Kane Creek Road

Slightly removed from the main Moab hot spots, Kane Creek Road is an idyllic little adventure downstream along the Colorado River. Many tourists coming into town drive the more obvious road that follows the river to the north, but Kane Creek takes a little finding and sees less traffic.

To get to this sleepy downriver winding road, and the delightful treasures it holds, drive south on the main street through town till you see the McDonald’s, then turn west on Kane Creek. You’ll soon break away from Moab’s little residential area and find yourself in the Colorado River gorge, meandering alongside the river.

This pretty road continues for about five miles before pavement ends and adventuring begins. Initially, the road is mellow and doable for a normal passenger car, but after several miles, the going gets spicy, and is best left to high-clearance SUVs and ATVs.

One of the primary highlights along Kane Creek Road, Moonflower Canyon, is about three miles in (well within the pavement’s bounds). Moonflower is just about as magical as its name connotes. A lush green little side-canyon oasis carved into the surrounding red rock bluffs, Moonflower is the site of some amazing remnants of ancient Native American life. The place is shaded, and is naturally cooled by a spring-fed creek, so it’s easy to understand why humans have sought this spot out for thousands of years.

To really let the wonder sink in, you might consider camping in Moonflower’s sandy little walk-in campground (campsites limited — fee required). But even if you’re simply passing through, there are a few things not to miss — namely the sprawling petroglyphs near the mouth of the canyon. You can easily find the large rock panel covered with ancient art carved and chipped into the rock’s surface.

Another highlight of Moonflower is the reconstruction of an ancient Native American ladder used to ascend the area’s rocky cliffs. The ladder is tucked away to the left of the petroglyph panel in a tall crevice in the rock. Kids especially love exploring how cleverly wedged wooden rungs can support a person’s weight and provide a way to ascend the rock.

Those up for a little more exploration will appreciate the short one-mile hike into Moonflower’s upper reaches. Walking through the lush desert plants and Cottonwood trees, you’ll finally arrive at the peaceful little spring that feeds Moonflower’s magic.

After exploring this canyon to your heart’s desire, head further down Kane Creek Road to check out multiple trailheads including the famed Amasa Back mountain biking trail, the Ice Cream Parlor climbing area or make the drive to Hurrah Pass.

GPS Coordinates: 38.557851, -109.584056