If you’re a movie buff, you may already recognize the warm-hued arches and mountains from movies like 127 Hours, Star Trek, and Mission Impossible II.
But it’s time for your own movie montage.
Picture this: You wake up to chirping birds and the faint morning sun ricocheting off red mountains in the distance. Later, you’re going on a hike and ATV ride among century-old rock formations. Tonight you’re going on a river dinner cruise with a light and music show. Life’s good, and you’re excited for your jam-packed 2 Days in Moab itinerary ahead.
This guide covers the best things to do and see on your short visit to this city in southeastern Utah.
But, before you start, read this Moab travel guide for everything you need to know before you go!
Disclaimer: Hey explorer! This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of each purchase made through my links. I only ever recommend products I believe in and appreciate your support if you decide to use my links—thank you!
Where to Stay in Moab, UT
If you’re planning on visiting Moab, you’ll probably need some place to crash, huh?
The good news is that it doesn’t matter how long your Moab trip is because almost anywhere you stay will have amazing views.
But here are a few faves:
This 3-star hotel is basically on Arches National Park’s doorstep yet remains affordable.
Rooms are modern and spacious, with the biggest being able to sleep up to six guests — perfect for a family or friend group getaway.
You can also expect amazing amenities like a seasonal outdoor pool, year-round hot tub, gym, and disability facilities.
If you want to experience downtown Moab with your pet at hand, you better book a spot at this 3-star hotel.
Rooms come with a kitchenette, en-suite bathroom, and seating area.
You’ll also be treated to a breakfast buffet. This comes in handy when the aromas of the restaurant just a stone’s throw away have your stomach growling.
This hotel cranks up the price point a bit, but once you see it, you’ll understand why.
It is a 4-star contemporary hotel hugged by the nearby mountains, which you can ogle at from the heated outdoor pool.
Rooms follow suit with smooth finishes, eye-catching decor, and scenic views.
Let’s cover some final planning tips before jumping straight into the itinerary.
Downtown Moab is quite walkable, with many shops and restaurants within a few feet of each other.
You won’t be able to reach any other place in the city by foot — even if you have feet big enough to fit clown shoes.
So, what to do?
Rent a car instead.
It will save you endless pain in your feet and pocket.
For this itinerary, you’ll be moving through two national parks, so it would be a good idea to get an America The Beautiful Pass to save a few coins!
Things to Do in Moab & Map
These are a few of the top things to do in the city. They’ll be broken down more in the following two-day itinerary, but here they are at a quick glance:
Visit the city’s National Parks — Utah parks are great for outdoor adventures like hikes, biking trails, and 4×4 trails.
See the Colorado River — You can see this terrific river from many angles in Moab. Probably one of the best ways is on a dinner cruise.
Shop and eat downtown — Downtown is where most shops and restaurants are. It’s a great place to explore before driving to your following destinations.
And here’s a map of the area.
Now let’s jump into that itinerary!
READ NEXT: Utah National Parks Road Trip
Your Two Days in Moab Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1:
- Downtown Moab
- Hell’s Revenge/ Arches National Park
- Colorado River Dinner Cruise
- Day 2:
- Moab Giants
- Watch the Sunset
- Take Moon-lit Hikes
Let’s dive into your itinerary now!
First, let’s get to know you.
Are you an early-bird-catches-the-worm type traveler or a night-owl-on-the-prowl type person?
This is essential information to know when you arrive for your visit to Moab.
If you’re a night owl, you’ll have a better time on your trip if you arrive the evening before. That way, you can squeeze in a dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants or pubs.
There are a few places to go to self-induce a food coma, but one of the best places to do that is Zax Restaurant. They offer pizza, burgers, pasta, and a bar in downtown Moab.
Depending on your arrival, early risers, you might still have time for a sunrise breakfast before exploring the city for the day. Try the retro Moab Diner on the main street, which serves an all-day breakfast from 6 am.
Tip: If you’re ever in doubt about where to pick up some grub, just cruise through South Main Street for a pick of the city’s best eateries.
