In the 1950's the cold war race for nuclear weapons development spawned a new
gold rush. Uranium, the element used in most forms of nuclear science, was the
new gold. With the US Government buying all of the element they could lay their
hands on, prospectors cropped up looking for it all over the US South West.
Small mining towns appeared in the middle of the desert. Of the small towns
remaining in South Eastern Utah, Moab is the place most popular with visitors.
Moab got its name from a story in the Bible. Moab was the son of Lot's daughter.
It was also the land just short of the Promised Land. Early Mormon settlers
named the town.
Situated along Highway 161, wedged in between Arches National Park, Deadhorse
Point and Canyonlands National Park, Moab lies along the East shore of the
This large town hosts a variety of attractions for the budget conscious
backpacker. You can go mountain biking, river rafting, rock climbing, hiking, or
off road driving. There is also a museum devoted to movie stunt men. Many movies
have been filmed in and around Moab. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade for
example had its opening scenes filmed in Arches National Park. The double arch
is shown in this sequence.
The National and State Parks near Moab provide ample opportunity to view
geological formations rarely found anywhere else in the world. Arches, has
hundreds of natural arches created by wind, water and time. Also found are the
Fins, sheer sandstone Fins rise from the sand making a natural labyrinth of
rock. Delicate Arch is a Utah State symbol; it can even be found on our license
plates. Canyonlands is a vast network of canyons carved into the Colorado
Plateau. You will also find, in these canyons, examples of Native American rock
art known as pictographs. These are pictures carved into the sandstone.
Newspaper Rock, is one of the world's largest examples of pictographs to be
found in one place and representing the art of more than one tribe. Deadhorse
Point is a Mesa that juts out and points to a bend in the Colorado River. It
gets its name from being used to corral wild horses without using a huge pen.
The thousand-foot drop to the canyon floor works better than any fence. The
final scene in the movie "Thelma and Louise" where the women drive their car of
the cliff, was filmed at Deadhorse Point.
Moab is justly famous for its Slickrock Bike trail. Eleven miles of track
painted on exposed sandstone. The unique nature of the Navajo sandstone
formation found only in this part of Utah provides bikers with a great
challenge. The Slickrock Trail attracts thousands of mountain bikers all year
round. The "Fat Tire Festival", is held annually in the spring when bikers
gather to ride and commune with nature.
Moab is the natural place to use as your base when planning river-rafting trips
on the Colorado River. There are many different levels of rafting to choose
from. Every thing from a quiet trip down the river, to expert only cataract
Also popular, are its many hundreds of miles of four-wheel vehicle trails. Jeeps
were very common in post WWII mining activities. These Jeeps blazed the trails
still in use today by thousands of four wheel drive enthusiasts. The Jeep
festival held every year during the week of Easter brings 100,000 plus
participants. The city swells into a great bazaar of Jeep parts, bicycle
accessories and tourist gift shops.
In town there is a little park, perfect for Ultimate Frisbee. Also in town are
excellent restaurants and a brewery for when your day's activity is done. The
town dump has a sign on the gate that says The World's Most Scenic Dump; it
looks out over redrock canyons and is probably a true statement. Luckily for the
residents of Moab, the proximity of three parks, the Colorado River, and the
trails that make Moab famous, has saved the town from slowly fading in to a cold
war arms race memory.