Mom’s Guide to Moab

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We got back from Moab yesterday and you should see the state of my house this moment. MESS!!!! Pure gear drop. It was such a great trip with our friends, the Sorensens, we seriously can’t wait to go back to Moab again! Or see the Sorensens again for that matter, here’s to Alaska 2017!

The day we returned I received a text from a good friend telling me that she and her family were headed to Moab over Memorial Day weekend and that they were looking for recommendations. It was time. I needed to put together a play-by-play for a Mom’s Guide to Moab.

Everything was still so fresh in my mind. On top of that, our little family of four has done Moab in practically every season with growing kiddos for almost five years now. This was the perfect opportunity to put all this information out there.

Don’t forget to check out my Camping with Kids article, either! We spent two nights tent camping this time around, and two nights in a hotel. We camped at Big Bend campground along Highway 128. It was a great mix of getting out there and getting some AC at the end of our long days.

This particular trip to Moab was hatched back in March when Mel and I met in Scottsdale, AZ. We knew this would be the perfect reunion for our kids. A happy-happy-joy-joy on the red rock. The result could not have been more wonderful. Here’s how we managed Moab with 5 kids, ages 7 and under.

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First, we stuck to a routine of sorts during our stay. We got up bright and early every morning, ate breakfast and decided on a hike we would do that day. We would drive out to our hike, hit the trail, and then return to our car and head to an alternate location for lunch. This alone enabled us to see a lot more of Moab than we otherwise would have.

After lunch we let the kids roam free for about an hour. It was good to give them this free-play. Most days this meant that they were lizard hunting. Sometimes it meant they were climbing on some bouldering spots we came across, sometimes we simply went to the city park. Keeping it simple means winning with kids 9 times out of 10.

Once we’d had some time to eat and play, we headed over to swim at the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. Yes, we swam EVERY DAY. We even had a pool at the hotel, but still went to the Rec for swimming cause the pool is AWESOME!! It was simply the best to cool off from 2-4 p.m. or 3-5 p.m., then hit the showers before dinner. Plus, ice cream every night, how can you beat that as a kid?!?!

Here are some of our favorite HIKES to do with kiddos in the red rock, followed by some great actives in town, and last some food recommendations:

Arches National Park**

Let me say that we spent two out of three days in Arches. There is always more to see, and you could seriously spend your ENTIRE time here. We still have yet to hit every arch, and we have been there upwards of 10 times. Of course, we have favorites that we return to again and again, and there are definitely hikes that are still far beyond the capacity of my kids.

Balanced Rock: This is the easiest sight to view in the park. It is about 7 miles into the park. Parking lot is on the right. You walk up. You jump around. You chase lizards. You walk back. IMPORTANT NOTE: Across the road from Balanced rock is a nice little place to have lunch, or use the restroom. The road begins as pavement, but quickly turns to gravel, nothing too harry. We hit this spot almost every time we are in the park to either go potty or eat lunch. They have picnic tables both covered and uncovered.

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Sand Dune Arch: This is another easy park the car, walk up the path, and you have ARRIVED hike! About 16 miles into the park. Parking lot is on the right. Beware the sand!!!! Some people don’t care, some people, like me, loath sand. My kids throw it on themselves and everyone else. Hence we have only gone to this arch once.

Skyline Arch: This is another quick walk to an awesome sight! (Also visible from the road.) 17 miles from the entrance. Skyline also has the distinction of being an Arch that has cracked during human record in the park. Apparently, in November 1940 a huge chunk fell out of it, doubling its size!!

North and South Window and Turret Arch: This is a fun, easy walk, that is a little longer than going to see Balanced Rock or Sand Dune Arch. 11.5 miles into the park. You can also easily get to Turret Arch, and Double Arch from this parking lot. You can climb right up to the North Window, get right underneath it. Climb behind it (for older kids or with adult supervision), and head around on the primitive trail to get a good view of both windows.

Delicate Arch Overlook: This is the trail we took this past trip to view Delicate Arch. This trail is EASY! It does have some uphill climbs, but it is short and sweet, and you quickly come to a viewpoint of Delicate Arch. We had a three-year-old with us this past trip, and with five kids and two moms we just didn’t want to do the Delicate Arch trail.

That said, I think this overlook is a bit of a disappointment. You get a good look at the arch, but you can see all of the people who have made the trek to the arch itself, and I was bummed we didn’t. Here again, you have to look at the hikers you have with you! If you know that your children will be hot and tired out quickly, this is a good alternative.

Landscape Arch: This is another easy hike. I think it is .8 of a mile in and then .8 back (obviously). The great thing about Landscape Arch is that it is big and bold. This arch also boasts a crumble in recent history when a huge boulder sheared off in 1991. Double O Arch is right next door, and if you’re feeling brave you can do the other arches on the primitive trail in the Devil’s Garden. The trail forms a loop. But with kids, the out and back is perfect. Another great, easy hike for a family.

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Delicate Arch: This trail is actually one of the hardest in the Park, in my opinion. It is long, steep in places, and there is a place at the end that has a sheer cliff on one side. That said, there is no place that is unsafe.

You should have no fear taking kids here, as there are plenty of people who make it there and back who will be far more taxed than you or your children will be. Most children five and older would be fine on Delicate Arch and children four-years-old and younger really can manage you simply have to take your time, go in the morning when it is cool, and bring plenty of water (and snacks if you kids are like mine:).

