Moab is the biggest town near, and therefore the jumping off point to, the truly dizzying amount of recreational opportunities in southeast Utah. It is therefore very busy and more than a little touristy. That said, I found many nice, quite spots away from the crowds where I could relax in unmolested comfort. I’ll give a huge shoutout to the Moab Library that was open for reasonable hours and was very accommodating to the weary traveler. The streets around the library were lined with dirtbag vans (including Van Halen), and the lounge area was full of their drivers, most of them not too different from yours truly.
Sleeping in Moab could not have been simpler. Once off the main strip most of the side streets allowed unrestricted parking and relative anonymity. My first night there I found a great little cul-de-sac flanked on three sides by parkland. I was lucky to run into the home-owner across the street who basically told me that no one in town cares about inoffensive dirtbaggery and I was welcome to stay there for a while. Sweet!
A night or two later I checked out the only brewery in town, the surprisingly named Moab Brewery. The beer here was decent and I got a great tip from the guy sitting next to me: in Utah all beer out of a tap has to be 4% ABV or lower, so the pros order beer by the can. Soon I was a pro and making fast friends with the source of this information. He was extremely nice and bought me a few beers before inviting me to come visit him in Colorado some time. He was under the impression that Colorado beer was the best in the country and I promised to visit him with a car full of Wisconsin’s finest in an effort to prove him wrong.
Whenever I’m in a new town for a while I like to ask locals where the good eats are. Every single person I asked told me to go to a quesadilla food cart parked on the main drag so one day I did just that. The place certainly was hip enough, and, after waiting in line for 30 minutes, I finally had the coveted quesadilla. Unfortunately the food itself was very “meh”. This quesadilla was clean and neat in all of the wrong ways and in the end I wished I had just made another PB&J.
As you might guess, Moab is home to a stupendous number of outdoor stores, but in my opinion none of them can compete with GearHeads. For some reason, this store, with its free, filtered water is seared into my memory banks from my first trip through Moab, when we stopped here to supply ourselves for a trip down the San Juan River. As I’ve mentioned before, this river trip was my first exposure to the wonders of southern Utah and so for whatever reason I had strong memories of GearHeads as well. Needless to say it’s a great store, with a bafflingly large selection and an entire wall of weird Cliff Bar flavors for only $1 each.
During my last day in the area I took a drive down the Colorado River (which runs through Moab) along UT 279. This road snakes along the river as it runs between tall red cliffs on its way to its meeting with the Green River in Canyonlands NP.
It also seemed to be a popular spot for climbers. Most of the routes started right on the side of the road and left only a few feet of asphalt between your belayer and oncoming traffic!
The pavement ends not far from a potash mine, but a gravel road does continue up the canyon wall and eventually sneaks into Island in the Sky via the White Rim Road. Given a 4-wheel drive vehicle I’m sure it would be a very fun drive.
So there you go. Moab: a cool place to visit. Here’s a city on-par with Bishop in terms of dirtbag-ability. The streets were packed with vans for a reason.