Love hiking? Book a trip to Moab, Utah.
My husband, Jeff, and I spent four nights and five days in Moab last May to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. This vacation now ranks among our top five favorites. And let me clue you in on a little secret: while Jeff is fearless, I’m afraid of heights. Even worse, at sixty and sixty-one years old, our legs wobble a bit more these days.
Hence, our real objective. Get the hiking in while we still can!
As we begin our seventh decade, the race is on. Hike as much as possible. We aren’t sure how long our knees, hips, and bones will survive the ups, downs, overs, unders, and occasional face plants of trekking. So we cram for geriatrics.
This is my first of many posts on hiking. Whether you are young or old, follow along. I’ll give my tips on what we’ve learned along the way about our great National Parks or other places.
Getting to Moab
We flew into Salt Lake City (SLC) and drove under four hours to Moab. If you are from the East Coast, the amazing views of snow-capped mountains will make this drive seem shorter.
If you have time while in SLC, stop at Temple Square where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra roam. We visited on the way out of SLC and were sorry we hadn’t checked events. Tours are free. For events and schedules search www.mormon.org ahead of time.
You can select smaller cities to fly into but SLC is the largest. Here’s the route from there:
- Take I-15 South to US-6 East toward Price.
- (US-6 will runs along US-191 South after a while.)
- Merge onto I-70 East (long after Price)/US-6
- Take exit 182 for US-191 South
US-191 is your main artery in Moab. It intersects the Colorado River. All of the sites branch off of this street. If you have kids or are a big kid yourself, make sure you stop and take a slide down the sand hill. Don’t worry. You’ll see it. The mound is close to Arches on the other side of the 191.
The entrance to Arches is on 191. Follow the signs.
To find Canyonlands/Dead Horse turn off 191 onto US-313.
To take a hike on The Corona/Bow Tie trail (a must in our opinion,) turn off 191 onto Potash Road.
And while there are lots of places to stay in Moab, Jeff dug up a treasure on the internet called The Red Cliffs Lodge. We can not say enough about this place. Loved it. The lodge is on Scenic Highway 128 just south of Colorado River Bridge that intersects 191.
Moab is a mile or so farther down 191.
The Red Cliff Lodge
The Red Cliffs Lodge is the perfect stay if you want to hike Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Canyon. We marked this place as one of our we-will-return lodges. Red Cliffs is where the deer and the antelope once grazed in movies like Rio Grande and so many others I won’t mention them all. It is located about 14 miles up Scenic Highway 128 (again, off I-191 and the Colorado River Bridge).
It sits right on the Colorado River not far from the Fischer Towers and if you aren’t sure what those landmarks are, you’ll recognize them as soon as you see them. They are a staple in western movies.
The Red Cliffs Lodge is a Ranch. Sleeping options include a room (with two beds and kitchenette) or cabin (with two bedrooms and the works) on the raging Colorado River (love that sound!) Or you can chose a room (with two beds and kitchenette)
beside the ranch where the horses graze. We selected the later and drank coffee with the horses every morning. A fence and creek separate you from the ranch, but listen for the rustle. Horses sneak through the creek and call to you from the fence.
Have coffee in the morning at the Lodge’s
restaurant for a perfect sunrise or make a reservation in the evening for dinner at sunset. The food is tasty and not too terribly priced, but watching the sun rise and set over the Colorado River will mesmerize you.
And be sure to visit their museum in the basement of the main lodge. Jeff spent some time there with John Wayne.
Lastly (and importantly), there is a winery on the ranch. Sample some of their wines and take a bottle back to your room. Each room’s kitchenette includes a small refrigerator, microwave, plates, and utensils. Pour that wine in a plastic glass and head to the pool or hot tub. There is also a laundromat and exercise room (for those who haven’t worked off enough calories hiking).
Along those 14 miles leading up to Red Cliff Lodge, are numerous campsites on the left, trimming the Colorado River. (And to the right of the road, across from the camp sites, a few trailheads to some pretty amazing trails tempt you.) But literally, there are hundreds of campsites in the Moab area to select from.
