Road-Trip to Moab, Utah with Our Dogs
It’s that time of year again… the temps are slowly rising, winter is thawing and Spring is in the air. This transition makes us think of one thing… road-trips! If you’re anything like us, you love taking your pooches along for the ride. One of the most amazing road-trips we’ve ever had with our Newton + Maya was to incredible Utah in September of 2020. I thought I’d do a little blog series (this is Part II of II) to document our trip and hopefully give you some helpful tips if you’re traveling there with your dogs, too. As a bonus, in addition to photos from our trip, I’m including the video that my amazing hubby and WYTP partner, John, made of our trip… the video includes footage from Moab as well as the Zion and Arizona slot canyons legs of the trip we did on our trip (if you haven’t yet, check out Part I of this series which talks all about that leg of our trip.)
Now for our awesome time in Moab! Keep in mind we only had 3 days there, so we definitely didn’t get to do everything that there is to do… a Jeep adventure would have been epic (probably without dogs, though – HAHAHA).
Moab is about a 5-hour drive from Denver, Colorado (which is our home-base). The drive is beautiful and very straight-forward. There’s really not much to it in comparison to the incredible reward that awaits. Just a heads-up, because the drive is so straight and all highway, watch your speed. There’s state troopers waiting for you to make their day. If you are flying in, options include: (1) Flying into Moab Canyonlands Regional Airport (CNY), (2) flying into Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT) plus a 2 hour drive to Moab, (3) flying into Salt Lake City Int’l Airport, Utah (SLC) plus a 4.5 hour drive to Moab. Or just fly into Denver Int’l Airport (DIA) and then plan a few days in Colorado before or after driving the 5 hours to Moab.
This was our first trip to Moab, and after some research, we decided to stay at The Gonzo Inn, which is centrally located at 100 W 200 S, Moab, right off of Main Street. As a dog parent, you are unfortunately limited in lodging options, because a lot of places aren’t furkid-friendly. Thankfully, Moab has a decent amount of great pet-friendly options. We decided on The Gonzo, because of its convenient location, great reviews, overall amenities and quirky personality. The Gonzo describes itself as “a personal touch boutique condo-hotel with a desert chic vibe.” We’d agree with that. At this boutique hotel, your lodging options are plenty. Guests can choose from king rooms, one-bedroom suites, luxury suites that include whirlpool tubs and fireplaces, or their two-bedroom Gonzo suite, all with red cliff views and private patios or balconies. Amenities include pet-friendly property, on-site restaurant, outdoor lounge with fire pit, sprawling private lawn, and heated salt water pool with hot tub (a must-see in the evenings).
In terms of location, the hotel is just one block off Main Street (the heart of Moab where lots of the restaurants, shops and bars are – some of our faves are listed below) and within half a mile to near-by trails. Even better, you are just a 10-minute drive from Arches National Park + a 45-minute scenic drive from Canyonland National Park. Dead Horse Point State Park is just 42 minutes away. Don’t let the morbid name deter you from going. While most National parks are not pet-friendly and you have to keep your pooch in the car or in designated areas, a lot of State parks, including Dead Horse, are totally pet-friendly. And this one is a beauty! If you have time and would like to venture out even further, you are about 3-5 hours from Capitol Reef National Park, Zions National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.
Other pet-friendly lodging options in Moab include:
Aarchway Inn $-$$ | Pet Fee: $75 | aarchwayinn.com
Big Horn Lodge $-$ | Pet Fee: $10 per pet, per night | moabbighorn.com
Expedition Lodge $-$$ | Pet Fee: $30 per stay | expeditionlodge.com
The Gonzo Inn $-$$ | Pet Fee: $30 per night, up to 2 pets | gonzoinn.com
Homewood Suites Moab $-$$ | Pet Fee: $50, up to 35 lbs | hotelmoabut.com
Hyatt Place Moab $-$$ | Pet Fee: $75 per stay up to 7 days, 2 pets max | hyattplacemoab.com
Moab Rustic Inn $-$ | Pet Fee: Call | moabrusticinn.com
Motel 6 $-$ | Pet Fee: None | motel6.com
Red Stone Inn $-$ | Pet Fee: Call | moabredstone.com
Silver Sage Inn $-$ | Pet Fee: Call | silversageinn.com
Wingate by Wyndham Moab $-$$ | Pet Fee: $25 | wyndamhotels.com
What to do, where to hike?
