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Moab is flanked by two national parks and one state park and is a Mecca for those that love the great outdoors. A small city near the Colorado border in eastern Utah, the four-hour drive from Salt Lake City or the 300-mile trek from Breckenridge makes it a great long weekend destination.
Most known for its otherworldly rock formations, the unique landscape in this part of Utah begs to be experienced. The region has impressive views and is best known for Arches National Park, north of town, which contains curious brilliant red rock formations and Native American rock art.
To the west of the laid-back town is the enormous Canyonlands National Park, featuring prominent mesas. These overlook the area’s iconic solitary buttes, towering, flat-topped, steep-sided rock formations created by wind and water erosion from the Green and Colorado Rivers.
Popular adventures across these parks include rafting, hiking, 4-wheeling, and mountain biking trails. If you are a geology fan and have the mind of a 6-year-old, check out Penis Rock for a laugh.
In Downtown Moab, the Museum of Moab includes prehistoric artifacts from many of the area’s local archaeological digs. There are petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and fossils in the area. The area is also great for foodies and brew dogs, featuring popular eateries and tap houses.
Whether you want a bit of fresh air and open spaces or are looking for extreme outdoor adventure, Moab, Utah, is the best place to be. And if you are wondering where to stay in Moab, there are numerous hotels and rentals. If you want to experience the local color and culture, there are vacation lodges and rentals.
The search for Moab hotels might be overwhelming for some. But depending on what you want to do, some fantastic choices exist. Here are some of the best Moab accommodation options.
- Best Areas to Stay in Moab
- Where to Stay in Moab, Utah
- 1. Moab City – Downtown
- 2. Moab South Town
- 3. Arches National Park
- 4. Spanish Valley
- 5. Castle Valley
- Tours in Moab
- Is it worth staying in Moab?
- What is the best time of year to stay in Moab?
- Where is a good place to stay in Moab near Arches National Park?
- Luxury Hotel in Moab: Hoodoo Moab By Hilton
- Mid-Range Hotel in Moab: Homewood Suites
- Budget Hotel in Moab: MainStay Suites Moab
- Pet-Friendly Hotel in Moab: Red Cliffs Lodge
- Vacation Rental Option in Moab: This breathtaking modern house near Sky Ranch Airport
- Resort in Moab: Element Moab, the Moab Resort
- Best Campgrounds in Moab: Devils Garden Campground
- Family-Friendly Hotel in Moab: Radcliffe Moab
Best Areas to Stay in Moab
- Area for first-timers/tourists: Moab City – Downtown
- Area for budget travelers: Moab South Town
- Area for luxury travelers: Moab City – Downtown/Castle Valley
- Area for safety: Arches National Park
- Area for families: Moab City – Downtown
- Area for food: Moab City – Downtown
- Area for nightlife: Moab City – Downtown
Where to Stay in Moab, Utah
1. Moab City – Downtown
Moab City’s Downtown area is surprisingly hip, with plenty to see and do if you are taking a rest from the stunning beauty of the Arches National Park. Everything is walkable in this small town, including shops, coffee shops, and restaurants. The WabiSabi Thrift Store is a must-drop-in for trinket hunters visiting Arches National Park.
There are dozens of places to snack and eat downtown, including the Moab Diner for traditional all-day eats. And The Broken Oar restaurant offers American fare in a rustic wood-beamed setting.
This part of central Moab is also home to some of the best hotels and Moab accommodations in all shapes, sizes, budgets, and tastes, from the luxurious Hoodoo Moab to the thrifty Expedition Lodge. Wherever you choose to stay, here are some quirky places to enjoy in Downtown Moab City.
Things to do in Downtown Moab
- Tom Til Gallery is the main gallery of one of the most acclaimed landscape photographers in North America. Known as the Lord of Landscape Photography, Tom Til has published over 30 books and hundreds of thousands of images over his 40-year career.
- Downtown is also home to the Museum of Moab, which houses numerous artifacts and dinosaur fossils discovered in the region. There are also geological and mining exhibits. Curated by the Moab Women’s Literary Club, the Museum of Moab is a great time to spend.
