Day Trip to Moab

Grand Junction might be known for its abundant wine varietals and mountain bike trails, but its central location makes Grand Junction an ideal home base for blockbuster day trips.

Some of the world’s most stunning and exquisitely carved red rock landscapes can be found just over the Colorado/Utah border.

Getting There and Back

Driving to Moab is half the fun. Depending on your route, a one-way trip from Grand Junction to downtown Moab is just over 100 miles and takes less than two hours. The main thoroughfare, I-70 W to US-191 S, is the quickest and most direct route. Kids will appreciate a pit stop in nearby Fruita, home to the Dinosaur Journey Museum and other fun finds.

For those that seek the road less traveled, allocate an additional 15 minutes (one way) and take the picturesque Upper Colorado Scenic Byway U-128 W. The views are spectacular (especially during sunrise) and definitely worth the added travel time. For bonus thrills, consider renting a motorcycle from EagleRider, making the journey just as exciting as the destination!

Adventures Abound

A mecca for outdoor activity, Moab is home to many playgrounds, including two national parks and one incredible state park. Arches National Park, the world’s largest concentration of natural stone openings, is dotted with more than 2,000 delicately balanced colossal sandstone arches. Climb and canyoneer through a labyrinth of monolithic rock gardens, or for those seeking a more relaxed approach, navigate through more than 15 hiking trails and various paved roads. Best seen at sunset, don’t miss the unofficial symbol of Utah — the celebrated Delicate Arch.

The 1,000-foot-tall mesa known as the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park boasts spellbinding views of multicolored canyons 100 miles out in any given direction — arguably surpassing views seen atop the Grand Canyon. White Rim Road, a 100-mile stretch of awesome mountain biking terrain, can also be found within Island in the Sky. The Colorado and Green Rivers below provide added methods for exploration (and cooling off), including rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or the ever-popular jet boat touring.

Yet another distinct vantage of Canyonlands can be seen from one of the most photographed vistas in the world at Dead Horse Point State Park. The park towers 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and overlooks a breathtaking panorama of soaring spires and chiseled buttes. Its famed Intrepid Trail System is made up of three hiking and singletrack mountain biking loops, each with varying degrees of difficulty. Before you embark on your Moab adventure, consider renting a bike from Grand Junction-based The Board & Buckle or Brown Cycles — it will save you time and money.

Culture and Cuisine

Entertainment doesn’t stop short of park boundaries. Recreational adventure shops, quaint souvenir stores and restaurants serving up classic Southwestern cuisine bedeck Main Street, making downtown Moab just as attractive as its surroundings.

A favorite among locals and visitors alike, Moab Brewery serves up award-winning brews and a host of affordable lunch and dinner fare. Desert Bistro, located just one block from Main Street in Moab’s original 1892 dance hall, specializes in evening dishes that are both adventurous and “out-of-the-norm.” Moab’s fertile, sandy soils and extended growing season produce exquisite varietals, so be sure to stop by Castle Creek Winery and Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery to see how their selections compare to that of Colorado’s Wine Country.

Art is an important fabric in the city’s cultural heritage. In fact, Moab is believed to have more artists-per-capita than any other town in America. Local artisans display their creations in various shops and galleries throughout the city, while other artists (of the prehistoric kind) prefer to showcase their work on historic rock faces — also known as rock art. Examples of thousand-year-old petroglyphs and pictographs can be seen along the Colorado River and other sites noted on this map, and since many are located outside park boundaries, viewing them is free. For an indoor history lesson, stop by the Museum of Moab, featuring exhibits about local geology, paleontology, archeology, pioneer history and mining  — perfect for all ages!

Expert Tips

  • Rentals - Renting equipment and gear in Moab is usually more expensive and requires an added trip back to town. Consider renting gear through Grand Junction rec shops before you head out, or find out if any local Grand Junction businesses offer a guided rendition of the adventure you're seeking.
  • Weather - Moab is a high desert, meaning temperature swings and wind gusts could be drastic. Pack accordingly.
  • Sun Protection - Apply sunscreen and pack those aviators, very little will stand between you and the sun.
  • Pet Restrictions - Before you embark with your pup in tow, be sure to check the park’s pet policy. Dogs are not allowed in Moab’s national parks.
  • Camera - Charge your camera and be sure you have enough memory — Moab is a photographer’s dream.