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Moab is essentially one giant PLAYGROUND for adventurers! There is so much to do in this concentrated little valley, that you could probably stay there for weeks and never see it all.
While many people think of Moab as just being for adrenaline junkies (with good reason – there is so much to do), it’s also an amazing place for kids. Honestly, there is so much to do in Moab, and as long as you don’t mind the dirt and sand, it might be one of the best family vacations around.
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. Go Biking On The Paved Trails Around Moab
- 6. Take the Kids Mountain Biking
- 7. Play In The Water at Mill Creek
- 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
- 11. Discover the Wonder in Arches National Park
- 12. Play in the Giant Sand Hill
- 13. Go for a HIKE
- 14. Play in the water at Ken’s Lake
- When is the best time of year to visit Moab with kids?
- What’s the best way to spend one day in Moab?
- Perfect one-day itinerary in Moab for families
- What to pack for a trip to Moab?
- What to do in Moab on a hot day in the summer?
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 river trip is the perfect place to spend the day. Just outside of Moab, is a rafting run called the Moab Daily.
Rafting this section of 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 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 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 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.
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.
Since there is a lot of specialized equipment and training necessary to safely rock climb, we recommend going with a guide.
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.
Mill Canyon is a bit north of town (see map), 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 and you can see the whole path that the dinosaur walked.
If you keep going south from the dinosaur trackway 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 hike is only about .4 miles, but it was absolutely worth it (4×4 recommended to reach the dinosaur trail).
5. 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 and Dead Horse Point. 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.
6. Take the Kids Mountain Biking
Mountain biking in Moab is absolutely AMAZING, and there really is something for everyone. Seriously. Even if you’ve got a toddler on a balance bike, there are great dirt trails that everyone in the family can enjoy.
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, my friend Jenn has the best biking recommendations here.
7. Play In The Water at Mill Creek
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 trail goes through a canyon (the shade is wonderful), and alongside a 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). 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 the 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 took our kids canyoneering on our last trip down the Moab and they absolutely loved it.
I especially loved that it really pushed them to their limits and made them face a few fears, but I knew that since they were roped in at two different points, 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 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 from 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.
The Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point is also an awesome place for mountain biking for beginners.
10. Explore Off The Beaten Path In Canyonlands
Canyonlands is a massive National Park 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 you need to get on a 4×4 trail or start to hike.
If you’re looking for some great Canyonlands hikes that are close to Moab and really simple for kids, I highly recommend Mesa Arch, Grand View Point Overlook and the Whale Rock. All three of these hikes are in Island in the Sky, which is the closest to Moab (the other sections of Canyonlands are The Maze and The Needles).
11. Discover the Wonder in Arches National Park
Arches is my boys 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.
We love exploring in Arches because it’s only about 5 minutes outside of Moab and it’s super easy to head over to Arches for just a few hours. Our kids especially love heading over to the Windows area of Arches where we can pretty easily hike to 5 arches in about an hour (or 2 hours if they stop to climb on ALL THE ROCKS).
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!
A visit to the 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
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!
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.
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. In the summer, the temperatures can get up to 105-110 degrees, and there isn’t a lot of shade.
Obviously, the crowds are also higher in the spring and fall, so if the weather doesn’t bother you, you’ll get smaller crowds by visiting Moab in the Winter or Summer.
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 lot 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, 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 10:30am. You can also start hiking 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.