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When thinking of a family trip to Utah, are you considering Moab and the surrounding area? We recently returned to Moab, Utah for a family vacation for the second time. After spending time in the area we created this list of things to do in Moab with kids based on our personal experiences.
In fact, this is part of our series on the Moab Area. We visited the well worn paths of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park but also found petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, hiked, road bikes and scooters, and even played at the library.
We hope this list will answer your question – what is there to do in Moab with kids?
Moab, Utah, located in Northern Utah is a somewhat remote destination. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times who left petroglyphs and pictographs as evidence of their presence.
More recently the Ute inhabited the area. Then the Mormons established the first settlement in 1855, when travelers had to stop in in what was then called the Spanish Valley.
If you want to know more fun facts – including the Biblical references we have an article with interesting facts about the Moab area.
Although remote the area is very beautiful, and every bit worth the trip. Moab is located near the Canyonlands National Park, the Arches National Park, and other outdoor attractions, so there is plenty for all the nature lovers in your family to do.
But the town of Moab is also home to a variety of other interesting sites and fun activities. We have found things to do in the winter and rain. In fact, our last visit at the end of November, one day it rained and the next we woked up to 4 inches of snow.
List of Family-Friendly Things to do in and near Moab, Utah
As part of our series on Moab, we created this list of unique things to do in and near Moab with kids. The list covers the well known National Parks as well as some other unique activities in Moab. In all honesty, while I am writing about things we have already done, I included things that are on our list for our next visit.
1. Visit Arches National Park
We will start with Arches National Park because it is rightly the most popular outdoor attractions in the region. In fact, you may be considering Moab as a destination based on its proximity to the Arches National Park.
Home to the famous natural arches and other red rock formations is it is a great location for many outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and stargazing.
We have spent a couple of days on different trips exploring Arches with toddlers, kids and the last time, I was 8 months pregnant.
Just the entrance to the Arches can also be part of a scenic drive and is especially beautiful at sunset.
- Location: Grand County, Utah, via U.S. 191 South
- Cost: The private vehicle fee is $30; the motorcycle fee is $25. Individuals arriving without a vehicle are admitted for $15.
- Discounts: Annual and lifetime passes are available, as well as multi-park passes and group rates. There are also some “
fee freedays.” We used our fourth gradepass to enter
2. Explore Canyonlands National Park
The Canyonlands National Park is the largest national park in the region. It full of natural wonders, including the famous Mesa Arch. Because the park is so vast, covering 527 square miles, it is subdivided into several districts.
Each district has its own trails, and activities, and sites of interest. The Island in the Sky district is the closest to Moab and is the most family-friendly in terms of easy trails and sites that will be interesting to kids.
- Website: National Parks Service
- Location: Southeastern Utah, via UT-113 Hours:
- Cost: The private vehicle fee is $30, the motorcycle fee is $25
- Discounts: Annual and lifetime passes are available, as well as group rates and educational waivers. There are also some “fee-free days.” We used our fourth grader pass to get in. See
3. Raft the Colorado River through Moab Daily
The Colorado River covers over 1000 miles and runs through multiple states. However, there is a segment that runs near Moab, called the “Moab Daily,” which is popular with visitors to Moab.
This thirteen-mile stretch features multiple boat ramps, campsites, and some of the best whitewater rafting in America. It parallels Route 128 and is also great for simple sightseeing.
- Website: Discover Moab
- Location: The 13-mile “Moab Daily” 21 miles east of Moab, via Route 128.
- Cost: Free but Costs for rafting vary.
4. Hike, 4X4 and Camp Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is a Utah State Park that features a rock formation atop a sandstone cliff known as Dead Horse Point. The point itself is at a 2000-foot elevation and overlooks the Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River.
There are many legends about how it got its name. They include a tragic story of how some cowboys used the point to corral some wild horses, most of which died there.
Dead Horse Point State Park is a perfect place to RV camp near Moab. Unlike the National Parks, the state park accommodates tents and large RVs and has hookups. We enjoyed staying here in November one year in our camper. So nice to have power on the cold mornings.
- Website: Deadhorse Point State Park
- Location: The park is nine miles northwest of Moab by U.S. 191, or 23 miles southwest at the end of Route 313.
- Cost: The per-day vehicle or motorcycle fees are $10. Walking or bicycle permits are $4. There are additional camping fees. See the website for details.
- Discounts: Senior and high-capacity vehicle (per person) rates are available.
5. Visit the Moab Giant Museum and Dinosaur Park
What kid (of any age) doesn’t love dinosaurs? The Moab Giant Museum and Dinosaur Park is the closest thing you’ll get to a real-life Jurassic Park!
This attraction, which is educational as well as fun, includes a museum, a 3-D movie theatre and the park itself. The outdoor part features beautiful desert scenery combined with interactive exhibits in which you follow the dinosaurs in their tracks.
This was on our itinerary but we didn’t make it there. We added this to our list for our next visit.
