Scenic Drives in Moab to Go Ga-Ga for

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by foxintheforest

Home to some of the best 4×4 trails in the country, there’s an endless list of scenic drives in Moab. However, you don’t need a tricked out Jeep to enjoy the best Moab scenic drives. This list of epic roads features dirt and paved roads suitable for most vehicles.

Visiting Moab should be on every adventurer’s bucket list. As the adventure capital of the desert, there is plenty of amazing things to do in Moab. However, scenic driving has to be one of the most accessible activities to get your feet wet with the area.

Before you hit the dirt, make sure you’ve got the right vehicle for the job. Most of Moab’s scenic drives will warrant 4WD and a little bit of clearance. If you don’t have the right whip, rent one in town!

Although I hail from Colorado, I spend my winters in and around Moab. I’ve scoured every dirt road, tracked through every trail, and even climbed to the top of Moab’s best climbing routes. 

This place is like a second home to me. So as an honorary local, I want to give you all of the insider knowledge on Moab’s best drives.

About This Guide to Scenic Drives in Moab

One of the best things to do in Moab is to hit the road! Driving around the desert roads in Moab requires a little bit o’ skill, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the most scenic Moab drives. In this guide you’ll find:

  • 11 jaw droppingly scenic drives in Moab
  • Info on each drives such as location, distance, estimated time, and what kind of vehicle you’ll need
  • Expert tips for driving and visiting Moab
moab scenic drives

What is the Best Month to Visit Moab?

October. Spring and fall are the best times to visit Moab, especially for driving. Fall tends to be drier which is better if you plan on driving down dirt roads. Springs tend to be a bit wetter and windier, although the weather is still pleasant.

Avoid visiting Moab in the summer when the crowds are highest and the weather is unbearably hot (well over 100 degrees each day). Winter is another great time to visit Moab since you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself. However, keep in mind many of the unpaved roads can become snowy, icy, and impassable, even if you plan to visit Moab in November.

Do You Need a 4 Wheen Drive in Moab?

In short no – you can reach a lot of the best things to do in Moab without a 4 wheel drive car. In fact, access to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Potash Road are all paved. Camping along these roads also has paved access.

However, if you do have a 4WD vehicle, you can go a lot deeper into Moab. There are more options for scenic drives if you have a high clearance, low gear, 4WD truck, or SUV. These drives don’t require a ton of special skills, just paying attention to the road and obstacles that exist.

Those that are keen to go on a 4×4 adventure, will need a lifted vehicle with special gear (think lockers, winches, etc), and a short wheelbase.

Pro Tip: This post doesn’t cover 4×4 or Jeep Trails and all drives listed can be driven with stock vehicles. You can also do one of the best Moab jeep tours if you don’t want to do these drives on your own.

moab scenic drives

The 11 Most Scenic Drives in Moab

The desert landscape of Moab means you’ll find beautiful views everywhere you turn. Here are the highlights of the 10 best Moab scenic drives:

Scenic Drives in Moab that Don’t Require 4 Wheel Drive

Don’t have a Jeep, 4Runner, or fancy off-road vehicle? No worries! These scenic drives offer a variety of stunning scenery without having to worry about bumps, dips, and low gears.

1. Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway

A great introduction to the red sandstone and river views of Moab, the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway packs a lot into a fairly short drive. 

To start your drive, head about 4 miles north of Moab, where Potash Road (U-279) intersects Highway 191. Along Potash Road, you will encounter many attractions worth stopping for.

After a couple of miles, you’ll enter the gorge of the Colorado River, with sandstone cliffs soaring around you. Keep going and you’ll come upon Wall Street, one of Moab’s best climbing areas that is right on the side of the road. 

Past the end of the climbing area, you’ll soon find panels of petroglyphs. Be sure to pull over and check out this ancient art close-up. 

Farther down the road, you’ll find a trailhead where you can take a 3-mile round-trip hike to Corona Arch. Psst…Corona Arch is one of Moab’s most beautiful hikes, so don’t miss it!

