adrenaline: Just about every heart-pounding sport known to mankind is available for the adventurous visitor. Naturally, its inhabitants are incredibly fit, cool and just a little bit crazy.
Even if you’re not uber hip or into extreme sports, you won’t escape being captivated by Moab’s unbelievable landscapes. The area truly has something for everyone: Our girls loved the river rafting and 4WD tour; Richard and I couldn’t get enough of the hiking and the incredible rock formations. Let’s just hope we brought some of Moab’s fit/cool/crazy spirit home with us.
The Good Stuff
- Canyonlands by 4WD We loved Navtek Tours’ White Rim Trail 4WD/Hiking tour. Navtek is an established group and really know their stuff. They pick you up at your hotel and set out for the whole day. We went right to the bottom of the canyon, something a lot of people miss out on. After having lunch by the Colorado River, we four-wheeled up the side of an old mining road to the top – not for the faint of heart, but definitely an awesome experience! In Canyonlands National Park, we saw Musselman Arch, Shafer Trail, and the White Rim just to name a few. We had a classic guide, John. He shared so many stories about the area, from the meaning of Native American wall writings to how the roads were made. The tour cost $145/adult and $125/youth under 16. Navtek supplies a great, healthy lunch and water bottle refill station. I would suggest bringing a snack for morning and afternoon if you are used to eating more than just lunch. We drove that tiny white road all the way up to our vista point – the girls loved the bouncy 4WD journey.
- Colorado River Rafting – We spent a terrific day amongst the canyons rafting the Colorado near Fisher Towers, also with Navtek Tours. Our guide Tori was super fun and had us all helping out with paddles on the slower patches of river. The trip is suitable for the whole family; it is more of a “beginners” rafting experience with small rapids and lots of serene water. You can also get out and swim at certain spots but the April water was too cold for us. The scenery is absolutely spectacular and you can see why filmmakers have filmed so many titles in the Moab area. Navtek offered a waterproof box on the raft so that we could take photos. A lovely lunch is also included in the price ($74/adult and $64/youth.)
- Hiking the Arches – Arches National Park provides access to some spectacularly classic Utah scenery. The Big Ticket landmarks are the Delicate Arch (a tough hike but visible from below – sans hike) and The Windows (a beautiful set of eye-shaped rock formations reached by an easy hike). Both are totally worth it. We didn’t get to see anything else in the park due to time constraints but there are many other wonderful things to see there. Cost of park entry is $10 per car.
- Moab’s Best – We liked the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn. The nightly cost varies greatly depending upon the time of year and day of week you are staying. For instance, over our stay, the room cost was approximately $150 per night but we used Amex points to lower the price – bonus! The inn has an awesome, heated pool and huge hot tub. A complimentary hot breakfast is offered – scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, waffles, toast, pastries, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, tea and coffee. It’s a great convenience to not have to head out for every meal and you can also grab a snack for later.
The Not So Good
- Hiking Fatigue Our kids really aren’t that into hiking around just to see rocks. We had some conflict of opinions on how much hiking would be tolerated. The great news is that Moab offers plenty of non-hiking options and the girls loved the variety.
- April Snow?! We had terrific weather for all the days we were active in Moab but ran into a snowstorm on our return trip to Salt Lake. So be sure to plan a summer trip if you want to avoid winter weather.
Good to Know
- Excellent Eateries – Moab has an array of great food options. We had an amazing meal at Sabaku Sushi. What a find! Amazing, fresh and inventive sushi and sashimi… We also enjoyed The Spoke on Center, a new place that opened whilst we were there. It has great organic food including, burgers, salads, fish, and so on. If you want something more traditional, there is Pasta Jay’s. Our kids had take-out and enjoyed every bit.
- Book a Break – It is good to reserve your accommodation and side trips in advance of your arrival. We spoke with the tour company, Navtek, and booked both of our trips before leaving for Moab. This enabled us to organize a rest day in between outings – which was great because the day trips really tire you out!
- Consider a 4WD Rental – We flew into Salt Lake City and rented a car to drive the 4 hours to Moab. The driving was easy until we encountered an unexpected April snowstorm on our way back to SLC and didn’t have a 4WD. If you are traveling in the Rockies in the spring or fall, it probably makes sense to rent the 4WD – even if it is a little more money.
Good for Next Time
- Zip Lines! As you would expect from Moab, even the zip line was extreme. Raven’s lets you go up a hill in a 4×4 and then zipline down. It looked great but we ran out of time on this trip.
- Bike Time Moab is world renown for its mountain biking and there were loads of bikers there – just not us! On a future visit, we’ll make a point of heading out on mountain bikes one morning – the afternoons would be too hot – either ride up into the hills (see the “Moab” section of this list) or stay flat on the Moab Canyon Pathway on the old highway.
- Real Rapids We are ready! Next time we’ll step up to a real white-knuckle, extreme rapids river rafting experience.
- More Park Action We only scratched the surface in terms of hikes and adventures to be had in the nearby national parks.
Good Family Trip?
Moab is a great destination for a Spring Break escape. The weather is perfect, the crowds are light, the sights are world-class and there’s absolutely tons of heart-pounding things to do. You’re also perfectly situated for a bit longer trip in the southwest or the Rockies: Adding on the Grand Canyon and/or Bryce/Zion are especially doable.
Tina Davis, May 2015
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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, family holiday, Moab with the kids, family vacation to Utah, Family river rafting the Colorado River