Moab, Utah has a reputation for being an outdoor junkie's wonderland. No wonder, since it's close to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Smack dab in the middle of those two famously stunning swaths of land is another gem: Dead Horse Point State Park. Cruise the park's Dead Horse Point Scenic Drive and see why it's such an underrated spot, as you make your way from Arches to Moab to Canyonlands.
Hole N' The Rock is a neat roadside attraction that serves as a memorial to the home's builders, Albert and Gladys Christensen. Yep, you read that right, this rock was once used as a house! Beginning as just a tiny room within the rock, Albert spent 20 years building and excavating the home into the 14-room, 5,000 square foot place that you see today. When Albert died in 1957, Gladys continued to develop the property; she began giving tours and even opened up a small gift shop that she ran until her passing in 1974. Pull over and take the 12-minute tour to learn about the couple's journey in building this marvel. Then explore the grounds, strewn with eclectic signs and metalwork. Keep in mind that cameras aren't allowed in the home itself, further preserving this little piece of history!
Featuring displays about geology, mining, paleontology, pioneers and more, the Museum of Moab offers a family price of just $10, and is a good way to take a break from the heat in the midst of all of your Moab adventures. History junkies and casual visitors alike will enjoy learning about the stories behind Moab and the artifacts that come with it. Upstairs, you'll find an art gallery with paintings done by the Moab Pastel Guild, along with a room depicting 1900s life, including an old doctor's office.
Not too many national parks can claim to be home to over 2,000 naturally formed arches and windows, but Arches National Park can. The red rock formations will spark the imaginations of kids and adults alike. A stroll through the park's various strange rocks is easy, as a majority of the trails are less than two miles long, perfect for kids or those who don't want to spend too much time on a hike, but still want to take in all of the breathtaking views. You can even stay in your car; four and a half hours of driving time will get you around the entire place! There's an entrance fee of $25 per car, but with a whole day's worth of new formations to discover, it's well worth it. Plus, if you discover a new arch, you get to name it! The red rocks "glow" more and more as the sun gets lower in the sky, so be sure to stay until later in the day, and even plan to stay the night for some incredible stargazing.
Gemini Bridges includes two side-by-side alcove-type arches and is one of the most recommended four-wheeler and mountain biking routes in Moab. Right between Highway 191 and Highway 313, from the city of Moab the trip to the top via car will take around three hours (roundtrip) or eight hours on a mountain bike. You can even walk a trail right onto the bridges themselves... with some caution, of course! Gemini Bridges are well off-the-beaten-path, but the views are worth it. Locals say to keep an eye out for a big rock with a bird's face that has been nicknamed "Gooney Bird Rock.” When you find it, you'll see tire marks all around because it's been said that driving over his toes will bring good luck.
A campers' paradise, Dead Horse Point overlooks the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. 5,362 acres of desert at an altitude of 5,900 feet makes for gorgeous views for miles and miles. Hiking is a popular activity, with seven miles of trails taking you to eight breathtaking overlooks. The visitors center will help tremendously with navigating the park and learning the history of all its beauty. If you plan on staying the night, you can camp out here as well! For geocachers, there are three official geocaches at Dead Horse Point, each with souvenirs.
In the 1800s, cowboys left horses on this plateau as a sort of natural corral, or as a place to leave behind unwanted wild horses. Left alone with little water in the heat, it was common for the horses to die. The story is eerie but instills awe in visitors as they reach the top at the end of their drive. This 14-mile drive allows for stops along the way to check out all of the geology the park has to offer, and the end of the route is famous for offering beautiful photo ops, and breathtaking views of the canyons around.
When exploring Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands National Park, grab some coffee and food from the adorable Pony Expresso Coffee Shop, right outside the Dead Horse Point State Park visitor’s center! Grab a coffee to fuel up, a homemade sandwich/lunch to take on your ride, or a rewarding drink at the end of your adventure. It doesn't get more convenient than this!
Just around 40 minutes away from the city of Moab, Island in the Sky is another sightseeing location you don't want to miss during your trip. The mesa, a unit of Canyonlands National Park, sits on a 1,000-feet-tall sandstone plateau, and gives travelers views of the scenic drive and all of Canyonlands, with pullouts along the way. The views here will likely be the highlight of your trip, with enormous panoramas during the day and amazing stars at night. This location has been called the Grand Canyon of Utah, if that gives you an idea of how jaw-droppingly gorgeous it is. Spend your day hiking, four-wheeling, camping, or simply enjoying all the views from your car. The Willow Flat Campground has just 12 sites and is open year-round, so plan accordingly during summer months, as it's first come, first served!
Every minute of your outdoor adventure in Moab will be filled with breathtaking views of natural landscapes and rock formations, and has something for every kind of nature lover! Camp, hike, ride a four-wheeler or soak in the beauty from your car, capturing breathtaking pictures along the way... the options are endless, and each is more incredible than the last!
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