Moab is a great place to visit during any time of the year, but few times of the year are more exciting or eventful than spring. This year, especially, has made for a wonderful spring in the Moab area thanks to the mild winter we had, one of the mildest that most people can remember. The fruit blossoms are out on the trees in town, and spring flowers have started to make an appearance. It is already short sleeve shirt weather, and the conditions are perfect for an ideal spring.
As I drove around town and the surrounding area this weekend, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how many different types of people Moab appeals to. Town right now is full of spring breakers, campers, bikers, hikers, jeepers . . . the list goes on. They come from just about every corner of the globe to visit Moab—amazing considering how small a town Moab really is. At Red Cliffs, we see just about every ethnicity represented. It’s truly a unique experience for a girl who grew up in a small town. It’s like the town itself is a living, breathing being that just came out of hibernation after a sleepy winter as the events in Moab bring in the spring tourism.
Since I came back to work at Red Cliffs after a couple of months away, I’m amazed to find how in-tune with that spring energy the lodge is. It seems like all of the major events happen on Highway 128. We already had the Skinny Tire Festival and the Canyonlands Half Marathon that brought an awakening like few events could. April promises to bring drivers from everywhere who can enjoy this true "Driver's Road." The road is so popular that History Channel's Top Gear filmed the episode "Muscle Cars" on Highway 128 near Red Cliffs Lodge. The episode aired on February 21, 2012.
Like the drivers in Top Gear, other drivers will flock to Moab within the next month. March and April mark two of the biggest events to happen in the spring, and two of my favorite events: Easter Jeep Safari and the April Action Car Show. My first introduction to Moab was in a Jeep on the Hell’s Revenge trail, so that will always be one of my favorite things to do here. This year, Jeep Safari is scheduled to run from March 31st to April 8th. Jeep Safari will bring people from all over the country to try out the many trails around Moab. It is the premier four wheel drive and off-road event in the country. Once I got my first taste of Jeeping in Moab, I could see exactly why. Other places have little Jeep Jamborees, including the town I came from, but they are usually one day things. In Moab, everything is off-road for two weeks, breathing a unique life into the town. Everywhere in Moab is Jeep Safari. “Big Saturday” is one of the highlights of Jeep Safari even for those who don’t go Jeeping. Thirty groups of Jeepers line up on Main Street early that morning before they head out to the trails. It’s a fun event and definitely worth getting up early for, and one I hate to miss.
The other event I hate to miss is the April Action Car Show. It’s hard to say which event is the largest in Moab: the Car Show or Jeep Safari. The Car Show brings more revenue into the town, and it is centered more in the immediate Moab area, but Jeep Safari is more widespread. This year, the car show will be held April 27th – 29th. Friday morning, the Rod Run will go down Highway 128, bringing all kinds of hot rods, street rods, customs, trucks, muscle cars, and many other car show favorites right by Red Cliffs Lodge, making it one of our busiest weekends. Then on any night that weekend, the cars can be seen cruising up and down Main Street, especially the night after the car show. It’s a great time to line Main Street and watch some real classics go by!
Whether it’s the Car Show, Jeep Safari, or any of the other many events happening in the Moab area this time of year, Moab is definitely the place to come to catch some spring energy, whether it be from a Jeep, a classic car, a bike, or on foot. Personally, I look forward to all of the spring activities coming up this year, especially with the beautiful weather we are having. It promises to be a great season!
Fall is a great time of year—one of the best in south-eastern Utah. Since I’ve moved here, it has definitely become one of my favorite times in Moab. It’s a wonderful feeling when the days begin to get shorter, the colors begin to change, and the temperatures begin to cool, bringing to mind the desire for pumpkins, autumn spices, and hot cider sipped from underneath a cozy blanket. Moab especially holds a draw for me in autumn because it offers a blissful reprieve from the scorching heat of a desert summer. In my opinion, Moab has more to offer in the fall than at any other time of the year.
