The name Moab is a Biblical name for a land just short of the Promised Land. The Moabites were historically regarded as the perpetual enemy of the Israelites, "God's Chosen People."
Fondest memory: Physically, the region was a green, verdant valley in the middle of a serious desert; an emerald in the sand, so to speak. Because of those similarities, the town was dubbed Moab by Mormon settlers in the 1800's.
The Colorado River is the lifeblood of this area; without it the town wouldn't exist, there'd be no white water rafting and no spectacular scenery. There's a green strip along its banks where things can be grown when encouraged by irrigation.
How fortunate was I to be on a bus trip that came down the red canyon of scenic byway 128. I was snapping like crazy most of the way down the route and then we pulled up.
Fondest memory: We stopped so we could get a shot of the scene that confronted us; one that included Fisher Towers, a couple of spectacular outcrops that stood like islands just off the end of the main range. With the river in the foreground, some paddlers drifting past, a green belt of vegetation and snow-capped mountains in the background it made for one of the most memorable images I've ever seen.
As mentioned previously, rock clilmbing is something that is very popular in these parts. Watching the climbers seek grip points on the rock face made me even more determined that it's something I'll never do. I can find other less strenuous ways to hurt myself!
Fondest memory: Another feature of the boat trip was viewing the petroglyphs and pictographs, which you can also drive to. Dating these petrogyphs has been problematic and estimates range from 500 to 1500 years old.
Until they're pointed out, you're apt not to see them as they tend to blend into the rock face.
They feature human and animal forms in basic figures etched into the rock face.
Even after I got home and started working with the photos I was surprised at how many more came to the fore. When you're actually there a lot of them of are very faint and not discernable to the naked eye with the available light.
Moab is adjacent to Arches National Park where we spend about two hours before going on a jet boat ride. It's an open affair that seats about 60 and cruises down then back up the Colorado River.
Fondest memory: Our host is an absolute crack-up, his extra dry sense of humour blending in with the terrain. “See that thing that looks like a boulder?” he says real slow. Five second pause, “Well, it’s a boulder”, and so on.
We see rock climbers scaling sheer walls and sight the best known four wheel drive track in the whole world. It’s been on countless ads and the internet. Apparently it goes for about three miles and takes around two hours. “That’s another way to hurt yourself real bad. (Five second pause.) I don’t do that either.”
My favourite was the rock formation - "You see that rock formation that looks like a jug handle? (Pause) "We call that the Jug Handle." (Very long pause and he eventually pulls something out from under a bench - it's a plastic oil container and he holds it up) "That's what a jug handle looks like."
Apart from the humour he was very informative and we learned about lots of stuff. (continued next tip)
Despite the over 2,000 arches there is much more to see in this park; it just depends on how far you want to go.
Bearing in mind there's only one main road in with a couple of offshoots you may think that it's limited but not so.
Fondest memory: Park Avenue is one of the first significant outcrops you come to. It stands tall and proud and long. Frankly, if it had a couple of arches in it it would probably be the main attraction. There's a walk that takes you beside it for its entire length.
It's an easy walk and only about a mile long so if you have the time, unlike me, it's something I would plan to do, but bear in mind that if it's hot you must always take fluid with you.
Favorite thing: Moab has the luxury of the Colorado River running through the area, so the water benefits the growth of plants. Below are some of the indigenous to the are and region. We have a hard time growing the moon flower plant in this climate, but down there, it propagates naturally from seed.
If you need to clean off the red dirt that accumlates on your skin, the Texaco gas station in town has a pay-shower. Something like $5 bucks. It has several showers, hot water, etc.
Fondest memory: Locals are very nice people. Unique and friendly, doing their own thing...happy to steer people to whatever their interests are. There are some funky shops, bakery with Wifi, bookstores, eateries.
Go to Moab to do some hiking or swimming in the river. Visit the nearby National, and State Parks. Cycling is big there too.
Of course you're going to have to eat, and entertain yourself, part of the time. Just know that the town has and overabundance of t-shirt and junk shops. Many times you'll get major attitude at restaurants and bars as well. Many nice people are there to help you have a good time as well. There is just an aire of pretentiousness and "doing you a favor" over much of the town.
It helps me to just laugh at these folks and know that THEY are the ones working, and I'm on vacation. I tip accordingly too.
Fondest memory: My dogs just love it there. This past trip the sand was a bit hot in "Negro Bill Canyon" so we cut our hike short and went to the beach. We all liked that better anyway!
Smack dab on the corner of Main Street and Center Street is the Moab Information Center. Here you can find books, postcards, maps, national park passes, etc. The staff is well versed in Moab, Arches and the surrounding areas. They're happy to answer all your questions and offer advice to travelers. I think any first time visitor to Moab would benefit from a trip to the Visitor's Center.
