Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Experience Moab: Discover the other Southern Utah

May 11, 2011, 12:46 pm

Among the locales that fall within the Southern Utah umbrella is Moab, the red rock wonderland that recently became a familiar sight in theaters around the world via the film “127 Hours.”

Despite its geographic location in Southern Utah, the Moab area requires quite a trip. The quickest route there (Interstate 15 to Interstate 70 to U.S. Route 191) is 340 miles from St. George, about a five-hour drive time. It’s well worth spending a few days to discover the magic of Moab.

Obviously, the primary lures of Moab can be found in Arches and Canyonlands national parks, which surround Moab on the west and north. In fact, Arches National Park is located practically within the city limits.

Here Moab becomes a literal gateway to a national park, much like Springdale is to Zion. This close location brings the national park atmosphere into the town, even defining the municipality.

If Arches defines Moab, then Delicate Arch defines the park. Since its inclusion on Utah license plates, Delicate Arch has become something of a Utah symbol.

While Delicate Arch is easily the most famous, it’s only one of more than 2,000 catalogued arches in the park. The lengthy Landscape Arch is another well-known feature of the park because of its size: It stretches for 306 feet from base to base. A variety of trails provide access to many of the well-known arches. Some are short paths from roadside parking while others are a few miles long.

If you’re looking for a quick visit to Arches, The Windows Section is located about 11 miles into the park. Here you can find six large arches within a two-mile distance. They are even visible from the road for those with mobility issues. However, a trail system travels to the base of each arch for up-close viewing.

Meanwhile, Canyonlands is so big it has three separate and distinct districts. The most accessible from Moab is the Island in the Sky District. On a map it looks likes it’s right next to Moab, but you have to drive north, then west, then south to get there.

It is well worth the 45 minutes drive from Moab. Island in the Sky lives up to its name as it provides a bird’s eye view down into the rugged landscape below — evidence of the carving power of water.