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How Many Days in Moab?

Dundee, Michigan
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How Many Days in Moab?

Briefly, we are a family of four: mom, dad, two teens. We are flying into SLC in mid-April, spending two nights there to attend some sporting events, see the Great Salt Lake, etc. and then driving down to Moab to visit Canyonlands and Arches. I booked the Best Western Canyonlands for four nights, coming in on Easter Sunday night as the Jeep folks are leaving. This is what we will probably do in the two parks:

take a driving tour

a few shorter hikes, in deference to Hubby, who doesn't enjoy long hikes and has a bad back

possibly go whitewater rafting, if it is availabe in mid-April

We probably won't be renting mountain bikes, again in deference to Hubby, although if he agrees to then it is a distinct possibility.

With that in mind, is Sunday night through Thursday morning going to be too long? Is it worth driving over to Colorado to see Colorado Monument? I do want to visit Mesa Verde too, even though it is quite a drive, so I figure that that would consume one of the days that we are staying in Moab.

Is it conceivable to spend just two nights in Moab, in light of what we want to do at the two parks there and then drive over to Cedar City and take in Bryce Canyon and Zion, or would that be stretching ourselves too thin? Someone cautioned me about the distances out West vs. here in the East. Something that looks like a short distance on a map here may be a two hour drive here and a five hour drive there. Also, the BW Canyonlands hotel is pretty pricey, but we promised our son a nice fitness room if he went with us, and most hotels in Moab don't have them (presumably because of all the outdoor activities, but he works out in a gym religiously and doesn't want to miss an entire week). If we stayed a couple of nights in Cedar City instead of all four nights in Moab, the rates there are cheaper. Are there any other activities in Moab/Canyonlands/Arches that a family with a fairly sedentary member with a bad back can enjoy that won't break the bank (tours, etc.)? Should we skip Mesa Verde to make time for Cedar City and the other two parks?

Thanks!

New Boston, New...
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1. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Hey Sultana, I not an expert on the area but when we did our trip this past August we did a boat ride down the Colorado River for a morning out of Moab that was enjoyable and relaxing.

Also if you decide to go to Bryce (My Favorite NP) I'd do the half day horse/mule ride down into the Canyon its breathtaking. We were all tired by the end the trip but it was oh so worth it. Words can't decribe how AMAZING it was. We also had lunch at the BCNP lodge which was pretty good.

What ever you decide for your family have a fabulous trip - I'm sure you will want to return as I do its such a beautiful part of our country.

Oh and if you don't want to go down as far as Bryce - I would go to Capital Reef NP instead - this was my 3rd favorite park after the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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2. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

I would never forgo a hike just because Hubby can't do them. Let him go golf or something because the rest of you need to at least get to Delicate Arch. The only other long hike you might want to consider is along the Devils Garden. There it is pretty level, though sandy.

If you aren't doing too much hiking then a day in Arches will suffice. A half day for Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) and Dead horse point.

I don't know whether with a bad back a jeep/hummer tour would be a consideration, but a half day river trip would be nice.

You can also take the drive through the LaSals if the road is open, just going up the river and over to Castle Valley is a nice drive.

That might be it for two days there.

Mesa Verde should not be attempted as a day trip from Moab. You'll need to spend the night closer like in Cortez.

If you want to get a good idea about how long a drive will take get familiar with Mapquest or Google maps. They are very close to accurate for between major stops (but not for driving through a natlpark.)

Sedona, AZ
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3. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

I find that a good pace to calculate drive times is to figure about 40-45 miles per hour. There will be many spots where you can drive as fast as 75-85, but for planning purposes, to allow for slower sections and photo stops etc, use my number. You will have to slow down alot in the mountainous areas. And yes, those distances out here are much greater than what you are used to in the East and Midwest.

When you are inside the parks, you'll be driving 25mph or less, and hopefully, making lots of stops and doing the hikes, walks or side excursions. After all, that's what you're there for. Destinations out here are not 'drive by' type places. You can sit sown at a place like Bryce or Canyonlands and just stare for hours and not see everything that's in your view. And let's not even begin to talk about the Grand Canyon...

Park City, Utah
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4. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

You have some great advice so far but a few other points.

- Don't worry about Colorado Monument

- As noted, Mesa Verde isn't really a daytrip. If you want to see cliff dwellings, there's many accessible ruins in Canyonlands (Aztec Butte) or some nice ruins an hour south of Moab in Blanding.

- For sure don't miss the Delicate Arch hike. We've taken people with all sorts of weight and other disabilities and they've loved it.

- I suspect the kids would LOVE one of the canyoneering adventures offered by Cliffs and Canyons in Moab. Ephedro's Grotto offers you two really cool rappels.

- If you do go over to Bryce/Zion, my advice on your timeframe is to JUST do Bryce and stay there at Ruby's. You don't have time to realistically explore Zion.

