I’d seen it in postcards and videos, social media had thousands of pictures, but I’d never before visiting Moab in person, and it was on my bucket list.
Whether your passion is mountain biking, marathon running, or simply sitting on a red rock and contemplating life, Moab and the surrounding parks needs to be high on your list of must-visit destinations. Rivers, valleys, arches, spectacular views, excellent cuisine, alpine mountains, this is a slice of heaven, and you don’t want to rush, you want to experience the breathtaking wonder of it all.
Besides the red rock beauty and landscapes that defy description, Moab lays claim to being the only spot where you can experience two of the five great parks, from one location. Fantastic luck or did some settlers long ago become enraptured by the beauty?
Moab is a destination for adventure travelers worldwide. They come to experience spectacular sunrises over Canyonlands National Park and sunset over the red rocks of Arches National Park that seems transported here from an alien planet.
Moab is a jumping off spot for several of Utah’s most spectacular parks. Minutes from town you are immersed in the otherworldly red rock landscapes that transport, at least emotionally, to other worlds and distant times. Less than an hour away is what, until you visit in person, you’ll believe it only exists in the minds of fantasy writers, the Island in the Sky, part of Canyonlands National Park. Sitting atop the island your gaze encompasses countless acres of beauty filled with distant horizons, red sand, and mushrooming mesas. Gazing into the distance, you can just see Dead Horse Point State Park which offers commanding views of the mighty, meandering Colorado River far below. Looking southward you can see the (only 20 miles) La Sal Mountains, part of Manti-La Sal National Forest towering to 13,000 feet, the second highest peaks in Utah. There is so much to see, and much is beyond mere words, it’s easy to understand why so many filmmakers have chosen this area as a backdrop.
I wanted to have an adventure that would last a lifetime, and I wanted to share it with someone I love, so this is our story. Winter was easing its grip and hints of spring were in the air as we crammed as much of our gear as possible into our Subaru and hit the road for Moab. It’s true that getting there is half the fun, but in this case, both of us were yearning for the red rocks of the west.
SUGGESTION: If you arrive by plane, or simply want to save a bit of wear and tear on your vehicle, check out Twisted Jeeps rentals, you won’t be sorry. If you have the time and inclination, check out your ride and skills on nearby, slick rocked, Hells Revenge. It’s a short six-mile road, minutes from Moab, but the average driver takes hours to navigate the twisting road and sharp, scary drop-offs.
Sunrise is almost too late to get started, there are choices to make, coffee to drink and destinations to choose, and we were both jazzed to be here and to look forward to what was to come.
After a good breakfast and plenty of coffee, it was early; we’d made our decision, we’d head to one of the Talking Mountain Yurts in the La Sal Mountains. With winter quickly ebbing, we decided to ski one last time, both for the thrill and also the fact the trail, a 2.5-mile slope, took us deep into the backcountry. We ended the ski at the Gold Basin yurt, elevation 10,000 feet. We were a little winded, but the exhilaration of the ski and the aspens warmed us with emotion.
SIDETRIP: While We didn’t take this trip, if you’re a mountain biker (and you likely are if you’re reading this), consider heading to the Jimmy Keen Flat Yurt overlooking Castle Valley and the Colorado. This is the perfect jumping off spot for bikers and hikers.
If you’ve come all the way to Moab, I guess you know you need time to explore the area. While a day trip is fine if you’re in a rush, an immersion experience allows you to free yourself from the hustle of life and slow down to the pace of the outdoors. And we did just that, taking a day in the yurt to unwind and contemplate where we fit in the scheme of things.
After our time unwinding, then hiking out, we hooked up with Red RiverVentures for a day on the Colorado. First class people who were friendly, helpful and full of information about the area, the history and the best places to visit. Whether you’re in for a wild or gentle ride will depend on the time of year and flow of the river. No matter, it’s a trip well worth taking.
Moab Under Canvas
Without a doubt we were both having the time of our lives, biking, skiing, hiking, rafting, nights under the stars, could we ask for anything more? Well yeah, we could, a dynamite meal and a little pampering, all available at Moab Under Canvas, located on 40 pristine acres, near both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. This is camping for kings, flushing toilets, great food, spectacular views and soft pillows while still sleeping under the stars. Don’t miss this, in fact, if you do nothing else, spend a night here.
The Rock Climbing Chef
Every trip has to end, but we wanted to end ours with something unique and memorable, and nothing could be more so than dinner at the Desert Bistro, run by rock climbing guide, author and chef Karl Kelley and his pastry chef wife, Michelle. This was an experience that cannot be described in words, delicious food, friendly people, quiet elegance and the thought that not only did the owners share your love for food, but also your spirit of adventure.
As I write this, I realize that this is truly one of the most enjoyable adventure holidays I’ve ever taken. To be with the love of my life, while exploring the wonders of nature is something that I hope everyone can accomplish, at least once in their lives.