By Jeanine Behr Getz

If you are ready to close your zoom camera, need a change of scenery, or have ever had childhood dreams of being on the set of Land of the Lost, then the parks and trails of Moab, Utah are calling your name.

Southern Utah is home to 5 of our country’s 63 National Parks and to the largest concentration of natural arches, windows, spires, and pinnacles, and other strangely shaped rocks in the world. Canyons, sandstone spires, and arches, oh my!

The area is easy to get to and has something for the entire family – stunning sunsets, white water rafting, ATVing, stargazing, dinosaur bone collecting, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and a plethora of restaurants, coffee shops, and food trucks for refueling.

Although all activities were alluring, we hiked morning, noon, and night.

Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you are a first-time hiker or an avid enthusiast; hitting a trail while donning a headlamp to watch the night sky lit by billions of stars on the top of a mountain or at high noon, staring 6,000 feet down into a canyon carved by millions of years of water, wind, and sand, connecting with mother nature will never cease to awe and amaze you.

When the phone rings to ask, “want to hike?” the reply is “YES, of course,” followed by “where, when, and how strenuous?” My friend Audrey and I started adventure hiking together over a decade ago. We have trekked the Haute Route together, day hiked Mt. Washington and Franconia Ridge, climbed Mt. Whitney, and most recently hiked the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim in 12 hours. We share a love for the outdoors, physical challenge, and laughter.

On this 5-day trip, we hit two of the five National Parks in Utah and several of its scenic areas. We used Moab, Utah, as our base and strategically stitched together several hikes a day. We chased the elusive sunrises and sunsets; we made our lunches in the back of the car, we covered about 13 miles a day, and we went “glamping” for the first time.

Enjoy the pictures; although utterly stunning, they don’t begin to do this area full justice.

Our 4 Favorite Hikes:

Peekaboo Trail:
Location: Needles District of Canyonlands National Park
Length/Difficulty: Approximately 9.6 miles out and back, 5-6 hours, rated moderate
Driving time to trailhead: Approximately 1.45 hour drive from Under Canvas Moab, UT
Trail commentary: This was a spectacular hike with amazing views and well worth the drive! I would rate it hard, rather than moderate and recommend it for hikers with some experience and no fear of heights. The trail has it all…ladders, rock windows, ledges, steep canyons, serious climbs…we didn’t see another human on the trail for the first 4 hours. My heart rate raced a few times, first when we lost the trail 3,000 feet up and had to slip and slide down to the canyon bottom (glad I didn’t wear my usual hiking skirt this trip) and then again as I had to sidestep down a rock peninsula point with a 2,000 foot drop on three sides. Audrey can attest, I turned pale and quiet…both highly uncharacteristic of me. The petroglyphs at Peekaboo Camp were a nice surprise! The return leg seemed much easier and faster for some reason. We started this hike early morning just after daybreak.

Fisher Towers Trail:
Location: Fisher Towers Picnic Area
Length/Difficulty: Approximately 4.2 miles out and back, 2-3 hours, rated moderate
Driving time to trailhead: 45 mins driving from Under Canvas Moab, UT
Trail commentary: This is a local well-kept secret, stunning views every step! It maybe a bit tougher than moderate for some because of the ledges, narrow paths, and slick rock. There is a ladder around mile 2, but we already had our ladder indoctrination on the Peekaboo Trail, so this one was a piece of cake. The sandstone towers are mind blowing and the views of the Colorado River and La Sal Mountains just can’t be beat. As we were lauding our adventuresome spirits, we rounded a narrow corner only to look up to see some rock climbers in action dangling hundreds of feet above us. We will save that activity for our next trip. We enjoyed our lunch at the end of the trail on a stunning rock outcropping. We started this hike by 9am.

Devils Garden Trail:
Location: Arches National Park
Length/Difficulty: Approximately 8.5 miles lollipop loop, 3-4 hours, rated hard
Driving time to trailhead: 50 mins driving from Under Canvas Moab, UT
Trail commentary: Arch O’Plenty! Great hike with incredible views that include 7 naturally occurring arches. Take the primitive trail counterclockwise, ankle deep sand to start but it gets easier and is less crowded for ¾ of the trail. Take all the side trails to visit all 7 arches, Tunnel Arch (look up to the right), Pine Tree Arch, Private Arch, Double O Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, and Landscape Arch (which you can see from a distance in the beginning as well). Landscape Arch is one of the longest natural spans in the world. There is an “8th arch,” but it wasn’t really an arch, more like a pillar, we chose to view from afar! There are spots on the trail that are steep and scary but are doable with the hiking buddy push and pull method and some crawling. My favorite picture from the trip was taken of us standing at the tip of a sandstone fin with La Sal Mountains behind us. We started this hike at 8am.

Delicate Arch Trail (went for sunrise, but perhaps better for sunset):
Location: Arches National Park
Length/Difficulty: Approximately 3.2 miles out and back, 1-2 hours, rated moderate
Driving time to trailhead: 45 mins driving from Under Canvas Moab, UT
Trail commentary: What a way to start the day! This is a relatively easy to moderate hike to the most pictured freestanding arch in the Park. I am sure you recognize this arch from the Utah license plate. We started this hike in the dark with headlamps on and reached the top in time for sunrise, we were greeted by 20+ people who were already camped out. The coup of the morning happened when I made my way into the center of the Arch, I couldn’t help myself, it was a bucket list item. I was the first person of the day to stand in the Delicate Arch. Poor Audrey reluctantly conceded, apologized to the growing crowd, as she took the picture. We found out from some fellow hikers later that day, that after we took our picture, a 20-minute line formed. Everyone else wanted that shot! It was a popular spot that day. We started this hike by 5am.

Hike Honorable Mentions:

Dead Horse Rim Loop Trail: (for sunset)
Location: Dead Horse Point State Park
Length/Difficulty: Approximately 5.0 mile loop, 3-4 hours, rated moderate
Driving time to trailhead: 30 mins driving from Under Canvas Moab, UT

Mesa Arch Trail: (went for sunrise, but perhaps better for sunset)
Location: Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park
Length/Difficulty: Less than 1 mile loop, 30 mins, rated easy
Driving time to trailhead: 40 mins driving from Under Canvas Moab, UT

Logistic Highlights:
Flew into Grand Junction CO, drove the 90 minute scenic route along the Colorado River to Moab, UT (didn’t take the scenic route back)
Stayed at Under Canvas – highly, highly recommend
Favorite dinner spots: Sultan Mediterranean Grill, Fiesta Mexicana and Indo Grill
Favorite breakfast/coffee spots: Pancakes at Moab Diner and coffee from Café Italiano food truck and Moab Coffee Roasters.
Download AllTrails app and the trails before you start your hikes (connection isn’t great in some areas and often the only trail markings are cairns (and I don’t mean Karens)

Learned something new: Don’t step on cryptobiotic soil (green dirt). It has been dubbed the “protector of the desert.” The slow-growing cyanobacteria move through wet soil to form a complex web of sticky fibers. This web is what fuses soil particles together, creating a thick, hard layer for new growth, which also helps prevent erosion and helps the soil retain water, plant life is able to root into the spongy crust, which enables them to survive hot, dry conditions. It then converts nitrogen from the air into usable nitrogen to help plants grow.

Hope you enjoy some pictures from our 4 favorite hikes in Moab Utah!
Send us any suggestions for our next hikes.

See you outside!
Jeanine & Audrey