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Moab is essentially one giant PLAYGROUND for adventurers! There is so much to do in Utah, and you can do so much of it in this concentrated little valley, one that you could probably stay at for weeks and never see it all.
While many people think of Moab as just being for adrenaline junkies (with good reason), it’s also an amazing place for kids. Honestly, there are so many things to do in Moab with kids, and as long as you don’t mind the dirt and sand, it might be one of the best family vacations around.
As Utah locals, we visit Moab several times a year. It’s one of our favorite places for mountain biking and hiking in Utah and the amount of outdoor adventure that you can find there is astounding. We’ve been visiting Moab regularly since our oldest was a toddler (he’s now 16), so we’ve got so many great Moab tips with kids to share below!
Best things to do with kids in Moab Utah
- Best things to do with kids in Moab Utah
- 1. Raft Down the Colorado River
- 2. Go Bouldering and Rock Climbing at Lions Park
- 3. Learn to Rock Climb on Moab’s Famous Red Rocks
- 4. Discover Dinosaur Tracks and Fossils at Mill Canyon
- 5. Take the Kids Mountain Biking in Moab
- 6. Go Biking On The Paved Trails Around Moab
- 7. Play In The Water at Mill Creek Waterfall in Moab
- 8. Canyoneer Down a Slot Canyon
- 9. Hike Along The Edge Of The Canyon at Dead Horse Point State Park
- 10. Explore Off The Beaten Path In Canyonlands National Park
- 11. Discover the Wonder in Arches National Park
- 12. Play in the Giant Sand Hill
- 13. Go for a HIKE in Moab
- 14. Play in the water at Ken’s Lake
- 15. Watch the Sunset at Needles Overlook
- 16. Swim at the Moab Aquatic Center
- 17. Take a Day Trip To Goblin Valley
- When is the best time of year to visit Moab with kids?
- How many days should you spend in Moab with Kids?
- What’s the best way to spend one day in Moab?
- What to pack for a trip to Moab?
- What to do in Moab on a hot day in the summer?
- How To Get To Moab Utah
1. Raft Down the Colorado River
If you’re going to be in Moab in the summer, rafting down the Colorado River is a must do. With the scorching desert sun and high temperatures, a trip down the Colorado River is the perfect way to spend the day. Just outside of Moab, is a rafting run called the Moab Daily.
Rafting this section of the Colorado river is a great way to cool down, since there are plenty of calm, flat sections which lend themselves perfectly to water fights and jumping in for a swim or two. This is one of the best places in Utah to teach kids to kayak as well!
This section of the river, known as the Moab Daily, is 14 miles long and has 6 class I-II rapids. The Moab Daily is a nice float trip that’s perfect for families and has spectacular desert scenery. Most commercial outfitters will take kids as young as 4-5, though double-check before you go.
If you’re looking for intense whitewater, you’ll probably be happier with floating the nearby Westwater Canyon sections of the Colorado river. This section of river is rated class III-IV and is INTENSE. If you want big rapids and a major shot of adrenaline, you will absolutely love this trip. Most outfitters require kids to be at least 10 to take this trip.
2. Go Bouldering and Rock Climbing at Lions Park
On the north end of Moab, right along the Colorado River you’ll find Lions Park. Our favorite feature of Lions Park is the large climbing area for bouldering. With three different climbing ‘rocks’ there is plenty of space for everyone to play around without getting in each others way. The routes vary in difficulty, but there was enough variety to keep everyone happy from our toddler up to their dad who’s an advanced rock climber.
The entire area around the bouldering is padded, making those inevitable falls hurt just a little bit less.
Lions Park is a great place to go if you are looking for a shaded place for a picnic, want to start off on a paved biking trail, or just need a place for a bathroom break or to refill your water. If you are camping at any of the BLM campgrounds along the Colorado River, this is the best place to go to get water. It’s one of the best parks for kids in Moab.
