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|Utah: Moab, Family Vacation Ideas – Arches, Rivers and Reels of Film.
America’s West is awesome and nowhere is it more evident than in southern Utah. From canyons with sagebrush rim tops to river bottoms with sculpted rock formation the history of adventure is evident. Moab is an ideal family vacation base from which to ride a stagecoach; raft Yampa, Green or Dolores Rivers; explore Arches National Park, or take a 4-wheel drive through Canyonlands National Park.
Put on your Tevas; pack your hiking boots; assemble sunscreen, water bottles, and at least one set of binoculars. Using Moab as your base we have a short action list for family adventure.
Surf the river. If you’re in the mood for some thrilling whitewater adventure, look no further than Sheri Griffith River Expeditions, operating out of Moab. Offering trips on the mighty Colorado River, her canyons and her tributaries (the Yampa River, the Green River and the Dolores River), there’s something for everyone. Sheri Griffith River Expeditions offers a special “Family Only” five day trip on the Green River (available for families with children five years of age and older) in oar boats and kayaks, with hikes to outlaw cabins, water fights, the chance to build sandcastles, and of course lots of fun (but manageable) whitewater. Bonus points: Traveling the river with Sherri Griffith doesn’t have to mean “roughing it” – it’s their mission to make everyone comfortable ion the outdoors. Trips typically include great sit-down dining, comfortable chairs and professional service-orientated guides who seek to create a relaxing and comfortable camp setting after a long day on the water. (Sheri Griffith River Expeditions 2231 South Highway 191. Toll-free 1-800-332-2439 or www.griffithexp.com)
Dive into history. The Dan O’Laurie Moab Museum features a series of displays that depict the history of Moab from prehistoric to the present, as well as a great section focusing on the geology of the area in and around Moab with a hands-on mineral identification activity while the nearby archaeology section features a large basket unearthed near Moab. History buffs will thrill at the opportunity to try the restored player piano and the early home remedies from the region. Other interesting items include primers from the early 1990s, a 1920 high-school year book, and a handmade quilt depicting cattle brands. Bonus points: The admittance price for those 12 and older is only $3, while those younger than 12 get in for free. (Dan O’Laurie Moab Museum 118 E. Center Street. 1(435) 259-7985 or www.moab-utah.com/danolaurie/museum.html)
Lights, camera, action. Since the “discovery” of Moab and the surrounding area by famed director John Ford (Stagecoach), it’s become a popular location for movie making. Movies such as Wagon Master, Rio Grande, and Son of Cochise were shot partially at the Red Cliffs Ranch, while City Slickers, Geronimo and Thelma and Louise were shot in the Moab area. The Museum of Film and Western Heritage at Red Cliffs Ranch pays homage to the famous films filmed in and around the city of Moab from the earliest to the most recent, with props, posters, and production stills sure to win the heart of any fan of Westerns. Bonus points: Admittance is free for everyone.(Red Cliffs Ranch, 14 miles east of Moab on Utah 128 – milepost 14. Toll-free at 1-855-812-2002, 1(435) 259-2002 or www.redcliffslodge.com/museum)
Count the arches.
The naturally splendid Arches National Park is an excellent day trip out of Moab. An 18-mile (36 miles roundtrip) scenic drive winds through the park, offering breathtaking views of countless natural rock arches and formations, and several easy hikes add to the experience. While it’s possible to see most of the famous arches from the car, visitors are encouraged to explore parts of the park on foot – a variety of viewpoints are situated a short way from the road. Budding ecologists will love the “desert scrub” ecosystem, which is composed of sagebrush, saltbush, yucca and prickly beat cactus, and populated by such diverse animals as the kangaroo rat, the black-tailed jackrabbit, the rock squirrel, the coyote and lizards galore. Discovery:
Kids dig the delightful Parade of Elephants formation, which can be espied from the end of the trail leading to the Double Arch. Another really neat sight is Balance Rock – a huge boulder which weighs about 3,600 tons and is perches atop of a slowly eroding pedestal. If you’re in the park for sunset be sure to head up to Panorama Point, which offers an incredible view of Salt Valley and the Fiery Furnace. (Arches National Park five miles north of Moab, along Highway 191. 1(435) 719-2299 or www.nps.gov/arch)
Go off the beaten path. Rugged and remote, Canyonlands National Park is a park for more serious explorers, and is probably best tackled with teen. Although roads wind throughout the park, there is no established vehicle route to maximize the experience. If you’re looking to spend just one day in Canyonlands National Park, rangers recommend that you skip the Needles and Maze districts entirely, and head straight to the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, then drive directly to several of the overlooks. Must-sees (on a short tour of the park) include the Grand View Point Overlook and the Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail. Alternatively, guided tours in four-wheel-drive vehicles, planes or by raft are great ways to take in a quick visit to the park while maximizing time. Need to know: Since most of the park’s most spectacular sections are difficult to get to you’ll need a serious 4-wheel-drive vehicle if you want to tackle it. Several companies offer scenic flights of the park – a great way to see all of the sights, without straying off the beaten path. (Canyonlands National Park US Highway 191 to Utah Highway 313, drive southwest 22 miles. 1(435) 719-2313 or www.nps.gov/cany)
Content researched and created by FamilyTravelFiles.com staff. Images provided by Sheri Griffith Expeditions, and Arches National Park. Copyright 2008.