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.

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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.moab_desert_bistro 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 tubmoab_gonzo_2 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.