Plan the Best Moab Summer Road Trip: 5-Day Itinerary

Moab is one of the best summer road trip destinations! The combination of stunning red rock landscapes and great outdoor recreation opportunities makes it a perfect place to get away for a few days. There are plenty of things to do in Moab, whether you’re interested in hiking, mountain biking, rafting, or just taking in the scenery. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite activities to help you plan your own Moab road trip. So, pack your outdoor gear and get ready for an epic adventure!

Let us help you plan incredible day trip adventures full of desert fun in the sun.

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Floating the Colorado River

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Moab 5-Day Itinerary

This guide is formatted with outdoor things to do in Moab throughout five-days. If you only have one or two days in the area, that is totally cool. You can pick and choose.

We lived close to Moab for over ten years and we are sharing all the best things to see and do, including our favorite spots to camp!

Plan the Best Moab Summer Road Trip

Summer is a time for adventure and exploration! This stunning town in the heart of red rock country is home to some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and rafting. It can be tough to know where to start with so much to see and do.

We have got your back! Continue reading to plan the perfect summer road trip!

Day 1 – Visit the National Parks

The perfect way to spend your first day visiting Moab is by visiting the National Parks and seeing the town.

  • Explore Arches National Park
  • Visit Canyonlands National Park
  • Explore Downtown Moab

Consider buying the Annual National Park Pass. If you plan to visit more than three or four National Parks in one year, it pays for itself.

Explore Arches National Park

Spend the morning exploring Arches National Park. Arriving earlier will help with the crowds as well as cooler temperatures for hiking and sightseeing.

We recommend driving the main paved road, pulling off at the designated pull-offs to see the main arches, and saving time to hike to Delicate Arch.

Get all the details for how to to spend a day in Arches National Park here!

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Double Arches

Visit Canyonlands National Park

Drive the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park! With its dramatic canyons, this is one of the most stunning areas in Utah. There are lots of viewpoints to walk out to and take photos.

It takes a few hours to drive the scenic drive.

You’ll love our article on How to Visit Arches and Canyonlands in One Day (2022 Update)

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Canyonlands National Park

Explore Downtown Moab

Downtown Moab is quaint and full of old west desert charm mixed with some hippy-dippy.

Walk the streets, grab a bite to eat, and explore local stores on the main road.

Day 2 – Hike Druid Arch

Go on an epic backcountry hiking adventure!

Play an all-day hike to Druid Arch in the Canyonlands Needles District.

The trailhead is about 2-2.5 hours from Moab and the hike will take 5-7 hours to do.

This is an advanced backcountry hike that requires long distance hiking, some rock scrambling, and a ladder climb. It also requires packing in all your own food and water.

Find out how to hike to Druid Arch here!

Day 3 – See Newspaper Rock

If you don’t feel like hiking in the backcountry all day, no worries. Check out the famous Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs along the Indian Creek Scenic Byway.

Newspaper Rock is an exciting day trip that will take you back in time. You won’t believe what you see!

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Newspaper Rock

Day 4 – Float the Colorado River

A trip to Moab wouldn’t be complete without floating the Colorado River!

You can bring your own gear, or find a guiding outfit to take you stand-up paddle boarding or whitewater rafting along the Colorado River.

Spending time floating or whitewater rafting the Colorado River through canyon country should definitely be high on your Moab adventure bucket list.

If you aren’t bringing your own gear, we recommend calling around to pre-book your adventure ahead of time. Whitewater rafting through Cataract Canyon is incredible. We have done it two times in March (during college Spring Break).

Google any guiding outfits in Moab to get on their books.

Day 5 – Visit Dead Horse Point State Park

Did you know Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed places in the U.S? There is a famous view of where the Colorado River bends through Canyonlands National Park. Add Dead Horse Point State Park to your bucket list!

Hike, mountain bike, or camp to stargaze Utah’s Dark Sky while visiting.

How to Get to Moab, Utah

Road trippers can drive their own vehicles to Moab or fly into one of the surrounding airports.

The closest airport is Canyonlands Regional Airport.

An hour and a half away, the next closest is in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The third closest is in Salt Lake City, which is almost four hours away.

Surprisingly, you can find pretty fair rates flying directly into Moab. When we used to live in Grand Junction, sometimes I would actually fly out of Moab because the flights were cheaper to a larger connection such as Denver.

Getting Around

To really explore Moab, you definitely want a vehicle. Last time we checked there was not really any reliable means of public transportation. We absolutely recommend renting a car or driving your own. Roads are fairly well marked because it is a major tourist destination.

Be sure to plan ahead with the flights and rental cars. Moab is a tourist hot spot and can have tens of thousands of extra people visiting depending on the time of year.

We like to use booking.com to book flight and rental car packages (if you aren’t driving to Moab with your own vehicle).