- After you have walked through the town, stop at The Broken Oar for a hearty meal. This rustic, wood-beamed lodge is a local legend in Moab, offering American steaks, pasta, and barbecue.
- While in Moab City, Swanney Park is a local favorite for a little fresh air. This 7-acre park with a large playground is located in downtown Moab. Grab lunch or a coffee at the Sweet Craving Bakery & Bistro and enjoy some quiet time.
- The night sky in Moab is awe-inspiring. Some numerous astronomy-based tours and hikes guide visitors through canyons and parks. If you want to combine photography and the night sky, consider a trip to Arches National Park for a sunset and Night Photography Tour.
- Looking to snag some deals or scratch that retail itch? Check out WabiSabi Thrift Store! This kooky thrift store is a charming stop for any pro-thrifter.
Places to stay in Downtown Moab
Downtown Moab City has some great options for easy accessibility to the city and surrounding areas.
- Budget Hotel in Moab Downtown: Expedition Lodge
- Mid-Range Hotel in Moab Downtown: Homewood Suites
- Luxury Hotel in Moab Downtown: Hoodoo Moab By Hilton
See Related: Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah
2. Moab South Town
South Town is home to the Utah State University Moab campus and the Moab Brewery. The brewery offers an impressive list of crafted brews, including the Dead Horse Amber and the Moab Especial paired with hearty pub grub, all with a side of grits.
This part of town is also where you want to hit up if you feel like wandering some parks, quiet contemplation, or prepping for an adventure. There are a few outfitters and tour operators in South Town, so if you need a kayak or want to plan an adventurous excursion, you’re in the right neighborhood.
Things to do in Moab South town
- If you want something silly to do, check out the Moab City Sign. It is a favorite free tourist attraction and a spot for a great vacation snapshot.
- USU Moab Permaculture Garden demonstrates the interconnectedness of man and the environment in a single garden. Check out the University’s Moab and Logan gardens.
- Moab Brewery Tavern is a local favorite restaurant and microbrewery, and distillery. With almost a dozen ales, stouts, and pilsners on tap. The food is pretty special too!
- If you need to take the kids somewhere to blow off some steam, head off to Rotary Park. This beautiful city park has a playground and a basketball court and is bordered by the serene Mill Creek.
- If you’re looking for a place to hang out with your buddies, visit The Alley Sports Pub and Grill. As well as zesty pub fare, tap & bottled beers, and enough TVs to ensure you don’t miss any game ever, they also offer pool, bowling, and mechanical bull rides!
Places to stay in Moab South town
No matter where you stay, Moab South Town offers options that fit any budget.
- Budget Hotel in Moab South Town: MainStay Suites Moab
- Mid-Range Hotel in Moab South Town: Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn
- Luxury Hotel in Moab South Town: Radcliffe Moab
See Related: Best Restaurants in Moab, Utah
3. Arches National Park
While there are plenty of reasons to visit Moab for Moab’s sake, most people visit this lovely little town for its access to nearby national parks, particularly Arches National Park.
Arches National Park, roughly 15 miles north of Moab city central, is one of the United States’ most popular National Parks. It is a 120-square-mile area of indescribable beauty.
The alien landscape and iconic rock formations are both puzzling and serene, with roughly 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Other geological wonders include Balanced Rock in the park’s interior. Driving through the park takes at least three hours. Don’t rush; you’ll rob yourself of an awe-inspiring experience with breathtaking scenery.
The best time to visit this national treasure is in the spring and fall when daytime temperatures are reasonable. If you want to hike some of the trails, you will need a few days in the Arches and at least one or two days in the Canyon National Park.
Things to do in Arches National Park
- One of the first things you should do is drive through Arches National Park via the Arches National Park Road, which you can access from US-191. After passing through the Arches National Park Entrance Station, follow the road, and you’ll easily be able to spot some of the park’s most famous rock formations including the Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock, The Tower of Babel, the Great Wall, and Penis Rock.
- There’s driving through Arches National Park, and then there’s 4×4 Driving through Arches National Park. If you’re looking to get the blood pumping while taking in the views, consider an ATV adventure drive across the park’s rugged terrain!