Take Moab’s spring, for example. Spring is another great time in Moab. The temperatures begin to warm, and local activities that signal the beginning of spring, such as the Moab Car Show and Easter Jeep Safari, begin all over again. It’s a fun and active way to start off the Moab year, but while I always look forward to those activities, spring just isn’t my favorite time of year here. Things tend to be too crowded for my tastes, and it seems it doesn’t take long for the weather to become too hot too fast. Utah weather doesn’t help, either. Springs here are often cold and windy, leaving the locals to joke half-heartedly about how in Utah, seasons go from winter straight to summer. It’s not always that bad, though, and I’m sure much of that opinion derives from a dread of the summer heat that is sure to follow spring.
Like spring, summers in Moab are fun, especially for water activities on the river where the cooler temperatures of the water help compensate for the heat of the summer sun, but it’s not long before the heat becomes too much, reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit regularly. Activities in the summer are generally restricted to mornings and evenings, and it always seems difficult to stay hydrated. There are some wonderful summer activities to do at night, such a Canyonlands by Night tour on the river or maybe even a moonlit hike to Delicate Arch; however, those activities don’t compare to the joys of autumn.
Autumns in Utah are often wonderful just because of the long durations. I always start to feel the cooler shift in the air near the end of August, and by the time September arrives the temperatures begin cooling enough for me to enjoy hiking, biking, and horseback riding again. Most of September feels like a late summer save for the promise of more temperate days to come.
Toward the end of September, temperatures tend to reach the ideal mark. It becomes cool enough to go out even at midday, but it remains warm enough to still do things at night, though a jacket is often needed. The thing I love most about September, though, is that toward the middle to end of the month, the colors of the leaves on the mountain begin to change into glorious shades of yellow and gold (the oranges and reds don’t come out until October when the brush oak on the mountain changes). The aspen trees seem to blanket the mountain with color, providing the perfect opportunity to go for scenic drives.
One of my favorite drives to take to see fall colors is the La Sal Loop Road. It can be reached by driving up the mountain from Castle Valley. It winds its way through the La Sal mountains and ends up back in Moab, all the while providing some of the best autumn views around. It’s about a three to four hour drive from Moab, I’m guessing, though I’ve never timed it. Another option is to drive all the way up the mountain and follow the road to Gateway and then on to Grand Junction, Colorado. I’ve heard many of the locals talk about taking that road to Grand Junction in the fall before the snows hit, but I have yet to take it myself. The other option is to continue up the road turning off onto Taylor Ridge and Taylor Flat. That drive provides a nice view of the La Sals along with some great chances of viewing local wildlife such as deer, elk, or bears.
October is a great month in Moab as well because it brings the colors down into the town itself after they give way to the snow on the mountain. I’ve seen the colors still vibrant at the beginning of November as well in town. Anybody driving up the mountain in October, however, should be on alert for cows walking across the road as they tend to be on the move in October. Cattle ranchers were some of the first settlers to the Moab area, having arrived well before Utah was a state. Their descendents can still be seen riding along the mountain in October gathering their cows. For some of the ranching families, ranching has been in their families for seven generations!
Although Autumn is nice in October, it often brings with it the threat of falling snow and freezing temperatures. October 5th is the average frost day in Utah, and it always manages to snow throughout most of the state at least once before Halloween. These cold temperatures rarely stay long, though, and a week of temperatures in the 50s to 60s often gives way to temperatures in the high 70s again. Toward the end of November, the temperatures get colder and the weather less predictable, but there’s never a shortage of things to do in Moab.
Anytime is a great time to visit Moab, but fall will always be one of my favorite times. Even as I write this blog, I am sitting in a camper on the mountain watching as the wind blows through the yellow leaves of the aspen trees. Later, I will probably eat a warm dinner with some hot cider or hot chocolate and simply enjoy this breathtaking area of the country.
Red Cliffs Lodge is a tradition of sorts in my household. My husband and I chose Red Cliffs as the location for our wedding. So did my brother-in-law and his wife. In the past years, we have had numerous events scheduled there, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I ended up working there last August!