Where to Stay in the Moab Area

The cool thing about Moab is that visitors can find a place to stay on any budget. If planning a visit during the high seasons, we definitely recommend booking places to stay in advance. Since Moab is a small community, accommodations tend to fill up fast during the high tourist season.

Camping Options

Below are great camping options to check out on your visit to Moab:

Where We Have Camped

We have camped at all of the places above. They are all great options!

You might enjoy reading more about camping for free on BLM land in Utah.

Camping Near Moab Map

Trendy Hotels

Below are fun mid-range hotel options with pools to check out in town:

Best Time of Year to Visit Moab

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Canyonlands Needles District

With Moab, Utah, being in the arid Southwest, it tends to have lots of sunshine. This makes it pleasant to visit year-round.

We think the best time to visit Moab is from mid-March to early June, and then mid-September until early November.

Summer

Moab does get hot (like over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer. However, since it is located in the high intermountain desert, the evenings tend to cool off. You can camp in the summer as long as you have shade during the day. Moab is a big tourist destination in the summer as well, with folks being off work and out of school.

Be mindful of rain and thunderstorms when hiking and canyoneering in the desert. Along with the arid climate comes bone dry soils, which have a difficult time absorbing mass amounts of rainfall at one time. That’s why you’ll see signs to be flash flood aware. The water will not soak up in the soil and will follow the path of least resistance which includes drainages and low-lying areas. Always good to know your surroundings when hiking in new places.

Fall

The weather is still reasonably warm all the way into the end of September or early October in Moab, which makes for excellent camping and hiking weather. Fall is actually one of our favorite times to visit as well as the spring. There is more rain in the fall (or at least it always seems that way).

Winter

It does get cold here in the winter, and sometimes it even snows. Winter is definitely the off-season for tourism, so there will be way fewer crowds when you’re out exploring.

Spring

The beginning of spring is still the off-season. The crowds tend to pick up around spring break and then later in the spring around May. Bring clothes for all four seasons in the spring! It could snow one day and be 80 degrees the next. That is the magic of being in the high desert.

Environmental Stewardship Recreating Outdoors

The desert is a special place and near and dear to our hears. Check out our post on recreating responsibly in the desert.

Please don’t make new trails when exploring. Stay on existing trails to protect biological soil crust.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an outdoor lover, there’s no doubt that Moab should be on your list of places to visit. With stunning red rock landscapes and plenty of activities to keep you busy, it’s easy to see why this small town in Utah is such a popular tourist destination. We hope our tips have helped give you a taste of what Moab has to offer!

Thanks for reading.

Ashlee & Pablo


Shop Outdoor Gear

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Osprey Day Hike Bag

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

10 Comments

  1. Daphna on January 13, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    We were just talking about taking a road trip to see some of the parks in Utah. This looks like an excellent itinerary. Saving for the summer!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 14, 2021 at 7:46 am

      Hi Daphna – how wonderful. Going to Moab with the family would be super fun. Check those National Parks off your bucket list!



  2. Emma on January 13, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve been wanting to visit moab for a while now, love the look of the whole area. The ancient wall art is so awesome and such spectacular views everywhere. Saving this for when I can eventually visit



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 14, 2021 at 7:47 am

      Hi Emma – you have to visit Moab. It is one of my favorite places in the U.S. Thanks for saving our 3-day guide to Moab. When you go, feel free to message me if you have questions.



  3. Tess on January 13, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    This is such a great easy to follow intinerary! Love the look of these national parks and would love to explore them for myself one day soon.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 14, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Hi Tess, thanks for the feedback. We tried to make the 3-day itinerary easy and flexible. You could really spend a lot more time in the Moab area. I hope you can make it to visit Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands someday.



  4. Emmy on January 13, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    This is such a great iteniery for a 3 day trip to Moab! I love the map you included of the places you’ve been camping near Moab. I also love the tips about what it’s like in different times of the year, so helpful!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 14, 2021 at 7:49 am

      Hi Emmy – thank you so much for reading our 3-day guide to Moab. So glad you found the map helpful. Those camping areas along the highway and Colorado River are tucked away hidden gems. Happy traveling 🙂



  5. Josy A on January 13, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    The area around Moab is just so choc-a-bloc with gorgeous scenery and trails – I can totally see why you had such a good trip…although I would be tempted to stay even longer than 3 days!!

    p.s. I LOVE your photo of the ancient wall art in Canyonlands Needles District! I have seen photos of those images before, but I guess you had better lighting as it is so clear in your photo! Fabulous!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 14, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Hi Josy – thanks so much! There is definitely something magical about desert colors. To me, it is very grounding but screams explore at the same time. Yes, you could totally stay longer than 3 days. I actually worked as an intern for the National Park Service one summer and lived in SE Utah in a tent for 3 months. It was an amazing experience. Cool on the photo – I’m sure it was a hot summer sunny day.