- While driving through Arches national park is great if time is a factor, you’re doing yourself dirty if you don’t get out and do a spot of hiking. There are numerous places to park the car and stretch your legs, and several top hiking trails to consider, such as the Devils Garden Trailhead (with the conveniently located Devils Garden Campground nearby) or the Delicate Arch Trailhead.
- Arches National Park Dinner Cruise at Sunset offers a unique perspective on a calm part of the Colorado River. A light show on the canyon walls entertains during a cowboy-style dinner and slow-moving boat ride. Alternatively, if this is too slow-paced and civilized for your liking, you can always go whitewater rafting down the Colorado!
- Seen Arches from the ground? Check? Seen it from the river? Check. But how about from the air? Just 20 minutes north of Moab will take you to Canyonlands Field Airport, where you can embark on an awesome helicopter tour of this breathtaking national park!
Places to stay near Arches National Park
No matter where you stay, Arches National Park is easily accessible. But if you want to be in the area, here are some great options.
- Best Hotel near Arches National Park: Springhill Suites by Marriot Moab
- Resort near Arches National Park: Element Moab, the Moab Resort
- Best Campground in Arches National Park: Devils Garden Campground
See Related: Things to Do in Park City, Utah
4. Spanish Valley
While not Moab proper, neighboring Spanish Valley is roughly eight miles south of Downtown Moab. Spanish Valley is one of the best areas to stay near Moab and a great jumping-off point for adventures and arches in the area. It is close to Brumley Arches State Park to the east, within easy striking distance of Window Arch and Picture Frame Arch to the west, and is just up the road from the world-famous Hole ‘N’ The Rock.
It is home to a plethora of outdoor activities and beautiful hiking trails. Some of the favorite outdoor attractions in the area include Faux Falls, Ken’s Lake, and Entrajo Canyon, popular for rockface climbing.
However, this area is more than photographing rock formations, hiking, and 4-wheeling. You can enjoy local vintages at the Spanish Valley Vineyard and Winery and regular rodeo performances at the Old Spanish Trail Area. Here are a few things in Spanish Valley to keep you busy.
Things to do in Spanish Valley
- One of the quirkiest things to see and do in the Spanish Valley area is to visit the Hole ‘N’ The Rock. Albert Christensen carved this unique home into the sandstone cliffs in the 1940s. Now a tourist attraction, there’s a brief 12-minute guided tour, a sculpture garden, and a petting zoo. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop!
- Ken’s Lake Trail and Faux Falls offer something of a contrast to their arid surroundings. This 3.4-mile hiking trail is a relatively easy loop that offers photogenic areas, a beautiful waterfall, and actual green plants! Green! In a desert! The trip takes roughly 90 minutes at a good pace. You’re also near Entrajo Canyon, where you can do rock climbing.
- The Spanish Valley Vinyard and Winery is a top spot if you’re searching for quality tipples. You can visit any time, stop by as part of this fantastic Moab backroads E-bike tour, or you can even spend the night there!
- If you’re into the All-American activity that is Rodeo, check out the Old Spanish Trail Arena. They have a pretty stacked calendar on the weekends and offer open rides almost every day of the week.
- If you didn’t get your extreme 4X4 action at Arches, head a few miles south from Spanish Valley to Helldorado and Area BFE. And even if you’re not, they also have plenty of hiking trails, campsites, and RV grounds to use.
Places to stay in Spanish Valley
There isn’t much in the way of hotels per se in Spanish Valley, but the area is rife with vacation rentals, holiday homes, campgrounds, and RV sites.
- Vacation Rental Option in Spanish Valley: This breathtaking modern house near Sky Ranch Airport
- Best Campground in Spanish Valley: Ken’s Lake Campground
- Best RV site in Spanish Valley: Moab KOA Holiday
5. Castle Valley
Another neighbor of Moab, the Castle Valley plateau, is roughly 18 miles northeast of downtown Moab. It’s a quiet town surrounded by breathtaking scenery and within easy reach of Arches National Park.
