Whether it’s for one day or multiple days, the red rock country will not disappoint groups looking for recreational opportunities or sightseeing marvels.
Moab, a small town in Southeastern Utah, is located at the foot of the La Sal Mountains and overlooks the Colorado River. It is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to natural wonders in places like Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The town, with about 5,000 residents, offers many lodging options, including hotels, resorts and campgrounds.
Moab is home to many adventure travel enterprises. Moab Adventure Center, for example, offers a variety of packages, some including lodging options. The outfitter’s travel packages for church groups, business and school trips work for up to 19 people. Full-day and multi-day plans feature guided tours and hikes, off-road safaris and river rafting.
Other outfitters, to name just a few, include Moab Cliffs and Canyons, which explores Moab’s wilderness through rock climbing and desert hiking; Canyon Voyages Adventure Co., which offers a variety of guided adventure trips in the Moab area; Moab Rafting & Canoeing Company; and Western Spirit Cycling (guided bike trips).
Arches and Canyonlands national parks, located just a few miles outside of Moab, are two of the most scenic places in Utah. Thousands travel to these parks every year to view the red sandstone formations and slickrock domes.
Arches National Park, set high above the Colorado River, has over 2,000 natural arches. Moab Adventure Center offers hikes and bus tours that allow close-up looks at Arches’ sandstone creations. The Fiery Furnace hike is a guided five-hour trek through the twists and turns of Arches’ towers and spires. The Tower Arch Trail is a 2.4-mile trip that winds through sandstone formations, providing vistas of the Arches’ most famous landscapes. There are hikes for people of varying physical capabilities. Bus tours give a view of the Courthouse Towers, La Sal Mountains, Petrified Dunes and other much-photographed sites.
The Green and Colorado rivers divide Canyonlands National Park into three sections. These include Island of the Sky, elevated 2,000 feet above the rivers; the Needles, where colorful sandstone structures tower over the land; and the Maze, an area of flat rock walls and abrupt drop-offs. Canyonlands offers hiking, boating, camping, biking, horseback riding and rock climbing.
Canyonlands is known for its great mountain bike terrain, especially the 100-mile White Rim Road. Trips around the Island take three to four days by bike. The Green and Colorado rivers are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Island of the Sky and the Needles have areas for short walks, hikes and backpacking.
Many years of geological history have made Dead Horse Point State Park, located 30 miles outside of Moab, one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. In addition to the picturesque red rock and 21-site campground, Dead Horse has areas ideal for mountain biking and bird viewing.
The state park has three hiking and biking loops (one to nine miles) with varying degrees of difficulty. The easiest loop is Intrepid, followed by Great Pyramid and Big Chief, the most difficult.
For a risk-taking adventure experience, Hell’s Revenge Trail, 10 minutes east of Moab, offers ATV tracks with challenging obstacles and steep slickrock climbs for seasoned and beginning riders. Routes travel through the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park.
Moab’s dramatic landscape can be seen from a unique perspective while falling thousands of feet from the sky. Arches Air Sports offers tandem and accelerated free-fall skydiving. The 30-minute plane ride allows one to view all the wonders of the area. Arches Air Sports can accommodate up to 10 divers.
For a group activity that will build trust, confidence and communication, Moab’s Rope Course Adventure lets one crawl up a 40-foot climbing wall, ride a skateboard zip line and walk a 25-foot balance beam. It offers one-, two-, three- and six-hour rope course expeditions.
For a taste of the historic side of Utah, Moab has a collection of museums. The Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage takes you back to the years of black-and-white film making. The red rock country’s rugged terrain has made it a great location for Westerns such as Rio Grande and The Comancheros starring John Wayne. The Museum of Moab tells about Moab’s past, featuring Ute Indian artifacts, photographs of Moab’s pioneer life, and a rock, mineral and dinosaur bones display.
Southeastern Utah is a place for adrenaline-seeking adventurers. Whether your group is looking for a breathtaking fall from the sky or a challenging bike ride topped off with sunset views of the landscape, red rock country is the perfect place to experience it all.
−By Susan DiLillo