24 Hrs in Moab, Utah

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If you’ve ever imagined a small desert down, Moab might be the place that you’ve pictured. This tiny Utah town is nestled between glowing red rocks and natural wonders that draw visitors from all over the world. It’s a mecca for outdoor activity, where adventurers come for world-class climbing, mountain biking, rafting and off-roading. Weeks of exploring could not even graze the surface of Moab’s wonders. However, if you ever find yourself with just 24 to kill Moab (like the day before or after your Backroads Moab and Canyonlands Bike Tour), these activities will give you a good taste of what else the town has to offer.

Jailhouse Café breakfast, Moab, Utah

Fuel up at the Jailhouse Café

Early to Eat, Early to Play

Head to Jailhouse Café, housed in a building that once served as the county courthouse, for a classic American breakfast. With a beautiful patio outside, it’s easy to take in the local street culture while enjoying a delicious meal cooked in a small kitchen that used to be a holding cell for captives before trial.

Moab is very much a themed town, so as you walk around look out for street art (even the garbage cans have some special details on them).

Morning to Midday Mountain Biking

Rent a mountain bike from one of the many outfitters in town. Riders of all abilities should hit up the mountain bike Brand Trails just north of the city, which are easily accessible by shuttle. Give trails M, O, A or B a try: each offers a unique flavor of terrain. Your options will range from the fast, fun and famous Moab slick rock to more moderate whoop-de-doo trails that wind through the desert. All are well-marked with difficulty ratings, elevation charts and distance markers. Be sure to scan the horizon: a good eye can spot some arches miles away in Arches National Park!

Mountain Biking on Slickrock, Brand Trials, Moab, Utah

Slickrock on the Brand Trails

Beat the Heat

Take the bike trail back to town, passing the entrance to Arches National Park and over the Colorado River. If your sense of adventure is still fully charged, take a sharp left after you cross the bridge and ride up the canyon (down river) where you’ll be dwarfed by majestic cliffs rising high above the water. You may even notice people filling up their bottles at Matrimony Springs, a water source that’s naturally filtered as it flows through the rock! Once you’re back in town, head to the Peace Tree Juice Café for one of their many refreshing smoothies. This is a great place to spend some time resting and recapping the day’s activities while the sun is at its hottest.

Themed garbage cans in Moab, Utah

Themed garbage cans!

Experience the Glow

A few hours before the sun sets, head over the Delicate Arch trailhead in Arches National Park. Be sure to pack a headlamp and stay for an extra special experience: watching the sunset while sitting on the edge of the massive bowl that Delicate Arch hugs. Head back to the car before its completely dark, but know that the night will probably catch up to you before you get back. Pause to look up at the night sky–you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular scene nearly free of light pollution.

A Classic Way to End the Day

Last stop is at the quaint Milt’s diner, known for its burgers and shakes since 1954, making it Moab’s oldest restaurant. Enjoy a hearty dinner under the massive tree in their outdoor seating area–a perfect splurge to end a day full of activity.

Delicate Arch at sunset in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Delicate Arch at sunset in Arches National Park




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Dirk Badenhorst

Dirk Badenhorst

Trip Leader at Backroads
After earning his bachelors in marketing, Dirk moved out west on a whim and has since enjoyed living a “simple life”—which he defines as a life free from clutter but rich with exciting new experiences. Everything he owns fits in his car, but everything he needs fits in his memory, he says. In 2010, after spending three months hitching and cycling across America on a shoestring budget, he discovered his love for the “charming nature” of adventure travel. He hasn’t stopped traveling since, and has even spent a summer as a writer/photographer in Africa. Dirk spent his first season with Backroads working on the Camp Crew in Alaska, the Tetons and the Canyons. He now works as Trip Leader and blogs for the Back Beat.
Dirk Badenhorst

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