A popular outdoor playground in Utah, Moab is one of our favorite vacation destinations. Full of red sandstone canyons great for hiking, biking, and running wild, as well as the Colorado river and several creeks, it is a true desert playground. It is also home to two national parks, Arches and Canyonlands.
Great for families and groups, there is something for just about everyone in this southern Utah gem. We’ve compiled our list of go-to activities and locations to help you plan a trip, so you know when to go, where to go, and what to do!
- What's the weather?
- Hiking in Moab with Kids
- Biking around Moab with kids
- Swimming Holes/Water play in Moab
- Fun Play Spots in Moab
- Where to Camp in Moab with Kids
- Kid friendly dining in Moab
- Don't wait!
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What’s the weather?
Because it is in southern Utah, people assume Moab will be warm most of the year. But, with an elevation of over 4000 ft, they do get snow and ice in the winter, as well as cold temperatures. Summer is hot, and spring and fall can be a mixed bag of warm, cold, rainy, or hot.
There are perks to when you choose to visit. Spring and fall are the busiest seasons, but ideal for most outdoor pursuits. Summer is busy and hot but great for swimming and rafting activities. And winter is a little quieter and colder, but great for hiking.
If you choose to visit during summer, make sure you bring lots of water everywhere you go. This is a desert, and it gets hot! Wear clothing and hats to protect from sun. You’ll find some great options in this article on sun protection clothing for kids. In winter, be prepared to bring lots of warmer layers and leave your sandals home.
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Hiking in Moab with Kids
There’s endless kid friendly hiking on Moab, and if I don’t tell my kids it’s a ‘hike’, they will wander for hours in these natural playgrounds. From Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, to the many creeks and canyon trails just outside town, there is sure to be something for everyone.
Arches National Park
There are many hikes within Arches, but my kids’ favorites are Sand Dune Arch and Park Avenue. Depending on the age and ability of your kids, and how much time you want to spend, you can take longer hikes like Delicate Arch or stick to shorter ones.
Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune isn’t much of a hike, but a short walk into a small sandstone corridor to an arch in the sand. My kids love climbing around on the rocks and sandstone shelves, as well as spending time in a giant natural sandbox. It is always a hit. It is also generally shady, which is nice on hot days.
One of the first stops inside the Arches gate is Park Avenue, as you crest the top of the hill after the entrance to the park. Essentially a wide corridor between towering sandstone walls on either side, this hike has grandeur. You park at the top and hike down to the next bend in the road, then hike back up. It’s less than a mile one way, but make sure you wander slowly, taking in the views and letting the kids run around the red rock.
This hike is 3 miles round trip to see the iconic arch from the Utah license plate. It’s easily the most popular hike in Arches, but for good reason. It’s a steady uphill hike, climbing 480 ft to the arch. You’ll hike mostly over sandstone with some sandy stretches and a really cool sandstone ramp at the end before you arrive at a beautiful overlook, with some very picture worthy views.
Grandstaff (formerly Negro Bill) Trailhead
On hot days, the Grandstaff trail is a fantastic trail that is in and out of shade and water. We recommend hiking it in closed-toe water shoes. It’s got sand, boulders, a creek, and gorgeous canyon views. And if you make it to the end of the canyon, you’re rewarded with a little desert oasis under Morning Glory arch. Distance to the arch is just over 2 miles with little elevation gain.
Maybe we need to branch out a bit, but we hike Corona Arch almost every time we visit Moab. It’s a great family-friendly trail that keeps kids engaged with changing landscapes, ladders, and amazing views. It is only 2.4 miles out and back, with lots of cool features to play around on. Be aware there is some exposure/ drop offs and ladders to climb, so keep your littlest ones close.
This is a popular place to hike on hot days. On the south end of town sits this beautiful canyon, and it’s got some great swimming holes. The trail follows the canyon along the creek, a few miles up to some fun pools and a waterfall. Of course, if you don’t go all the way to the end, there are fun spots all along the creek to play in as well. Be aware there is poison ivy and cactus to watch out for.
Biking around Moab with kids
Bar M trails
North of Moab, near the turn-off to Canyonlands NP, sits the Bar M trail system. With several loops of varying skill levels, this is a great spot for easy access family biking. The paved bike path goes right next to it, so you can access it by bike from town as well. There’s a small skills park right near the parking lot to warm up on before you head out to the trails. You can learn more about this and more bike trails in our other article, Moab with kids- best biking trails.
This system of trails is a bit further out of town, but has great camping right nearby. Located up toward Canyonlands, it’s about 20-30 minutes from Moab. If you want a little space from the busyness of town, this is a great spot. Wrangler and Rowdy trails are fun for littles, and the Getaway trail is great for intermediates.
Town Bike Parks
There are two great little bike skills parks in Moab proper, and perfect for casual bike play. Both are accessible from the town bike paths, and close to hotels and restaurants. Robin Groff Memorial park is right behind the Moab Diner, and has some fun single track skills features. The other is across from the hospital on 500 W. It’s got some bigger jump lines and a fun pump track, etc.
Paved Bike Path
If you’re not into mountain biking, or if you want some casual cruising, there are paved bike paths all over Moab. Our favorite stretches are on the north end of town, where the highway crosses the Colorado River. There’s a big bike bridge across the river, as well as bike path up the river canyon right along the water. It’s beautiful. You can also ride all the way to Arches and beyond on the paved path.
