Moab, Utah, is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. From mountain biking and off-roading in Moab to hiking, camping, and much, much more, you’ll find it in this small but incredibly impressive mountain town.
Being that the iconic red slickrock is some of the most famous terrain in the world and two of Utah’s “Mighty 5” are here, it’s common for visitors to research the best hikes in Moab. However, “best” is subjective and information on hiking trails in Moab can quickly become overwhelming.
From the best hikes in Arches National Park and the best sunset trails to the best hikes near Moab but outside the national parks and the shortest, easiest trails, there is a ton of hiking in Moab Utah. Fortunately, I’ve done much of the legwork for you (pun very much intended). For my personal roundup of the best hikes in Moab, I included the most iconic and picturesque.
The hiking trails listed here are quintessentially Moab, letting you see for yourself why millions of people visit this town of just over 5,000 each year. None of these hikes are particularly difficult, but nonetheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t urge you to be safe, wear proper hiking gear, and leave no trace. Happy trails!
The best hikes in Moab
From short and sweet to half-day adventures, the best hikes in Moab are perfectly-suited to all experience levels.
Best hikes in Arches National Park
With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and countless other spectacular rock formations, hiking in Arches is an absolute must when visiting Moab.
The park is easily accessible, as the main entrance is just five miles from downtown Moab — although on holidays and peak times, you’d never know that. During a couples’ trip in early November, it took us over an hour to drive eight miles from the park to our Airbnb. The best hikes in Arches are well worth the inconvenience, but bring snacks and have a good playlist ready just in case.
Delicate Arch Trail
The name “Delicate” is a misnomer. At 52 feet tall, this arch is anything but delicate; it’s enormous. In fact, I didn’t realize just how big it was until I stood underneath it myself. Its grandeur is undoubtedly why Delicate Arch is on the Utah license plate. This spectacular trailhead packs a serious punch and is easily one of the best hikes in Moab.
Unlike some of the other popular formations in Arches, you can’t see Delicate Arch from the road. Instead, it’s tucked deep into Moab’s rugged backcountry. And although three miles doesn’t sound like a lot, hikers gain a hefty 500 feet in elevation hiking to Delicate. The good news is that the almost-entirely-uphill hike in means it’s all downhill on the way out.
Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and take your time. If at all possible, time your hike to catch sunset at Delicate Arch. It’s far and away one of the best hikes in Moab to see it, and perhaps even the world. Seriously — it’s an International Dark Sky Park.
Double Arch Trail
If you’re looking for an easy, family-friendly hike, Double Arch Trail is one of the best hikes in Arches. Hikers get a lot of bang for their buck with Double Arch, as the easy-to-follow, flat trail goes from a parking lot directly to the unusual rock formation in just .4 miles.
Double Arch itself is two side-by-side arches that share an outer leg. One of the two openings is also the third-largest in the park. The out-and-back trail is quite short, but you can (carefully!) climb up and under the arches to add some length and make it more challenging.
When discussing the best hikes in Moab, trails in Arches are typically the first to be discussed. Delicate and Double Arch are phenomenal, but they barely scratch the surface. For beginners and families with young children, check out the one-mile Windows Primitive Loop. If you can land a permit, Fiery Furnace is said to be among the very best hikes in Moab. We really wanted to do this one, but permits and tours were suspended during our trip due to the pandemic.
Best hikes in Canyonlands National Park
Although Canyonlands is well-known, many people don’t realize just how big it is. The park, which is about 45 minutes from downtown Moab, is comprised of three districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze.
Generally speaking, the best hikes in Canyonlands are in The Needles and Island in the Sky. There are some incredible hikes in The Maze also, but the area is so remote that you need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach it. Because of its remoteness and exceptionally rugged terrain, Moab hiking trails in The Maze are best for veteran backpackers.
Mesa Arch (Island in the Sky)
I’m an avid hiker and I can’t think of many (or maybe any) other hikes with such a good payoff after such a short trek. Mesa Arch is exactly halfway along an easy, well-maintained half-mile loop, which is partially why it’s one of the best hikes in Canyonlands.
The short hike is deceptive, as the panoramic view from Mesa Arch is knock-your-socks-off stunning. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most photographed spots in all of Moab. You face east as you look out from Mesa Arch, so it’s also one of the best spots in Moab to watch the sunrise.
