Moab gets a bad wrap as an expensive town and it can get very expensive to stay and play, especially during peak times. The cheapest time you can visit is during the winter because hotel rates are a third of what they are the rest of the year. Hotel prices are generally the lowest from December – February and will start to raise in March. However, I have also seen cheaper hotel rates available in Green River Utah, which is less than an hour from Moab. You can also find various campgrounds in Moab for cheaper alternative. Here are some of our favorite things to check out in Moab that won't break the bank:
1. Arches National Park – Located just outside of Moab is a must see. You will find more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Be sure to hike the iconic Delicate Arch. It's 3 miles round trip and moderate difficulty. However, this is a very popular trail and can get very busy. Some other favorite family friendly hikes include: Double Arch, North & South Window, Sand Dune Arch, and Skyline arch.
Cost: Park entrance is $30 per vehicle. Go here to see about free entrance options. Note that Arches National Park has a reservations system. To enter the park from April – October, 2023 you'll need a timed entry ticket that must be reserved in advance. Reservations will become available to reserve 3 months in advance. Reservations are NOT required during the winter months.
Location: 5 miles north of Moab, Utah
2. Canyonlands National Park – This park has some of the most gorgeous landscape viewpoints. It is the largest National Park in Utah. Some of our favorite family friendly hikes include: Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, Aztec Butte, and Grand View Point Overlook.
Cost: Park entrance is $30 per vehicle. Go here to see about free entrance options.
Location: 32 miles north of Moab, Utah
3. Dead Horse Point – This park has huge vertical cliffs from canyons carved by ice, water, and wind that overlooks to the Colorado River. The view from the Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Some of our favorite family friendly hikes include: Dead Horse Point Short Loop Trail, Big Horn Overlook Trail, East Rim Trail, and West Rim Trail.
Cost: Park entrance is $20 per vehicle (Did you know Salt Lake County Libraries allow you to check out a State Park Pass for free? You can check out a pass for a week that gets your vehicle in any State Park free. These become available on Wednesday mornings and are known to go fast. Contact your local library to find out more).
Location: 9 miles northwest of Moab on US 191
4. Corona Arch – This arch is just as spectacular as Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, but it's a lot less crowded and free. Plus, we felt like the trail is much more interesting and fun to hike with railroad tracks, ladders, and ropes to climb. This trail is 3 miles and a moderate difficulty that can easily be done as a family. Plus, you can checkout Bowtie Arch right next to Corona Arch, so you get two for one hike!
Location: From Moab, take US-191 North for 4 miles. Turn left onto UT-279 South. Follow UT-279 for 10 miles.
5. Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail – This family friendly walk is just over a mile and includes interpretive panels along the trail that describes features along the trail including dinosaur bones and petrified wood. The dinosaur bones are fun to spot amongst the rocks, however, the fossils are small for the most part and blend into the rocks. Dinosaur fans will enjoy this walk.
Location: 15 miles north of Moab on Hwy 191. Turn left on the dirt road marked Mill Canyon. Follow signs for the next 0.8 miles to the parking lot for the trail.
6. Moab Giants – This is a great stop for dinosaur enthusiasts. Dinosaurs roam this beautiful desert with an outdoor trail that includes 100 life-size dinosaurs. There's also a playground, area to dig for fossils, 5D prehistoric aquarium, 3D theater and more.
Cost: Prices start at $24 with a family pass for $75
Location: 112 West SR-313, Moab, UT
7. Wilson Arch – This arch is right off the highway and can be viewed from your car at the pull-off. However, it is worth the short 0.5 mile hike to get up close, but it does get steep to hike inside the arch. This arch is also popular for rappelling.
Location: Located 24 miles south of Moab, Utah along US-191. It is visible from the road to the east where there are turnouts and interpretive signs.
8. Scenic Utah Byway State Route 128 – This is a beautiful drive along the Colorado River gorge and begins at the Colorado River Bridge on the north end of Moab. This route takes you to the sixth-longest natural rock span in the United States. It is 44.6 miles long. You will find the Movie Museum (#9 on our list) along this route along with Cisco Ghost town, various trails, historic Dewey Bridge, Lions Bouldering Park and more.
Location: Two miles North of Moab
9. Movie Museum – Did you know Thelma & Louise was filmed in Moab? Along with many John Wayne films. This small museum is located inside Red Cliffs Lodge and contains exhibits about films (mostly Westerns) filmed in Moab.
Location: Red Cliffs Lodge; Milepost 14, Highway 128
10. Matheson Wetland Preserve – This lush oasis has over 200 species of birds, amphibians, and aquatic mammals. You can hike this preserve while observing wildlife on a 1-mile boardwalk trail.
Location: 934 Kane Creek Blvd, Moab
11. Ken's Lake – This amazing lake has the La Sal Mountain peaks and Moab Rim redrock as it's backdrop. Plenty of beachy areas and you can even take a short walk to the Faux Falls where the water cascades down from Mill Creek Canyon. Swimming, fishing and paddling are popular here.
Cost: Free, but camping requires a fee
Location: Just 10 miles South of Moab
12. Newspaper Rock – Contains one of the largest collections of multi-cultural ancestral rock carvings in Utah with over 100 rock carvings from over 1500 years ago. There is a picnic area across the highway.
Location: Located on Hwy 211, 25 miles before the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.