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My husband, Jonathan, and I live in Colorado Springs and we do an annual getaway to the gorgeous mountain town of Glenwood Springs, about 3.5 hours away. While we were there in December 2023, we realized we were more than halfway to Moab, a spot both of us have previously visited and love. We ended up visiting Moab with our free day, taking advantage of the much shorter drive.

At just under 3 hours from Glenwood Springs, Moab is a very doable day trip. We arrived in Moab around 10:30am and headed out around 4:30pm, when it started getting dark. We plan to go back someday for a camping/hiking trip because there is so much to explore in Moab! But if the goal is to go and see the parks, you can still see a lot of them in a single day. And we did.

As always, start your planning on the National Parks website here for up-to-date info on visiting any park! Here are the pages for Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Note: There is an incredible State Park on the way to Canyonlands that you do not want to miss! You can check out the website here for Dead Horse Point State Park. (As this is not a National Park, you will need to purchase a separate entrance pass.)

For my complete list of all 63 National Parks, you can read the blog here. And be sure to grab the free download of a complete checklist here!

Visiting Moab: breakfast

First stop: breakfast at Moab Diner

This is the only restaurant we had time for during our quick visit, but it did not disappoint. The vibe is fun, the staff are friendly, and the food was delicious. (The only downside were the bathrooms. They are located outside, only one per gender, and the wait in December was chilly. Other than that, it was great!)

Moab Diner
189 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532
(435) 259-4006


Next stop: Arches National Park

I got my Arches postcard souvenir at the Visitor Center! I’m excited to add them into a scrapbook down the road.

Park pass

Earlier that year, we had purchased an annual America the Beautiful pass that’s good for entry to any National Park for a whole year! This price is $80 per vehicle. You can also just purchase a day pass per vehicle, which would have been $30. If you plan to visit 3 or more parks in a year, this is definitely the way to go.

We drove through the entire park in a couple hours, and got out several times to explore. Our favorite place was the Sand Dune Arch Trail. The sand was so beautiful and soft. It was a little too cold to take our shoes off in the winter, but I remember going barefoot here in the summer. This spot is so fun!

We can’t wait to plan a camping trip here and spend more time hiking and exploring this incredible National Park!

Dead Horse Point

Next stop: Dead Horse Point State Park

On the way to Canyonlands, about 30 minutes away, is the turn for Dead Horse Point State Park. It is actually my favorite place to visit in Moab, even though it’s not a National Park. The view that overlooks the horseshoe-shaped section of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below is just breathtaking. This quick stop is so worth the views of the canyon.


Final stop: Canyonlands National Park

Very close to Dead Horse Point State Park is Canyonlands National Park. We saved this park for last because of the timing of the sunset and making the most of the daylight in December! After stopping at the Visitor Center for my postcard, we went straight to Grand View Point Overlook for a stunning final view to our day trip.

It was a packed day visiting Moab and all the parks there, but somehow we did it all without feeling rushed. To save time, we packed sandwiches and ate in between parks. We decided not to head back into Moab for dinner (as it would have been more than half an hour out of our way before heading home) and instead got dinner on our way back to Glenwood Springs. I’m so glad we decided to do this spontaneous day trip to Moab! It was such a fun experience.

Which National Parks have you visited? Do you have a favorite?

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