Day 1 Moab Itinerary
An Arches and Canyonlands itinerary can take as long as you want. But, for this trip, you’ll only spend half a day at each park. That way, you’ll still have plenty of time to explore more of the city in one day in Moab.
For your first day in Moab, you’ll explore downtown and one of the national parks — Arches National Park.
This National Park has no restaurants, so you’ll have to pick up sustenance before you go. Many hotels offer buffet breakfasts to their guests either free of charge or at a low cost.
If your hotel doesn’t provide this service, Moab Diner is always a winner and opens at the crack of dawn. You can also pick up lunch boxes to-go there for a mid-day lunch in the park.
On your first morning in Moab, you can spend your first few hours just exploring the downtown area yourself.
There are many coffee shops, restaurants, and shops on South Main Street alone.
Stop by Moab Made, Lema’s Kokopelli Gallery, and Hogan Trading Company to pick some fantastic gifts and art pieces made by locals.
A few great clothing shops also sell handmade and custom pieces.
Then, stop by one of the great eateries for a quick brunch or lunch before heading to your next destination.
Notable ones are Jailhouse Cafe, Moab Coffee Roasters, and Love Muffin Cafe.
Your first adventure of the day is called Hell’s Revenge. Don’t worry. It isn’t as bad as it sounds.
This Hell’s Revenge 4×4 Off-Roading Tour from Moab is a midday tour of the 6.5-mile terrain outside downtown Moab.
On your 2.5-hour driving trip, you’ll see the fantastic views of the La Sal Mountains, Abyss Canyon, and the Colorado River on a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping ride.
After that thrilling experience, it’s time to head over to Arches National Park.
This setting is much more relaxing and allows for tranquil walks and stunning views that will stop you in your tracks.
So, if off-roading isn’t your thing, consider this Arches National Park Adventure from Moab instead.
Of course, you don’t need to take a tour to enjoy the park. Just buy an admission ticket and take a self-guided tour. There is plenty to do and see, from fantastic scenic drives to rock climbing and hikes.
Here are some of my faves:
- Hike to Delicate Arch
- Visit the Windows Section
- Get a permit for Fiery Furnace
- Visit Sand Dune Arch
READ NEXT: The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip
On your trip to Arches NP, you should try to see at least one of these bucket list areas!
For a night-time treat, you might enjoy this Colorado River Dinner Cruise.
It comes accompanied by music and a light show.
Come on that is a fantastic way to end the night!
On this romantic cruise, you’ll be seated in a dining room with river views and served a delicious cowboy-style dinner from a Dutch oven.
After this, the theatrics begin with your guide’s show of lights, shadows, music, and dramatic storytelling.
On this ride, you’ll learn about the canyon’s history through the lens of its early settlers.
Note: No flash photography is allowed, and remember to bring a jacket along!
Day 2 Moab Itinerary
Another day, another marvelous adventure on this two-day trip to Moab!
After a day in Arches, Canyonland’s itinerary is up next for day two.
While you could spend about two days exploring Arches, Canyonlands only needs you to pretend to be Bear Grylls for about a day.
Did you know that Arches National Park’s formations date back to the Jurassic Era?
And after yesterday, you’ve only scratched the surface of the areas 300+ million-year-old bows.
However, if you’d like to explore another prehistoric attraction, visit the Moab Giants.
This is an open-air museum of (you guessed it) dinosaurs.
First things first; breakfast. Visit the Giant’s Cafe for breakfast and a drink from their themed menu. Then, head to the action.
This museum is a fun place to kill an hour or two and still learn about the area’s prehistoric past.
Hike the dinosaur trail to spot 100 life-sized dinos as well as a fantastic view of the Arches National Park.
There are also a few interactive exhibits to explore, like the 5D Prehistoric aquarium, 3D theater, and the tracks museum.
As an alternative, you can do a sunrise mission to Corona and Bowtie Arches—the trail is located in Moab and a moderately, challenging 2.4-mile round trip adventure.
It takes about 1 hour to complete.
Good to know: It’s good to keep in mind that the museum is closed on Wednesdays.
After a Jurassic amount of fun at the museum, it’s time to move to Dead Horse Point State Park — about a 30-minute drive away.