We could only get to Canyonlands in the evening during our November Moab trip, so we saw the sunset, which was still spectacular. As we hiked back to the car in the twilight, the rapidly-appearing stars literally caught my breath. I promised myself to get back out there for stargazing in the (hopefully near) future.
Lost Canyon (The Needles)
Technically, Lost Canyon Loop is comprised of the Big Spring Canyon, Squaw Canyon, and Lost Canyon Trails. Well-placed cairns mark the trail, although in some areas they’re small. Hikers experience a wide variety of terrain including slickrock, sandstone ledges, gravel washes, and multiple canyon overlooks. The majestic La Sals are visible in the distance for much of the hike as well.
Note that while Lost Canyon is rated as “moderate,” the canyon and ledge portions of the trail are a bit precarious, with some steep dropoffs. Slickrock is also named as such for a reason and can be tricky to navigate even in dry conditions. If you’re a somewhat experienced hiker and you’re willing to make the two-hour trek from town, this is one of the best hikes in Moab.
In a hikers’ paradise, it’s difficult to choose just a couple of the best hikes in Canyonlands. The 1.6-mile Upheaval Dome Overlook trail is a short but strenuous hike that overlooks the fascinating Upheaval Dome crater. Chesler Park Loop is certainly a must if you can spare an entire day — or better yet, an overnight.
Best hikes in Moab outside the parks
You could easily spend all your time exploring the best hikes in Arches and Canyonlands alone. Believe me, I know — I’m a bona fide national parks geek. However, you’ll find even more awe-inspiring scenery and miles of trails if you venture outside park boundaries. As a bonus, the best hikes in Moab that are a bit more out of the way (i.e., outside the national parks) are typically way less crowded.
In a part of the country where otherworldly landscapes are the norm, the Fisher Towers manage to stand out. Here, on one of the best hikes near Moab, instead of dramatic arches you’ll see massive sandstone slabs topped with corkscrew-shaped spires. They quite literally “tower” over hikers progressing along the winding trail.
The trailhead starts at a small parking lot where there’s a bathroom — to be fair, though, I’m using that term loosely; it’s really just a pit toilet. Bikes aren’t allowed on Fisher Towers Trail, unlike many (most) hiking trails in Moab. The trail is insanely popular with rock climbers, though. That’s not my thing, but I could sit and watch climbers for hours. It seems so dangerous and badass in a completely mesmerizing kind of way.
Fisher Towers Trail is maze-like, although it’s well-marked. The terrain is varied and includes slickrock, canyons, rocky paths, and ledges, which makes the hike seem slightly easier. This one is truly moderate, but it has zero shade. If you’re not a desert dweller, the sun really does shine hotter here. I live in southern Arizona and it still blows my mind that 70 degrees can feel hot when the sun is beating directly down on you. Bring a hat and tons of water.
Corona Arch Trail is one of the best hikes in Moab because hikers get to see three separate arches. The star of the show is Corona Arch, which is also known as Little Rainbow Bridge. It’s one of Moab’s biggest and most impressive arches, yet hikers avoid the crowds since it’s outside the parks.
The trail is well-marked and relatively easy. Unique among hiking trails in Moab, there are even cable handrails in a couple of the slickrock sections. Along the way, you’ll pass by Pinto and Bowtie Arches.
1.5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll see Corona Arch in all of its massive glory. The arch opening measures 105 feet high by 140 feet wide. To put that into perspective, airplanes have flown through the arch! Note that this practice is not legal, but the arch isn’t federally protected the way those in Arches and Canyonlands are.
Technically Corona Arch is actually one of the best hikes near Moab, because it’s just west of town along Potash Road. Also commonly called the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, this road is wildly popular for off-roading.
Arches and Canyonlands typically get all the attention for the best hikes in Moab. However, nearby Dead Horse Point State Park deserves some exploration as well. It’s just east of Canyonlands and substantially smaller, which means it’s often overlooked. Enjoy jaw-dropping views without the crowds on several flat, well-maintained hiking trails in Moab. Dead Horse Point is also one of the best places in Moab to watch the sunrise.
I hope this guide to the best hikes in Moab Utah is helpful in planning your own trip. Be sure to save it on Pinterest for later!