View original topic: Moab trip report
pjackman Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:24 pm

My partner and I recently returned from a 2 week holiday driving by Westy from Vancouver, BC, to Moab, UT. Here are a few photos and notes about our travels.

We were surprised to find that the end of September is the beginning of the busy season in that part of the world after summer’s scorching heat. The average daytime high for the month ranges between 80 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. We had both extremes during our stay and the first three days were wet so be prepared for anything!

Arches National Park is a gem of monumental proportions. You can easily spend several days hiking the park's trails before seeing all the major arches (over 2000 natural sandstone arches are preserved in the park). We highly recommend booking a ranger-led Fiery Furnace tour on arrival at the Visitor Center (it's usually filled for several days in advance). The 3-hour walk will get you off the beaten path into an area that requires a permit otherwise and will introduce you to some of the magic of this unique ecosystem. Arches will have an online reservation system for all campsites beginning January, 2010, and if you don’t book then you might not get a campsite. We got one by lining up at the Visitor Center at 6:45 am for a spot that evening at the Devil's Garden Campground located at the far end of the park. This won't be possible next year.

Below Courthouse Towers, Arches National Park

There are only 12 campsites at Canyonlands National Park's Willow Flat Campground It's first come, first served; we secured one by arriving there at 10:00 am after spending the night at Horsethief Campground about 30 minutes away. The facilities are primitive but the scenery is stunning. Dead Horse Point State Park is just outside Canyonlands' Island In The Sky and you might consider staying there if you prefer access to running water. We arrived just in time for a sunrise but it cost us a $10 day pass on our way out 2 hours later. Plan on staying for a little longer if you want good value.

Willow Flat Campground, Canyonlands National Park at Island in the Sky

Most of the private campgrounds in the Moab vicinity are right on the main road through town; highway 191. We spent our first few days on a tent site at Riverside Oasis RV Park, right outside town on the north shore of the Colorado river. The showers and facilities were clean and only $20 per night. Later on we discovered there are numerous BLM campsites on highways 128 and 279 along the Colorado for $12. There was less traffic but no showers. We can recommend Big Bend Campground on hwy 128 (site 7 is spectacular), and Williams Bottom on hwy 279 looked nice as we cycled by.

Camping at Big Bend on the Colorado River

For a spectacular loop drive take 128, through Castle Valley and into the La Sal Mountains, where you climb to over 8,000 feet and enter a completely different vegetation region with fields full of aspen, before descending back into Moab. Our 2.1L wbx made the grades but in 2nd gear part of the time. Be prepared for some muddy sections as rain is more frequent up there. Back at lower elevation enjoy a great hike up Negro Bill’s Canyon on hwy 128: plan on a 2.5 hour round trip to see its fabulous arch.

Near 8000' in the La Sal Mountains

In our opinion, the best coffee in Moab is to be had at the “Love Muffin Cafe” and the best burger at “Milt’s Stop and Eat”. We did our grocery shopping at the Village Market where Green River melons were sold and the produce seemed more local than at the larger chains.

Get free filtered drinking water in any quantity from “Gearheads”, an outdoor store at the south end of the main street. The mini mall they are located in also has a good laundry. Free WiFi is widely available at coffee shops and at some private campgrounds.

We had a wonderful time road cycling, mountain biking, hiking and camping in the Moab area and found more than enough to keep us busy for 2 weeks. :D


Sir Sam Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:28 pm

Eddie McStiffs is pretty good too for a burger n beer.

240Gordy Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:14 pm

Great report. great writing, you should consider a career as a travel writer if you aren't already!

pjackman Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:03 pm

Thanks for the compliments and suggestion 240Gordy. My work does involve writing but the language is VBA; the output is computer code. Writing about travel experiences would be a wonderful profession if it could pay the bills.


Sodo Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:22 pm

pjackman wrote: Get free filtered drinking water in any quantity from “Gearheads”, an outdoor store at the south end of the main street

We used to go to Moab 2x a year for mtn Biking (ten years ago). There is a spring 1.5 miles north of town called "Matrimony Spring". It's right at the intersection of Hwy128 lots of cool, clear water pouring out of a pipe in the sandstone. To find it you just look for the line of campers holding water bottles.

I typed up this post ------> then did a little more googling, and all good things come to an end ........ the city has since 'closed' it because it tested 'contaminated'. I wonder if anyone EVER got sick from it.

Delirious, yes, obviously :lol: :lol: But thousands of people were drinking from it for 20+ years, there must be SOME history of its safety.

Anyway, it's a sad loss. We used to stop on the way in to fill up all of our water and on the way out, for the trip home. Thanks for the reminder of Moab, I hope to go back soon.

Sir Sam Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:51 pm

That spring better not be closed, it was open the last time I was there(last fall I suppose).

I just googled too:

Sad Sad day to see that. I dunno what I am going to do now. I feel like a little part of me died inside. I remember as a youngster in a syncro weekender pulling up and filling our bottles at that spring.

dobryan Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:48 am

Sir Sam wrote:

Sad Sad day to see that. I dunno what I am going to do now. I feel like a little part of me died inside. I remember as a youngster in a syncro weekender pulling up and filling our bottles at that spring.

Me too. We first visited Moab in 1971 (before anyone new Moab existed) in our '71 Type 2 Campmobile and got water from that spring. I make it a point to go there anytime we pass through the area. It's been a while though. Sad to see it gone.

BTW, Great report about the area. I also love the drive up and thru the Manti-LaSal mountains. Quite a contrast to the canyonlands/arches scenery.

gahi Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:35 am

the spring has been put back to its "natural" state. This means there is no spigot to fill water with. There have been rumors that it is going to be tested again. Now there is city water available across the road in the park, but not nearly as good. This was like an oasis, hopefully it will be restored.

pjackman Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:26 am

gahi wrote: the spring has been put back to its "natural" state.
I noticed the spring on hwy 128 while cycling by on one of our rides. I don't know if I'm remembering correctly, but I think people were there with water containers.

It's good to know there are at least 2 other sources of drinking water in town until further official word is delivered on the safety of Matrimony Spring.

danfromsyr Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:14 am

Thanks for this trip report, they're so great to have actual experience while trying to plot & plan our own trip.. so far to go and miss something by a few miles.

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