It’s fair to say that Moab doesn’t tempt travelers with a lot of traditional tourism establishments, but all you have to do is raise your eyes to the horizon. The locale is so striking that you’ll want to get outdoors and explore, and the astonishing sights of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are just minutes from town. But there’s nothing wrong with just enjoying the enthusiastic vibe of the town.

Downtown Moab, Utah. Photo © WC McRae.

Downtown Moab, Utah. Photo © WC McRae.

Museum of Moab

The regional Museum of Moab (118 E. Center St., 435/259-7985, 10am-6pm Mon.-Sat., Mar.15-Oct. 15, noon-5pm Mon.-Sat. Oct.16-Mar. 14, $5 over age 17, $10 families) tells the story of Moab’s and Grand County’s past, from prehistoric and Ute artifacts to the explorations of Spanish missionaries. Photos and tools show pioneer Moab life, much of which centered on ranching or mining. You’ll also find displays of rocks and minerals as well as the bones of huge dinosaurs, including the backbone of a sauropod found by a rancher just outside town.

Hole ‘n the Rock

Fifteen miles south of Moab, Albert Christensen worked 12 years to excavate his dream home within a sandstone monolith south of town. When he died in 1957, his wife, Gladys, worked another eight years to complete the 5,000-square-foot house, called Hole ‘n the Rock (11037 S. U.S. 191, 435/686-2250, 9am-5pm daily, $6 adults, $3.50 ages 5-10). It’s now a full-on roadside attraction. The interior has notable touches like a 65-foot chimney drilled through the rock ceiling, paintings, taxidermy exhibits, and a lapidary room. The 14-room home is open for 12-minute-long guided tours and offers a gift shop, petting zoo, exotic animals, picnic area, and snack bar.

Hole 'n the Rock. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Hole ‘n the Rock. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail

The 0.5-mile Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail, with numbered stops, identifies the bones of dinosaurs that lived in the wet climate that existed here 150 million years ago. You’ll see fossilized wood and dinosaur footprints too. Pick up the brochure from the Moab Information Center (25 E. Center St., at Main St., 435/259-8825 or 800/635-6622) or at the trailhead.

To reach the dinosaur site, drive 15 miles north of Moab on U.S. 191, then turn left (west) at an intersection just north of milepost 141. Cross the railroad tracks and continue two miles on a rough dirt road (impassable when wet) to the trailhead.

You’ll find many other points of interest nearby. A copper mill and tailings dating from the late 1800s are across the canyon. The ruins of Halfway Stage Station, where travelers once stopped on the Thompson-Moab run, are a short distance down the other road fork. Jeepers and mountain bikers can do a 13-14-mile loop to Monitor and Merrimac Buttes; a sign just off U.S. 191 has a map and details.

Dinosaur tracks in Moab, Utah. Photo © Gary Whitton/123rf.

Dinosaur tracks in Moab, Utah. Photo © Gary Whitton/123rf.

Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackways

Apatosaurus, a.k.a. brontosaurus, and theropod tracks crisscross an ancient riverbed at the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackways site. It’s easy to make out the two-foot-wide hind footprints of the brontosaurus, but its small front feet didn’t leave much of a dent in the sand. Three-toed tracks of the carnivorous theropods, possibly allosaurus, are 8-15 inches long, and some show an irregular gait—perhaps indicating a limp.

The Copper Ridge tracks are 23 miles north of Moab on U.S. 191; turn right (east) 0.75 mile north of milepost 148. Cross the railroad tracks and turn south, following signs two miles to the tracks.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Zion & Bryce.