- Website: Moab Giants
- Location: 112 West SR-313. Moab, Utah, 83542
- Cost: The cost is $22 for an individual pass, and $70 for a family pass Discounts: Group discounts are available. See
6. Drive or Camp on La Sal Mountain Loop Scenic Drive
If you are not feeling up to hiking but want to see the beautiful views, this scenic drive is a good option. The La Sal Mountain Loop Scenic Drive takes you up to impressive views of Moab and the Canyonlands National Park.
This paved 60 mile route starts about 8 miles south of Moab off US-191. Loops up through the mountains and follows the Colorado River back to town. The entire drive will take about 2 to 3 hours.
Along the way, you can stop at scenic walking trails and recreation areas. The elevation change also means a change of scenery from desert to evergreen forest.
Camping areas are available in the Manti-La Sal National Forest if you would like to stay the night.
- Website: Manti-La Sal National Forest
- Location: Spanish Valley, Utah 84532
- Cost: Free
- Camping fees are minimal – only $5 per night
Petrogyphs and Dinosuar Tracks on Potash Road.
We focused our last trip to Moab on seeing petroglyphs and spend a whole day exploring this area.
The Lower Colorado Scenic Byway, also known as Potash Road, is a road literally less traveled, but worth the trip. It connects Moab and the Canyonlands National Park. Although we have done each half but not driven straight through either side.
The roadsides are full of rock formations, petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and many other things to see. Traveling on Potash Road provides especially beautiful views when heading toward Moab.
- Website: Detailed information and a cute “dinosaur license” for kids
- Location: Potash Road UT-279, just 1.5 miles north of town on 191
- Cost: Free
8. Visit the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage at Red Cliffs Ranch
For film fans in your family, try the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage. This is part of the Red Cliffs Ranch complex which is an award-winning Lodge. They claim to be Moab’s Adventure Headquarters with a lodge, pool, winery, grill, store, and museum!
Check for availability and price if you would like to stay at Red Cliffs Ranch. If not a visit to the museum is free.
The museum celebrates Moab’s Western heritage in
- Red Cliffs Lodge availability
- Website: Red Cliffs Lodge Museum
- Location: Milepost 14, Highway 28, Moab, Utah 84532
- Cost: Free for the museum
9. Swim at the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center
Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center has an indoor and outdoor pool and fitness center. This city-run pool complex and fitness center is open to visitors as well as residents.
The outdoor pool and water slides are open in the summer for a refreshing swim to beat the heat. The indoor pool is a good idea for a rainy day. We had planned in swimming at the MARC but the hours are limited in the winter. So check the open swim hours (generally afternoon around 2pm to 6pm in the winter).
- Website: Moab Rec Center
- Location: 111 E 100 N, Moab, UT 84532
- Admission for swimming: Adults $7 and Kids $4
- Discounts: Family $35
10. Play and Camp at Sand Flats Recreation Area
The Sand Flats Recreation area is a 9000-acre recreation area famous its
Best of all though, the kids can climb and play on the rocks until they drop. There are giant rocks all over to climb on. The most exciting thing for the kids the entire trip was climbing on the rocks, everywhere we went.
In addition, the Sand Flats Recreation Area is a popular camping spot. This is desert camping so the best time is Spring or Fall, when the weather os cooler.
- Website: Sand Flats
- Location: 300 Sand Flats Road, Utah, 84532
- Cost: Day pass $5 per vehicle, and a week pass is $10.
- Camping at Sand Flats costs $15 per night
11. Drive the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway
The Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway is also popularly known as the River Road and has been described as “one of the most interesting and breathtaking scenic byways imaginable.”
The route is full of red rock formations to view, as well as ranch resorts and springs. In addition, there are many sites to visit along the way.
- Website Utah.com
- Location: U-128, Utah
- Cost: Free
12. Read or Play the Moab Library
I know the library doesn’t seem like a special place to go with kids but we love to visit libraries. They are free indoor activity and each one is so unique. I decided to add this since this is a good indoor activity when it is raining or cold. It was both on the day we visited.
The Moab public library is small and cozy. The kids all found something to do. The bigger kids read books and played video games while the little ones played with the toys.
Our 3-year old had a fun time playing with the kitchen and dolls. She made some friends too.
- Website: Grand County Public Library
- Location: 257 E. Center St. Moab
- Cost: Free
13. Go Hunting for Dinosaur Tracks at Mill Canyon Trail
Just north of town on a dirt road off 191 you can search for dinosaur tracks. In fact there are 200 dinosaur footprints left by real dinosaurs.
You can feel like you are finding them for the first time, as there are no guards or fences. Just a couple of interpretive signs. The main prints were left by Allosaurus, Camptosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camarasaurus.
Don’t forget to get pamphlets which describe the tour sites at the Grand Resource Area Field Office before you head out.
While you are there you can also see a little more recent history. The remnants of an old copper mill and a Halfway Stage Station are visible on the trail too.
- Website Moab Field Office
- Location: 15 miles North on 191 and Left on Mill Canyon 1 mile
- Cost: Free
14. Boulder, Walk or Bike at Lions Park
Lions park is located adjacent to the Colorado river and has an interesting history. This section of River was the historic location to ford the River for generations of Ute and settlers moving West.
