The landscape in Moab, Utah, is almost otherworldly. Soaring red-rock towers and sandstone arches sculpted by nature’s elements over millions of years loom above the Colorado River valley. Place those incredibly varied rock formations against a cloudless, Technicolor-blue sky, and you have an ideal backdrop for a desert honeymoon.
Gorgeous scenery aside, Moab, 236 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, is a mecca for adrenaline junkies. The area is known for its hundreds of miles of mountain-biking trails, from flat gravel paths to the highly technical, sandstone Slickrock Bike Trail.
Hiking also runs the gamut from off-the-beaten-path treks with hidden waterfalls along the way, to the popular network of trails in nearby Canyonlands and Arches national parks. The moderate hike to Arches’ Delicate Arch may be well traveled, but it’s certainly worth a somewhat-crowded trail to see the world-famous rock formation. (It’s the yellow-orange, slanting arch that’s pictured on the Utah license plate.)
River rafting outfitters can take you on mild float trips or day-long (or overnight!) whitewater adventures on the Colorado River. Ride in a Jeep or Hummer along the area’s miles and miles of primitive off-road trails. Or go horseback riding through cacti-strewn meadows up to the snow-covered La Sal Mountains.
Pick up trail maps and information on local outfitters, and get all your Moab questions answered at the visitor center on the corner of Main and Center streets downtown. Prior to your stay, learn more at the “Related Links” below.
Where to Stay: Sorrel River Ranch Resort
Budget motels and campgrounds line Moab’s main strip. But if you’re on your honeymoon, it’s likely you’re amenable to a bit more decadence—and a lot more comfort—after active days in the desert playground.
The 160-acre Sorrel River Ranch Resort fits the bill. About twenty miles from the town center, the resort is the area’s only luxury property, set right on the banks of the Colorado River. (The name of the ranch comes from the term to describe the hue of a horse, which also characterizes the brownish-red river.)
The décor of the spacious accommodations is pure Old West, from the rough-hewn log beds to the burnished copper lampshades to the barbed wire coiled around the chandeliers. The rustic theme makes sense here—after all, John Wayne filmed several classic westerns in the area.
Choose from mountain-view standard rooms or river-view suites; each comes with a kitchenette, including microwave, sink, refrigerator, dishes and cutlery. For the ultimate indulgence, consider the spa suites, which feature claw-foot jetted hydrotherapy tubs and glass-enclosed showers.
The two-seated wooden swing on each room's front porch couldn't be more quaint. Perch here and kick back in the early evening to watch the sun make its way across the sandstone buttes and mesas—the rocks’ hues intensify from terracotta to burnt orange and eventually to magenta. Or snuggle on the porch swing after dark, when millions of stars twinkle in the clear night sky.
Make reservations at the on-site River Grill restaurant, where the atmosphere is simultaneously classy and laid back. You’re welcome here in a skirt and heels or right off the river in shorts and sandals. The cuisine is hearty; menu items include huge rib-eyes, bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin and pan-seared chicken breast, but there are plenty of seafood and vegetarian options, too. If the melt-in-your-mouth mushroom strudel appetizer is on the menu, don’t pass it up!
Finally, the resort’s intimate spa is small, with just four treatment rooms, but it’s sophisticated and comfortable. The men’s and women’s locker rooms have steam showers and saunas. Enjoy a cup of cold water or hot tea, soothing music and stunning river views in the waiting area. Spa treatments include couples’ massages, body scrubs, wraps and facials—the ideal afternoon indulgence after spending the day playing outside in the scenic Southwest.