Looking to spend a weekend in Moab? Canyonlands and Arches National Park are truly amazing, and you can easily see the highlights of both parks with just two days in Moab. With unique rock formations, dramatic desert landscapes and sweeping canyon views, these parks should definitely not be missed! Keep reading for my itinerary and tips for 2 days in Moab and my guide to hitting both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in one weekend.
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PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 0-1
2 Days in Moab – Itinerary:
Day 1: Dead Horse Point State Park & Canyonlands National Park
Day 2: Arches National Park
How to Get to Moab
To get to Moab, you should rent a car and drive from the airport. The closest airports to Moab are:
Salt Lake City (SLC): ~4 hour drive to MoabDenver (DEN): ~6 hour drive to Moab
I drove from Denver, and it was a super scenic and easy drive!
Where to Stay in Moab
You basically have 4 options for lodging in the area:
CampingGlampingHotel in MoabAirBNB in Moab
If you want to camp, I hear that Devils Garden Campground in Arches National Park is a beautiful spot. You can book reservations up to 6 months in advance on Recreation.gov. These campground sites tend to book up far in advance, so if you are planning your trip more last minute, this may not be an option.
Glamping in Moab:
If you want a taste of sleeping in the great outdoors but with a bit more luxury (or if the campgrounds are already booked) I definitely recommend Under Canvas Moab. This is where we stayed and we absolutely loved it!
It’s in a central location – about 10 minutes away from the entrance of Arches National Park and about 20 minutes away from downtown Moab. The staff will greet you by golfcart when you arrive and take your bags to your tent. Inside your glamping tent includes a comfy king-size bed, outlets and a mini wood burning stove. Depending on which kind of tent you book, it can hold up to 4-6 people.
There is free coffee and tea in the lobby tent, as well as board games and a sitting area to hang out. They also build a campfire in the evening with free smore’s and live music!
Hotel/Airbnb in Moab:
If you want more of the comforts of home and/or want to be closer to town, there are several great and affordable hotel and Airbnb options. (If it’s your first time using Airbnb, use this link to book and you’ll get $40 off!)
I’ve heard great things about Rustic Innin downtown Moab.
Moab Itinerary – Day 1:
Dead Horse Point State Park
Choose a flight that lands early in the morning to maximize your day. Once you land and get your rental car, drive straight to your first destination- Dead Horse Point State Park. This state park has a beautiful sweeping view of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park from above. It costs $20 per car to enter (worth it for the views!) and you can drive up to the parking lot and take the paved rim trail to walk around and check out the view from various lookout points. I recommend stopping to buy snacks/lunch on your roadtrip so that you can have a little picnic here. Dead Horse Point State Park is gorgeous and is a great first stop on your trip to Moab!
Canyonlands National Park
From Dead Horse Point State Park you are conviently-located to Canyonlands National Park. You likely won’t have cell service up here to use Google Maps, but if you follow the signs you should be able to easily find the entrance to Canyonlands National Park from Dead Horse Point State Park. Simply head back the way you came towards Moab, but instead of turning right to go back down to the main road, turn left to take the road to Canyonlands National Park. The park entrance fee is $25 per car but covers both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park and is good for 7 days.
Canyonlands National Park is HUGE and has 3 distinct areas, but in the interest of time I recommend sticking to the "Island in the Sky" area.
First, head to the main attraction of the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands NP – the Mesa Arch. You’ll find this trailhead 6.3 miles south of the park entrance on your left side. Walk along this short half- mile trail until you reach the Mesa Arch for some breathtaking views and your first arch sighting of the trip! We spent about 30 minutes at Mesa Arch just hanging out and enjoying the scenery.
If you have time after the Mesa Arch, another popular trail is the 2-mile roundtrip hike along the rim trail to Grand View Point. Personally, we didn’t have time to do this, but I’ve heard (and seen pictures) of the beautiful views from this trail!
Next, check in to where you are staying and then head into Moab for some dinner and drinks.
I recommend going to Moab Brewery for drinks and food on your first night in Moab. The food menu is extensive and is pretty good for bar food. Just a heads up – Utah has some pretty strict laws about alcohol percentage, so any draft beer in a bar or any canned/bottled beer in the grocery stores will be watered down. The same rings true for Moab Brewery – we ordered a flight of beers not realizing about this rule, and could definitely tell the difference!
HOWEVER- if you want a full-strength beer, you can order the canned IPA or the Wheat Ale from Moab Brewery. We loved them, and even bought a few to take back to our campsite!
Stop by the Village Market to get any snacks for tomorrow. Get a good nights sleep tonight, because tomorrow will be an adventurous day!
Day 2: Arches National Park + Mill Canyon
1. Delicate Arch
The most popular and iconic attraction at Arches National Park is the Delicate Arch. This arch is even featured on the Utah license plates! If you want to avoid the crowds and have an unforgettable experience, I recommend waking up early to hike to the Delicate Arch for sunrise. It’s hard to get out of bed when it’s still dark outside (and it’s typically cold in the mornings!) but trust me – it’s SO worth it.