Fondest memory: Mom and I had been told by several locals the story and location of the legendary Matrimony Springs, but we were having difficulty finding it and started to think that the residents of Moab were pulling our leg. On our way out of town we stopped by the visitors center one last time to see if they could help us find it. Not only is it a real place, it is exactly where everyone had told to look, we had just missed it. But we probably wouldn't have been able to find it if the woman at the Visitor's Center hadn't been so helpful and explicit with her directions.
Favorite thing: Visit the Moab Information Center on Center and Main to pick up driving tours, information on concession tours, and other activities. The friendly personnel will be happy to help you with your questions. For on line help visit the following web site www.moab-utah.com for information on the nearby national parks, restaurants, tours, maps, and general visitor information including a comprehensive list of lodging and their web links. This site will also cover your sporting needs describing ways to enjoy river adventures, mountain biking, hiking trails, 4X4 adventures, and guided tours.
Grand Junction, CO
If you are traveling to Moab by car, and you plan to buy beer/liquor/wine etc. make sure you do so before you get to Utah. The beer sold in convenience stores and supermarkets in Utah is watered-down 3.2 beer. To purchase real beer, liquor, and wine you must go to a UT State Store. State Stores are open no later than 9PM, they are closed on Sundays and various holidays, and their prices are ridiculously high. The only caveat is that the state of Utah likes to protect its liquor monopoly. According to state law, it is illegal to transport alcohol into the state of Utah; however the risk of getting caught doing so is relatively low.
Traveling westbound on I-70, I always stop in Grand Junction, CO on my way to Moab. In Grand Junction you will find privately owned liquor stores with reasonable prices. In addition to liquor stores, Grand Junction offers a wide array of goods and services including drug stores, mass-merchandisers, supermarkets, restaurants and lodging. The best place in town to find anything you may need is in and around the Mesa Mall, which is located at the intersection of US Hwy 6 and US Hwy 50. Grand Junction is an excellent place to stop on your way to or from Moab.
Mountain biking to Moab is like sex to the Red Light District in Amsterdam. It is hot, technical, and the scenery is outstanding. I don't know anything about the second analogy, but the mountain biking I do. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the epic journey to Moab.
Fondest memory: We arrived in Moab at 2:00 am in the morning. We had driven seven hours to get to the beautiful mountain biking mecca of Moab.
My cousin, Chris, and I had driven from Wyoming and we met my cousin, Tim and his friend Greg, at Ken's Lake. We had planned to meet up and camp their because it wasn't too far from Moab, and better yet it was free! When we had arrived, the campground was swarming with over-sized motorhomes, Jeeps, four-wheelers, and motor-cross bikes.
Normally, during the hot summer months, Ken's Lake has an uncrowded campground, but we arrived in the peak of people. Little did we know that Easter Jeep Week (Four-wheel drivers from Satan) was going to be in full force. Moab was a zoo crawling with monster trucks, huge jeeps, and hummers. I was horrified as we drove through Moab. All of the campgrounds, hotels, motels, and hostels were packed with four-wheel drive, off-road, gas-guzzling, pollution packing, decked out vehicles. 'Great!' I thought to myself. We are going to be competing with these damn things on the trail all weekend, and what is worse we are a lot smaller!
When we got to the campground, Tim and Greg were waiting for us. They had already searched for a camp site, but there was nothing to be had! It was completely full. We ended up driving down south from there, and pulling on a side road with another campground. We drove up and there wasn't much of a crowd. It was 2:00 am in the morning and we just wanted to relax. We drank a couple of beers, bs'ed
for about a half an hour, and pulled out our sleeping pads and sleeping bags. We purched under our own private trees and slept under the stars. Magestic right? Nope, the highway was about 25 yards from us and it was busy with people coming into town. It was a full moon, the semi trucks passed by all night long, and I came down for some peace, quite, and miles of people-free trails.
But one of the fondest memories I had was just before a fell asleep in the brisk spring wind. I thought to myself, 'This is what a road trip is all about. Facing the odds and making the best of what is dished out to you. Jack Kerouac would have been proud!' I looked up at the full moon and knew that this was really going to be an amazing journey in the desert.
pic from AdventurePlanet.com
Drink plenty of water whether your driving a 4x4, mountain bike, running or even doing absolutely nothing. Moab is Hot and Dry during the spring/summer months.
Fondest memory: Having lunch with my legs hanging off a cliff.
Drop into the peace tree Juice Cafe. Oh they have a great selection of good and healthy juices.
Fondest memory: It reminded me of Victoria Falls town. This town was a busy little town. Cycling and rafting are top activities. Lots of little cute shops to go into and explore. The people were very helpful.
When in Moab, visit one of the many national parks such as, Canyonlands, Arches, etc... The natural landscapes with the deep canyons and magnificant plateaus are absolutely breathtaking. Pictures do not even do this place justice. You have to go there in person to fully appreciate it.
Fondest memory: Mountain biking all day, camping all night with a group of friends....nothing better.