Local tip: Jaycee Park Campground is a gorgeous spot to spend the night and avoid the crowds at some of the more popular campgrounds in Moab.

  • Popular attractions: Dinsaur tracks, ancient rock art, Corona Arch trail, Wall Street climbing area, Jug Handle Arch (13.5 miles), views looking up at Dead Horse Point State Park (just passed the Arch), Potash Mine (colorful mining pools). Past the mine the road gets rougher (you’ll want at least an SUV with AWD) and you enter Canyonlands National Park.
  • Mileage: 17 miles one way
  • Time: ~1 hour
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No

5. Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky Scenic Drive

Canyonlands National Park is massive in size, and Island in the Sky Scenic Drive will give you a taste of the grandeur of the park. 

The entrance to the Islands in the Sky District is in the northern part of Canyonlands. To reach it drive about 10 miles north of Moab via US-191 then take UT-313 southwest for 22 miles.

The Island in the Sky Scenic Drive is on the rim of a mesa, providing amazing viewpoints of the sheer cliff drop-offs into the canyons below. 

Highlights of the drive include Grand View Point, where you can walk out to a panoramic view, and Mesa Arch, a quick hike from the road on the edge of a cliff.

Don’t forget to check out the other incredible hikes in Canyonlands National Park.

Local tip: GPS systems can get confused at Island in the Sky, so a map is helpful.

  • Popular attractions:
  • Mileage: 34 miles round trip
  • Time: ~2 hours
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No
Utah Scenic Drives
White Rim Road in the distance as seen from Island in the Sky

2. Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway, U-128

You’ll want to take your time on this truly stunning Moab scenic drive. Also known as River Road, the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway (U-128) features amazing views from deep in the canyon along the Colorado River. 

This drive starts at the north end of Moab (and is actually a great route to take into Moab if you’re coming from the north) and ends in the ghost town of Cisco.

The Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway runs directly along the Colorado River, with plenty of spots to pull over and take in the views of the river and red rock cliffs that surround it. 

You will also pass a viewpoint of the majestic Fisher Towers, where you can stop for some hiking or oggle at the climbers taking on these gravity-defying mud castles at one of Moab’s best climbing areas.

Local tip: Take a break from your drive at the Red Cliffs Lodge, where you can have lunch, check out the free movie museum, and do a wine tasting at the Castle Creek Winery.

  • Popular Attractions: Morning Glory Natural Bridge, Grandstaff Canyon, BLM Camping in Moab, Castel Valley (mile 13) Professor Valley, Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, views of the red rock spires of Fisher Towers.
  • Mileage: 44 miles one way
  • Time: ~2 hours
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No

6. Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway

This short scenic drive in Moab offers one of the very best sunset views in the whole area. Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway (UT-313) begins at the intersection with US-191 about 10 miles north of Moab.

The drive starts in the canyons then crosses the top of the mesa. You’ll take the turn off into Dead Horse Point State Park for more canyon views until you reach the Dead Horse Point Overlook itself. 

This 360-view will of canyons below and mountains in the distance will take your breath away, and the colors of sunset make it even better.

Local tip: Dead Horse Point State Park has a $20 entrance fee. However, it’s dog-friendly so bring Fido!

  • Popular Stops: red rock canyon driving, hairpin curves to ascend the mesa, Dead horse Point State Park, access to Long Canyon (4WD road).
  • Mileage: 22 miles one way
  • Time: ~1 hour
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No

Can You Drive to Dead Horse Point Overlook?

Just about! The parking lot for Dead Horse Point Overlook is right at the end of Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway. Simply park and walk about 5 minutes to the large, covered overlook.

3. Arches National Park Scenic Drive

A wonderful way to get an overview of the magic of Arches National Park is by driving through the park along the scenic drive. The entrance to Arches is located off of US-191 just 5 miles north of town.

As you drive into the park, you’ll soon see the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Soon you’ll reach the Courthouse Towers viewpoint, where you can take a quick 1-mile hike on the Park Avenue Trail to see these incredible formations. 

