The Best Places for families to Hike, Jeep, Climb, Stay and Play in Moab, Canyonlands, and Arches National Park
Last year for spring break we took our kids to Canyonlands and Moab for an epic adventure. We had the best time unplugging and enjoying the activity and beauty all around us. I am going to share everything we loved and some tips from my friends Kim and Brenna who are pretty much experts on Moab. Just another reminder that Utah truly is BeUtahful!
Canyonlands National Park
I think Canyonlands is so overlooked! If you go to Moab, don’t miss it! It was the perfect place for family hiking and we saw incredible views, vistas and arches without the crowds. Plus, the paths aren’t so perfectly mapped out, so we were able to explore as much as we wanted to and my kids loved that freedom. We did four short to moderate hikes in one day and they were easy and adventurous enough for my group of boys and would be great family hikes even with younger kids!
I would suggest you stop at the ranger station right away and grab a map and get any extra info you need! We packed in 4 hikes and loved them all.
Mesa Arch was super short and sweet with incredible views that make your heart race just a bit, so keep a hold of those kids. Less than a mile in and back, so we all loved it.
Then we tried Grandview Point
which was a little longer (about 2 miles) but pretty easy terrain with carins to follow as you go, which made things a little more fun for my little one. Lots of great views. If you don’t want to walk quite so long, turn around any time…the beginning is the most majestic.
After Grandview we had a picnic lunch and headed to Aztec Butte
which was a super cool hike that includes Pueblan Granaries you can see and learn about. The hike was about 1.5 miles but totally doable for even little legs.
Our final hike of the day was Whale Rock
which was the perfect way to wrap things up. The hike is super short, only about 1 mile, but it does goes straight up a rock. My boys loved it because they didn’t have to stick to a path and it felt adventurous and more free than the other places we hiked. Plus, at the end it feels like you are on top of the world!
It was a full but incredible day of activity and beauty!
On day two we had planned for some serious adventure. The boys started the day mountain biking with bikes rented from Chili Pepper Bike Shop.
They took such good care of us and the boys had a blast trying it for the first time. There are so many beginning bike trails to try with a great comprehensive list HERE.
That afternoon we headed out on our first family canyoneering trip and it was AMAZING…by far everyone’s favorite part of our little getaway. We used Moab Cliffs and Canyons
and they were so good to us. We felt safe the entire time but they did push us to be brave which we all loved. We did the family rockaneering trip HERE
and it was ideal for all of us. Our 6 year old did great and they had options for those who were wanting more or less. I cannot recommend this enough if you want to try something new and exciting.
The next day we kept free for Arches. We had never been and the hike to THE arch is so much fun and just stunning. In all honesty, this was not my family’s favorite hike because it was SO crowded and we had to stay on a trail most of the time. However, you cannot go to Moab without seeing Delicate Arch
, and I thought it was just fantastic. We spent a little more time in the park walking a few other trails before we headed home.
It was a fabulous trip! We spent our nights binging on March Madness and playing non-stop basketball but there is so much more to do there if you have more time! I am going to highlight a few other suggestions plus give you an accommodation and weather run down too, so read on!
When we go on vacation food is a big part of it, but I have to say, the food in Moab is pricey and not all that great, so if you have an option, stay at a hotel that has a complimentary breakfast or a small kitchen. We found it pretty important to be able to pack lunches since we were out and about and on the move most of the day, so if you aren’t traveling too far, bring some food with you! We did stop for dinner each night and there are some good spots to try! I highlighted a few we liked and a few my friend recommended below. Be aware that on peak travel times, these places fill up, so you might want to eat off hours if you don’t like to wait.
– super yummy food, fast service, and fun atmosphere
– good Italian food, the wait is always a little longer here and they move slower
– A MUST TRY – this drive up window offers a few tables under big shady trees and there is a park close by to eat your great burger, shake and fries
– our favorite Mexican drive through with everything from breakfast burritos to carne asada fries and nachos
Miguel’s Baja Grill
– this average Mexican restaurant takes reservations so if you are traveling on a busy weekend or with a large group, it’s a perfect option
If you would like something a little more ethnic or upscale this is a great, fresh spot but a little pricey
: this is a fun food truck that offers all kinds of gourmet quesadillas that our whole family enjoyed, plus the price was right!
: A great spot for breakfast, but check their hours before you go
It is almost a crime to go to Moab without jeeping. Kim and her family are pros, so here are her suggestions for a great family jeeping experience in Moab.
Cliffhanger Jeep Rental
: If you don’t have your own Jeep, this is a great place to grab one for the day or weekend!
Dixie 4 Wheel Drive:
If your jeep needs repairs, this is the most honest auto repair shop around. They will get you back on the trails as quickly as possible!
Fins and Things Trail
: If you are looking for the perfect beginner’s trail, this is it! It has three loops that each last about an hour.
A gorgeous trail…you won’t find anything like it anywhere else! Takes you up lots of slick rocks and rewards you with beautiful views. The beginning is the hardest part and all other obstacles have a bypass option.
Moab Adventure Center:
If you are a little nervous about doing your own jeeping let the pros from Moab Adventure Center take you out for a day of fun. They can show you all that Moab has to offer without your nerves getting the best of you! They also offer Hummer tours which are a blast. Most of my friends say that the sunset view time is the best.
