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Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

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Hudson Valley
posts: 1,292
reviews: 1
Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

We're planning on visiting Moab Thanksgiving week (provided weather cooperates - we're flying to Denver and driving to Moab). I visited Moab ten years ago in September and my husband visited six years ago in May, so we haven't been in November. Just wondering if there are any special considerations for this time of year. Things to avoid or things that are a must (i.e. I read that winter was best for photographing Delicate Arch at sunset due to the shadows).

We have books and maps, but haven't started hard core planning yet. I'll probably be back with more specific questions once we have a rough itinerary. We're excited to go!

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
posts: 11,661
reviews: 232
1. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Good time to go with lower temps and less crowds. You'll find some activities and businesses closing for the winter but won't impact you dramatically. We've gone down the last few years over Christmas and it's great. In November it's less likely you'll see snow. Denver isn't the best gateway, couple hours longer than Salt Lake City, but an easy drive on I-80. Watch for any winter weather in the high country of Colorado. But would be unusual for you to have a major issue, but it can happen.

Do be prepared for cooler temps, especially in the evening. And note that daylight is very short.

Have fun.

Hudson Valley
posts: 1,292
reviews: 1
2. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Thanks for the response! We looked into Salt Lake City, but flying to Denver saved us nearly $400 (and being that this trip wasn't originally in our vacation budget, we're trying to pinch pennies!). We did look at the driving route and noticed that it passes through high country - so will be sure to keep an eye on the weather. The plus is that it's interstate - so hopefully the drive won't be bad.

We do like visiting in off times to avoid crowds and we don't mind the cooler temps (much prefer that to heat). We did look up sunrise/sunset and noticed how short the days will be - but the plus is we can watch sunset, eat dinner, star gaze, and still get to bed at a decent hour. :D

We're still trying to decide about camping vs motel. Some of the smaller motels have very decent rates, but we still might want to camp a few nights (accessibility for photography). We'll likely go with a mix - we have to get an itinerary figured out first. We have the gear for cold weather camping, but also a matter if we want to check that much luggage.

I looked at the nps site and it said they led Fiery Furnace tours if weather permitted - so we're hoping to do that. If there are no ranger led tours, is the Fiery Furnace closed?

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 1
3. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

hi, we are planning to visit Arches,Byce, Canyon lands,Zion , Monumnet valley -a 6 days trip for thanks giving week, starting from Arches .ending in Zion..landing in Grand Junction Denver and flying back from St george UTAH to Chicago.

Primary purpose is See places and Landscape photography (sunset and sunrise views).

1) 6 days enough to see all these

2) Is it a good time to enjoi the utah landscapes?

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 13,809
reviews: 126
4. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

chicagotoutah2013, Welcome to the forums. Generally you will want to start your own topic- Top of forums- Ask a Question- rather than tag onto someone elses question even if they are similar. Otherwise the answers can get too hard to keep track of who we are responding to.

As to whether 6 days is enough time depends entirely on how many stops you make. It will be hard to see it all in 6 days. Also check car rental drop off fees from Grand Junction to LV. I expect they will be hefty. Start your own thread for more info.


I've been down in late december and January. I expect it is similar to November. I would not want to camp, the nights are just too long and too cold for me.

I noticed Tumbleweed said taking I-80 is easy. That is true, but it isn't the best route for Moab. That would be I-70 (through Grand Junction and then Danish Flat exit for hwy 128)....which of course goes over two high mountain passes. When my son was traveling to Colorado Springs and back on a fairly frequent basis he said it was very common to have snow over Vail Pass anytime of year. You'll just have to watch the reports. Sometimes one route will be closed while the other is open.

I don't know if they would let you into Fiery Furnace if the ranger tours are cancelled. The only reason I can see they'd cancel would be if there was too much snow on the slick rock. If that is the case then it would really be too dangerous anyway. There is a lot of climbing and walking on slick rock and drop offs would be dangerous with ice or snow. There really is still plenty to see in Arches without that.

Hudson Valley
posts: 1,292
reviews: 1
5. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Thanks for the info! As it gets closer we'll definitely monitor the weather - hopefully the passes will be fine.

Good point on Fiery Furnace. I was in part of Fiery Furnace on my trip ten years ago, but it was with a guided canyon trip through Lomatium Canyon (they no longer offer it). Hopefully we can catch the ranger guided hike. But you're right - plenty else to see! We plan to spend one full day in Arches hiking the primitive loop trail (weather permitting of course) and I want to do Delicate Arch at sunset one night at least.

We're leaning towards a motel - but I really love camping for night/sunrise/sunset photography (even when cold - but the long nights are definitely something to consider too).

Moab Utah
posts: 57
reviews: 27
6. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Buck's Grill and Twisted Sista's will provide a Thanksgiving dinner. Both require reservations for Thanksgiving Dinner. The Hauer Ranch provides trail rides all winter long, plus they have a guest house beside the Colorado River that is quite charming and breathtaking. My family is looking forward to my brother visiting from Florida. Biking and a river trip are on our agenda. Local river companies will not be operating, bike shops will have limited hours. Hiking is our favorite for November time.

Hudson Valley
posts: 1,292
reviews: 1
7. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Thanks for the info! Good to know about Thanksgiving dinner (something I had forgotten about, lol). Enjoy your brother's visit!

Los Angeles...
posts: 12
8. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

I did the Fiery Furnace in 2010. IIRC...

1. No entry allowed without a ranger. I think the main concern is people get lost inside.

2. There may be an age restriction, despite your little one is a super hiker ;-)

I wouldn't be too concerned if I miss Fiery Furnace. Moab has so much to offer --

1. A famous spot to shoot sunrise is Mesa Arch in Canyonlands' "Island in the Sky" district (google mesa arch to see why) and it's close to Willow Flat campground (3-min drive).

2. My favorite is Canyonlands' "Needles" district. An ideal day-hike from Moab would be to drive to Squaw Flat campground or Elephant Hill, then hike to Chester Park and loop back. Some rock scrambling but nothing the little one can't handle. Or, get backcountry permit (should be easy in winter) and camp under those crazy rocks!

I've been to Moab several times but never in winter. Snow chains, maybe? Anyways, can't wait to see your pbase photos ;-)

Hudson Valley
posts: 1,292
reviews: 1
9. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Thanks for the feedback! I didn't even think about there being an age restriction. But you're right, if we can't go, there are plenty of other things to do. I've been to Mesa Arch, but not at sunrise. I've seen the pictures of all the photographers there - it looks like it gets pretty crazy! I've also been to the Needles district - what a cool spot. My husband was thinking we wouldn't go that far this time - stick closer to Moab, but we still haven't finalized anything. Just hoping weather holds!

Houston, TX
posts: 3,355
reviews: 25
10. Re: Moab at Thanksgiving - anything to know?

Have you been to Dead Horse Point State Park? Fantastic vistas from there.