Castle Valley is named after Castleton Tower (or simple Castle Tower to some locals). This 400-foot-tall sandstone tower is reserved for the truly experienced rock climber, with castle-like turrets offsetting the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River.
Castle Valley is a serene place where many come to rest and recharge. However, there are a few things to do beneath the red rock towers. The Colorado River affords excellent whitewater rafting opportunities. And the hiking and mountain biking trails on Porcupine Rim and Adobe Mesa are challenging but worth the ascent.
The biggest draw to Castle Valley is easily Red Cliffs Lodge. This fantastic resort hotel offers spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, great food, stellar views, and tons of awesome activities.
Things to do in Castle Valley
- Castleton Tower is a must-visit attraction if you are in the area. This towering natural landmark looks like something from a sci-fi movie and is climbable but tricky for novices. At the very least, stop by to snap some pictures of this incredible, looming formation.
- Red Cliffs Lodge is a hot destination for many people looking to explore Castle Valley, and not just because it’s a great place to stay. There are a number of onsite attractions and activities available, including yoga, spa treatments, ATV excursions, horseback riding adventures, ziplining, and even skydiving!
- The Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, located in the Red Cliffs Lodge, details the importance of the Canyonlands in Hollywood history. A favorite filming spot for cinematic legends such as John Ford and John Wayne this mini museum documents the dozens of actors and directors that have used the Red Cliff Ranch for their movies.
- Cowboy Grill is an iconic local steakhouse, also located in the Red Cliffs Lodge with views of the Colorado River and Fishers Towers. Carnivores will be thrilled with the menu!
- Just east of Castle Valley, Bull Canyon Dinosaur Park details the paleontological history of Moab. The park has over 100 life-size dinosaurs on the half-mile Moab Giant Outdoor Trail, Dig-It-Out sites, and a Rock Art Gallery. The 3D Aquarium provides a virtual walk-through with sharks and other prehistoric marine life.
Places to stay in Castle Valley
No matter where you stay, Castle Valley is easily accessible. But if you want to be in the heart of the area, here are some great options.
- Budget Hotel in Castle Valley: Castle Valley Inn
- Luxury Hotel in Castle Valley: Red Cliffs Lodge
- Vacation Rental Option in Castle Valley: This cozy Adobe house with a hot tub and views of Castleton Tower
See Related: Things to Do in St. George, Utah
Tours in Moab
This 3-stop tour is a fun and educational experience for the entire family. It's also great for those who want to learn more about the Canyonlands area, some of its history, and how it was formed. The Arches National Park is home to thousands of natural sandstone arches as well as otherworldly rock formations that we'll explore with you. After your visit to Arches, head further north into the heart of Canyonlands where you can take in the beauty of Dead Horse Point State Park.
Moab is a unique destination with a landscape that provides the backdrop for some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. Whether you want to experience the thrill of 4WD adventure driving, or enjoy an unforgettable sunset from atop a mesa, there’s no denying that Moab is the ultimate place to get outdoors and explore.
This private helicopter tour is a great way to see the amazing natural beauty of southern Utah. You will fly over red rock formations, rivers, and arches that are famous throughout the world. You will also have views of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead in Nevada.
Is it worth staying in Moab?
Is Moab worth visiting? Yes, Moab is worth visiting. The indescribable openness and beauty of Moab can not be understated. The city is small, but there is enough to do to keep everyone entertained. The nearby parks are the real draw. They are famous for their unique rock formations.
What is the best time of year to stay in Moab?
The best time of year to visit Moab is in the spring and fall. These seasons are also high season for tourists. Hotels sell quickly during these months. Springtime temperatures reach the mid-70sºF compared to over 100ºF in the summer. But the most affordable time to travel in the area is December and January.
Where is a good place to stay in Moab near Arches National Park?
In the Arches National Park area, depending on your budget, you have a variety of choices. But Downtown Moab has dozens of hotels and motels and is the best place to stay if you visit with kids or for a solo retreat.
Staying in Downtown Moab also puts you close to the outfitters and guides. Most of the restaurants and coffee shops are also in the city center. If budget isn’t a factor but the location is, check out the Moab Resort or Springhill Suites by Marriot Moab.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.