Some say Moab was named by its first postmaster, William Andrew Peirce, who believed the area to be the American manifestation of the Biblical kingdom of the same name. There’s no denying Moab’s otherworldly spirit; “nature’s cathedral” some call it, its spires and archangels seemingly carved from stone by celestial winds, are a slice of heaven on earth, in the south east corner of Utah.
Day One—Heaven Sent
Opt for rustic elegance at Hoodoo Moab, Moab’s first four diamond-rated hotel, which takes design cues from the rancher lifestyle to create a relaxing ambiance of Western sophistication.
Open since August 2019, the Hoodoo Moab is located a block from Main Street, so you can easily walk to nearby restaurants and coffee shops—and did we mention the views? You’ll wake up to views of Moab’s red rocks, just a ten-minute drive away from Arches National Park.
Nature beckons, and we suggest easing yourself into this remarkable landscape with an afternoon hike to the top of the evocatively-named Poison Spider Mesa. You’ll find this popular trail just northwest of town. Climb the Navajo Sandstone slick rock to the rim and feel your horizons open up as you take in the views across Moab Valley, one thousand feet below to the east, panoramic vistas that will stun even the most jaded of eyes. Set your gaze to Arches, about three miles away, and arguably the climax of any Moab trip—you’ll be there soon.
Ancient petroglyphs can be found along the trail, rock art dating back to between 1 AD and 1300 AD, thought to have been made by the Fremont or Anasazi people who frequented this region. Humans weren’t the only ones drawn to this surreally magnificent landscape—check out some prints left by dinosaurs, who also roamed this supersized terrain.
Back at the hotel, dine at the excellent Josie Wyatt’s Grille, housed within the Hoodoo. Brainchild of Jay Elowsky, member of a culinary dynasty dating back to his great great grandmother who was a cook for Italian royal family, Elowsky named the restaurant for his children, while paying homage to Josephine and Wyatt Earp of Western lore. Yee haw!
Day Two – Hallelujah!
Today’s a big day—you’re going to spend it worshiping at Nature’s Church. Whet your appetite with an invigorating 4.65-mile round trip hike along Morning Glory Canyon Trail, whose stunning red rocks and flowing stream create a lush desert oasis with a wide assortment of plant and animal life. You have to wade across the stream in a couple places, so make sure your footwear is up to the job, although getting wet is part of the fun of this hike.
Some of the water crossings are a little tricky, so like Moses, be prepared to command the waters to part, and expect a wide range of types of terrain: mud, sand, loose rock.
At the end, a natural red rock arch announces this to be the gateway to heaven, while also offering a shady spot to eat some lunch. We got ours packed from Moab Garage on Main Street, who do the best breakfast burritos in town.
By now, you’ll be itching to get to Arches National Park. A masterpiece of natural architecture, Arches is a true visual wonder and home to the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches; more than two thousand of them, to be precise, dotted around 76,518 acres.
You could spend a lifetime getting to know them all, but we especially loved Balanced Rock, a 128-foot landform with a huge rock perched 55 feet above its base. Gasp at other astounding geological formations—colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires, which dwarf visitors as they explore the park’s viewpoints and hiking trails.
The park is well organized, so all you need to do is follow the paved scenic drive that takes visitors to most of the park’s major viewpoints. It’s $30 per vehicle, and your pass will be good for seven days.
A day at Arches warrants a special post-hiking meal, so head to Desert Bistro, “Moab’s finest dining experience” according to Forbes. Don’t worry too much about dress code; no-one will judge you for being a little dusty or wearing casual attire. Located in a small adobe house just off Main Street, the menu features handmade pastas, locally-sourced beef, and beautiful salads; we especially enjoyed their home-baked bread.
Day Three – Can I Get An Amen?
You’re fully in the groove of this otherworldly landscape, so how about upping the ante and hopping on two wheels? Daredevils will want to ride Slickrock Bike Trail, a challenging 9.6 mile trail featuring steep climbs, sand and petrified dunes. Allow four hours to complete the loop, which is considered by many to be the best bike ride in America, attracting 100,000 daredevils a year.
For the rest of us, Moab offers a wealth of easy, well-maintained scenic bike routes, perfect for beginner and intermediate cyclists. Brand Trails is an excellent, scenic ride with a flowy finish on the final downhill—after all this activity, your trail lunch, picked up to go from Sweet Cravings Bakery & Bistro, will be well-earned.
Spend your final afternoon ambling along Moab’s Main Street, whose charming storefronts reflect the thriving culture of a small town that attracts visitors from all over the globe. Quaint and rustic, Main Street’s friendly merchants embody the warm values of yesteryear, while reflecting a modern, global sensibility. Speaking of which, Thai street food in the Utah wilderness sounds like a perfect way to close out this Moab adventure, so pop into Thai Bella and try their Khao-Soi. A yellow curry served with crispy noodles, onion, lime, cilantro and your choice of protein, we’re sure Moab’s first postmaster, William Andrew Peirce, would have approved of this gastronomic heaven on earth.
Raquel Baldelomar is an entrepreneur, author, and journalist. She is author of Sugar Crush (HarperCollins, 2015). Her written and video journalism focuses on how travel leads to a unique kind of productivity, creativity, and wellness. She can be found at https://www.instagram.com/rbaldelomar/.