Swimming Holes/Water play in Moab
Rafting the Colorado River
A great way to see the Moab area is by taking a river trip! There are several companies in town that do daily rafting trips on what they call the “Daily Section”, which is a 14 mile float through class ll & lll whitewater, with stunning canyon views. It is relatively beginner friendly at lower water levels, but if you don’t have much rafting experience, we recommend going with a guide. World wide River Expeditions is a really family-friendly company.
Paddle boarding the Colorado River
There are sections of the Colorado that are gentle enough to paddle board, given you’re comfortable on a river. It’s a great way to cool off and take in the scenery of the beautiful red rock canyon. You can rent paddle boards in town, and they provide shuttles and guides if you need them. Check out Paddle Moab to book.
Ken’s lake is a man-made reservoir 10 miles south of Moab. There is a BLM campground as well, if you are wanting to camp there. It’s scenic and relaxing, with a pebble beach to play at. Great for SUP, or just splashing around and cooling off. There’s also a little waterfall (Faux Falls) you can walk to, with a refreshing pool at the bottom.
Moab City Pool
Moab Aquatic Center, located at Swanny Park in town, is a fun place to cool off. They have an outdoor leisure pool with lots of kid friendly features, as well as a lap pool, diving boards, and slide. They also offer a fitness center. If you’re camping and need a place to shower and clean up, this is a great option.
Fun Play Spots in Moab
Sand Hill across from Arches
If you are driving into town from the north, you’ll pass this giant sand hill. It is directly across from the Arches N.P. entrance. You can park at the bottom, and from there, hike up and roll/jump/run down. Be aware this is not regulated in any way, so there could be rocks or other obstacles, and safety is up to you. That being said, my kids are obsessed with this spot.
This is a fun little park at the bridge that goes across the Colorado river. It is a great place to start the paved bike path along the river. Outdoorsy kids will love the man made climbing boulders and soft flooring around them. If you want a place for your kids to climb and jump and bounce, go here!
Other city parks
There are several city parks worth mentioning- Swanny Park, near main street has a skate park, the city pool, and tons of green space. It also has pavilions and playground equipment. The Rotary park is another fun spot- it’s got a playground and a creek. But what sets it apart is the fun musical instruments that kids can play. My kids call it the Xylophone park.
Dinosaur park/ tracks
For your dinosaur loving kids, there are a lot of fun sights. You’ll notice on the way into town, right near the turn-off for Canyonlands N.P., is Moab Giants. It’s got a prehistoric aquarium, and an outdoor dino walk with life sized dinosaur models, 3D theater and more.
If you are wanting so see some real dinosaur tracks in the wild, two spots we love are the slab at the Poison Spider trail head, down Potash road, or the Mill Canyon tracks north of town.
The Potash road one requires a short hike up to a slab of tracks, and there are petroglyphs a little ways past that. It is also a pretty trail that overlooks the river.
Mill Canyon tracksite is 15 miles north of Moab, not too far off the highway. It is home to tracks and traces of over 10 different types of animals, and they are accessible by boardwalks with interpretive signs. Definitely worth the trip if you’re really into prehistoric stuff.
Where to Camp in Moab with Kids
We have been coming to Moab for years and have never NOT been able to find some sort of camping spot, even during Easter Jeep Week (which is insanely busy). That said, we are totally ok with dispersed “dry” camping and don’t require hook ups. If that is something that makes you more comfortable, be sure you book ahead. We’ve lined out our favorite camping spots below.
Our family has no issues being a bit of a drive from town, so this is our favorite place to camp, hands down. Not only is it quieter, it also has amazing mountain bike trails right from the campground.
- First come
- BLM land (so dog-friendly)
- No water (must get in town)
- Vault toilets
Sandflats are a super fun place to camp if you don’t mind sand.
- First come
- No water (must get in town)
- Vault toilets
Moonflower Group site
Located down Kane Creek road, this is a super scenic spot, nestled in a sandstone cove with cottonwood trees and shade. It’s popular but worth it, so book early!
- No RVs/ tent trailers or vans.
- No water
- Vault toilets
Family-Frindly RV Parks in Moab
When you visit Moab, sometimes it’s nice to just KNOW you have a reservation and a place to park your camper.
Portal RV Park
Portal RV Resort is in the heart of Moab and is a great place to land if you want some amenities. New, pull through sites, full hook-ups, pool, new pickle ball court, house rentals available too.
You always know what you’ll get with a KOA. Luxury comfortable camping with cabins, RV spots, a pool, laundry, etc.
- Book ahead
- Pool/hot tub
Kid friendly dining in Moab
Most dining places in Moab are pretty touristy and you can find just about anything you want to eat. We’ve listed a few of the places our kids always find something they love.
The grocery store is a great option if you are wanting to cook at camp and save money. They are well stocked and conveniently located at the center of town.
Food Truck Court
This is an outdoor food court right off main street. They have something for everyone and you don’t have to worry about your kids being loud and rowdy inside a restaurant. It’s a fun atmosphere.
Milt’s Stop and Eat
A Moab classic. Right on the way in or out of the Sand Flats Recreation Area, it is a popular outdoor walk up diner. Burgers, fries, and shakes are all delicious.
Canyon Pizza Co.
Delicious pizza and garlic knots right on Main street. Look for the giant portal mural on the side of the building.
Moab is fun in every season, and nature’s dream playground. Whether you go for the national parks, the world class mountain biking and hiking, or the beautiful Colorado river, you’ll find what you’re looking for and more. We’ve given you some ideas, but if you go, you’ll find much more. So get out there and explore.
- Moab with Kids- Best Bike Trails
- Best Bike Trails for little kids in St. George, UT
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