Utah – Canyonlands, Arches and most importantly MOAB

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Our first stop in Utah was Canyonlands NP, which while beautiful, wasn’t our best stop so far. On the advice of a fellow traveler, we headed to the remote Needles District of the park, thinking we’d be able to stay in a quieter area without all the crowds. Unfortunately, we found the reason it was quieter was because it offered little for families with young kids and was 1.5 hours from civilization – not great when I work on the road. We struggled to find a campsite, but ultimately settled on a picturesque spot in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property just outside the park entrance. The campground was packed with rock climbers who all seemed to know each other, it was quintessential Utah.

After spending a few days in Canyonlands, exploring the handful of family-friendly trails, we headed back into Moab to figure out what our next step would be…what we didn’t realize was that we were about to fall in love.

Moab has been our favorite town so far on this trip. It is a small town located along the Colorado River in between Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. The town is full of outdoorsy people and tourists. It has one main street running through it, cute shops, plenty of restaurants and a great rec center/playground which we utilized to the fullest – and by that, I mean we camped there, showered there, took our kids to their daycare, swam, and worked out there. It was our second home.

After camping one night at the town park and rec center, we stumbled on an awesome BLM campground along the Colorado River. We hunkered down here for a week thanks to it’s convenience to town, proximity to outdoor activities, and overall beauty. If you’re planning a trip to Utah, I strongly suggest checking out Moab as a central location to all kinds of fun trips. Here’s a short list of what we did:

  • Multiple paddles down the Colorado River, covering about 20 miles, including a whitewater section. We had to dump the canoe once and bail water several times, but otherwise successfully navigated this beautiful and exciting portion of the Colorado with the kids in tow.
  • Family bike rides on a bike trail that followed the Colorado River.
  • Gorgeous hike along a crystal-clear stream through red rocks and canyons.
  • Visit to Arches National Park to see the famous Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch and others.
  • Family movie night at the library – next to the Moab Rec Center the Moab library was probably our favorite spot. We went to story time on CJ’s birthday and met Charlotte an amazingly kind librarian who gave the children several books to keep and loaned us some audiobooks to listen to on our car rides. We are almost done reading Charlotte’s Web together which has been a real treat.
  • Old school roller skating at the Moab’s Family Roller Skating Night, with the La Sal Mountains as our backdrop as we skidded and tumbled around their outdoor rink.

We also celebrated CJ’s and my birthday in Moab. Cora Jean requested a “Simba cake” so I worked with the kind bakery manager at the Moab grocery to track down some safari animals we could decorate the cake with. It was a little weird not being with family and friends and throwing a big birthday party, but we had fun eating cake in one of the Moab parks, unwrapping a few gifts and climbing on boulders after the festivities (totally Utah).

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