96 HOURS IN MOAB
A hiking enthusiast, and a fan of anything that gets me off my phone and away from a WiFi signal, my fiancé planned a trip out west to celebrate my 27th birthday. I'd been ooh-ing and ah-ing over all that Utah has to offer for about three years prior, dropping hints, and hoping for this day to come.
Our adventure started in Colorado and from there we made the long drive over to Moab, Utah. With only 4 days to explore the area we still managed to put in over 40 miles of hiking. We laughed a lot, ate good food, got lost a few times, encountered some wild bulls on a trail, found bliss in natural hot springs, and challenged our bodies and our minds like never before.
If you're looking for a journey that's as much a physical one as it is a spiritual one, 96 hours in Moab should fit the bill.
Sometimes, Life is In-Tents
If you want to rough it, but not really, Moab Under Canvas is for you.
I've always wanted to try glamping, and this spot does not disappoint. Glamping is the perfect combination of tent-life and hotel-life. Obviously, you're in a tent, but there's also a real bed, bathroom facilities, and a wood burning stove. So, you'll get a level of comfort that regular camping experiences don't offer. (Note: not all tents at Moab Under Canvas have their own private bathrooms.)
Each tent also comes equipped with an elevated platform furnished with two wooden chairs—perfect for catching the sunrise, or for stargazing at night (and getting a glimpse of the milky-way!). Also worth noting—there's no electricity in the room, although that shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but there are two battery-operated lanterns and a small fan in the tent.
Though the bathroom facilities were nice to have in the tent, if you're traveling with a significant other for the first time, the “mysteries” might be revealed on this trip. That is to say that there's just a canvas flap separating you and your....ahem, business, from the ears of others. It'll either bring you closer... or send you running for the hills. Only one way to find out!
The shower in our tent operated on a pull system. So, you have to pull a chain in order to get your water to run. As it turns out, showering this way is not so easy. My darling held the chain down for me and stood on the opposite side of the wooden shower wall (so as not to get wet) while I showered, and I did the same for him. See what I mean about getting closer?! You just don't get experiences like this at home, folks.
Some things you might want to bring: If you don't want to use up the battery, a solar charged lantern. Bring a headlamp if you don't have an en-suite bathroom and need to venture out to one of the bathroom trailers. Don't forget a battery pack charger for your phone, and a sense of adventure!
Can't Miss Hikes
Arches National Park:
This national park offers so much. If you have limited time it can be really hard to choose what to see. If you're looking for a leisurely, short hike head to the Windows Trails. This offers visitors a view of quite a few arches and the hike itself isn't very difficult at all (there is a primitive trail here, too, if you're looking something slightly more challenging). This is a well-trafficked spot, so, if you're looking to beat the crowds head in early in the morning or closer to sunset.
We made sure to add in the hike to the Double Arch which is easily accessible from the Windows Trails trailhead. Again, it's a short and easy hike to Double Arch and, in my opinion, it's the best spot to sit and wait for the sun to go down. When we were there in early October, we practically had the place to ourselves, the only people that stayed out in the pitch black darkness with us were a few photographers.
I couldn't—and still can't—quite wrap my head around why other people wouldn't want to stay out to see the stars. If you're heading out this way at night, I beg you, please stay for nature's light show. It is so worth it! Just be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp with you to get back to the parking lot.
Devils Garden Primitive Trail Loop:
This is in Arches National Park, too, but it's way in there. It took us nearly an hour to drive to the trailhead from the entrance of the park. This loop is incredible, and offers views of seven different arches!
Without question, this hike is much more difficult than Windows Trails. It's longer, too, at almost 8 miles. Challenge yourself and go for the primitive trail.
At some points the trail can be hard to follow, so be sure to keep an eye out for cairns along the way. The difficulty level of this hike is rated moderate, but the intensity level—think: climbing over rock walls, oh #$@! moments, walking across sky-high five-foot-wide rock bridges, and jumping over (and hopefully not falling into, like I did) deceivingly deep puddles—is high. It's worth it though, I promise.
Negro Bill Trailhead to Morning Glory Bridge
Despite being absolutely exhausted post-Devils Garden, we decided to hike the Morning Glory trail anyway. When you have only a certain amount of days to see so much you start forgetting about the soreness, have a KIND bar, and power through.
The trail isn't too tough, and is about 5 miles. A walking/hiking stick definitely would be beneficial on this hike. You'll be crossing over quite a few streams and it helps to have a little added stability.
When you reach Morning Glory Bridge you might even get to see some people rappelling off it—it's awesome to watch. Fun fact: this trail is dog-friendly, too!
Fifth Water Hot Springs
This spot is almost a three hour drive from Moab Under Canvas.
After days of hiking under our belt our muscles were sore, and our bodies in need of some R&R. What could be better than hot springs?! We got there early, as we tend to do, and there was not a soul in sight. We walked up to the trail map and scratched our heads...
This didn't really help. We could either go to the left of the map or to the right. Neither way was marked, so, we went right. WRONG. We hiked for an hour until we happened upon two other people who were also searching for the hot springs. Turns out, we'd all gone the wrong way.
Another hour hiking back out and we were back at the trail map. I wish I'd had a marker with me to write on the map to help other hikers. For hot springs, GO TO THE LEFT, and follow the smell of sulfur. When you reach the bridge, you're about halfway there.
Once we finally got to the hot springs it was well worth having gone 2 hours out of our way. We'd officially reached nirvana. Bonus: the sulfur smell dissipates as you get closer to these pools, and there were quite a few pools to choose from. Oh, and no worries if you forgot to pack a bathing suit, plenty of people were skinny dipping. Become one with nature, y'all!
Where To Eat
This place is perfection. It's small, but cozy, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. There's a wide variety of delicious menu options (including gluten-free and vegan). My advice, get the granola with a side of almond milk...you can thank me later. The staff is incredibly friendly, and there's a ton of knick- knacks, jewelry, and books for sale to keep you entertained while you wait for your food.
A quirky little eatery right in the heart of town. Twisted Sistas has a few gluten free and vegan options, too. The Indian curry was awesome—but spicy. If you've got the sniffles this meal will cure you! They have some locally brewed beers, too.
Okay, so this isn't a restaurant, but I loved this place. It's an amazing natural market with so much to choose from. There's also an entire bulk section if you have your own refillable containers. Moonflower has a few pre-made meals, too. Their quinoa salad is amazing. Plus, if you're looking for goodies to bring home, you'll definitely find something here.
As soon as I walked in this spot felt like a place that would be featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It's got a retro feel and an endless menu with classic diner food. If you've got a sweet tooth you'll definitely enjoy the wide variety of ice-cream choices here!
The Quesadilla Mobilla
I was beyond excited for this food truck, especially after reading that they had gluten free and vegan options. But, they really weren't as accommodating as they had originally seemed. Unfortunately you can't have a quesadilla that's both vegan and gluten free—only one or the other. If you're a meat eater, only gluten-free, or only vegan, have at it. Otherwise, keep in mind that you might be disappointed to find that you'll only able to eat the corn chips they offer (they're pretty good, though).