Like many of you, one of the things I missed the most in 2020 was taking our active vacations. We are remedying that starting with all the things to do in Moab!
Living near Denver now, we’re truly lucky to have access to so many different trails and National Parks within driving distance.
In fact, we made a number of stops on this trip to Moab including Grand Junction and Glenwood Hot Springs, which I’ll touch on later. But let’s get to what you want to know!
What to do in Moab?
Our vacations have turned in to a nice meld of sweaty hours on the trails with time to truly chill, relax and let go.
- Paved path along the Colorado River for easy biking or road run training
- Trails GALORE – here are my top tips on how to find running trails
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding or Kayaking or Rafting
- Zipline, hot air balloon or even skydiving
- Climbing, rappelling, canyoning
- 4×4 Off roading – this appears to be one of the BIGGEST tours
Our primary focus was going to be on trail running and mountain biking, but we’re always up for adding in a few other adventures. Since we had just done Ziplining at the Broadmoor, we opted out this time.
Our plan for the next trip is to get in on this crazy 4×4 boom.
It ranges from renting self driving Jeeps and Polaris to doing sunset tours in jacked up Hummer!
Moab Trails for Mountain Biking and Running
One of the strange things we found was our apps didn’t always show the same trails, but runners and bikers were allowed on pretty much all of them.
Day 1 – We started at the Bar M Trails. It’s a whole trail system with many different loops, but that’s the best name to search for.
Fell in love.
You can find whatever level of intensity you want here, get lost for hours while not feeling lost and simply enjoy epic views.
In one direction, you’ll see the huge bright red rock cliffs and off in the distance the snow peaked caps of the La Salle Mountains.
I started on the Lazy E trails for running, headed out to the Rusty Spur and then back on Bar M. All of these were green to I’d call it light blue trails that are well marked. I never felt concerned about being lost and since a number on one way only I wasn’t going to get run over either.
David headed out on the blue to black trails for MTB and found there was a lot more slick rock riding, but it all still felt really manageable. Compared to Colorado the volume of climbing is minimal.
Mill Creek Falls Hike
In the afternoon, we headed out for a short hike to Mill Creek Falls. It’s a bit more of an adventure than expected!
As you can see if you make the trek, you do get to enjoy a beautiful area to rest and relax before turning back. Kids and dogs were splashing around as though it wasn’t mountain water!
- Wear water shoes there are multiple water crossings (we went barefoot and I was fine with the smooth rocks, but David didn’t love it)
- Water crossings aren’t technical, but depending on time of year can be ankle deep and beautiful
- You can also get in to the water at the Falls, which will be chilly from the mountains, but feels great in the heat
- The path is easy to follow, but there is a slanted slick rock section that you’ll need to take slow
- The parking lot isn’t huge, so expect on hot days it could be full
- There is a more intense trail to the top of the waterfall if you want to keep going
Dead Horse Canyon State Park
We kept hearing that this sunset was a must, which meant we knew it would be back.
Preemptively we went in about 2 hours before sunset and took off to run and bike. The path along the Rim isn’t the easiest to follow, but it was stunning and made for a fabulous 90 minutes of running.
That is one of the few paths you cannot bike, so instead I dropped David at the visitors center and he started riding from there.
- Give it time, the views just get better and better after the sun sinks below the horizon
- Make sure to look behind you because we got a moonrise that almost put the sunset to shame
- There are a lot of people, but you will be able to find a spot on the rocks to chill out with your snacks
- There are picnic tables nearby for pre-sunset to enjoy dinner if you get there early
- Parking is limited, but you can also park at the visitor center and walk the 1.5 miles there…just remember you’ll be walking back in the dark with no street lights
Arches National Park
Listen this place is busy and not really ideal for running, so instead take your time and enjoy a bunch of small hikes or some of the bigger hikes. We did this as a recovery day.
(photos at the bottom of the post are from our Arches day!)
- Go early! They do close the park when it gets full. You’ll drive up and find a full sign then turn around in a circle drive to head back out to the highway.
- Delicate Arch is the most well known, but it’s a long moderately hard hike and then you’ll wait in line to get that photo.
- If you want to do Delicate Arch go there first the lot is small and you can’t park along the road.
- We opted for a ton of other arches and got beautiful photos all by ourselves without fighting a crowd.
- If you don’t feel like walking much, many of the lots are super close to Arches…but you can absolutely get in some miles by exploring!
- The Sand Arch was one of our favorites, it’s hidden back a bit and has beautiful colors, plus some small slots you can experience or climb on for those with kids.
Moab Canyon Paved Path
OMG, talk about the most gorgeous paved path ever! You can bike it or run it, either way you’ll be shocked at the views.
You could start from directly in front of any hotel in town and run the sidewalks, which will turn in to the paved path at the river.
But my planned run wasn’t THAT long, so a few better options:
- Park at the Lions Park bridge over the river or just about 3/4 a mile farther up Main you’ll see a lot on the same side of the road OR go all the way to the Bar M Trails
- From town you’ll be running slightly uphill on the way out, passing by Arches National Park
- From Bar M you’ll then be running downhill…which if you run all the way back to town is a great long downhill training run for a downhill race!
- Views will truly keep you intrigued and always wondering what it might look like just around the next corner
Slickrock Bike Trail
While I was getting in a long marathon training run, David headed out to the Slickrock trail which was not runner friendly.
It was a unique experience to ride there and see all of the 4X4 Jeeps and offroad vehicles also coming through the area.
- You’ll pay a small fee at the entrance to either park or in our case drop off a biker
- Large parking lot with a restroom at the trail head
- You’ll then follow the white painted line across the rocks to keep track of the trail
- It’s a moderate ride with not a ton of climbing, but some technical spots that make it a lot of fun
- Again this is NOT open to runners, so only David was out biking on this trail
Moab Travel Tips
This is a tiny town, but filled with fun built around being outdoors and enjoying nature.
- Hotels are almost all along the main strip
- You can walk from your hotel to tons of restaurants and local shops
- City Market is the biggest grocery store (part of the Kroger family) and it’s BANANAS on the weekends
- We chose the Mainstay hotel because of the full kitchen which meant we could eat tons of meals in our room, instead of eating our for everything. The hotel also had a pool, hot tub, free wifi and free breakfast.
- Zak’s for pizza Friday does not disappoint
- Tour guides and adventure shops abound along the main strip, all seem to do good business and be reputable
Looking for more active travel vacation ideas?
- Things to do in Grand Junction (biking, running, wild horses and more)
- Steamboat Springs in the Summer To Do
- Winter Park in the Summer To Do
- Colorado Sand Dunes
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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