3. Learn to Rock Climb on Moab’s Famous Red Rocks
If playing around at the boulder park gets you excited about climbing, then make sure to go rock climbing while you’re down in Moab. In an area that’s famous for it’s rock formations, there is no shortage of places to go rock climbing in Moab. We have been taking our kids rock climbing in Moab since they were tiny, and it’s such a great place to learn to climb. While there are expert climbing routes, there are also plenty of areas that are perfect for learning to Rock Climb in Moab with kids.
Since there is a lot of specialized equipment and training necessary to safely rock climb, we recommend going with a guide, unless you have all your own gear and lots of experience.
4. Discover Dinosaur Tracks and Fossils at Mill Canyon
Often, the best discoveries are made just by talking to people. That’s how we learned about the dinosaur track area of Mill Canyon – by chatting with a couple over our hotel’s breakfast. Truthfully, we were not expecting much, but were so pleasantly surprised by what we found. If you have kids who love dinosaurs in Moab, this is a must stop area.
Mill Canyon is a bit north of town (see map below) and has a few different areas where you can get your dino fix for FREE. The first is the dinosaur trackway, where you’ll see tracks from about a dozen different dinosaurs. Several of these tracks are REALLY BIG dinosaur tracks near Moab and you can see the whole path that the dinosaur walked.
If you keep going south from the dinosaur trackway in Moab about 1.5 miles, there is a dinosaur trail that has dinosaur bones all over it. It was so amazing, and within minutes our kids were seeing bones just about everywhere they looked. The whole Moab dinosaur hike is only about .4 miles, but it was absolutely worth it (4×4 recommended to reach the dinosaur trail). While there is also a nearby dinosaur museum, plan on going to the Moab dinosaur site first and see if that gets you your dino fix. Nearby you’ll also find a new Utah Raptor State Park being built, which as rumor has it, will also have some dinosaur activities on site.
5. Take the Kids Mountain Biking in Moab
Mountain biking in Moab is absolutely AMAZING, and there really is something for everyone. Seriously. Mountain biking with kids in Moab is fantastic since the warm weather means that you can bike here even when the rest of the state is covered in snow. We do lots of biking from October – May in Moab, since that’s when the temperatures are the best for outdoor activities.
Even if you’ve got a toddler on a balance bike, there are great dirt trails everywhere from the National Parks to just out of town that the whole family can enjoy. If you’re feeling really ambitious, check out the 100-mile White Rim Trail that we rode with our kids last year.
While you’ve likely heard of the epic trails of Slickrock and Porcupine Rim, there are even more beginner trails in Moab that are perfect for families who aren’t afraid to get a bit dirty. To learn all about the best mountain biking for kids in Moab, check out all of our top recommendations for Moab bike trails with kids.
While mountain biking with kids can feel intimidating at first, going on a guided mountain bike tour can help simplify things for your first couple of times.
We recommend this Moab bike tour for families since it goes to an area that has several options for trails, so it’s easy to ride a trail that’s at the perfect level for your family.
6. Go Biking On The Paved Trails Around Moab
Moab is quite well known for its mountain biking, but lately there have been some new paved trails constructed near Moab that are incredibly family friendly. From Moab, you can bike up to Lions Park and there you can either turn east and bike 2 miles up the Colorado River, or you can head north into the National Parks.
On the north end, the trail connects to Arches National Park in 2 miles and then after about 5 more miles, the trail connects to the turnoff for Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Since these trails are non-motorized, you don’t have to worry about vehicle traffic with the kids, and they’re nice and smooth so if you’re taking a trailer, this is a great place to ride bikes with the kids.
7. Play In The Water at Mill Creek Waterfall in Moab
Mill Creek is a great hike any time of the year, but it’s an absolute MUST DO if you’re in Moab during the summer. The Moab waterfall trail goes through a canyon (the shade is wonderful), and alongside Mill Creek the entire way. The trail does have mandatory stream crossings, so plan on getting wet (or at least removing your shoes for the crossings). We always have the kids hike in adventure sandals here to make life easier and to encourage them to get in the water more or you can bring along some water shoes for here as well. After about 1 mile, you’ll reach your destination. The reward is a great swimming hole, that’s punctuated by a beautiful waterfall.