Less than a month into my new job, I had the opportunity to stay in one of the King Cabins. The cabins are the deluxe rooms on the Lodge’s property, and though I have stayed in the Queen Suites and the King Suites before, I never had the opportunity to stay in one of the cabins, though I always wanted to. Needless to say, I was excited. My husband met me at the cabin when I got off work, and we began our mini vacation.
Every thought went into the design of the cabins, and my husband and I joked that we could move into them permanently if they’d let us. The King Cabins come equipped with a jet tub, which I thought looked wonderful after a long day of working. They also have a separate bathroom with a bathtub and shower, which my husband took advantage of, having just gotten off of work himself. Everything seemed perfect.
The cabins were designed to fit into the natural bend in the Colorado River. Each cabin, including ours, had its own private deck looking out on the river while tall walls on the side of the deck block the other cabins from view. The opposite sides of the cabins face the round pasture where the horses were turned loose to graze every evening. Between the view of the cliffs in every direction and the view of the horses, there wasn’t a bad view to be had.
The sun was getting low toward the tall cliffs when I traded my work clothes for my casual t-shirt and jeans. The temperatures were beginning to cool, the shadows were growing long, and the sun made the landscape just glow with saturated light. It was in this atmosphere that we ventured out of the cabin.
Being a horse lover at heart, I made my way straight to the horses that were grazing not far from our cabin. The horses were gentle and used to people, and many can be coaxed to the fence for pictures. The lighting was perfect for some photos of them, and one even posed for a great picture!
The next step on our mini vacation was to go to the main lodge to tour the Museum of Film and Western Heritage. The Museum is always a fun stop for us. It’s filled with memorabilia from the movies that were filmed in the Moab area. It also showcases many of the local ranches and gives a history of the property the lodge is situated on. The history of the lodge goes back to the 1800s when it began as a working cattle ranch, and it seems like there is always more to see.
Unlike during our wedding and other events when we had set schedules to stick to, we were actually free to enjoy the lodge at our leisure, and after almost an hour spent perusing the museum, we made our way up to the restaurant for a late dinner reservation. They seated us out on the deck where soft lighting combined with the sound of the river to create a very relaxing and soothing atmosphere. My husband and I have eaten at many different restaurants over the years, including some of the nicer ones in Jackson, Wyoming, but I don’t think any of those places could match Red Cliffs for atmosphere.
Although it was late when we finished our dinner and made our way back to our cabin, it wasn’t late enough to justify going to sleep. The cabins are a short distance from the lodge, and the walk back turned into a nice stroll under the stars. When we got back, and after a relaxing soak in the jet tub for me, I made my way out onto the porch with my husband to enjoy some tranquil stargazing outside.
We couldn’t have asked for a better or more calming atmosphere. Stars twinkled brightly above us, setting off a stunning contrast with the surrounding cliffs. A slight breeze brushed through the leaves of the trees, and it wasn’t long before the soothing sounds of the river lulled us to sleep, though we woke a little later and moved inside.
The next morning, we slept in late and enjoyed some of those truly peaceful mornings that always seem so rare and hard to come by. The morning sun on the cliffs was absolutely beautiful, though we had slept through the sunrise. At last, we reluctantly made our way up to the lodge to check out. The morning was peaceful, and we decided to stop in the winery for a small tour before we went on our way. As with the lodge, the atmosphere of the winery was relaxing, and we enjoyed looking around the souvenir shop and the winery itself.
Our stay in the cabins was perfect, and we finally drove away leaving behind more fond memories of our mini-vacation. If I were to do it again, I think that the only thing I would change would be to stay longer than we did. One night is too short a stay for a place like Red Cliffs.
Break away from the everyday.
If you crave a break from the ordinary, a unique retreat from the all-too-familiar, plan your next travel experience at the Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge. Located 14 miles up the Colorado River on scenic Hwy 128 from downtown Moab, we are situated beside the river’s best white water rapids, at the foot of dramatic Red rock cliffs. It’s a classic, rugged Western landscape worthy of Hollywood, and was in fact the site of numerous films, including Rio Grande with John Wayne.