Denver to Moab: A High-Octane Weekend Road Trip
Don’t have enough time for the full Higher Octane experience? How about you hit the most adrenaline-inducing, pulse-racing, heart-hammering Moab-area adventures that you can pack into three days. Ready?
Kick your road trip off with a day working the oars through the roaring rapids of the Colorado River, or opt for a longer rafting trip by adding a few days to the itinerary. Likewise, you could extend the itinerary by tackling a larger portion of the White Rim Trail.
Day two is all about magnificent mountain biking — we’re talking the world-renowned, technical trails of the Magnificent 7, or the playful, imaginative ledges of Amasa Back. If you’d rather explore on foot, you can plunge yourself deep into the Fiery Furnace of Arches National Park — with a guide, of course. This incredible labyrinth of twisting and turning canyons and gorges is known to be difficult to navigate.
Day three is a hat trick of Moab adventure, and may set a new benchmark for your most exciting day. Start by jumping out of a plane over the Moab desert from 10,000 feet above the ground. Then it’s onto hitting the ground literally rolling at 11,126 feet and dropping for 33 miles on one of the most unforgettable mountain bike rides anywhere (come prepared or rent in town). Finally, you can get up close and personal with the red rock as you hike to the third largest arch in the Western Hemisphere.
Cap off your adventure at a locals’ favorite for a fat burger and beer — and you can say you conquered it.
Start: Drive roughly five and a half hours west on I-70 from Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah.
End: Skydive Moab, just outside Arches National Park.
Hours of Driving: 5+ hours driving in Moab, 14+ hours total commute time.
Places To Stay & Local Guides: Make the most of your trip by Glamping at Moab Under Canvas, a camping resort that’s equally luxurious and adventurous. Before you hit the road, be sure to make reservations for the skydiving, guided hikes and rafting tours in this itinerary.
- Colorado White Water
- White Rim Trail
- Moab Dining After Adventure
The choice is yours on the first day of this road trip: a day trip on the rapids of the Colorado, or a day pedaling through scenic Canyonlands country. The popular Moab Daily stretch is a perfect way to get a taste of rafting on the mighty Colorado. Otherwise, pedaling a section of the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park makes for an uber-scenic introductory ride. While the trail can be a 3-4 day ride along a 103 mile 4x4 road, we’d recommend conquering a small portion then driving back to town. Don’t worry, there is plenty of opportunity for more riding to come. That evening, head into Moab for a bite to eat at one of many excellent local eateries. Be sure to rest up because the coming days are full of hiking, climbing, and riding your way through the best of Moab, Utah.
Utah's most popular river trip, the Moab Daily, is a 13-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Hittle Bottom to Takeout Beach along Highway 128. This float can be easily done in a day. Of course, many raft the Colorado for Canyonlands’ famous Cataract Canyon. With two or more days, you can too.
The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top and provides expansive views of the surrounding area. Trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. Grab a permit and get ready for a bucket-list ride.
There are a lot of great places to eat in Moab. Adventures out here can stir up a quite an appetite. For those days, here are a couple of excellent options to replenish the calories spent on the trail.
- Magnificent Seven
- Amasa Back
- Fiery Furnace
Day two is all about hiking and riding local favorite trails that you may not have visited before. If this is your first time to Moab, you’ll want to add a day or two to your road trip to visit the world-famous Slickrock Trail and hike to Delicate Arch. Otherwise, it’s time to head to the Magnificent 7 and Amasa Back trail networks. Both are some of Moab’s best, so it can be difficult to choose. Highly conditioned riders may want to tackle both, but don’t get wiped out before a guided tour of The Fiery Furnace in the afternoon.
A series of mountain bike trails that can be combined in numerous creative ways for both fun and long rides through beautiful desert country. It's ideal for riders with good endurance and bike handling skills — and the good sense to walk it at times.
The Amasa Back area contains six mountain bike trails, five of which are non-motorized singletrack. Pot Hole Arch is the lone intermediate trail. From there things get expert. The Amasa Back area offers excellent views of Kane Creek, Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area and the Colorado River. Image courtesy Sebastien Launay.
This incredibly demanding hike is best experienced with a ranger. In fact, you can’t even enter the trail without reserving tickets in advance. This labyrinth of sun-baked ledges, canyons and sandstone outgrowths will challenge your agility and resolve, and more than earn you an extra helping at dinner afterward.
- Porcupine Rim or Whole Enchilada
- Grandstaff Hiking Trail
- Skydive Moab
Is it possible to mountain bike one of the greatest singletrack downhill rides, sky dive and sneak in a classic hike all in a day? The last day of your Moab road trip is the perfect day to find out. You’ll want to make mountain biking shuttle and skydiving reservations before the trip, and plan your day accordingly. Then, after an adrenaline packed weekend, a hike to the oasis at the end of the Grandstaff Hiking Trail will seem like a perfect send-off back home.
This challenging ride packs in a little bit of everything — or perhaps a lot of everything. Deemed one of the greatest mountain bike rides in America, the Enchilada ain’t for the faint of heart, but with sweeping downhills on the stunning descent into the Colorado River valley, it’s one you’ll never forget.
A small perennial stream cut Grandstaff Trail into this Navajo sandstone canyon retreat near the Colorado River. The trail winds along the stream through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees, cut off from the desert above by towering sandstone cliffs.
You can explore Moab on foot, on bike, in a whitewater raft, or in a Jeep — but you’ll never quite get the same perspective as you do when flying through the air from 10,000 feet above it all.