Each of the following routes is at least partly accessible to standard low-clearance highway vehicles. If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you'll have the option of additional off-road exploring.
You'll find detailed travel information on these and other places in Charles Wells's Guide to Moab, UT Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, which, along with a good selection of maps, is available at the Moab Information Center. Staff at the information center can advise on current road and trail conditions.
Highway 279 goes downstream through the Colorado River Canyon on the other side of the river from Moab . The pavement extends 16 miles past fine views, prehistoric rock art, arches, and hiking trails. A potash plant marks the end of the highway; a rough dirt road continues to Canyonlands National Park .
From Moab, head north 3.5 miles on U.S. 191, then turn left on Highway 279. The highway enters the canyon at the Portal, 2.7 miles from the turnoff. Towering sandstone cliffs rise on the right, and the Colorado River drifts along just below on the left.
Stop at a signed pullout on the left 0.6 mile past the canyon entrance to see Indian Ruins Viewpoint, a small prehistoric Native American ruin tucked under a ledge across the river. The stone structure was probably used for food storage.
Groups of petroglyphs cover cliffs along the highway 5.2 miles from U.S. 191, 0.7 mile beyond Milepost 11. Look across the river to see the Fickle Finger of Fate among the sandstone fins of Behind the Rocks. A petroglyph of a bear is 0.2 mile farther down the highway. Archaeologists think that Fremonts and the later Utes did most of the artwork in this area.
A signed pullout on the right, 6.2 miles from U.S. 191, points out dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs visible on rocks above. Sighting tubes help locate the features. It’s possible to hike up the steep hillside for a closer look.
Ten miles west of the highway turnoff is the trailhead for the Corona Arch Trail.
The aptly named Jug Handle Arch, with an opening 46 feet high and three feet wide, is close to the road on the right, 13.6 miles from U.S. 191. Ahead the canyon opens up where underground pressure from salt and potash have folded the rock layers into an anticline.
At the Moab Salt Plant, mining operations inject water underground to dissolve the potash and other chemicals, then pump the solution to evaporation ponds. The ponds are dyed blue to hasten evaporation, which takes about a year. You can see these colorful solutions from Dead Horse Point  and Anticline Overlook on the canyon rims.
High-clearance vehicles can continue on the unpaved road beyond the plant. The road passes through varied canyon country, with views overlooking the Colorado River. At a road junction in Canyonlands National Park  (Island in the Sky District ), you have a choice of turning left for the 100-mile White Rim Trail  (four-wheel drive only past Musselman Arch), continuing up the steep switchbacks of the Shafer Trail Road (four-wheel drive recommended) to the paved park road, or returning the way you came.
Highway 128 turns northeast from U.S. 191 just south of the Colorado River Bridge, two miles north of Moab . This exceptionally scenic canyon route follows the Colorado for 30 miles upstream before crossing at Dewey Bridge and turning north to I-70. The entire highway is paved. The Lions Park picnic area at the turnoff from U.S. 191 is a pleasant stopping place. Big Bend Recreation Site is another good spot 7.5 miles up Highway 128.
The paved and scenic La Sal Mountains Loop Road, with viewspoints overlooking Castle Valley, Arches  and Canyonlands National Parks , Moab Rim, and other scenic features, has its northern terminus at Castle Valley, climbs high into the La Sals, then loops back to Moab. Vegetation along the drive runs the whole range from the cottonwoods, sage, and rabbitbush of the desert to forests of aspen, fir, and spruce.
The 62-mile loop road can easily take a full day with stops for scenic overlooks, a picnic, and a bit of hiking or fishing. Because of the high elevations, the loop's season usually lasts from May to October. Before venturing off the Loop Road, it's a good idea to check current back-road conditions with the Moab Information Center. You can also ask for a road log of sights and side roads. The turnoff from Highway 128 is 15.5 miles northeast from U.S. 191.
A graded county road, Onion Creek Road turns southeast off the highway 20 miles from U.S. 191 and heads up Onion Creek, crossing it many times. Avoid this route if storms threaten. The unpleasant-smelling creek contains poisonous arsenic and selenium. Colorful rock formations of dark red sandstone line the creek. After about eight miles, the road climbs steeply out of Onion Creek to upper Fisher Valley and a junction with Kokopelli’s Trail , which follows a jeep road over this part of its route.
The gothic spires of Fisher Towers  soar as high as 900 feet above Professor Valley. The BLM has a picnic area nearby and a hiking trail that skirts the base of the three main towers. Titan is the tallest.
In 1962, three climbers from Colorado made the first ascent of Titan Tower. The almost-vertical rock faces, overhanging bulges, and sections of rotten rock made for an exhausting 3.5 days of climbing (the party descended to the base for two of the nights). Their final descent from the summit took only six hours. Supposedly, the name Fisher is not that of a pioneer, but a corruption of the geologic term fissure (a narrow crack). An unpaved road turns southeast off Highway 128 near Milepost 21 (21 miles from U.S. 191) and continues two miles to the picnic area.
The existing Dewey Bridge replaced a picturesque wood-and-steel suspension bridge built in 1916, which burned in 2008. The BLM has built the Dewey Bridge Recreation Site with a picnic area, trailhead, boat launch, and a small campground.
Upstream from Dewey Bridge are the wild rapids of Westwater Canyon. The Colorado River cut this narrow gorge into dark metamorphic rock. You can raft or kayak down the river in one day or a more leisurely two days. Camping is limited to a single night. Unlike most desert rivers, this section of the Colorado also offers good river-running at low water levels in late summer and autumn. Westwater Canyon's inner gorge, where boaters face their greatest challenge, is only about 3.5 miles long; however, you can enjoy scenic sandstone canyons both upstream and downstream.
The bumpy four-wheel-drive Top-of-the-World Road climbs to an overlook with outstanding views of Fisher Towers , Fisher Valley, Onion Creek, and beyond. Pick up a map at the Moab Information Center to guide you to the rim. The elevation here is 6,800 feet, nearly 3,000 feet higher than the Colorado River.
This road heads downstream along the Colorado River on the same side as Moab . The four miles through the Colorado River Canyon are paved, followed by six miles of good dirt road through Kane Springs Canyon. This route also leads to several hiking trails  and campgrounds.
People with high-clearance vehicles or mountain bikes can continue across Kane Springs Creek to Hurrah Pass and an extensive network of four-wheel drive trails.