Along the drive, you can also stop to see Balanced Rock, the Windows District, and the Fiery Furnace area. 

The most famous arch in the park is Delicate Arch, which you can see from a viewpoint or take a 3-mile hike to see it up close.

There are plenty of amazingly easy hikes in Arches National Park to see along this scenic route.

Local tip: A pass to Arches National Park is $30, but if you’re also visiting Canyonlands, you can save money with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass, which grants entrance to both parks for a year.

  • Popular Stops: Balanced Rock, Park Avenue Trailhead, Courthosue Towers, La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, Fiery Furnace, Devil’s Garden Trailhead, Delicate Arch Trail turnoff
  • Mileage: 36 miles round trip
  • Time: ~2 hours, but give yourself more time to pull over and explore the park
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No
arches scenic drive

5. Mineral Bottom BLM 129

If you’ve got a small SUV or hatchback, you can get your tires on some dirt along the Mineral Bottom Canyon Road. Make your way down the relatively well-maintained (but steep) dirt switchbacks. to the canyon bottom. You’ll find plenty of stunning views of the Green River along the way.

Take the Island in the Sky Scenic Byway until you reach BLM road 129 turn off. From here it’s a straight shot across a dirt road that traverses a plateau. Eventually, you’ll reach a big parking lot with toilets (last stop for the bathroom!)

Descend the obvious switchbacks to the canyon bottom. Use pullouts to take photos, as the road is mostly one lane and the uphill has the right of way.

Once you reach the canyon bottom you have two choices, head north or south along the river. North takes you to some stunning camping and the road eventually gets too rough to travel. There is also a boat ramp here with river access.

South takes you to the back entrance of Canyonlands National Park. The road is EXTREMELY rough past the park entrance and you need a permit to drive along the road (dogs are not allowed) past the park sign. Do NOT attempt to drive further without proper permits and a high-clearance vehicle with low gears. This is the spill out – or start – to the White Rim Road.

The views leading up to this point are particularly wonderful in late fall when the cottonwood trees are turning colors.

Pro Tip: There are a few great free (no services) campsites near here if know how to responsibly go free camping.

  • Popular Attractions: Mineral Bottom Switchbacks, views of the Green River, BLM camping.
  • Mileage: 37 miles round trip
  • Time: ~1.5 hours, but give yourself more time to pull over and enjoy the views
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No, but all wheel drive strongly recommended. No passenger cars.

Moab Scenic Drives that Require 4 Wheel Drive

Up for a bit of an adventure? Then check out these dirt-tastic scenic drives. You don’t need a lifted, aggressive vehicle like you do for many of the famous Moab Jeep Trails, but you do need a high clearance vehicle with low gears such as a stock Jeep Wrangler or 4Runner for these scenic romps. All-terrain tires are recommended.

4. White Rim Road

White Rim Trail is also in the Islands in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park but is unpaved and a much more adventurous drive. 

You will encounter lots of steep and exposed sections, so be prepared for that. But if you’re up for it, you’ll loop around the Island in the Sky Mesa, then drop down below it into the canyons. 

Expect a long, slow drive on the White Rim, so for the full experience, you should plan to take two to three days and camp overnight. This will give you time for side hikes, including Upheaval Dome and Hardscrabble Hill.

Local tip: Permits are required for both day use and overnight trips on the White Rim. Book well in advance for fall and spring trips.

  • Popular Stops: Shafer Canyon Switchbacks, Shafer Trail Viewpoint, turnoff for Shafer Canyon Road, Gooseneck Overlook, permited camping at designated sites, White Crack Overlook, Musselman Arch, Murphy Hogback Hill, Hardscrabble Hill, Fort Bottom Ruin.
  • Mileage: 100-mile loop
  • Time: At least 10-12 hours, without stops
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? Yes, 4WD only
scenic drives in Moab

7. Shafer Trail

Not for the faint of heart, the Shafer Trail drive provides plenty of excitement along the narrow, steep road. You’ll start off of UT-313 near the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, and take the Shafer Switchbacks 1,500 feet down to the bottom of the canyon.

