Moab’s sliding landscape is brimming with geological marvels and pristine archeological sites. Entire galleries of rock art are spread across the looming monoliths, hoodoos, and canyons of this red rock desert. Sometimes these treasures wait in the depths of the wilderness, while others can be found right in town. For those who love to learn about the past, check out these spots that will appease a rampant curiosity.
Devil’s Garden - Arches National Park
It might go without saying that Arches is a geology geek’s playground, but this park is truly unique for its concentration of natural wonders. In the Devil’s Garden, arcs are stacked atop one another, thickets of fins sprout from the Earth, and abstractly sculpted hoodoos put on impressive balancing acts. This section of the park offers more remoteness, diversity, and historical and archeological sites.
Courthouse Wash Rock Art
This panel was a canvas for generations of indigenous peoples, possibly dating back to 8500 BC. When the site was vandalized in 1980, the clean up simultaneously removed the incredible coloration of the pictographs and revealed a slew of other images that had been previously covered. It’s a quick climb to admire the artwork up close, and is located just south Arches National Park.
Salt Creek - Canyonlands National Park
Somehow in this landscape, water has continued to flow through the washes in this sanctuary of The Needles district. Here, well-preserved Puebloan granaries and paintings can be discovered as if they were left yesterday rather than 2,000 years ago. For a rare gem of ancient artwork, trek the Peekaboo Trail to find the puzzlingly “All-American Man” pictograph. Another site is the ranch of Kirk’s Cabin Complex, standing sturdy since 1890 through the abuse of capricious weather and cowboys.
Come here to learn a little bit of everything. Centrally located, Moab’s museum covers the rich history of the Colorado Plateau including the Jurassic Period, generations of indigenous cultures, and the Mormon colonization across Utah. A beautiful archive library, galleries and artifacts make this an awesome way to spend an afternoon exploring how this unique area became what it is today.
Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail
See a slice of the Jurassic period lodged in sediment and revealed by erosion. This outdoor museum passes through multiple archeological discoveries that include petrified dinosaur bones and an internationally significant track site. The stunning scenery along this 1.8 mile interpretive trail comes with great insight into the jungles and lakes that created it. Mill Canyon is about 20 minutes from Moab, and also offers great camping.