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Need an amazing Spring Break destination within a few hours driving distance from home?  Look no further than Moab!  At just under 4 hours away from Salt Lake City, this place makes an incredible base for tons of family-friendly explorations of southern Utah.  Now is a great time of year to hit up southern Utah, before the heat waves of the summer hit and make visiting the area a bit more unbearable.

Back in September, my husband and I took our three little girls and joined up with some friends of ours (husband + wife + 6 little kids) to venture out on a three-day camping trip in Moab.  Our friends had scoped out the campgrounds along Highway 128, which are owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and which are cheap and make for affordable camping.  We paid $15/night for our campsite.  Our friends set up their tent camper trailer, and we set up our tent at the Big Bend Campground, which was beautiful.  All of the campgrounds along Highway 128 are spectacular.  They're right next to the Colorado River and located in a gorgeous red rock canyon.  You can't go wrong with any of the campgrounds here. 

Some tips for camping on BLM land:

  • Campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Campgrounds have picnic tables, metal fire rings, vault toilets, graveled roads, and trash receptacles. Dumpsters are available for camper use within the recreation area. 
  • Camping at all sites is limited to 14 days within a 30-day period.
  • BLM campgrounds DO NOT have running water!  This makes camping with little kids a bit tricky, but with proper planning (lots of water, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.), it's not that big of a deal.  Just don't plan on staying clean for long if you're camping.  That's what camping is all about anyway, right?

Dead Horse Point State Park

Once we'd made our base at the campground, we were able to spend the days exploring the sights nearby.  With only three days to do all of our exploring, we had to be choosy about what activities to do.  On our first day, we drove to Dead Horse Point State Park.  AMAZING!!!  It's totally worth the 45-minute drive or so (one-way) from Moab.  We arrived around sunset, which I would highly recommend.  The views overlooking the canyon here are spectacular, and even more so during the sunset.  There's a very short trail that takes you around the edge of the canyon, so that you can view all of the gorgeous vistas.  The trail is easy and kid-friendly, as long as you don't get too close to the edge. 

Keep a close eye on little kiddos here.  But seriously, if you've never been, you should put Dead Horse Point State Park on your bucket list.  It's similar to the Grand Canyon in terms of breathtaking views.

Tips for Dead Horse Point State Park:

  • Day-use fee: $10 per vehicle up to eight passengers, valid for 3 days, $5 for Utah seniors 62 and older, $5 per motorcycle, $2 pedestrian or cyclist (biking into park)
  • There's a campground at Dead Horse Point State Park, if you'd like to camp there.  You can make reservations at the Kayenta Campground.  Camping fees are $30/night.  You can also reserve a yurt for $99 plus tax/night.
  • There's a trail system you can use for hiking called the Intrepid Trail System.  It offers 16.6-miles of trails.  My family and I didn't venture on any of the hiking offered, mostly because we arrived at sunset and didn't have the time to explore any trails.  The trailhead is located in the visitor center parking lot, if you're feeling adventurous.

Arches National Park

On day two of our camping trip, we explored Arches National Park. 

This place is minutes outside of Moab and is chock-full of kid-friendly hikes and sights.  Keeping in mind that our kids were age 5 and under at the time, we hit up some of the most kid-friendly (but still worthwhile!) hikes.  We checked out Balanced Rock (super easy walk), Double Arch (spectacular arches that are at the end of a super easy trail), and Sand Dune Arch (probably my kids' favorite arch/hike of the day - imagine playing in a giant sandbox filled with red sand at the base of a hidden arch!). 

Balance Rock

Double Arch

Sand Dune Arch

By this time, our kids were ready for some down time, so we left Arches National Park.  There are so many more hikes and arches to explore, though!  We bought an annual national park pass at Arches so that we could return at some point in the near future to check out some different hikes (and some other national parks!).

Day three of camping brought a close to our fun-filled adventure.

Canyonlands National Park

We ended our trip with a visit to Canyonlands National Park (the Island in the Sky portion, which is roughly 32 miles from Moab).  Again, with not much time on our hands. we picked an easy (but amazingly rewarding) hike that all of the kids could easily do.  We hiked to Mesa Arch, which is SPECTACULAR!!!  Seriously, this is another bucket list item to jot down.  As with Arches National Park, Canyonlands offers a host of other hiking trails and amazing sights that we will have to return to in the future.

Southern Utah is among my favorite travel destinations.  It's incredible that so much natural beauty can be packed into such a relatively small area of the world.  If you've never been, you just have to go.

Helpful Tips
  • Moab is loaded with restaurants and fun places to eat.  My family and I played it cheap and really didn't eat out much during our camping trip (kids aren't always the best dining companions at restaurants, anyway).  We packed our coolers with plenty of food and survived using this method.
  • Check out any of the websites for the national parks and state parks for more information on hiking and traveling within the parks.  Most of these websites post helpful itineraries for anything from 1-hour trips into the parks to several days worth of exploring a single park.
  • Check out Harmony's past post about Moab here.

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