Even though you’re in the middle of the desert, the water is still COLD here, though it’s incredibly refreshing. There are several pools of water to play in at the base of this Moab waterfall, though make sure to keep an eye on your little ones as the currents can still be quite swift.
8. Canyoneer Down a Slot Canyon
Canyoneering is the sport of moving down slot canyons by climbing, crawling, rappelling and hiking, and is one of the absolute best ways to really get to know and appreciate Moab. We’ve taken our kids on several canyoneering trips near Moab and they absolutely love it. While canyoneering isn’t generally a good idea with little kids, we start introducing our kids to it around age 8, when they can understand some of the technical skills involved in the sport.
I especially love Canyoneering with kids in Moab since it really pushes the kids to their limits and makes them face a few fears. Along the way, they were roped in at two different points in exposed sections, so we knew they were going to be safe the whole time. It was an awesome activity to experience together and I’m quite certain it’s one that our kids will remember for a VERY long time!
9. Hike Along The Edge Of The Canyon at Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point is a state park near Moab and is home to some of the most spectacular views in the entire Moab area. Located on the top of a plateau, the real gem of Dead Horse Point is the views. Just at the edge of the park, the canyon walls drop hundreds of feet below you, all the way down to the Colorado River.
If you want to get the best views, head all the way to the end and check out the Dead Horse Point Overlook. From there, you’ll get amazing views as you hike the 1 mile to the Meander Overlook where the views are even more impressive. The hike is simple and flat, but with lots of rocks around for the kids to play on as you hike.
If you’re trying to decide what to do in Dead Horse Point with kids, plan on hiking, mountain biking, and camping! The Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point is also an awesome place for mountain biking for beginners and intermediate riders.
10. Explore Off The Beaten Path In Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is one of the biggest National Parks with so much to explore. While there are roads that go into Canyonlands, so much of it isn’t accessible by pavement. To really appreciate Canyonlands National Park you need to get on a 4×4 trail or start to hike.
Canyonlands National Park is split into three different areas, or districts. The Islands in the Sky is closest to Moab (north of Moab), The Needles District is more remote and less crowded (south of Moab), and the Maze District which is only accessible by 4×4 car and with a permit (about 1.5 hours west of Moab).
If you’re looking for some great Canyonlands hikes that are close to Moab and really simple for kids, I highly recommend going to Island in the sky and hiking Mesa Arch, Grand View Point Overlook and the Whale Rock. You can easily do all three hikes in a day, though planning to be there at sunrise or sunset will give you some absolutely incredible views!
Since most of the Canyonlands is not accessible from the pavement, getting off the road and onto 4×4 trails is a great way to see the park. If you don’t have lots of 4×4 driving experience, or can’t get the necessary permit, consider a guided Canyonlands tour. Check out the best Canyonlands tours here.
11. Discover the Wonder in Arches National Park
Arches National Park is my kids favorite park to explore. There are plenty of rocks for them to climb on, they always seem to find lizards, and getting dirty is pretty much the name of the game here. In the last 3 years, the popularity of Arches has skyrocketed and for a majority of the year, you can only enter with a timed reservation. While that does make the logistics a bit more difficult, a visit to Arches National Park with kids is absolutely worth the effort. The entrance to the park is only a few miles outside of Moab, making it easily accessible.
