Posted Date: February 22, 2021
Escape the crowds at Arches National Park and explore these hidden gems around Moab, Utah.
Moab is a small, desert city located in Eastern Utah. Just 4 hours southeast of Utah’s Capitol, Salt Lake City, you’ll find yourself surrounded by incredible red rock formations and vast scenery.
With two of the major national parks nearby, Moab has grown into a popular destination for travelers wanting to escape to the desert and visit Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
Both Colin and I grew up in Utah and have been to Moab well over 10 times combined. It is one of our favorite places to getaway for the weekend, and we try to make a trip down there at least once a year.
Moab has so much to offer beyond the national parks, and we want to share what we consider the best hikes in the area.
Here are the 5 best hikes in Moab, Utah that aren’t in Arches National Park.
How to get to Moab, Utah
Moab is located next to the Colorado River in southeastern Utah.
The nearest airport is in Grand Junction, Colorado – about a 1-hour 45-minute drive away from Moab. Keep in mind, this is a regional airport, so it might cost a bit more to fly into this airport. From Grand Junction, you’ll take 1-70 west before heading south on route 191 towards Moab.
The next closest airport is the international airport in Salt Lake City, Utah – about a 4-hour drive away from Moab. The best way to get to Moab from Salt Lake City is by driving south on 1-15 to Spanish Fork Canyon. You’ll drive through the canyon on Route 6 before getting onto 1-70E and finally onto route 191 south towards Moab.
You will need to rent a car in order to drive to Moab. You won’t be able to get around or explore this area without a car.
Best Time of Year to Hike in Moab?
The best time of year to go hiking in Moab is in the spring and fall: March – May and September – November.
This time of the year offers mild weather and cooler temperatures. The summer months in Moab can be extremely hot, and it’s not nearly as enjoyable to hike when it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
5 Best Hikes in Moab
Corona Arch Trail
Length of trail: 3 miles, ~ 2 hours round trip
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Trailhead: Easily accessible from Highway 279 – the trailhead is located just off the parking lot.
Distance from Moab city center: 14 miles, ~20 minutes
This 3-mile round trip hike leads you to one of the largest arches in the area – Corona Arch. This is one of our all-time favorite hikes in Moab, and we hike this trail almost every time we visit the area. The spectacular desert vistas keep us coming back for more.
The hike is fairly easy and accessible to all ages. We have hiked it with toddlers and grandparents and everyone was able to hike it without any problems.
The trail is easy to follow and pretty flat the entire hike. There is one steep section that requires you to climb a short ladder and hold onto a cable as you climb up, but nothing too challenging.
You will pass Bowtie Arch right before reaching the main event. Once you reach Corona Arch, you can walk under the arch or take your time and enjoy a picnic on the slick rock surrounding the area.
Fisher Towers Trail
Length of trail: 4.5 miles, ~ 2-3 hours round trip
Difficulty level: Moderate
Trailhead: Located off highway 128, turn right (direction from Moab) onto a dirt road for 2 miles and the parking lot will be at the end of the road.
Distance from Moab city center: 26 miles, ~40 minutes
After having been to Moab countless times, we finally hiked the Fisher Towers Trail in 2020. This hike easily made it to our “favorites list” because of the stunning views of red rock throughout the entire hike.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see rock climbers climbing the precarious Ancient Art tower (look it up and you’ll see what I mean) and Titan Tower along the way.
The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. There is a 6-foot ladder about 1.5 miles into the hike that you have to climb down in order to continue on the trail. Beware of this if you plan to hike with your dog or with someone that could potentially struggle to make it down the ladder.
I’d say this hike is a moderate level of difficulty because it is not necessarily accessible to everyone. The beginning of the trail is a steep downhill into a canyon and then an immediate uphill climb. We passed a group of elderly people who were struggling to get to the top of this section, granted it was a bit snowy and wet when we were hiking.
At the end of the trail, you’ll find yourself on a ridge overlooking the entire valley of stunning red rock. I’d highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting Moab – the 40-minute drive is totally worth it.
Hidden Valley Trail
Length of trail: 5 miles, ~ 2-3 hours round trip
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
Trailhead: From Moab, turn right off Highway 191 onto Angel Rock Rd. – the trailhead is just off the parking lot.
Distance from Moab city center: 4.5 miles, ~8 minutes
The Hidden Valley Trail is located just a few minutes from the center of Moab. On this hike, you’ll see incredible views of the Le Sal mountains in the distance and several petroglyphs at the other end of the valley.
The hike starts with a steep climb for the first 3/4 mile – this is the most difficult part of the hike because the trail gets a bit rocky at times. Once you reach the top of the Moab Rim, you’ll enter the Hidden Valley. The trail flattens out here and is easy from this point on.
Around 2 miles into the hike, you’ll reach a divide. You can either continue to hike towards the Moab Rim Trail, or you can veer to the right to see the petroglyphs.
We chose to see the petroglyphs and then turn around from there.
Overall, this is a great day hike that offers spectacular views and history.
Grandstaff Canyon Trail
Length of trail: 4 miles, ~ 2-4 hours round trip
Difficulty level: Moderate
Trailhead: From Moab, turn right off Highway 128 – the trailhead is just off the parking lot.
Distance from Moab city center: 5.5 miles, ~12 minutes
The Grandstaff Canyon Trail offers breathtaking views of Morning Glory Bridge – the sixth largest natural bridge in the United States.
At the start of the hike, you’ll enter the canyon and follow the trail along the left side of the stream for a while. Be prepared for quite a few stream crossings along the way, so make sure to bring waterproof shoes or hiking sandals. Your feet will get wet!
Once you reach Morning Glory Bridge, beware of poison ivy, as there is some located in the pool underneath the bridge.
Overall, this is an easily accessible hike only a short distance from Moab that everyone will enjoy!
Mill Creek Waterfall Trail
Length of trail: 1.6 miles, ~ 2-4 hours round trip
Difficulty level: Moderate
Trailhead: There is a parking lot at the end of Powerhouse lane where the trailhead is located.
Distance from Moab city center: 2.4 miles, ~7 minutes
Located only a few minutes outside of Moab is a beautiful water oasis. At the end of this short hike through the desert, you’ll find a clear water swimming pool and waterfall.
Bring your swimsuit and water shoes and enjoy a relaxing afternoon swimming in these natural pools.
Note: The trail does continue after the water pools, but we stopped at the pools. For more info on the longer version of the hike, check out this article.
Tips for Hiking in Moab:
- Bring sunscreen – there is often not a lot of shade since Moab is located in the desert, so you’ll definitely want sunscreen to help protect your skin from the harsh sunlight.
- Bring a lot of water – the air is dry and the days can get really hot depending on the time of year. Bring extra water just in case.
- Avoid hiking in the rain – do your research ahead of time to ensure it is safe to hike in certain places in the rain. Southern Utah is notorious for flash floods.
- Bring a hat – wear a hat to protect your head from the desert sun.
- Always tell someone where you are going – this is basic hiking safety but always let someone else know where you are hiking just in case of an emergency.
Moab has some of the most stunning scenery in the Western United States. If you haven’t yet, add this city to your bucket-list destinations. You will find that there are endless activities to do – from visiting the national parks to floating the Colorado River and hiking around the desert.
We hope you enjoy these hikes – let us know if you have any other favorites in Moab!