Travel

A Week in Moab: Sightseeing, Free Camping, & Hiking

F
ree camping, arch sighting, long hiking, oh my! In March we took off for a camping road trip to Moab, Utah. We were blown away by all of the trails, activities, and campsites around Moab. After our 5 night stay, it felt like we barely scratched the surface of what the area has to offer. 

I put together a list of all the things we experienced in Moab. If you are headed to Utah and looking for free places to camp and things to see, this post is for you! And if you are staying right where you are, that’s cool too. Enjoy the pictures from this beautiful place. 

Free Camping

Strapped with a brand new rooftop tent, Austin and I were unwilling to pay for camping in Utah. Luckily, Moab is filled with free camping for those equipped with 4WD and high clearance vehicles. If you’re comfortable camping without the finer things, aka outhouses and running water, then free camping is a great way to save money.  

We found all of our campsites using the map below. Google maps was a lost cause out in the desert, so this was a great resource.

Gemini Bridges Road (#4)

We loved this site so much that we ended up staying two nights here. The drive is definitely for 4WD, high clearance vehicles only. Portions of the road are gravel, but a majority of the drive was climbing and then descending steep & rocky paths. 

The campsites sat in the bottom of the canyon, surrounded by high rock walls all around. It was breathtaking. There were 5-6 camping sites that each felt private and isolated from one another. We took a quick walk with Remi one night, but there were paths for bikers, runners, and hikers galore. It would be a great site to stay and explore for several days.

Long Canyon Road (#5)

Let’s just say we took the “scenic route” to get to this campsite. One very rocky climb and a few nervous tears later, we made it to the most beautiful campsite of the trip. For the less adventurous (myself included), I recommend taking the less nail-biting route which comes in from the main highway system. I would guess there were 4-5 campsites at the top of the mountain. 

The overlook was beautiful. It was a quiet and serene campsite.

Lone Mesa Area (#6)

For our final night, we didn't want to adventure onto any long trails to get to our campsite. The Lone Mesa Area camping was a short distance from the highway and relatively easy to get to in comparison to the previous sites. It had a very desert feel but was also beautiful and scenic.

Hiking

Arches National Park

We spent a morning hiking Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park. The full loop is somewhere around 8 miles but has plenty of opportunity for shortcuts. We ended up hiking around 6 miles and skipping one of the viewpoints at the farthest point of the loop. There were several arches close to the trail. Overall, it was a great workout with beautiful views! Much of Arches National Park looks the same so I felt like we got the full "Arches experience" from this hike.

Important to note if you are traveling with a furry friend, none of the national parks in Moab are dog friendly. Your dog can be in the vehicle, but not on any of the trails. For our big hike day, we dropped Remi off at Moab National Bark doggy daycare for the day. It was perfect and only $45 for a full day of fun. She had a great time with the other dogs, we had an awesome hike and doggy-free shopping experience in downtown Moab. 

Entrance to Arches and other national parks costs about $35  for the day. We used the annual parks pass I mentioned in a previous travel blog post. It is $80 for a year of national parks entrance and well worth the price! Since our most recent parks pass from July 2020, we have been through Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands National park!

Sightseeing

Arches National Park

The day we hiked in Arches, we also saw all the major sights in the park. Great views and some crazy rock formations.

Canyonlands National Park

Arches takes a lot of the hype in Moab, but I was blown away by the beauty of Canyonlands. It was a more expansive version of the Grand Canyons with the breathtaking La Sal mountain range as a backdrop. We drove through the entire north end of the park with some windows down sightseeing, pulling off at lookouts when we wanted. It was absolutely stunning. 

Shopping in downtown

I am a sucker for the southwestern influence in the Utah/Arizona area. It was so cool to look at the variety of artwork and handmade jewelry in the shops around Moab. Plus a good memento crewneck never hurt anybody.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip! March seemed like a great time to see the parks in their less-traveled state. There is certainly no shortage of sightseeing in Moab. If you are looking for your next vacation spot, Utah will not disappoint. 

Looking for more resources? Check out our other tips for traveling on a budget and packing efficiently. 

Until next time,

xx Mich

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