We didn’t know what to expect to find in Moab other than arches, slick rock, and mountain biking. All that is there, of course, but there is a whole lot more to do, too.
Take a Hike
Check out my five favorite hikes for kids and families.
Whether you want to become a Junior Ranger or just learn from a Park Service Ranger, Arches National Park has you covered.
Check in at the visitor center to pick up a Junior Ranger book (or download it before you go). Kids write and draw about what they’ve learned while visiting the park. When the booklet is completed, they get a junior ranger badge (or you can buy a nicer patch in the gift shop).
The Park Service offers a guided ranger walk most days fall through spring, and an evening ranger talk at the Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater. While most ranger walks are pretty basic, in my opinion, they are a nice introduction to a new place. I find I always leave with some new information and its nice to have someone else answer my kids questions once in awhile. Attending a ranger walk is one of the optional activities included in the Junior Ranger program. Find times and locations at the visitor center, or check the Visitor Guide before you go.
Read the Writing on the Wall
There are several places to see Indian Writing in the area, but one of the most accessible is along the Potash Road, Scenic Byway 279. The Fremont, ancestral Puebloan, and Ute people left images all over the area between 600 A.D. and 1300 A.D. The Fremont art includes older portrayals of animals, lines of hand-holding men, and triangular figures with horns, spears, and shields. The more modern petrolgyphs, including horse riders and hunting motifs appear to be the work of the Ute Indians in more recent times.
Turn onto Potash Road from Hwy 191 between the entrance to Arches and crossing of the Colorado River. Its about five miles to the two signed pullouts. The pull outs are on the river side of the road and the petroglyphs are on the wall across the road. Bring a chair to sit and gaze at the petroglyphs for awhile. (Oil from our skin makes the rock inscriptions fade, so no touching!)
The Moab Aquatic Center is an amazing facility for any town. The fact that it is in 5,000-person Moab, makes it all that more impressive. There are a couple outdoor pools, but they were not yet open when we visited — too cold still.
We needed showers and an escape from the rain, so we donned our suits and jumped into the indoor pool. There is a large section with a fountain for little kids, a big pool for everyone else, a diving board, high dive, and water slide. The boys and I climbed the steps and slid down the tunnel slide over and over.
If you just need a shower, you can pay for that, but its only a dollar less than a swim pass–definitely worth a couple slide rides.
Museum of Moab
We didn’t have time to get to the Museum of Moab, but I wanted to check it out. From dinosaurs, to rocks, to mining, to early inhabitant and pioneer history, you can learn about it at the museum.
Find it at 118 East Center Street, just down from the Information Center.
We went to Moab and Arches National Park as part of a bigger tour that also included several state parks in Utah, Bryce National Park, and the Grand Canyon. I highly recommend adding Arches to your southern Utah road trip itinerary. We also wanted to visit Zion National Park with kids, but had to save that for next time.
Bonus: Visit Utah’s Other “Mighty 5”
We visited Arches National Park as part of a larger road trip, which I think many people do. Utah calls its National Parks the “Mighty 5.”
We wandered through the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Peaked into the Narrows in Zion (Zion is also amazing in winter.) Sat in the shade at Capital Reef, and got lost in the canyons (figuratively) in Canyonlands.
If you go in winter, make sure to check out these tips for visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon in winter.
If you are in Utah in winter, don’t miss the ice castles in Midway.