- If you do go over there, stop at Little Wild Horse Canyon (near Goblin Valley State Park) to hike Utah's most accessible slot canyon. Allow five hours for the drive over there plus three to do the canyon (or less). Just go in and back, don't do the loop through Bell.

All in all, given your timeframe, I would recommend just doing the Moab area. We often hit Little Wild Horse on the way back home. It's not exactly on the route back to SLC, but worth the 45 minute (each way) sidetrip.

Have fun.

St. George, Utah
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5. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

I agree with TKelly. There is SO much to do in Moab, you don't need to go anywhere else. And it's only a little over 3 hours from SLC.

It sounds like your son would like the bike riding - but even though Moab is bike-rider mecca, it is really really technically challenging. Imagine coming down a really course (rough) rock face into a sand dune. It stops you dead. The best way to see the slick rock (which is what they call these rough, petrified sand dunes) is on a Hummer tour. Spring for the $80 per person and save on medical bills for you and your daughter. You'll never forget the Hummer ride at either HighPoint or MoabAdventure Center (you can wait til you get there to decide).

Most of the arches can be seen from your car, but the kids may want to discover them up close. Be sure to find Sand Dune arch for them. But don't let them climb back to the car over the fins. Our kids did that and it took them hours, AND scared their parents to death while they were gone.

Drive up the canyon to Red Cliffs Lodge and maybe go horseback riding. Be sure to check out the free movie museum there. The views are incredible.

Make sure you stop at Dead Horse if you go up to Canyonlands.

Zion and Bryce make sense too.

I'd say Moab for the whole time, or split the time between Zion and Bryce.

Oh, and you picked a great hotel right in the middle of downtown action. Eat at the Italian restaurant on the corner. It's one of the best ANYwhere!

I guarantee, you'll fill up the days with Moab as a base, and you won't want to leave! A full day at Arches, a day at Canyonlands and a day playing (driving up the canyon, and playing on the slickrock or rafting).

Rafting is more of a float though in this area, and we've had a lot of snow this winter, so in April, the river will be pretty high, faster than usual, cold and muddy.

Moab, Utah
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6. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Most rafting companies start around April 1st.

Spring run off usually doesn't start until early May.

It's a great place to raft. Far more than a "float through" if done correctly.

Here's a link to a thread with a discussion of the rafting.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60724-i814-k23976…

Dundee, Michigan
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7. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Thanks so much to all of you for the terrific advice. I have much research to do based on your recommendations, and I really appreciate your input! : )

BTW, my husband and son insisted that we spend at least one night in CO since we have never been in that state either, so we are going over to Grand Junction for one night and we will probably drive over to Grand Mesa. That will still give us almost three days in Moab, and we are really excited!

St. George, Utah
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8. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Caution: April is a real iffy month in the Rockies of Colorado. It could be beautiful, or it might be like a January snowstorm. The mesa area is quite high in elevation, and might be best seen from the valley.

If you want to experience some of the Rockies: if the weather is nice, drive through the La Sal mountains, east to Ouray Colorado. They say Ouray has a view similar to the Swiss Alps. You can also continue another 30 miles south toward Silverton to 11,000' Red Mountain pass (just to experience it). Then backtrack north to Grand Junction. Also, just on the southern edge of town is a cool waterfall, and an ice climbing park (which may be melted by April)

GJ is a very cute city - with lots of artwork on the sidewalks downtown. However... for a more historic town, if weather allows you to cut over the Mesa (from Delta on 65) to Glenwood Springs and overnight there - you might enjoy that. The kids would love playing in the pool (after a LONG day of driving)! Also, before heading back west, drive on I-70 a few miles to the east and look at the amazing cantilevered freeway that was built in the 60's. It's almost as cool as the parks. The entire cantilever was built at the plant and hauled to the canyon. It was a remarkable bit of engineering.

The fastest way to Grand Junction is just shooting up 128 (which is WAY beautiful along the Colorado).. but the other long route gives you a completely different set of forests, elevations and mountain scenes - but takes many more hours.

Endless Mountains...
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9. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Utahmaka stated "most of the arches can be seen from your car" If thats true I must have visited a different Arches.

Most the famous and most visited have to be hiked to.Devils garden has about a dozen including whats left of Wall arch,Landscape arch one of the biggest

and about a dozen more.

This place is packed with hikers,hiking out about 1 mile or more to some of them on very sandy trails.

Arches (the most famous)about a 30 minute hike one way.Did them all....or should I say I hiked them all...Maybe 2 or 3 from car......

Moab, Utah
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10. Re: How Many Days in Moab?

Arches National Park has over 2200 named arches within the park boundrys. The idea that anyone see most of anything from a car is ______ I'll let each of you fill in the blank.