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The Moab experience

by Tom Jones

We'd heard a lot about Moab from RV Forum members, but didn't make our first trip there until the RV Forum rally in May, 2004. At the time of writing, we've been there just twice, so I can't claim to be an expert, to have seen everything, or to know everything there is about Moab. In fact, we've seen only a very small fraction of what there is to be seen in the area. All I can hope to do with this article is to whet the reader's appetite to learn more about Moab and raise your curiosity enough for you to visit this wonderful place.

The scenery is almost impossible to describe, straight out of a John Wayne western movie. Not surprisingly, a number of movies were made in the area and there's a movie museum nearby.

Moab is located in the southeast corner of UT on Hwy 191, approx 32 miles south of I-70. There are numerous campgrounds, hotels, motels and bed & breakfast places in the area. The RV Forum rally has been based at Portal RV Park, just north of town, for several years. This is a nice RV park owned and operated by very courteous and accommodating folks. The location is ideal, with a great view right from your campsite and easy access to Manti-La Sal national forest to the east, Arches National Park to the north, Canyonlands National Park to the south and dozens of off-road trails in all directions.

One of the reasons folks come to Moab is for its off-road trails and these, coupled with the outstanding scenery you'll see along the trails, are a major draw for off-roaders. There are also many bike trails and hiking trails. Guide services are also available for various activities. Anyone contemplating off-roading here should purchase the book Guide to Moab, UT Backroads & 4-Wheel drive Trails by Charles A. Wells (I bought mine right at the campground office). The book describes 50 trails running the gamut from "easy family runs" to "moderate sport utility adventures" to "difficult had-core challenges" and includes GPS coordinates. It makes easy reading and is well illustrated to give you some idea of what to expect.

Forum member Sam Ruward usually leads RV Forum rally attendees on various off-road trips, while husband and passenger Ron uses FRS to point out various sights and to let folks behind know what to expect on the trail ahead. Some of the off-road trails taken by the group are:

  • Anticline Overlook - takes you to a high overlook where you can view Hurrah Pass, which is on the way to Chicken Corners.
  • Bull Canyon - the group usually does this ride in conjunction with Gemini Arches to get a view of Gemini Arch from the bottom.
  • Chicken Corners - a very interesting and scenic drive. It's an all-day round trip.

  • Gemini Bridges - a nice ride to View the Gemini arch.
  • Long Canyon - the trail where a large boulder leans across the road against the cliff and we drive right under it. Jug Handle Arch is at the bottom just before getting back on the highway.

  • Shafer Trail - a switchback trail up the side of a cliff with some great views. The group usually takes Long Canyon as the return route.
  • White Rim trail - a long, but interesting ride. The group has traveled this trail in both directions.

Many folks bring their own off-road vehicle, towed behind a motorhome, in/on a trailer, or drive it there, but Jeep rentals are available in town.

The Colorado River passes just north of Moab and is visible from various trails. Those into white water rafting will be in their element and there's a nice drive through the river canyon.

Arches National Park (aka Arches National Monument) is black top road all the way, so it can be toured in any regular vehicle. There is a small fee to enter the park and there are numerous places to pull off and view the scenery. There are also a number of hiking trails once inside the park.

The group has taken various hikes on some of the numerous trails, including one on the Fiery Furnace trail.

Moab has a number of restaurants & watering holes, including:

  • The Dead Horse Micro Brewery, a popular place for lunch.
  • Moab Diner.
  • Sunset Grill, sits on a cliff overlooking Portal RV Park.
  • Red Cliffs Lodge, a nice restaurant that can accomodate large groups. This has been the venue for the group's "last supper", usually held near the end of a rally.

The Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage is located downstairs at the Red Cliffs Lodge and is not to be missed. While we were there, all the ladies had to have their photo taken with The Duke.

If you're sick or injured, Moab has several medical facilities, including a hospital, a walk-in clinic and doctor's offices. There's also a pharmacy at the supermarket in town.

You can view more photos of Moab and surrounding areas in our forum photo albums.
Contributors to this article include Ned Reiter and Ron Ruward. Photos courtesy of Lorna Reiter, Jerry Fitzgerald and yours truly.