Cara MacDonald,

What to do in 24 hours in Moab

By Cara MacDonald, | Posted - May 4th, 2019 @ 8:45am

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MOAB — Moab is an ideal choice for a short trip from Salt Lake City, but sometimes visitors only have the span of a day to spend in the desert town. Elaine Gizler, executive director of the Moab Area Travel Council, suggested an itinerary for a traveler seeking to spend 24 hours in Moab.

Leave early in the day

Afternoons are an ideal time to be in Moab, so Gizler recommended leaving Salt Lake City (or wherever the traveler might be coming in from) early enough to arrive in Moab by noon. From Salt Lake City, she suggested starting the drive at around 7 or 8 a.m. to get an early start.

Moab in the morning; Cara MacDonald,

Bike on the Bar M Trail

“Arrive in Moab by noon, unpack your bike, put on your gear and get out on the trail at the Bar M Trailhead,” Gizler told

This family-friendly single-track trail winds through a slick rock landscape with stunning views overlooking Arches National Park. Riders can enjoy the rich, red rock while traversing a trail clearly marked with dotted lines.

Biking on slick rock; Cara MacDonald,

Note that this ride is about 8 miles in length and presents some moderately challenging terrain that might prove difficult for a beginner cyclist. Under good conditions, the rich views of canyons, arches and the La Sal Mountains make the hard work worth it.

Get dinner at a restaurant in town

“Ride until around 7 p.m.,” Gizler explained. Then, “head off to dinner at one of the many restaurants in town.”

Moab’s restaurant scene has grown greatly over the past decade and the small downtown offers a variety of dining options. Some excellent choices include:

  • Milt’s Stop & Eat: Moab’s oldest restaurant, Milt’s Stop & Eat is an extremely popular burger and shake joint. They offer the perfect, filling comfort food to devour after a long day of hiking, biking or climbing.

  • Peace Tree: Offering organic smoothies, coffee and food, Peace Tree is a great stop for a healthy and filling meal. They utilize clean and nutritious recipes and source their food from natural, farm-to-table options. The menu provides anything from sandwiches to steak.

  • 98 Center Moab: A tasty spot focused on aesthetics and good food with a Vietnamese focus. Stop in for sandwiches, salads and pho.

  • Desert Bistro: This bistro provides “out of the norm” food while maintaining an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for guests.

  • Moab Brewery: Boasting award-winning food and drinks for guests to enjoy, the brewery provides a great place to relax in the evening.

  • Sabaku Sushi: A taste of Japan in small-town Utah, Sabaku provides delicious sushi with gluten-free options.

Drive to Dead Horse Point and see the Milky Way and brilliant dark skies

Arches at night; Cara MacDonald,

Gizler suggested a night drive out to Dead Horse Point at around 10 p.m. to go appreciate some of Moab’s most spectacular dark skies. Summer is a great time to see the Milky Way, as a dark rift appears in the constellation providing dramatic sights and photography opportunities.

Dead Horse Point’s expansive views and high altitude make it an especially appealing stargazing destination, as visitors can gaze into the heavens for as far as the eye can see.

Spend the night camping or at a hotel

Tent in Moab; Cara MacDonald,

Decide before leaving whether it would be preferable to camp or stay in a lodge or Airbnb. Moab has a wide offering of campgrounds very close to town, but they also offer a host of both world class and affordable hotel options.

“Make your reservation for lodging as soon as you know you are going to Moab,” Gizler cautioned.

Hike Grandstaff Canyon to Morning Glory Arch

Grandstaff Canyon is a pleasant, 4.1-mile loop through a scenic canyon. The hike ends at Morning Glory Bridge, an impressive sight at the conclusion of the canyon. It’s not uncommon for people to rappel from the arch and then hike back down Grandstaff Canyon, but it also makes for a pleasant out-and-back hike.

Creek in Grandstaff Canyon; Cara MacDonald,

Grandstaff is easy and family-friendly, and it's a good morning jaunt before heading back home. Plan on hiking for a couple of hours round-trip (conservatively) and bring a lot of water to prepare for the Moab sun (which can be scorching in the summer).

Drive home

At around noon, with the 24 hours having concluded, pack up and drive home.

What would be on your 24-hour Moab itinerary? Comment below.

Cara MacDonald

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