The number of tourists coming into Moab is insane and builds up really fast during the summer season. The masses of tourists result in long lines of stop and go traffic backing up from downtown all the way past the entrance to Arches National Park. Sometimes, it even backs up to Crescent Junction.
No-one wants to be stuck in this awful traffic for sure, but everyone wants to visit Moab. Don’t just avoid visiting this gorgeous part of Utah simply because there are a lot of people. I have some tips to help you avoid the awful traffic and manage it when stuck in it.
What to do Instead of Sitting Through Traffic:
Stop at the Canyonlands by Night Gift Shop
The gift shop at Canyonlands by Night and Day on the north end of Moab has an array of things to offer, especially those longing for a break from the car on their way into town. Canyonlands by Night and Day is located just a couple miles north of town next to the Marriott hotels where the traffic happens to back up the most.
The gift shop, known as the Old Mission Store, is known for its unique gifts and souvenirs. They sell an array of souvenirs including native pottery, jewelry, shirts, bohemian-style clothing, sandstone sculptures, hats, ornaments, and so much more that you won’t be able to find in all of the tourist shops in downtown Moab. This little shop has some of the cheapest prices for Moab gift shops as well due to it being just barely outside city limits! Who doesn’t love a good deal, right?
Stop for a Boat Tour
If you are looking to get out of the car and to see some of these sights that you came to Moab to see or to go on a thrilling adventure before having to go to your hotel, stop by Canyonlands by Night to see if they have any boat tours going out soon. The boat tours go out every Monday through Saturday
The Spin & Splash boat often goes out at 4:00 pm or 6:00 pm in the evenings. The Spin & Splash boat tour is a very thrilling experience in which, just like the name, the boat will do lots of spins and you will definitely get splashed. Your boat captain will play some classic rock & roll music to enhance the experience as you zip and spin through the rapids upriver on the Colorado River.
The Sunset Jet Boat goes out every evening at 6:00 pm. It is a gorgeous hour and a half long scenic tour in which you travel about 42 miles round trip down the river. You get to see arches, petroglyphs, and our famous red-rock canyon walls lit up in the golden hour coloring. This time of day creates the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing, memorable tour that is exceptional for picture taking. After your boat tour, you also get to enjoy a delicious Cowboy Dutch Oven style dinner in a dining hall with a gorgeous view of the Portal.
The Sound and Light Show goes out every evening at varying times depending on the time the sun goes down. The evening experience begins with the very delicious Cowboy Dutch Oven style dinner in the dining hall with the gorgeous view, then proceeds into the boat tour. When on this boat, your guide will point out interesting things in the canyon walls on the way up the river. Then, at dark, they will turn the boat around, shine a spotlight on the canyon walls, then play a sound narration that coordinates with the shadows displayed on the canyon walls. The narration and the displayed figures will tell you the story of the history, formation, and creation of the area according to the early settlers, the Native Americans, Catholic Conquistadors, and the Mormon Pioneers.
Watch the Climbers on Wall Street
Just a short distance down Potash Road, you will drive along the bottom of some flat-faced, red-rock cliffs. This stretch of flat rock is known as Wall Street. It is a very popular location for rock climbing and right after the sun passes over these rocks is the best time to go climb or watch others climb the gorgeous red-rock face. Right around 4:00 is when you usually see most people climbing up and down Moab’s “Wall Street”. Grab a picnic meal or just some snacks and stretch out your legs on the roadside and enjoy the free entertainment!
Hike Corona Arch or Courthouse Wash
On the way into town from the North, there are a couple of great hikes that are easy to access. They are a wonderful way to kill time while experiencing some of the beauty of the Moab area.
Corona Arch Hike
The trailhead is located about 15 miles down Potash road on the right-hand side. It is a short hike, only about 1.5 miles in, and has one of the famous arches located at the end of the trail. The hike is awesome because you can get right up and close to the arch itself. You can touch the arch itself and have a nice picnic lunch or snack right next to this red-rock beauty.
The hike itself is very easy and great for young families. There is one spot where you have to climb about 4 feet up a short ladder onto a rock, but that is the hardest part of the trail. It is decently flat ground for the hike and a great way to spend a couple of hours of your day with your family.
Courthouse Wash Hike
The hike is another good one for young families. The trail actually is about 10 miles long and stretches all the way from Colorado River to the edge of Arches National Park. However, because this is definitely too long for some families, there is a great watering hole about .75 miles into the hike to play in. If you keep hiking to about 2 miles in, there are gorgeous views of the red rock canyon walls and other memorable, once-in-a-lifetime scenery.
You can turn around at any time on this trail to head back whenever you feel you have gone far enough. There are various petroglyphs you can find on this hike as well. If you look close enough you might be able to find them along the canyon walls.
Pro Tips for Your Moab Trip:
1. Make Reservations
My top recommendation for a good trip filled with as much fun as possible and very little stress would be to ensure you make reservations for your activities and lodging ahead of time. Making reservations may prove to be a bit of a hassle because of the necessary scheduling and planning, but the extra work will definitely pay off to make your vacation a fun and memorable one.
Reserving ahead of time will help you to not only, avoid the hassle of trying to put together last-minute activities, but it will also help to ensure you get seats on the activities you want and that you have lodging for your stay. Especially lodging books up really fast in this gorgeous part of Utah during the summer. By reserving your lodging ahead of time you won’t have to stress about having a place to sleep during your stay.
2. Don’t Travel at Typical Times
When you are traveling, try to travel at odd times rather than the normal times you want. By traveling at these normal times, you are putting yourself in the middle of all of the rush hour traffic. Your thoughts of traveling at these “normal times” like starting your long trek mid-morning to arrive around dinner time are what every other person traveling is thinking too.
Instead, start your trek after you get off work to arrive later in the evening, around 8:30, or leave super early in the morning to arrive around brunch time. By traveling at these times, you will be able to avoid the awful rush hour traffic of other tourists coming into town.
3. Think Unlike the Typical Tourist
Along with traveling at abnormal times, to avoid tourist traffic, apply this method to your daily plans as well. If you are looking to avoid the crowds of people at restaurants and different tourist locations, go at abnormal times. Have breakfast early or late in the morning, eat lunch early or late, and do the same with dinner. Have snacks during the busy mealtimes to hold you off until you guys can eat without hordes of people.
Along with avoiding crowds during mealtimes, you will have to think about your activities in that way too. Go into the National Parks during common mealtimes, super early in the morning, or early evening. It will help you to avoid those large crowds of people in the parks.
4. ALWAYS Have Snacks and Water
Another pro tip for your visit to the Moab area is to always have snacks and water bottles on you when going on your adventures. The desert is very, very dry and it is easy to get dehydrated here. By having snacks and water on you, you are avoiding going hungry when waiting to get through or waiting on the giant crowds during common mealtimes.
Staying stocked with snacks and water will also help to keep you fueled in case your adventures take longer than expected. By having snacks and water you can avoid getting heat exhaustion and going hangry! No one wants to be cranky and hangry on a vacation.