You probably wouldn’t expect too much with a name that bleak, but the views here are amazing.
But first, let’s address the elephant (or horse) in the room. This is cowboy territory, and it was the area where many corralled horses accidentally succumbed to the elements and lack of food and water.
Today, visitors often report seeing or hearing horses roam here from time to time — or so the legend goes.
Whether you believe this 19th-century folklore is up to you. But, what you cannot deny are the astounding views.
With the flat top rock formations and Colorado River below mirroring the sky, it will feel like you’re captured in a painting.
Most trails here are relatively easy, like the Dead Horse Point Overlook Trail.
This is a short hiking trip that takes less than an hour but leads to the awe-inspiring and iconic photo view.
You’ll only need a few hours max at Dead Horse Point before you make your way over to Canyonlands National Park.
The parks are about a short 15-minute drive away from each other, so it’s quite easy to reach by car.
It isn’t that far from Canyonlands to Moab. So, you can spend a few more hours in the park before heading to your accommodation for the last night.
Canyonlands is the perfect place to watch the sunset.
For the best views, head over to Green River Overlook at sunset.
Utah is also one of the few places in the US that gets minimal light pollution, which means the sky is really alight with stars almost every night.
So, don’t forget to stick around for the canyon’s amazing full moon hikes!
The dark skies allow you to see the Milky Way crystal clear.
These hikes typically happen in summer and start at White Rim Overlook.
Let’s be frank, Moab is a great city with so much to explore.
So don’t be afraid to mix it up a little and remove and add a few of the things you most badly want to see instead!
Packrafting in the Moab area is one of my TOP recommendations.
It’s basically like backpacking, but on a raft you can take on the go.
Packrafting Utah was a serious bucket list experience for me that everyone needs to try at least once.
You can book an epic packrafting adventure down the Green River for an unforgettable experience.
You might not know this, but spending 2 days in Moab, Utah gives you the perfect amount of time to try things you wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise.
Canyoneering is one of those activities!
You’ll have the chance to scale some of Moab’s gorgeous rock formations, Indiana Jones style.
Sure, you can see the canyons well enough on foot, but why not float above them and see them from a different angle?
It doesn’t matter how many days in Arches National Park you spend, you’ll be surprised at the beauty from above.
You can go on a scenic airplane ride to get a different perspective!
Utah is a cowboy landscape, so saddle up a horse and gallop away. It is a great way to see the landscape at a closer yet faster range.
You don’t have to be a seasoned rider to enjoy the activity; beginners are welcome.
Perhaps don’t ride a horse in Dead Point State Park. You wouldn’t want to spook them there!
Final Tips for Your 2 Days in Moab Itinerary
Let’s wrap all this up with some parting tips for your Moab 2 day itinerary.
Practice Good Hiking Trail Etiquette
There’s nothing worse than walking behind someone that doesn’t respect nature as they should.
If you’re a first-time hiker, make sure this isn’t you and that you practice good hiking trail etiquette.
Prepare for the Heat
Utah’s summers can be sweltering.
Expect temperatures to rise anywhere between 85°F to 88°F.
Now, add that to the scorching desert terrain, and it may feel like you’re trapped in an oven. Layer up on sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and stay hydrated.
Plan Your Hikes Well
Ranking Utah National Parks may be difficult, but Moab’s National Parks are among the most highly rated places to hike.
Make sure you know the hiking trail’s length, elevation, and duration before attempting it.
Also, ensure you have enough water, snacks, and food to carry you throughout the hike.
Make a Trip Out of It
You’re already visiting 2 Utah National Parks, so why not visit the rest of them?
Take a Utah National Parks road trip through the Big 5!
You’ll get to see what Bryce, Capitol Reef and Zion have to offer.
You can also take an Arizona Utah road trip, which I have a post on ;).
Moab, Utah is the perfect place for travelers and adventure-lovers to experience new things in a gorgeous, other-worldly setting.
So have fun and enjoy yourself!
If you want more tips for exploring Utah, make sure you click here to check out my other Southwest posts!