Rock Crawling Competitions: When you get to Moab, see if there are any rock crawling competitions. It would be such a fun thing to watch!!
: My kids ask to do this one every time now. There is a family run for ages 5 and up that is pretty mild but still so much fun. After checking in at the Moab Adventure Center, you’ll take a short bus ride to the river. We stopped along the way for a BBQ lunch under a pavilion. The raft guides were so much fun, making us laugh and challenging my kids to do backflips off the raft into the cold water. We had water fights and races with the other guided rafts and met some great people visiting from all over the world.
You can see this right off of the highway. The kids love to get there energy out here. Beware that the climb to the top is much farther and harder than it looks. Once we get up there, we sit for a long time to recover before rolling, flipping and running down.
: This museum is overpriced for what it is but it’s cool to learn about the dinosaurs who used to live in the surrounding areas of Moab. The outdoor display feels like a scene from Jurassic Park and I kept waiting for the Dinosaur statues to come to life. My 5 year old was skip running along the whole path.
Dead Horse Point State Park:
The views are incredible up there. There is a ton of information about the evolution of the rocks and cliffs up there from way long ago and even an old legend about where the name comes from. My friends loved taking their bikes there too!
Learn the difference between a bridge and an arch. This place really had my adrenaline going with two rock bridges you can walk across if you dare. After hearing stories of people who had actually fallen to their death here, I was a basket case but my kids thought it was AWESOME! There is a monument there in memory of a Jeeper who went over the edge while trying to drive the bridges – they don’t allow you to drive that close anymore. You have to park and walk in but not too far.
If you didn’t get enough hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Park, there are all kinds of other great paths to try.
Morning Glory Arch
: 5 miles round trip, moderate hike with lots of variation and great views.
: This hike is a little longer, about 4.5 miles round trip, but it is pretty easy too! Offers some fabulous views of the Moab Red Rock.
I would LOVE to hike Fiery furnace, but you need a ranger to guide you so you will have to plan in advance. Looks like the coolest thing!!
If you are camping or staying somewhere without a great pool, this indoor/outdoor pool is super clean and fun. My kids enjoy the waterslides and warm water. It is always nice to have a swimming option when you are on vacation!
This is literally a backyard theater with all types of shows happening weekly. We saw one of our favorite magic shows ever here! it is a small, fun outdoor setting. Take a sweatshirt, I remember it cooling down quickly when the sun went down.
We always avoid Moab from June to September. It is just too darn hot for what we can take, but if you plan on doing a lot of water and don’t mind waking up early, lots of people make it work! We prefer the more pleasant temps of Spring and Fall. But this makes for cool mornings and evenings so dressing in layers and always having a jacket and blankets on hand is important. There is often a good bit of wind, so grabbing gloves, hats and coats if you get really cold or if the forecast looks iffy isn’t crazy.
Holiday Inn Express:
Nothing super fancy but it was clean, had a pool, and served breakfast each morning.
If you are going with kids, this hotel has basketball courts, playground equipment, a pool, and fire pits. It offered lots to do after the hiking was over.
Pt. Peale Animal Sanctuary:
This is a bed and breakfast with small cabins located outside Moab, but it is quite the experience for families, especially for those who love animals. If you are looking for something different and wonderful, give this place a try!
Accommodations Unlimited of Moab
offers tons of Condo and Home rental options. We like Rim Village but it is kind of out of town a little ways. We have stayed in so many different homes/condo areas. Our favorite new subdivision is called Southgate. These places have three bedrooms each with a connecting bathroom, they are new and clean.
We also use VRBO to book.
We love to stay in the condos. Most are 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and can easily be shared between two families. There are some that have three baths as well. We love finding those!
The condos give us a more relaxing evening, a place to make our picnic lunches every morning, and most rentals include BBQ grills making it easy to fix a quick dinner when we don’t want to wrestle the kids at a restaurant after a long, hot day.
If you are worried about the cost of a condo versus a hotel, it is worth checking. On peak weekends we have seen a single hotel room at the Super 8 cost close to as much as a 3 bedroom condo! The trick to booking for busy weekends like Spring and Fall Break is to book early. We often book a year in advance with the reassurance that most places allow you to cancel 30 days prior with no charge.
There are tons and tons of camping sites but they fill up fast so you have to reserve super early (Campgrounds and RV Parks near you
)! We are not really campers but we have “glamped” at Moab Under Canvas
a couple of times. I wouldn’t want to stay here more than a couple of nights at a time because food and comfort is harder to come by. It is a few miles North of Moab . We slept 5 comfortably in the largest tent that comes with a king bed, a pull out couch, and as many cots as you need. The staff is super friendly and drives you and your gear to your secluded tent on a golf cart. The views are amazing! Our tent had it’s own bathroom, if you can call it that. It is pretty much a toilet in the middle of the room with a curtain to draw around it. Some smaller tents share bathrooms and I am not sure how that would be. Our tent had a wood burning stove in it which we lit to keep warm during the night. There is a large fire pit for all of the guest to congregate in the evenings. They have all the fixings for s’mores and we enjoyed getting to know some of the other campers there.
Anything I have left off? What do you love to do in Moab? Looking for other travel guides? Check out my favorite places in St. George, Utah HERE
and San Diego, California HERE