Hike the National Parks

No matter the season, no three-day weekend trip to Moab is complete without visiting at least one of the two stunning nearby national parks, Arches and Canyonlands. The parks are open year-round, and while it is possible to take in the wonder of the wild attractions simply from your car window, you should opt to hike one of the many renowned trails, like to iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, or through the winding paths of the Windows Area. You’ll enjoy cooler hiking weather, fewer crowds, and the feeling that you have a national park all to yourself (and, you really might).

Visit Dead Horse Point State Park

While Arches and Canyonlands deservedly stand out when it comes to must-see Moab destinations, Dead Horse Point State Park, located near Canyonlands, shouldn’t be overlooked. You should especially consider visiting the park if you are bringing your four-legged friend, as it is largely a dog-friendly destination. Dead Horse Point sits on a high plateau and features a vast canyon rim where you can sightsee for miles. At night, the state park transforms into a certified International Dark Sky Park, where you’ll more than likely lose track of counting shooting stars. It’s also worth taking advantage of park-staff-guided events like full moon hikes and star parties that happen on a semi-regular basis, pending weather and other restrictions (be sure to check at the visitor center.)

Arches National Park HikerFamily Hiking in Arches National Park

Enjoy a (Mostly) Leisurely River Trip

Colorado River ActivitiesRafting and Kayaking on the Colorado River Near Moab

The Colorado and Green rivers are responsible for helping carve the winding landscapes that define the Moab terrain, and there’s no better way to see the sculpted walls of the Colorado Plateau than up close and personal in a river raft. While rafting trips on the Green River typically close by the fall season, guided trips on the Colorado don’t end until water levels get too low in late October. Fall is the preferred time of year for many three-day weekend visitors to take a trip down the storied river, as the later months offer a mellower experience without the extreme thrills that often come with tumultuous summertime rapids. Enjoy a rafting trip at a (relatively) leisure pace, giving you more time to admire the red rock pinnacles, wildlife, and petroglyphs visible near the river’s edge. Rafting tours vary in length from a few hours long to multi-day trips.

Cover More Ground on a Mountain Bike

There’s a lot to see in Moab’s immense wilderness, and renting a mountain bike (at any number of outdoor retailers on Main Street) might be the solution to exploring as much backcountry as possible on your weekend getaway. Seasoned mountain bikers come from far and wide to enjoy Moab’s endless trail systems, but mountain biking is accessible for people of all experience levels, particularly when visiting with such pleasant temperatures. Are you traveling with a group with varying mountain biking experience? Check out the Bar-M Loop, a scenic, accessible beginner trail that’s open year-round and connects to several more advanced trails, should the experienced biker in the group wish to break off to conquer more technical terrain.

Mountain Biking near MoabMountain Biking on the Klondike Bluff Trail near Moab

Follow the Cowboys

Saddle up! Get off the beaten path and step back in time to experience the spiraling towers and river valleys of Moab’s sandstone vistas on a horseback riding tour – taking the same paths as some of history’s most (in)famous cowboys. Professional wranglers will guide you through these scenic, open-range trails, which meander through hallowed Western ground and take you everywhere from the vast Castle Rock and Castle Valley, to Fisher Towers, to the banks and creeks of the Colorado River. There are a range of tours available, from 90-minute rides to half-day adventures. It might be difficult to take your eyes off the infinite landscape as your guide points out historic desert hideouts, along with more contemporary Western movie sets. Most tours run through November—note that fall temperatures can fluctuate significantly, so be prepared with layering options (flannels and cowboy hats not provided.)

To find out more visit discovermoab.com.

Horseback Riding in Moab


Moab Brand Trails

Moab Brand Trails View from the Moab Brand Trails

A popular mountain biking spot just a few miles north of town, the Moab Brand trails are a great place to get your feet wet (or dusty, more accurately). While there are several trails in the network better left for more experienced riders, beginners are sure to enjoy the one-way Lazy/EZ loop that lets riders get a taste of Moab without getting in over their heads in technical terrain—or having to worry about oncoming traffic.

If you’re looking for a step up difficulty-wise from Lazy/EZ, try your hand at the North 40 trail—the terrain is similar, but you’ll find more ups, downs, and bike-handling challenges through the twists, turns, and broken rocks.

mountain biking for beginners Bar M Mountain Biking Trail near Moab, Utah.

To get there, take Highway 191 about 9.5 miles north of town, and take a right on BLM 261. You’ll make another immediate right, then backtrack on BLM 261 for a half-mile before turning left on a well-worn gravel road that leads straight into the trailhead parking lot. In-shape riders who don’t mind adding some pavement miles can also pedal straight from town on the paved Moab Canyon Pathway, which connects to Seven Mile Flat a quarter-mile from the trailhead.

Klonzo Trails

Less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Moab, the Klonzo trail system offers a huge variety of mountain biking for beginners. Most of the trails are relatively short, which makes it easy to piece together loops of varying lengths to match your fitness and bravery levels (as well as easily redirect course, should you find yourself on a trail that’s a bit more of a challenge than you’re looking for).

The Klonzo network spans across both sides of Willow Springs Road—the easiest trails are on the south side, while the trails on the north side feature slightly more technical terrain. Don’t be nervous, though—the vast majority of the north side is still rideable by a beginner who doesn’t mind dismounting their mountain bike for the occasional tricky section. The entire area is well-marked, with plenty of maps, signs, and color-coded lines designating the route on the slickrock sections of each trail.

To access this trail network, take Highway 191 north of town for just over 12 miles, until Willow Springs Road branches off to the right. Stay on the main dirt road for about 2.5 miles, and you’ll see the main trailhead and parking area to your left. The first lot sometimes fills up—if that’s the case, stay on the dirt road for another quarter-mile or so and you’ll see an additional parking area, also on the left. A word of caution: the dirt road crosses Courthouse Wash, which may have deep, loose sand.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park The view from the main overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most photographed vistas in Utah.

Dead Horse Point has become a can’t-miss mountain biking destination—the moderate drive away from Moab (and the nominal park-entrance fee) mean it’s less crowded than other popular beginner-friendly riding destinations in the area. The park’s elevation is also about 1,500 feet higher than Moab proper, which keeps the temperature about 10 degrees cooler—something to keep in mind when planning what layers you’re planning to bring on your ride.

Mountain bikers at Dead Horse Point State Park. The La Sal Mountains, Utah’s second highest mountain range, are clearly visible from Dead Horse Point State Park.

Beginners will want to start on the trails on the east side of the main park road; the Great Pyramid to Raven Roll loop is a great place to warm up, and you can easily add the Big Chief trail onto your ride to introduce some confidence-building, lower-intermediate rock features into the mix. If Big Chief leaves you wanting more, connect to the west side of the park via Crossroads and try your hand at Whiptail, Twisted Tree, and Prickly Pair.

Dead Horse Point is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Moab—to get there, drive north of town 11 miles on Highway 191, then turn left on state highway 313. Follow the road for 14.5 miles before making a left to stay on the same highway (you will see signs directing you to the state park). Another 7.5 miles and you’re there—the trailhead shares a parking lot with the park’s visitor center.

Mountain Bikers at Dead Horse Point State Park Mountain bikers take some time to enjoy the view.

These areas offer a great taste of Moab mountain biking for beginners, and will help newer riders build skills and confidence (as well as their overall enjoyment of off-road riding). Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself daydreaming about your next trip—once you’ve ridden here, you’ll want to come back again and again. For trail maps and more information on mountain biking in Moab, visit discovermoab.com.