By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Managing Editor
Nestled between Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Moab is both a sightseer’s dream and an outdoor recreationalist’s mecca. The parks offer thousands of sandstone arches and canyons for those seeking a beautiful drive peppered with a few hikes, and be sure to look for ancient petroglyphs when you’re out walking around. Nearby, the mountain biking, climbing and four-wheeling are unparalleled, with endless scenic trails and rock formations.
This time of year is one of the best to get away to Moab. The area’s climate is reasonable (low-mid 60s for highs) and the tourism numbers aren’t quite as high as in the summer.
Getting here: Drive – 9.5 hours south, bring bike, climbing gear, etc.
Fly – Can be pricey, but flights into Moab’s Canyonlands Field Airport, Grand Junction, or Salt Lake City could save you some travel time.
Dining: Desert Bistro
Built in an adobe structure that was once Moab’s first dance hall, Desert Bistro specializes in southwestern cuisine. Stop in for smoked rabbit quesadilla, handmade Agnolotti pasta in Marsala wine, or free-range chicken breast with mole, roasted peppers and corn salsa. Desert Bistro features an extensive wine collection.
Tip: For a more intimate setting reserve the wine cellar table, available for up to six people.
Lodging: The Gonzo Inn
The Gonzo Inn, located in the heart of downtown Moab, provides a comfortable and welcoming stay with a 70s-style art deco feel. Go big with the Gonzo Suite, which sleeps up to six, has a jetted tub and offers broad views from a spacious balcony; or take it down a notch in one of its cozy King rooms. With a large outdoor pool and hot tub, you’ll be lodging in style and, as its website describes, have found a “funky place to crash.”
Featured activity: Mountain biking
Pro: The Slickrock bike trail may be the most famous – and one of the most challenging – mountain bike rides in the nation. A 10.5-mile loop, sections of this epic trail are named “Faith in Friction” and “Steep Creep.” Bring your full-suspension, your “A” game, and some Advil for afterward. Tip: Try the 2.3-mile “Practice Loop” if you’re questioning your ability.
Novice: The Bar M Loop is a beginner’s double-track trail with outstanding views of Arches National Park. It’s approximately eight miles long and is a perfect introductory trail to get your tires under you.