We’ve put together a list of the 23 Best things to do in Arches with kids but the sky really is the limit here. Here are some of our favorite Arches National Park activities for kids:
Arches Junior Ranger Program
Go on and Easy Hike in Arches (fulll list here)
Camp at Devils Garden
Have a picnic with a view
12. Play in the Giant Sand Hill
If you’re heading down to Moab with kids, there is really no way to avoid getting sand EVERYWHERE. In shoes, pockets, hair…somehow it just ends up everywhere. So instead of trying to avoid it, take my advice and just EMBRACE IT at the Moab sand hill
A visit to the Moab giant sand hill north of town is something that the whole family will enjoy. Located on the east side of 191 about ¼ miles north of the entrance to Arches National Park, the sandhill is easy to get to. Plan on spending about an hour there, since it takes quite a while to get to the top, and after the thrill of going down, you’ll probably want to do it several times.
In the summer the sand can get quite hot, so plan on visiting in the morning. During the fall and spring, any time is usually good to go, and in the winter, wait until the afternoon so the sand can warm up a bit.
Typically we all go barefoot here, though if the sand is very hot or cold, we have the kids all keep their socks on.
13. Go for a HIKE in Moab
There are so many amazing places to hike around Moab that I couldn’t include them all here. Check out our article on The Best Hikes with Kids in Moab for all the details, including where to go, distances, difficulty, and a few of our favorites! Make sure to take along hiking shoes, especially in the summer since the hot sand can burn your feel in sandals.
Some of our favorite Moab area hikes with kids are:
Morning Glory Canyon
Double Arch Hike
Hidden Valley Trail
14. Play in the water at Ken’s Lake
Located south of Moab, Ken’s Lake is the best place to go in Moab on a hot day. The pebbly beach is great for hanging out, and the cool water will feel perfect in the summer. Ken’s Lake is a popular place to paddle around, swim, and fish.
The grass at Ken’s Lake is full of thorns and burrs, so stick to the beach when you go, and always leave your shoes on, even in the water (you don’t want to step on an abandoned fish hook in the water). The lake is pretty shallow so it’s a great place to spend a hot day with the kids.
15. Watch the Sunset at Needles Overlook
Our favorite place to watch the sunset in Moab is at the Needles overlook. It’s a good drive south of town, but as you watch the sun set through the canyon, the colors and national park come to life in such a beautiful way. We always pack a picnic along with us, and let the kids play on the rocks while we’re waiting for the sun to go down!
16. Swim at the Moab Aquatic Center
If you’re visiting Moab when it’s hot, the Moab Aquatic Center is one of the best places to hang out during the day. It’s got plenty of space with 6 lap lanes and a giant slide in the indoor pool as well as a diving board and a high dive. The indoor pool has 6 lap lanes, a giant slide, as well as a diving board and a high dive.
The outdoor pool has a 3 lane lap pool, a lazy river and a few other play areas. For Nonresidents, the pool costs $6 for kids under 18 and $12 for adults or $36 for a family of 6.
17. Take a Day Trip To Goblin Valley
Just over an hour from Moab, Goblin Valley is one of teh most unique places to visit in all of Utah. Filled with sandstone Hoodoos, and little slot canyons, this is the coolest place to let your kids explore. We make a visit here annually and it’s one of our most anticipated adventures of the year.
Unlike the National Parks that are packed with regulations and restrictions on where you can go and what you’re allowed to do, Goblin Valley gives you so much freedom to explore and climb around. Here you can climb on hoodoos, explore caves, and just run around and play like crazy.
When is the best time of year to visit Moab with kids?
The best time of year to visit Moab is in the spring and in the fall. In winter it can get pretty cold, with temperatures below freezing each day, but the crowds are pretty small, so if you wnat to visit Moab without the crowds, winter is a great time to visit. In the summer, the temperatures can get up to 105-110 degrees, and there isn’t a lot of shade.
If you do choose to vivist Moab in the summer, you need to be incredibly careful in the heat. We recommend getting up very early, and being indoors before 10am. You can go back outside around 5 or 6pm when the sun gets lower and temperatures start cooling down. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are major risks that you ened to be aware of in Moab.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Moab
Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are necessary for anyone visiting Moab in the summer. Knowing these can literally save a life!
