There is no other place like Moab, Utah. Just Google, Moab, and no other place appears other than the images of stone arches iconic with the western landscape. Of course this is just a hint as what Moab can offer in ways of natural beauty and outdoor playgrounds. While there is an airport with limited flights, for mobility sake, driving in is the best way to get to and around Moab and its three parks, Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point.
You may want to leave your car and go for a Hummer adventure with Eric at the Moab Adventure Center, over, up and down on Hell’s Revenge of Sand Flats. The soft adventure ride in a remarkable vehicle is an eye opening experience to take in the vistas and rough terrain. Along the way you may be privy to your guide pointing out ancient dinosaur tracks preserved in stone, where once water covered this now arid landscape. Moab Adventure Center offers several Moab excursions, including rock climbing and repelling.
But for sheer relaxation and the chance to marvel at the work of Mother Nature in wind and water Arches National Park is your destination. I was surprised at how many Arches can be seen from the parks roadway and with several parking turn outs, only a few minutes walk to be able to stand beneath near timeless beauty. The arches are growing and dying at a millennium pace ~ where rock crevasses now will someday become see-through arches.
And for the more adventurous and hardy hikers there are many arches and natural wonders far from easy access. One such is called Delicate Arch, which is used as the park system icon of Utah. It is an ironic title, as it is not the thinnest or most fragile of arches – far from it. It’s irony is the march up over a 480 ft elevation and over a mile and a half trek is not for the delicate of constitutions. Be advised, it is an arduous journey. Some say the view of this mountain top arch is more than worth the effort – but I feel many, like me, did not know what they were getting into, before starting the trek. Part of the exhaustion may be with tourists not familiar with the 4ooo foot starting elevation.
A much easier and as pleasant a view is accomplished at Mesa Arch, where the expanse of the canyon below is framed by an approachable arch – in appropriate proportions. Indeed this is a spot to pause, meditate and reflect. While this Arch was not as crowded as Delicate Arch, it is still a tourist Mecca and thus waiting out your solitude is worth the investment.
It is appropriate that Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park have been the back drop for many movies from John Ford epics to Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible” repel. The memorable “Thelma and Louise” supposed Grand Canyon car leap was actually filmed in Dead Horse Point State Park. Soon you’ll see, “The Lone Ranger” with John Depp, which was also filmed here.
For other transportation modes you can have a white water raft ride, a horseback experience at Red Cliffs Lodge, mountain biking, exploring for petroglyphs or a lazy river boat ride. Information is available at the Moab visitor center and more in the park where a Ranger like Gretchen Wise explains the vistas of Grand Viewpoint. Touring this area should not be expected to be covered in 2 days. Give yourself more time of relaxation, and staying at the Best Western Plus Canyonlands in downtown Moab is an optimum hub for your travels.
An evening out with fine dining is recommended at the Sunset Grill Restaurant with cliff side views of Moab or at the isolated Sorrel River Ranch Grill where majestic buttes stand vigil over this section of the Wild West. I celebrated the West with a Sorrel River Martini of basil, lime, vodka and bitters (the color of the murky green river) to accompany my Iceberg Wedge salad with roasted corn, bacon and shredded red onion, which preceded my pine nut crusted Colorado double lamb chop with ancho chili, tomato chutney, asparagus and fried tortilla. The atmosphere at Sorrel River Ranch is worth the trip.
And while Moab and its stone attractions had long been on my bucket list, I can’t really check it off, as there is more to explore and take in next time with the expansive visual bounty of these natural wonders. I think you’ll agree, there is no other place like it.
Before you go check out: