Moab, Utah is about a 5.5 hour drive from Denver, Colorado and is an amazing place to do all things outdoors. I have been to Moab a handful of times to camp and hike and have nailed down what I think is the perfect itinerary for a 3-5 day trip to Moab and it’s surrounding areas.

Moab is very close to two national parks (Arches & Canyonlands National Parks) and one state park (Dead Horse Point State Park) which is one reason many people visit. Moab is also central to mountain biking trails and off roading trails so there is no shortage of activities to do.

Map of Moab (source) with Canyonlands, Arches, and Dead Horse Point parks circled in purple.

My recommended 3 – 5 day itinerary includes visiting the 2 national parks and state park listed above along with a couple hikes in additional areas that surround Moab.

Day 1: Dead Horse Point State Park & Canyonlands National Park

Driving 5.5-6 hours from Denver to Moab (taking I-70 W to 191) I typically arrive in the early afternoon and have about a half day to explore. I like to start my exploration at Dead Horse Point State Park. Before I make it to Moab, I take 191 to 313 which takes me to Dead Horse Point State Park. There is a $10 fee to enter but is well worth it! The most popular overlook in this park is the Dead Horse Point Overlook. You get incredible views of the Colorado River winding through the red rocks. There is a parking lot for this overlook that you can drive to making this hike very short (1 mile or less) or you can hike from the visitors center (5 miles round trip or less) and take in various views along the way. You can’t go wrong either way, choose which option you have time and energy for. I typically opt for the longer one as I’ve been sitting in the car all day and it’s a much needed stretch for my legs!

View from Dead Horse Point Overlook

From here, since I’m already so close to Canyonlands National Park, I make that my next stop. There is a $30 entrance fee unless you have an America the Beautiful Pass. There are some great hikes in Canyonlands but since you may not have much time here depending on what time you arrive, I’m going to recommend a couple shorter hikes to do in the park. In my opinion, Canyonlands is worth a stop but it is not my favorite national park so a shorter amount of time spent here is okay.

  • Mesa Arch trail is a great short hike to start with. This trailhead is right off of the main road and you will pass it as you venture to other lookouts in Canyonlands.
  • Grand View Point Trail is another great trail that offers beautiful views overlooking Canyonlands National Park.
  • The Upheaval Dome Overlook is in the opposite direction of Grand View Point. I have not done this hike as I’ve opted to head to Moab when finished with the Grand View Point trail but this is another option to explore the other side of Canyonlands National Park. If you have more time and want to opt for longer hikes, the Needles District is the place to go for those!

After doing and seeing all you want in Canyonlands, make your way to Moab to check into your hotel or grab your camp spot. Get a good nights rest as Day 2 starts before sunrise!

Day 2: Arches National Park

At Delicate Arch

I recommend spending your second day at Arches National Park (there is a $30 entrance fee unless you have an America the Beautiful Pass). There’s so much to explore here you could easily spend a day or more. I did all the hikes I’m going to discuss in a day but these can easily be broken up over multiple days if you have more time in the area. This park is extremely popular and all the trails can get very busy so keep that in mind as you’re exploring. You may have to have a little extra patience while finding parking at the different trailheads throughout the day.

I love to start my day really early with Delicate Arch Trail (3.2 miles) for sunrise. This trail gets extremely busy so I do recommend going early or late in the day. Sunrise here is so beautiful and absolutely worth the early rise. To get to delicate arch by sunrise that means you’re typically starting the hike in the dark (it’s 1.6 miles to Delicate Arch one way) so having a headlamp on hand is always a good idea. I like to pack my breakfast and eat it while watching sunrise.

After delicate arch, I like to head straight to Double O Arch Trail (4.1 miles). There are a couple of arches to view on this trail and some cool landscapes you cross through. This is a bit of a longer trail so doing this in the morning is nice if you want to beat the heat depending on the time of year you are visiting.

A viewpoint on Double O Arch Trail

After Double O Arch, I’m driving to and eating a snack at Double Arch Trail (0.6 miles). Double Arch Trail is super short but gives you a view of 2 cool arches attached together. By now, you’ve seen quite a few arches but I can’t get over how cool they are and am amazed at how they can form! Plus it’s Arches National Park, might as well see as many as you can.

Double Arch Trail

The last short trail I do in Arches is the Windows Loop Trail (1.2 miles). This is a short and flat hike and offers some cool views along with a lot of arches.

If you have more days and time in the park, I’d also recommend Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch (2.1 miles), Devil’s Garden (7.9 miles), and Sand Dune Arch to Broken Arch Loop (2.8 miles). There is no shortage of arches you can see in this park so feel free to pull off at a trailhead if something looks cool and enjoy these amazing rock formations.

By now you are probably hot (if it’s anytime May to September) and a little tired so it’s time to cool off! Located right in Moab is the local’s watering hole that is accessed by Mill Creek Trail (1.6 miles or more). Put your water sandals on as this hike is through sand, up a shallow river and ends at a watering hole you will see a lot of people cliff jumping in to. I like to eat lunch, lounge in the river, relax, and cool off here after a long, adventurous day.

View hiking through the water on Mill Creek trail

After cooling off, enjoy some shopping and eats in Moab in the evening before your next early wake up call for your last hikes before you head home.

Day 3: Last hikes around Moab and departure

Day 3 is also the day I head back towards Colorado. I like to spend half a day exploring before my drive home and recommend starting your third day hiking Corona and Bowtie Arch trail for sunrise. This is a 2.4 mile hike and is outside of the National Parks. It’s a perfect, not to strenuous hike to view sunrise and cap off your trip.

If you are driving back towards Colorado, I recommend taking the scenic route and stopping to hike Fisher Towers Trail which is a 4.2 mile out and back trail. If you put this trailhead in your GPS it will take you down the scenic route 128 which will end up bringing you back to I-70 to continue your drive home. Even if you do not want to hike this trail, I still recommend taking this route for some gorgeous driving views!

Fisher Towers Trail

Enjoy this 3-5 day itinerary in Moab, Utah! I’m sure this will be a place you want to return to again and again.

Until the next tale… Happy trails.



  1. Thanks for sharing, I’m stoked for adventure. Just need to figure out how to get out from under the burden of the day job. Love, Dad!


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