Obviously, you’re in Moab not for the restaurants and bars, but for the incredible nature! So, I’ll save our eating/drinking recommendations for the end. So what did we do during our 3-day stay in Moab? We hit up Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park. We also drove to the Roadside Petroglyphs on UT-279 (8-10 minutes from Arches) where you can see some incredible Ute Indian petroglyphs along the road. We also attempted a hike to another, off-the beaten-path, arch, but that didn’t go so well, because we basically missed a turn. Because Arches and Canyonlands are pet-restrictive (they have to stay in the car or in the parking areas at the lookout points), we did 1 trip to Arches and 1 trip to Canyonlands with the pups and kept them in the car most of the time and had them jump out for a couple of photo-ops at the lookout points where it was safe to do so and we were still only in the parking area, not on the trails. Then, we did a trip to Dead Horse and since dogs are allowed, we did a bit of hiking with the pups while there. I wish we had done more at Dead Horse, but our time was limited.
Incredible viewpoints you can stop at for Arches include but are not limited to: Park Avenue, The Windows, Balances Rock, Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, The Fiery Furnace Viewpoint (although, this one was our least fave).
Incredible viewpoints you can stop at for Canyonlands include but are not limited to: Grand View Point Overlook, Green River Overlook, Whale Rock, Big Spring Canyon Overlook, White Rim Overlook, Buck Canyon Overlook. *Bonus tip, on the way in & out of Canyonlands are several spots where you can stop (not inside the actual park) and take some epic photos and walk around with your pooch.
Dead Horse is a relatively small State Park with absolutely stunning and dramatic views from above of the Colorado River. The park’s facilities include a visitors center, two restrooms and a small coffee stand outside. There are two campgrounds, one which includes yurts. Bonus, Dead Horse is a “Dark Sky” certified park, so you can totally stay the night for some epic stargazing. Wish we had done that too!
Bring plenty of water + walking sticks if you’d like. The majority of the hike is a wide open trail, but the last 10 minutes or so can get pretty narrow, but again, do-able if you are in decent shape and up for an adventure. We saw 70 and 80 year olds, as well as 3-5 year olds, on the trail. But, PLEASE BE FOREWARNED (as listed on their website): “Carefully consider weather conditions (summer heat or winter ice) and your own health and fitness before beginning this hike. Rangers frequently rescue people who underestimated the trail’s difficulty.”
Other dog-friendly hikes we heard of but didn’t get a chance to do: Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch Trail (3 miles round trip, moderate difficulty).
Food + Bevs
Okay, so you’ve done all the hiking and arch-admiring, and you’ve built up an appetite… where should you eat and enjoy some beverages? Obviously, like most of the U.S., most restaurants don’t allow dogs inside. We didn’t come across any in Moab that were different. So, for the most part, we left Newton + Maya at home or sat outside with them for light fare. For breakfast, we hit up Red Rock Bakery and Cafe right on Main Street. This place had amazing breakfast sandwiches and coffee. They do have outdoor seating if you want to bring your pups. For lunch, there’s a ton of options along Main Street, many with outdoor, pet-friendly, seating. We tend to eat breakfast and skip lunch since we’re out adventuring.
