Classic canyoneering adventures include Midieval Chamber, U-Turn, and exploring the Fiery Furnace. For the river rat, floating the Moab Daily is very popular, as well as the more family friendly sections such as the Bridge to Potash. The climbing opportunities around Moab are virtual limitless. Wall Street is a good, close to Moab spot to get started. When your ready for a tower, Ancient Art has to be one of the most unique adventures around. In addition, there are many great road side attractions and hikes for all abilities.
Moab Utah, located in south eastern Utah has a long and varied history. The town was initially settled as a crossing spot on the Colorado River in the early 1800's, however, it did not become incorporated until 1902.
The name Moab, is most likely a biblical reference to the land on the east side of the Jordan River. Some, however, believe the town was named after the Indian word “moapa”, which means mosquito. If you have the unfortunate experience of camping along the river in late spring when bugs are at their peak, you may have your own opinion of the origin of the name.
Although starting out as an agriculture based community, and crossroads for travelers passing over the Colorado River, soon minerals were found and a mining boom ensued. Uranium led the way in the early 1900's, growing the community greatly. This lasted until the mid-1960's when demand for Uranium began to dwindle.
Potash followed the Uranium boom, and is still heavily mined today in the area, with a large plant located west of town. Oil has also brought a bit of a boom starting in the mid-1900's, although to a lesser extend than Uranium and Potash.
Moab is probably best known today, and likely the reason you are reading this book, for it's tourism and outdoor recreation possibilities. For the last 30+ years, people have been drawn to Moab for it's seemingly endless recreation opportunities. This was initially fueled by river runners, especially after Canyonlands was established in 1964. Mountain bike fever infected Moab in the 1980's, along with motorcycles, ATV's, and off road vehicles. The slickrock and old mining roads provide expansive room to explore and enjoy both motorized and non-motorized modes of transportation.
Today, Moab is still a paradise for river runners, and off road enthusiasts, however the secret is out, and climbers, hikers, and canyoneers are also enjoying all that Moab has to offer.
Located in south eastern Utah, Moab, in my opinion, is the incarnation of the civilized desert. Boasting many tourists year around, this is a different experience than most of the other areas of Southern Utah.
Amenities & Camping
Moab is a full size city, with all of the usual amenities. The city provides ample lodging, restaurants, and grocery stores. If planning to stay in a hotel, make reservations ahead of time. Rooms can fill up quickly if an event is being held in or near Moab. A good fall-back plan, if Moab is full, is Green River, Utah about 45 minutes north and west of Moab off of I-70. Although not as large or full of amenities, it often has rooms available.
Of particular interest, two stores that supply most any climbing, canyoneering, or other outdoor gear are:
59 S. Main St., #2, Moab
471 South Main Street, Moab
There are many campgrounds available around Moab. Below is a partial listing of the ones closest to adventures described here.
Devils Garden in Arches National Park
has a 52 sites. This is 18 miles from the park entrance, and provides amazing views. Reservations can be made on-line at www.recreation.gov, or call (877) 444-6777, (877) 833-6777 (TDD), or (518) 885-3639.
Sand Flats Recreation Area
also has great camping with 120 sites, and is located near Moab. From downtown Moab, find 100 north, and go east. Turn right onto 400 east, then left at Dave’s Corner Market onto Millcreek Drive. Continue straight on this road up the hill to the entrance booth. (5 minutes outside of Moab). They do not accept reservations, but generally have spots open. This is home to the Slickrock Bike Trail, so expect many mountain bikers around. Some sites have more shade than others, in the hot times of the year, choose your site wisely.
, heading to Castle Valley has many BLM managed campgrounds just off the highway near the river. These start 1.4 miles up from the junction with highway 191, and continue for several miles. These can be very buggy in the summer, but pleasant other times of the year.
, also know as the Potash Road, has many campgrounds managed by the BLM near the river. These can fill early during the busy season, and be buggy in the summer.
Primitive Camping does still exist around Moab, although it is becoming less and less. If choosing a primitive site, please practice low impact camping techniques, and leave the area in better condition that you found it. That being said, here are some ideas for good primitive camping;
Willow Springs Road
at Mile Marker 138.6 on highway 191. This side road, on the east side of highway 191, offers many campsites within a few miles of the highway.
Lost Spring Area of Arches
(see Covert and La Boca Arch hike
for directions), accessed from I-70, is quite a distance from Moab, but offers great solitude and wonderful views of Arches National Park in the distance.
South of Moab, around Looking Glass Rock
can also be a good place, though a bit of distance from Moab.
Season To Visit
Moab has something to offer anytime of the year.
Spring (March through May)
Spring is a magical time in the area. Temperatures, although often chilly or even cold at night, generally give way for warm days. This is a good time of year for hikes and climbing, where you will be out in the sun. By May, the bugs can start coming out for the season.
Summer (June through August)
Temperatures in the area can be scorching hot, at or over 100F, and bugs can be bad, especially near rivers. Although hot, this can be a good time to visit if you plan your trip well. Mornings and evenings are great times for short outings, while spending the day lounging by one of the nearby streams is a favorite way to beat the heat. This time of year is also the monsoon season, when large afternoon thunderstorms often suddenly appear. Be very mindful of weather any time of year if doing slot canyons, but pay extra attention during the monsoon.
If you visit in the summer, carry at least 1 gallon of water per person per day to combat dehydration in the heat. Be sure to have plenty of extra water in the car.
Fall (September through mid-November)
Aside from Spring, Fall is the other idyllic time to visit. Temperatures and bugs are more moderate, although evenings can become chilly or cold. Leaves also change color for the year around this time, giving the area even more vibrant colors. All adventures are possible this time of year, although a wetsuit can be useful in canyons with much water on cooler days.
Winter (late October through early March)
Winter brings short days, and long cold nights. It also brings a lull in the number of visitors to the area. Although canyons with water are best avoided during this time of year, other canyons, and climbs can be exquisite. With the warming of the sandstone by the sun, climbing on a 50F day in the sun is often perfect. Avoid climbing routes in the shade this time of year, as they can be down right freezing.
Depending on the winter, snow can be on ground all winter, but usually December and January are the snowiest. November and February can be snow-free, especially at lower elevations.