Lions Park is the hub for the network bicycle paths and trails in the N
Kids can enjoy climbing on the huge boulders in the park, playing in the grass, having a picnic or biking on the paved path.
But the kids don’t just have to walk they can ride bikes or scooters or skateboards on the path across the river.
- Website Moab Lions Park
- UT-128, Moab, UT- adjacent to the Colorado River at the entrance to the town
- Cost: Free
15. Take a Class at Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC)
Also, it is home to events ranging from the Red Rock Art Festival to the MARC Holiday Art & Craft Fair. Offering classes in art and dance for adults and kids throughout the year.
They offer ongoing classes and season classes such as summer or holidays. Summer programs are called unique names like Messy Mondays and Arty Farty.
- Website: Moab Recreation Center
- Location: 111 E 100 N, Moab, UT 84532
- Cost: Free admission for the art center but donations welcome
- Cost for classes varies so check the website
16. See a Magic Show Moab Backyard Theatre
If you like live music and theater, check out the Moab Backyard Theater. To be honest, we added this to our things
This outdoor theater in downtown Moab features a variety of live music performances, ranging from Jazz to bluegrass.
The theater is also home to magic shows and other kid-friendly events, as well as outdoor movies. Kids love Rick Boretti’s famous Comedy and Magic. The theater allows outside food and drink and recommends Zax’s Restaurant next door for take-out.
- Website: http://www.moabbackyardtheater.com/
- Location: 56 W 100 S, Moab, UT 84532
- Cost: Ticket $5 for kids and are $10 for adults.
- Discounts: Weds are free with Bluegrass music
17. Ken’s Lake Recreation Area
Camping near a lake is unusual in the desert. Ken’s Lake Recreation Site is located 10 miles south of Moab.
The recreation area is popular for RV and tent camping and makes a great campsite for visitors to Canyonlands National Park. The campground accommodates large motorhomes.
Hiking and horseback trails start from the campground. Short family friendly hikes are easy to do with kids and get a view of the Moab Valley, Faux Falls and Ken’s Lake.
Fishing on the reservoir and boating are popular activities. Boating is restricted to non-motorized boats.
- Website: BLM campgrounds
- Location: Ken’s Lake, Utah, 83542
- Cost: $20 per site fee
- Note: no water is available so you have to bring your own
18. Play Music at Rotary Park
For some free outdoor fun in downtown Moab, try Rotary Park. We visited this park and I fondly refer to it as “music park”
This city park is situated along the creek with access to the biking trail. The highlight is the outdoor musical instruments garden featuring wooden instruments for children to play with.
The park also has an adjacent youth garden of in-season plants and features ongoing garden projects. The youth garden is also home to live chickens! The park comes equipped with picnic shelters and bathrooms, making it a great place for a picnic lunch.
- Website: Moab City Parks
- Location: 400 East Mill Creek Parkway, Moab, Utah 84532-2844
- Cost: free
Planning Your Visit to Moab
When to Visit
The weather in and around Moab, Utah is typical for the area’s desert climate. But it also varies according to elevation (which varies a lot!).
Winters are mostly on the mild side, with temperatures averaging 17 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. In summer, the temperatures can get up into the 90s and 100’s, and there are occasional summer storms.
The prime tourist season in Moab and the surrounding area, therefore, is from March to May and September to October.
We have visited twice in November and found the weather to be cool but nice. Plus in October and November, the weather is nice and you can avoid the crowds. We have had many areas almost to ourselves in November.
Getting to Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah can be reached by car from many places by driving along I-70, and then taking either US Highway 128 (the Upper Colorado River Scenic Drive) or US 191.
Off (and even on) the interstate, there are plenty of scenic routes to take if you want getting there to be part of the adventure.
Flying is another option, although you will likely be driving 2 to 5 hours from a major airport. The closest small airport, Canyonlands Field, is located 16 miles from Moab.
The closest major public airport though is, Salt Lake City International Airport is 288 miles away. Alternatively, Denver International Airport is 5 hours away of offers connecting flights to Canyonlands Field.
Since you will likely be including a road trip along with your journey, you might like our road trip resources:
Where to Stay in Moab
We have visited in our RV, tent camped and rented an apartment in Moab. There are so many options for families depending on the type of trip that your prefer.
Camping in Moab
- Arches National Park campground
- Canyonlands National Park campground
- Dead Horse Point State Park (have full hookups)
- Private campgrounds like Moab Valley RV Resort
- Dispersed camping on BLM lands
Unique Places to Stay with Kids
- Private Apartments – we stayed here at Angel Rock
- Red Cliffs Lodge availability
- Hotel with a Pool and Water Slides – SpringHill Suites by Marriott
- Other options for hotels in Moab check Booking.com for availavility
Final Thoughts about Things to do in Moab
There’s no shortage of natural wonders and outdoor recreation in and around Moab. These, plus the many things to do in town, will provide something for all your family. If you have been to Moab and the surrounding area, what was your favorite thing to do there?