Weekend Adventure: Moab/Canyonlands/Dead Horse Point State Park

Canyonlands

We’ve been to Moab at least five times since we moved to Utah — and it’s still one of our favorite places! Every time we go, we discover something new to love. This time, it was Pasta Jay’s. We are kicking ourselves for not trying this restaurant on any of our previous trips. I would definitely recommend trying it the next time you’re in Moab — we ate there two nights in a row!

Because of the insane crowds over Memorial Day Weekend, we opted to camp instead of staying in a hotel. Usually, we stay at the Big Horn Lodge and pay about $80 a night for a room but it was already fully booked! We were able to reserve a campsite at the Slickrock Campground and it was perfect for us (and only $80 for two nights). It’s nothing fancy, just an RV Park with tent sites — and it was fully booked last weekend — but it was very clean and had awesome restrooms and showers.

We were finally able to hike to Corona Arch and it was absolutely beautiful. I would highly recommend this hike if you’re not going to Arches — or if you’ve already been to Arches. It’s a very easy hike, only about 3 miles, and way less crowded than any popular hikes inside Arches. It was a great first hike.

Corona Arch

We also hiked Fisher Towers (5.2 miles round trip) and had a hilarious (and slightly frustrating) experience where we followed a group of 15 people up the trail only to discover that it was not actually the trail and we had to go back. We laughed about how dumb we were for blindly following a group of people, just assuming they knew where they were going — but that 30 minute detour made this hike seem a lot more difficult than it was (and it was the hottest point in the day). It’s about 5 miles round trip and the view from the top is pretty cool, but you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to the top. Essentially, you are hiking up and around these super tall fins and those are the “attractions” of the hike. I’m the type of person that has to get to the exact endpoint of the hike before I allow myself to turn around, but for this hike I don’t think it was necessary to go all the way to the top.

Fisher Towers

On the second day, we drove to Canyonlands (Island in the Sky). It wasn’t crowded at all, compared to Arches, and we decided to drive around and do the short hikes rather than a long, full-day hike. Mesa Arch is absolutely stunning and really cool — I would definitely recommend walking up to it. It’s a very short walk, like a quarter of a mile. Aztec Butte was also a great hike with awesome views from the top of the butte as well as an ancient granary tucked away in the hillside. We also hiked to the Upheaval Dome overlooks — another short hike — and that’s when disaster struck.

Mesa Arch

When we got back to our car and started to pull out of our parking space, we discovered we had a flat tire. And I mean a serious flat tire. I’ve only ever had experience with slow leaks, but my tire was completely flat in a matter of seconds. Luckily, we had a spare tire and Kevin is a tire-changing connoisseur. Unfortunately, the donut was also pretty low on air but we had to drive all the way back to Moab on it.

One thing to note when traveling to Moab (or anywhere in Utah) — nothing is open on Sundays. And, since Monday was Memorial Day, not a lot was going to be open that day either — so we had to figure out how to fix the tire ourselves. Our only other option was to drive to the closest tire center in Grand Junction, CO. Kevin bought a tire repair kit and fixed the flat, put it back on and filled it back up and miraculously, it held. We were able to go back to Canyonlands!

We stopped first at Dead Horse Point State Park because we figured it’s so small that we should just stop in while we’re close so that we could cross it off our list. It is definitely worth seeing. The views are absolutely spectacular — but I don’t think you need more than a day to explore this park unless you want to stay in one of the yurts or do some biking. There are a few trails but you can drive up to most viewpoints. We did walk around a little bit, but we didn’t walk out any of the trails.

Dead Horse Point State Park

The last hike we did before heading back home on Monday was Murphy Point in Canyonlands. We noticed a rainstorm in the distance at the start of the hike (which would be 3.6 miles round trip) and soon after, we could hear thunder and see lightning. I was excited at the prospect of hiking in the middle of a rainstorm — Kevin was not. Fortunately, we only had a few raindrops and the storm moved past us before it reached us. Murphy Point was really awesome and a great alternative to hiking the Murphy Loop, which goes down into the canyon and is about 9 miles round trip.

Murphy Point

Canyonlands was beautiful — and we’re excited to come back once we get a truck and drive on the dirt roads in the canyon and do some backcountry camping. Canyonlands is split into 3 sections — we spent all our time in Island in the Sky because of its close proximity to Moab. We will definitely be exploring The Needles and The Maze in the near future.

One thing to note that I didn’t think about as far as traveling on Memorial Day Weekend: I anticipated the traffic on the way there and the crowds in Moab, but I did not think about how long it would take us to get home because everyone left on the same day. If possible, I would highly recommend staying an extra day or leaving super late if you’re traveling on Memorial Day.

Stay tuned for our next weekend adventure: Capitol Reef National Park!

Published by Sami Hertel

Oregon native, current Utah resident, blogging about my adventures on lifeafteroregon.com!

2 thoughts on “Weekend Adventure: Moab/Canyonlands/Dead Horse Point State Park

  1. Love your adventure. Love that you explore, so exciting and can always find things that you wouldn’t normally. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to hear about your next adventure.

    Like

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