The point is, this trail is not THAT hard. It is made more difficult by the amount of people who hike it. The fact that there are some “tricky” sections, and the heat can be a real limiting factor. My suggestion is to get to the trailhead by 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. if you can. (You will also then avoid the long lines at the entrance station.**)

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Other Great Hikes

Corona Arch: Highway 279. I love this hike. It is 1.5 miles in to the arch, so 3 miles roundtrip. The view of Corona Arch is AWESOME. The trail is easy to follow. There are some corded sections, but honestly nothing that kids can’t do. The trailhead is 10 miles up 279 almost to the mile, and you can easily google directions to this arch.

Negro Bill Canyon: Highway 128. 2 miles in 4 miles round trip, this is a great hike if the weather is unforgivingly hot. Give yourself 4 hours or more to complete this trail. When you come to the first light in town, take a left and you will drive 3 miles and come to the Negro Bill Trailhead. The parking lot is on the right side of the road.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge is located at the end of the second side canyon on the right. The trail forks just below this canyon. Follow the trail to the right, go across the stream, and head up the steep slope. Morning Glory Bridge is located at the end of the trail about 0.5 miles up the canyon from the stream.

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Fisher Towers: Highway 128. On the same highway you take to get to Negro Bill Canyon, if you keep going 15 more miles or so you will come to Fisher Towers. This is a beautiful place to hike or camp. You don’t have to have an particular route in mind. Simply take a wander through these rock rills. This is also a destination for climbers.

Dead Horse Point State Park: We love to take in the views at Dead Horse Point. There is nothing more breathtaking than looking down on the Colorado River as it meanders through those tiered red canyons. NOTE: there is an additional cost to go to Dead Horse Point State Park. Even if you have a National Parks Pass, this park is NOT covered.

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In Town

Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center: The best thing that ever happened to us is finding the Moab Rec. Just google map your way here. The pool is fantastic, shower facilities are available, and the playground next door is the perfect after-swim activity. There is also a skate park on the grounds. When you need to cool off after a long day of sun-drenched activities this is the place to do it!

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Food

Moab Diner: BEST ICE CREAM! We stopped in at Moab Diner for ICE CREAM after two dinners. That’s how good we thought it was! Their service was FAST. They got our ice cream to us in a SNAP!!

Jailhouse Cafe: Jailhouse has the best Eggs Benedict in town by far! Their other breakfast fare is not far behind and they rate as my favorite classic breakfast spot on main. You better check their hours carefully when you get in to town because we’ve shown up a few times and they were already closed for the day.

Eklectica: My favorite eating spot in all of Moab is Eklectica. A mix of killer breakfast burritos, the most wonderful huevos rancheros I’ve ever eaten, super salads, and to-die-for baked goods. Their service is… chill. But the food is amazing, and my boys ask for a cinnamon roll from here every time we’re in town.

Pasta Jays: I would say that this is the best Itallian in town. We eat here almost every time we go to Moab. Decent prices, and I think their food is much better tasting than Zax’s. (But Zax has pizza by the slice, see below.)

Zax: Pizza by the slice is the highlight of this diner. I’ll be honest, the pizza is not the best I’ve ever had. But it was good, and the kids loved being able to pick out their pizza by the slice. $1.50 per slice, some ate 1 piece, some ate 3!!! Prices are reasonable. (BTW: Nothing else comes with the pizza, so if you have super hungry kids it might be best just to order an entire pizza and a bunch of other sides!)

Twisted Sister: This local food spot has some really unique and delicious dishes. We’ve had some of the most amazing homemade soups here. If you are looking for something a little more off-beat, but always on point in the flavor department, this is the place. And for some reason our kids think that their menu is the best in town.

Peace Tree: If you are looking for a fresh delicious salad this is the place. They have a killer beet salad, and their other salad offerings are so good. This place is a little on the pricier side.

The Spoke: This diner is new in town, but has really good food. The fish and chips are delicious! It is on the pricier side, but they do have good all-American fare, and I can’t wait to try the Fried Mac-and-Cheese Balls with my husband. They sound horribly, calorically delicious!!

Milt’s: BEST BURGER. The best burger in town is at Milt’s. We have actually never been there, but their reviews online are off of the charts. You will have to Google Map this one, because it is off of the main drag. But I am willing to bet that the burgers here are WAY better than the ones at Eddie McStiff’s or The Moab Brewery.

Moab Brewery: Okay, so here’s the truth, my husband loves the Moab Brewery. I do NOT love it as much. I think the food is marginal at best, and overpriced. They DO HAVE delicious gelato. But that is the only reason I would ever send anyone there. The pizza place in the strip mall next door isn’t too bad, either.

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Like all good things, eventually our trip had to come to an end. This is what five wonderful days in Moab will get you– a lung-crushing group hug and memories to last a lifetime! ❤ Yes the fifth member of our kids’ party is in there somewhere, you can see the tippy top of his head if you look closely!

I’d love to hear any of your questions, comments, or further recommendations below! Have a Fantastic Friday, and a Fabulous Weekend!!!

XX, Megan

**A NOTE ABOUT LINES: If you’ve heard about the ridiculously long lines at the Arches National Park Entrance you are not being lied to. Lines at the Park Entrance are NO JOKE!! We showed up there on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. to pick up souvenirs from the Visitor’s Center before heading home. We were third in line to enter the park. By the time we left at 9:30 a.m. the line stretched all the way back to Highway 191. Moral of the story: GET THERE EARLY. You’ll avoid the lines, you’ll avoid the heat.

Night: It is also worth noting that it is beautiful to visit Arches NP just before dusk. The heat of the day will be lingering, not scorching. The lines at the entrance tend to be smaller, and you can get some awesome moonrise or moonset or sunset views surrounded by the grandeur of the Red Rock castles and windows. Simply sublime.

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