arches national park

Moab Scenic Drives: Arches Scenic Drive & More

In the heart of Utah's red rock country, Moab is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the American Southwest. Moab scenic drives—offering a blend of adventure, tranquillity, and breathtaking vistas—are an accessible way to soak in the area's beauty, making them the perfect addition to your Moab itinerary. Discover our top picks for Moab scenic drives to enjoy during your visit.

Arches Scenic Drive

Distance: 36 miles round trip | Duration: 2 to 3 hours

This route takes you deep into the heart of Arches National Park, celebrated for its breathtaking arches and unique geological formations. The drive is dotted with convenient pullouts and trailheads, inviting easy exploration of landmarks like Delicate Arch Viewpoint, the Windows section, Balanced Rock, and Fiery Furnace. The park's vibrant landscape—marked by a rich tapestry of colors, shapes, and textures—is jaw-droppingly beautiful at all times of day but becomes even more enchanting at sunrise and sunset. Note: To visit Arches, you’ll need to pay an entry fee or have a park pass and secure a parking reservation for entry between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-279)

Distance: 17 miles one way | Duration: 1 hour

Potash Road, beginning just four miles north of Moab, where it diverges from Highway 191, offers an enchanting blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. Winding alongside the Colorado River through a deep gorge, the drive offers breathtaking river views, ancient petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and the dramatic faces of sandstone cliffs. Highlights include the view of rock climbers on the cliffs at Wall Street and the iconic Jug Handle Arch. The route concludes near the Potash Plant, at the junction with Shafer Trail, offering further exploration for off-road enthusiasts equipped with a 4x4 vehicle.

Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128)

Distance: 44 miles one way | Duration: 2 hours

Starting at the Colorado River Bridge on Moab's northern edge, the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway carves a 44-mile path through the Colorado River gorge. It closely follows the river for the initial 13 miles, showcasing stunning red sandstone cliffs and offering access to key sites like Grandstaff Canyon and the Morning Glory Natural Bridge hike. The gorge then opens to reveal the cinematic landscapes of Castle and Professor Valleys, known for their roles in films like Wagon Master and Rio Grande. A highlight at mile 24.7 is the Fisher Towers viewpoint, where the towers' red rock spires starkly contrast with the La Sal Mountains. Beyond, the route passes the historic Dewey Bridge, meanders along the river's northern bank, and then stretches across the desert to Cisco (a ghost town with a rich railroad history) before connecting with Interstate 70.

Dead Horse Point Mesa Scenic Byway (U-313)

Distance: 35 miles | Duration: 2 hours

Dead Horse Point State Park offers a breathtaking panorama from 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. The drive along Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, starting from Moab and turning off US-191 about nine miles out, is an ascent into the heart of red rock country. Marked by hairpin turns and expansive vistas, the journey reaches a key junction at 14.6 miles in, where a left turn invites you to enter the state park's gate. Pay a small fee to access the park, then stop at the visitors’ center to learn more about the area's rich geological and and ecological history. After visiting Dead Horse Point State Park, return to Highway 313 and turn left toward the majestic Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, ending at Grandview Point on a vast mesa like an "Island in the Sky."

La Sal Mountain Loop Road

Distance: 60 miles round trip | Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours

The La Sal Mountain Loop Road ascends the alpine ridges of the La Sal Mountains and the sandstone pinnacles of Castle Rock. This Moab scenic drive contrasts the desert's iconic red rocks with lush forests, meadows, and towering peaks. Along the way, enjoy stunning views of the Moab Valley and distant glimpses of Arches National Park, with several mountain trailheads inviting further exploration. Beginning about eight miles south of Moab off US-191, the paved route circles through the mountains to Castle Valley and down to SR 128, following the Colorado River back to Moab. Note: There are no services along this route, so come prepared with enough gas, food, and water for your adventure.

Where to Stay Near Moab

ULUM Moab, your base for exploring the American Southwest, combines unmatched beauty, outdoor luxury, and immersion in nature. Enjoy amenities like dipping pools, morning yoga, live music, and al fresco dining, then unwind in your private, safari-inspired tent after a day of exploration.


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