- Heavy sweating
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Pale, clammy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- High body temperature (above 103°F or 39.4°C)
- Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Dizziness or confusion
- Irritability or irrational behavior
- Seizures or convulsions
- Loss of consciousness
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical treatment. If you suspect heat stroke call 911 immediately, and try to cool the body off. Heat exhaustion can usually be treated with rest, cooling down in the shade or air conditioning, and fluids. Staying out of extreme heat is one of the best ways to avoid both heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
How many days should you spend in Moab with Kids?
We go to Moab A LOT! We’ve been traveling there since our older kids were toddlers, and now with our kids ranging from 6-16, it’s still one of their most requested places to go. We often go to Moab area 2-4 times a year, so we’ve been A LOT. I think that the perfect trip to Moab is 3-4 days. If you can go longer, you can easily find enough to do to fill an entire week, or more if you want to explore some off the beaten path areas.
What’s the best way to spend one day in Moab?
If you only have one day to spend in Moab, plan on getting up early so you can pack as much in as you possibly can. It is absolutely possible to see a variety of what the Moab area has to offer in one day, but not possible to do everything (some things are just too spread out).
Perfect one-day itinerary in Moab for families
Start off your day by heading to Arches National Park. To get the most bang for your buck, head straight over to the Windows area. From there you can hike to Double Arch, Turret Arch, North Window and South Window all in about an hour if you’re in a rush. If you’ve got kids, plan for 2 hours since there are so many rocks they’ll want to climb on!
On your way back from The Windows, make sure to stop at the Garden of Eden. The rock formations here are absolutely stunning and worth stopping, even if just for a few pictures.
Next, head over to the Delicate Arch Overlook. Hiking to Delicate Arch is one of our favorite hikes in Arches National Park, but if you don’t have time (2-3 hours), then just go to the overlook.
Eat a picnic lunch at the picnic area near Balanced Rock before you head out of Arches National Park. By mid-day, the temperatures in Moab will be getting pretty hot, so it’s time to cool down. Head over to Mill Creek Canyon for a short (1-mile each way) hike to the waterfall. Make sure you’re wearing hiking shoes that can get wet since there are mandatory stream crossings – check out our article on the best hiking sandals for kids if you need recommendations.
After you are cooled off and dry, head back into Moab to get some picnic supplies for a sunset dinner.
Drive out to Dead Horse Point to watch the sunset while you eat your picnic from the farthest overlook. From here you’ll have canyon views in about 270 degrees, so you’re going to see a pretty spectacular show. Make sure to plan about 55 minutes to get to the overlook from the town of Moab. It’s a bit of a drive, but absolutely worth it.
If you still have a bit of energy, stay around Dead Horse Point for a while until the stars come out. Since there is almost no light pollution out here, this is one of the best places in the United States to go stargazing!
What to pack for a trip to Moab?
Packing for a trip to Moab is different for every single season since the weather fluctuates so much. Check out our article on What to Pack For Moab and make sure to grab our printable packing list as well.
What to do in Moab on a hot day in the summer?
During the summer in Moab, you’ll need to be very conscious of the temperatures. There isn’t much shade around and the temperatures usually climb above 100 degrees.
If you want to go hiking during the summer in Moab, make sure to head out early and try and be done before 10am. You can also start hiking with kids again when things start cooling down around 5pm.
In the summer the best activities to do in Moab are rafting the Colorado River, swimming at Mill Creek, and spending the day at Ken’s Lake.
How To Get To Moab Utah
Moab is located about 235 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, and about 355 miles southwest of Denver. If you are driving from Salt Lake City, take I-15 South to US-6 East towards Price. From there, take US-191 South to Moab. If you are driving from Denver, take I-70 West to US-191 South towards Moab.
If you’re coming from other Utah National Parks her are the travel distances to get to Moab:
Zion National Park to Moab: 5 hours 30 minutes
Bryce Canyon National Park to Moab: 4 hours 20 minutes
Capitol Reef National Park to Moab: 2 hours 15 minutes