Nothing is Better Than a Weekend Road Trip

By Annette Velarde

ROAD TRIP!!! We all come to life when we hear that declaration. Nothing is better than breaking up your routine with a weekend adventure, so don’t let grownup worries and the ever-present list of to-do’s get in the way of your excitement. Throw some shorts and T-shirts in a grocery bag, get in your car and head south to Moab, Utah.

If you haven’t been to Moab, you’re missing some of the best recreation Utah has to offer. Just four hours from
Park City, this little town is cram-packed with outdoor adventure options amid the jaw-dropping splendor of Utah’s vast redrock wilderness. Everything from serene moments of contemplation to scream-out- loud rides is available. No matter how you choose to fill your weekend in Moab, it will be some of the most memorable hours of your life!

The drive down is a trip through geologic time. As you turn off I-15 onto State Highway 6, the landscape begins to change rapidly until you find yourself surrounded by some of the grandest art in nature. Photographs of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and the La Sal Mountains have filled countless coffee table books with their breathtaking beauty. Moab is in the center of them all and is only a few minutes drive from each.

Red Cliffs Lodge, located just outside Moab on the banks of the Colorado River, is the perfect combination of easy access to outdoor activities and guru-grade tranquility. The main lodge, styled after the grand lodges of yesteryear, offers gourmet western cuisine and a full cocktail lounge. All of the guest rooms are ground level and just 50 feet from the water’s edge. They offer a wide variety of luxurious floor plans that can comfortably accommodate parties of up to six people. The rooms have comfy sitting areas, kitchenettes, and private patios or decks that overlook the river. You could actually spend the entire weekend just at Red Cliffs Lodge and have a great vacation. The pool, gym, restaurant, winery, and riding stables will keep everyone in your family engaged and on cloud nine.

While at Red Cliffs Lodge, make sure to take a tour of Castle Creek Winery, located right on the property. This is the oldest and largest winery in the state and has won the “Best of State” award several years. Boasting five white and four red, they offer something for every palate. The Tasting Room and Rio Grande Winery Deck are fantastic places to spend a late afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to be there when they are crushing the grapes, it is a sight to behold.

Perhaps the best aspect of Red Cliffs Lodge is the staff. Every employee is well acquainted with Moab’s highlights. The front-desk team will act as your personal concierge service in arranging any activity that captures your imagination. They’ll give you expert advice, set up appointments, pack you a lunch, and have the hot tub ready for when you return.

Moab’s list of celebrated outdoor activities is long. You can choose any level of difficulty from “cautious first timer” to “show me something I haven’t seen before expert.” Begin by reviewing the calendar of events (discovermoab.com) to see if there is something going on you don’t want to miss. The Moab Triathlon Festival/XTERRA Moab will be held June 8-9, 2012. This pro-level competition draws tri-athletes from all over the world and the races are awe-inspiring. If you’d rather concentrate on your own trail runs, 360 Moab Adventures (360moabadventures.com) specializes in running tours that will test your skills amid views you can’t even imagine. Also, June 9th is a Fee Free Day for the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Enjoy free entrance to either or both of these and hike their extensive trail systems. August 30th – September 10th is the Moab Music Festival. One activity of the festival is the Musical Raft Trip, a 4-day Colorado River adventure that traverses Canyonlands National Park by motorized boat. Professional musicians play inspirational background music while you take in some of the most incredible creations of nature on earth. If that doesn’t fit in your schedule, several local outfitters offer custom river trips. Adrift Adventures (adrift.net) has been taking people on river rafting excursions for over 34 years. Whether you’re looking for a meditative, smooth float or a white- water, adrenaline-pumping wild ride, they have you covered.

Mountain biking is BIG in Moab. HG Wells once said, “every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” Almost everyone who has ever been to Moab agrees with him. There are several organized competitions during September and October, but the rides and guided tours are spectacular any time of year. Dreamride, LLC (dreamride.com) takes mountain biking seriously and they are fanatics about making sure you have the best equipment, riding plan, and guides. They’ve been in Moab since 1996 and know every inch of the trails. Moab Cyclery (moabcyclery.com) and Chili Pepper Bike Shop (chilebikes.com) have great deals on rentals as well as guided tours and expert advice. If you’d rather find your own way, discovermoab.com has maps and descriptions of over 40 trails in the area.

Rock climbing the walls of red canyons takes the sport to a new level. Moab Cliffs and Canyons (cliffsandcanyons.com) has safely introduced hundreds of people to the sport. Chosen by the producers of the box-office hit 127 Hours as managers of on-site safety rigging and stunt work, their guides are some of the most experienced and certified in the country. If you’re experienced and have your own equipment, there are dozens of climbs that are pre-marked. You can literally park your car and be climbing within minutes.

If you’d like to cover a lot of ground in less time, guided group tours are the way to go. Hit the heights with a hot air balloon or small plane scenic tour. Take yourself back to the old west on a horse trail ride or to the new west with a heart-pounding 4-wheeling excursion. There are tours of Native American rock art or photography excursions with experts who will help you produce stunningly beautiful prints. The official tourism website for Moab (discovermoab.com) is easy to navigate and has information on everything there is to know about the area.

The road is calling you! Don’t ignore its invitations to experience something new and get outside to play in Moab, Utah! For complete information, see discovermoab.com.