Check what time the sun rises while you are there (we were there in March and it was around 7am) and plan to arrive at the park entrance about 1.5-2 hours before then. The trailhead is about a 30 minute drive from the park entrance (follow the signs and also put "Delicate Arch" in your Google Maps before losing service in the park). There’s a parking lot at the trailhead. You’ll cross a small bridge and then follow the trail up. Don’t forget to bring a headlamp so you can see in the dark while hiking.
The hike is 1.5 miles and is mostly uphill. The signs and trail markers kind of die off about 3/4 of the way into the hike, so it can get a bit confusing towards the end. Be on the lookout for cairns to guide the way. The last part of the hike is a narrow trail that has a dropoff on the left side, so be careful! (picture below is from the hike back, so the drop off is on the right side). You’ll likely encounter a few other hikers at sunrise too, so if you’re worried about getting lost, don’t be!
The view of Delicate Arch is truly amazing, especially at sunrise. The sun rises on the left side of the arch, and it really brings out all sort of colors on the red rocks that you don’t see in the day time. It was SO nice to be in this amazing setting without the crazy crowds that appear there in the afternoon (there were only about 15-20 other hikers sharing the sunrise view with us). We spent about an hour here just hanging out, taking pictures and enjoying the view.
2. Devil’s Garden
After you get back to the parking lot, check out one more area before heading to breakfast in town. I recommend going to Devil’s Garden, located further into the park. Devil’s Garden is a super scenic area with a dirt trail winding through huge boulders and several arch formations. It’s a 7.5 mile loop trail, but we just did about 2 miles (to the Landscape Arch and back). We found this area to be really tranquil in the morning, as there were barely any people there and the views are very unique!
The trail starts off taking you to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch before you wind your way around to Landscape Arch, which is the longest arch in the park (and the 5th longest in the world!) stretching 306 feet.
3. Breakfast in Moab
After your time at Devil’s Garden, head into town and get some breakfast. We went to Peace Tree Cafe which was delicious and has some relatively healthy options. I’ve also heard great things about Moab Diner.
After your adventurous morning, I recommend chilling out a bit in town or taking a nap back where you are staying. The afternoon is one of the busiest times in the park, so you might as well wait out the crowds for a bit before going back in. When driving back to Under Canvas Moab, we saw a huge line of cars waiting to enter Arches National Park – you definitely don’t want to waste time being stuck in that line! Take this time to head to Sweet Cravings Bakery + Bistro to pick up a sandwich to eat later for a sunset dinner in the park. I got the "Delicate Arch Sandwich" and it was delicious! If you’re staying at Under Canvas Moab, they have coolers you can borrow on site. Stop by the Village Market to get some ice, and then make a little cooler for yourself once you get back to keep your sandwiches and drinks chilled for dinner time later.
4. Mill Canyon – Dinosaur Fossils!
While you wait for the crowds to die down at Arches National Park, consider checking out Mill Canyon to walk along this short trail that has dinosaur fossils in the rocks. The area of Moab is known to be a place where dinosaurs roamed back in the day, and there are a few spots where you can see these fossils or footprints for yourself. Mill Canyon is about 16 miles from Moab. You’ll turn off the main road onto a bumpy dirt road for a while until you reach the trailhead. It’s a super short trail with signs along the way to show you the fossils that are literally lodged into these rock formations! It’s super cool to be able to see this out in nature vs in a museum. My pictures don’t really do it justice, but go see for yourself!
5. Balanced Rock
Head back into Arches National Park (with your cooler!) a few hours before sunset to check out some more sites. First stop- Balanced Rock. This site is located right off the main road, about 9 miles from the park entrance. The informational signs noted that eventually, the rock that’s balancing on top will fall off! Take the short little trail around it and check out the views.
6. Sand Dune Arch
Next, head to Sand Dune Arch. This arch is unique because you walk through the sand to get to it. It’s also in a shady spot so is a nice repreive from the hot sun.
7. Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Next, head back towards the Delicate Arch but this time, drive past the trailhead parking lot you were at earlier and head to the viewpoint trail a bit past it. Hike up this short trail to get a different view of the Delicate Arch from afar! (and notice the crowds from across the way and be glad that you went at sunrise!)
7. Windows Section for Sunset
Lastly- head to the Windows section of the park. This is where I recommend watching the sunset. I really loved this area of the park- there are 3 main arches here (North Window, South Window and Turret Arch) that you can see while walking along a main trail.
We found a rock to sit on near the Turret Arch to watch the sunset while eating our sandwiches and drinking our Moab Brewery beers! Such an amazing way to end your last day in Moab.
Other Tips for Your Weekend in Moab:
1. Make sure you have enough gas when driving around these national parks! We almost ran out of gas driving up to Canyonlands National Park and had to backtrack when we were half-way up to come back down and get gas.
2. Bring plenty of water when hiking around! There is little shade in this area
3. Wear sunscreen!
4. Bring layers – it gets chilly at night
5. Don’t go on a holiday weekend. I hear the line of cars to get in Arches National Park can get CRAZY
Packing for Your Weekend Trip to Moab:
A few of my favorite things that I had for this trip:
GoPro– To take epic group pictures
Ahnu Sugarpine Hiking Boots
Cliff Bar Energy Chews– To keep you energized on that sunrise hike!
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