Moab: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Bike Trails

GUEST ARTICLE: Don’t be fooled, there’s so much more to Moab, Utah than its main street called Main Street. Untouched National Parks abound. Thousands of natural sandstone arches. The force of the Colorado River. Challenging bike tracks. All this and more is on your doorstep from Moab.

tagalong jeep tour canyonlands national park

If you’re on the Amtrak California Zephyr and want to visit Moab, a little bit of pre-planning is advisable. Otherwise you might find yourself walking for 52 miles down the highway from the isolated Green River Amtrak station.

Pre-booked shuttle services such as Coyote Shuttle can help. Just be aware that some companies are reluctant to do pick ups from Green River because of the unreliability of Amtrak trains.

I was fortunate because my train was exactly on time and I’d pre-arranged a pick up with Coyote Shuttle and phoned them while I was on the train to re-assure them that I’d turn up on time.

Moab Main Street is filled wall to wall with shops, hotels, motels and adventure outfitters so finding a bed and bike rental should be no problem unless you arrive during peak season or the annual Moab Jeep Safari.

main street moab utah

Starting at $US 39 for a single queen room, the Bowen Motel offers superb budget friendly accommodation on Main Street, within walking distance of cafes, restaurants, tour companies and the CityMarket supermarket.

Rooms are large and feature a large bed, cable TV, free WiFi, clean bathroom, and breakfast. There is a microwave and fridge at reception and the front desk staff are helpful.

The Adventure Inn is also on Main Street. Single queen rooms start from about $US 55. The owners were very friendly and helpful. The rooms are newer, compact and clean with cable TV and free WiFi, but breakfast is inadequate. Laundry facilities are provided.

Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park rank highly on the must-see list for visitors to this part of Utah.

arches national park utah

There are plenty of tour companies (‘outfitters’) to choose from if you don’t have a car or just want to sit back and listen to an expert. The Moab Adventure Center provides a number of tours ranging from four-wheel mayhem on Hummer safaris to rafting.

The guided hike through the maze-like Fiery Furnace in Arches is excellent value at $US 77 (adult). It is one of the quieter and more mysterious areas of the park because visitor numbers are limited to preserve its unique natural beauty.

Arches National Park vista from the Fiery Furnace, Moab, Grand County, Eastern Utah, Western United States of America

Tag-A-Long Expeditions and Navtec hold permits to enter Canyonlands National Park. Other outfitters advertise tours that include ‘Canyonlands’ but they can only drive around the general region known as Canyonlands.

Tag-a-Long’s Jet Boat / 4WD tour of the Canyonlands National Park (US $135 adult) offers the best of both worlds, providing visitors the chance to experience rugged backcountry and stunning vistas via windy dirt trails, followed by an afternoon navigating the Colorado River with time for a riverside lunch in between.

There are heaps of biking trails in and around Moab to suit most skill levels. Plenty of shops rent bikes too. Rim Cyclery offers reasonable prices and friendly service.

Many of the trails are rugged and remote. To navigate them safely, you’ll need to draw upon skills and experience you won’t have from just riding on city streets. So don’t just hop on and hope for the best.

The trail along Kane Creek is recommended for people with limited experience, but it’s wise to know how to use a puncture repair kit to patch any holes if you get stranded. If you look carefully, you’ll spot some American Indian petroglyphs on the way.

Moab - American Indian petroglyphs

The Moab Brewery “Utah’s only microbrewery and restaurant” offers a genuine pub atmosphere and is a great place to unwind after a day of outdoor adventure.

The menu ranges from Italian, Mexican to classic burger and fries pub fare. Try some of their microbrewery varieties such as the Dead Horse Amber Ale and the Derailleur Red Ale.

Pasta Jay’s is one of the most packed restaurants on Main Street and it’s easy to see why – huge servings of American-Italian fare at decent prices.

Zax Restaurant is just off Main Street and is a top choice for a fresh burger, local beer and crispy hot chips for under US $20.

burger chips at zax restaurant moab

The Moab Museum provides a hands-on history of the town showcasing dinosaur bones, mineral deposits and the Hollywood films that have been shot in the area including Thelma and Louise and Mission Impossible II.

To view more of Pranav’s photos from around the world visit his Flickr PhotoStream

This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.

If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution

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