For our 3 dinners, we left the pups at home. We first ate at Miguel’s Baja Grille, also right on Main Street, because we kept seeing these long lines of folks waiting to get in – that’s a tell-tale sign of a great spot to eat! Miguel’s is an incredibly delicious and lovely spot that boasts some of the best Mexican food we’ve eaten in a while. We also wanted to go somewhere a bit more fancy, historic and iconic to the town, so we made reservations at Sunset Grill Moab located just a few minutes outside the main drag at 900 N Main St, Moab. That was UH-MAZING! You have to make reservations well in advance because it gets very busy, but if you can snag one, you won’t be disappointed! If you can get a sunset reservation, even better!! As their name implies, that’s one of their claims to fame, the sun-set views during dinner. The history is incredible + it’s the oldest operating restaurant in Moab. I won’t give it all away, but here’s a hint: The restaurant is the former home of Uranium King Charlie Steen. Chat up your waitress, and I guarantee you you’ll be amazed at all the history you’ll learn about Moab and the origins of this small and unassuming, yet incredibly special, town. After dinner, save some time to walk around the premises to see some of the historical artifacts. Finally, we ate at Pasta Jay’s on our last night. This is an Italian restaurant chain with decent food, nothing out of this world.
For drinks, well, you’re in Utah, so it’s not going to be a time to discover incredible breweries or imbibe in fancy alcoholic drinks. We had a few beers at Dewey’s Restaurant and Bar. The good thing about this place is they have more than just 3.2 beers (meaning the alcohol level is permitted to be over 3.2% – woohoo!). But still, everything was under 5%. That’s just Utah. If you’re not familiar with Utah, they have strict restrictions pertaining to alcohol, but they did abrogate the 3.2 law in August of 2020.
Other things to consider for your pups:
Utah hiking can make for some dirty pooches due to all the red dirt on the trails! The Moab Barkery is a pet shop in Moab that includes 2 dog baths (one walk-in, one raised) where you can wash off all that Moab dirt. And a bonus, they provide you with an apron, shampoo, conditioner, combs/brushes, ear drops, cotton balls, and a dryer!
Need a dog park? The Moab Bark Park will do the trick. This is a large space with two enclosed areas – one smaller area for dogs up to 30 lbs, and another, larger one for everyone else. Fair warning, just like the rest of Utah, the park is all red dirt! The park boasts several poop stations with poop bags and a puppy watering station.
Local Dog Laws
Moab City requires that all dogs be kept on a leash. In Grand County, all dogs must be kept under restraint, no owner shall fail to exercise proper care and control of his or her animals to prevent them from becoming a public nuisance.
Just a Few Safety Issues:
- Never Leave Your Pet in the Car – car temperature can rise within minutes to a point where it can become life threatening. Even if the windows are cracked, cars heat up quickly and your pet can be in danger… e.g. a 70 degree day will quickly heat up to 104 degrees inside the car.
- Hot Pavement Awareness – if it’s 95 degrees outside the pavement can be up to 150 degrees. Press the back of your hand against the pavement for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws.
- Watch for Heatstroke – even if you don’t keep your pets in a hot car, hot summer weather can still be bad for your pet’s health- find out about the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs, and how you can prevent it. We realized that even in September, when we were there, the pups got really hot really quickly and we had to be hyper-vigilant about that
- Sunblock – did you know that pets can suffer from sunburn, too? This is especially true for animals with light-colored skin. If that describes your pet, talk to your vet about getting some pet-safe sunscreen and then be sure to use it (particularly on areas like the nose and ears). Protect their feet as well; the pavement and backcountry trail rocks and sand can be scorching on pets paws.
- Desert Vegetation – desert plants such as cactus, cheat grass, foxtail or other plants can be very dangerous for pets so please be aware and keep your pups safe!
Final Must-Do Moab Photo-Op
Finally, when you’re in Moab, go find the awesome “Greetings from Moab” mural (located around the corner of Main Street and 200 North near the Bowen Motel) and get a pic of you and your pups or just your pups in front of it! It’s a super fun way to cap-off and memorialize your trip!!
We hope you do get to travel to Moab Utah with your pooches!!! It’s one of my favorite places we’ve ever been and Newton + Maya loved it. Of course, please double-check that all the places I’ve listed above are operating and/or if they have any restrictions during the time you’re looking to visit… this blog was written in March 2022 and we went on this trip in September of 2020. While COVID is slowing its roll and hadn’t affected our trip much back in late 2020, I can’t predict the future or how the pandemic affected the businesses / parks described since our visit.