RV Trip: More to See in Moab – Three National Parks

While Wyoming is probably the most visited of all the states with National Parks due to Yellowstone, Moab, Utah is worth including in your National Park RV camping plans. Here you can visit several exceptionally scenic attractions around southern Utah. In the area near Moab, you can see some amazing sights including Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Visitors from around the world come to the town of Moab to experience sunrise over the towering depths of Canyonlands National Park and then follow it up with sunset in the other-worldly red rock scenery of Arches National Park. Moab’s year-round access to thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes, along with the cool waters of the Colorado River, has made it one of the most sought-after outdoor recreation destinations in the American Southwest.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Water and gravity have been the principal architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape you see today.

Canyonlands allows you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and exploration and adventure. For maps and more information, see their website.

Capitol Reef National Park

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. Capitol Reef’s rich cultural history dates to archaic hunter-gatherers, the prehistoric Fremont Culture, and pioneer homesteaders. Capitol Reef is really a hiker’s dream. Trails here are plentiful and provide views of the red rock landscape as well as this unique geologic feature.

Arches National Park

We discussed Arches National Park in an earlier blog but just to recap:

Most visits to Arches involve traveling by vehicle along the scenic drive, which provides access to many viewpoints and trailheads. Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Over 2,500 of these unusual rock formations can be found here. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. The park is within an arid, high desert environment with hot summers and cold winters. Parking is limited at all destinations. More information is available at the NPS website.

Where to Camp:

  • Canyonlands National Park: There are two campgrounds in Canyonlands,
    Canyonlands National Park

    Canyonlands National Park

    Island in the Sky Campground and The Needles Campground. Both are open year round but there is no water at Island in the Sky campground. You can get drinking water outside the visitor center from spring through fall. There are toilets, picnic tables and fire rings in the Needles Campground. There are also available public and private campground sites outside of Canyonlands which you can see at visit discovermoab.com or utahscanyoncountry.com.

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) operates many campgrounds in the Moab area. Some accommodate large groups and may be reserved in advance. For more information, visit the BLM’s Utah Recreation Page.
  • Capitol Reef National Park: Camp inside the park at The Fruita Campground which is often described as an oasis within the desert. Adjacent to the Fremont River and surrounded by historic orchards, this developed campground has 64 RV/tent sites and 7 walk-in tent sites. Each site has a picnic table and firepit (walk-in sites have a grill instead of a firepit), but no individual water, sewage, or electrical hookups. There is a RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets, but no showers. Accessible sites are located adjacent to restrooms. The Fruita Campground is open year-round, and is the only developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park. To make a reservation, visit: recreation.gov.
  • Arches National Park: Camp among slickrock outcroppings at Devils Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31. All sites are usually reserved months in advance. Between November 1 and February 28, sites are first-come, first-served. Facilities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and both pit-style and flush toilets. For more information about camping in Arches National Park, see their website.

You can start your RV camping trip near Salt Lake City and rent an RV from El Monte RV there, or you can start further south around Las Vegas and rent an RV from El Monte RV rentals in Henderson, then head north and east to Utah. You can even pick up your RV at one of these locations and return it to the other if you like.

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