My Favorite Sites and Hikes:
- Fiery Furnace – This is a must do if you are a seasoned hiker. Our friends Mike and Jan Vieyra made reservations for us to hike this trail, and we are indebted to them. It is one of our all-time favorites. You must go with a guide for your first hike, but after that you can watch a video and obtain a day permit. Make sure you do!!! There is a $300 fine for hiking this trail without a permit and rangers check! (In 2017 construction requires you to book in person a few days in advance. Otherwise, online booking is permissible.)
- The Delicate Arch – This is another must see. People line the top of the hill to see this at sunset. Beautiful! But you can hike it all day long. There is also a lower path that is an easier hike.
You can see the delicate arch from a distance. This low path is easily accessible or you can continue on and make it a harder hike.
- The Double Arches and Window Arches – Don’t miss this one, either. You can park between the two and climb orview from the distance. Jeff and I and our friends Mike and Jan Vieyra had a great time here. It is one big playground!
- Sand Dunes Arch – Families love this one. You can allow your little ones to play in the sand along the short way to the arch or your older children continue on rock climbing to the top. There are places to climb high into the rocks but use caution. Also, you can stroll along to Broken Arch.
- Hours of operation and camping – Call the park for camping permits. In 2017, the park is open Sunday through Thursday 7 AM to 7 PM and all day Friday and Saturday. Tip: If you want to see the Delicate Arch at sunset during 2017 construction, make sure you make that trek to the top on a Friday or Saturday evening.
- Mesa Arch – This is amazing all day but especially in the morning. Photographers line the edge with their tripods and amateurs squeeze in between and around. It is a short hike to this beauty and our favorite Canyonland’s arch.
- Grand View Overlook – This is just up the street from the Mesa and can be done in the same trip.
Please stay off the arches for two reasons!!! First, we’d have no arches if everyone traversed them. Second, it’s a long way down if you misstep. You’ll lose your life.
Dead Horse Canyon
This is a state park and well worth a visit. Dead Horse Canyon overlooks the Colorado River. The views are stunning. If it looks familiar to you then you must be
remembering the final scene of the movie Thelma and Lousie. Dead Horse Canyon played the part of the Grand Canyon when Thelma and Lousie played by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis rode their car over the edge to their deaths.
Turn onto Potash Road from I-191 and you’ll follow the Colorado River down a winding road of campsites and playgrounds. The camping sites line the river on the left. The playgrounds dapple the right side. They include:
Rock Climbing – If only we were younger! We pulled off and watched professionals as well as students learning to rock climb on Potash. Incredible. You’ll need to check out Moab to find out if permits are needed if you want to try your hand, but watching costs nothing and is time well spent.
Indian Writing – There are pull offs to stop and gaze this interesting art. You need to cross the street to see the Indian writing up close. Be careful. Although the road is not busy, cars do speed by. One spot is marked with an Indian Writing sign, but we found other spots down the road.
Corona and Bow Tie trailhead
DON’T MISS THIS ONE! Another of our we-are-going-back
favorites. Jeff and I couldn’t get enough of this. It’s about a 1.5 mile trek. You have a guide rail at one point and a very small ladder but nothing treacherous. (Although I would never take little children.) This trail makes our don’t-miss list. While most people hike Canyonlands and Arches, this hike tied our favorite trail, the Fiery Furnace in Arches.
We absolutely had to stop here and run through the tunnel. It’s a mile or so up the
road from Corona and worth it just for a run through. On the other side is a Jeep Trail hike which we ran out of time to do. We dawdled in the tunnel too long. However, our friends Jan and Mike Vieyra went on to make the fun trek!
If any of you have hiked similar trails in the area, email me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Have a Favorite Trail in Moab?
Email me at email@example.com and I’ll make a mention!!!!!!
Cyndie Zahner is a Senior Athletchic and freelance writer. She and her husband love National Parks and hiking. Follow her on Twitter @Tweetyz and Instagram at Athletchicz. or visit her author website at www.cyndiezahner.com.