The vistas along this drive are all amazing, but be sure to stop at Thelma and Louise Point, the sight of the famous scene in the namesake movie. Psst, this is one of the best spots for sunset in Moab!

Local tip: Do not attempt this road in adverse weather. Rain will make it muddy, slippery, and extremely dangerous. The lower part of the road closes in spring for ram calving season, including Thelma and Louise Point.

  • Popular Attractions: Shafer Switchbacks, Shafer overlook, Thelma and Louise Point, other un-named overlooks.
  • Mileage: 19 miles
  • Time: ~3 hours
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? Yes, 4WD only
best moab drives

8. Kane Creek and Chicken Corners

The Chicken Corners scenic drive makes for a fun but not an overly intense off-road adventure. Start on Kane Creek Canyon Boulevard in Moab then continue past Kane Creek Recreation parking lot on a well-maintained dirt road.

After several miles, take a right and head to the top of Hurrah Pass for excellent views of the Colorado River. The road will narrow along a cliff as you head back down into the canyon. At the end of the road, you can walk out to Chicken Corners for more cool views before you make the return trip.

Local tip: Toy chicken dolls mark the trail towards the end to keep you on track.

  • Popular attractions: Birthing Scene Petroglyph, Ice Cream Parlor Climbing Area, BLM camping, Hurrah Pass and overlook, Colorado River Access via Safari Beach.
  • Mileage: 42 miles round trip
  • Time: ~2 hours
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? Yes, 4WD recommended

9. Long Canyon Trail

After you’ve wrapped up your time at Dead Horse, take the Long Canyon Trail down to Lower Potash for the ultimate in Moab scenic drives.

This 4WD road features a few hairpin turns through a slot canyon the size of a wide SUV. The adventure kicks into gear as you drive under a large, toppled boulder leaned against a cliff wall, then continue through a series of drops.

A stock 4Runner or Jeep Cheorokee is the minimum vehicle type for this obstacle.

The rest of the road is easily drivable in just about any vehcile, but be aware that there are no easy turn around points near the obstacle.

Local tip: Never drive this road after a storm – you can easily slip off of the road or bounce into canyon walls.

  • Popular Attractions: Distant views of Arches National Park, driving under a giant boulder, scenic views of Long Canyon.
  • Mileage: 15 miles
  • Time: 1.25 hours one way.
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? Yes, 4WD only
best drives in utah
Don’t let the camera angle fool you, even in a stock Tacoma you’ll put tires off the ground dropping these rocks.

10. La Sal Mountain Loop

This Moab scenic drive takes you from the red rock of the desert up into the alpine terrain of the mountains. To start the loop, head south on US-191 for about 8 miles and turn left at the La Sal Mountain Loop sign, then take a right to start your uphill climb.

The La Sal Mountain Loop is an awesome way to see the variety of plants and trees that thrive at different elevations. 

From junipers and piñon pines to evergreens and aspens, this drive is especially gorgeous in the fall when the aspens turn bright gold. As you start to head back down from the mountains, be sure to pull over for a panoramic view of the desert below, including Castle Rock.

Local tip: This road can be closed due to snow in the winter, so check the conditions before your drive.

  • Popular Stops: Ken’s Lake, Mill Creek Recreation Area, Desert Overlook, Warner Lake (with campground), Oowah Lake, Castle Valley Scenic Byway linkup.
  • Mileage: 60 mile loop
  • Time: ~2.5-3 hours
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? No

11. Gemini Bridges

A moderately difficult dirt road leads you to the double arches of the Gemini Bridges. If you start from the east, off of US-191 just south of UT-313, you’ll get great views of the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park during your drive.

Check out the Gemini Bridges, a 0.7 mile walk from the road. Signs lead the way.

Local tip: This scenic drive in Moab is very popular, so visit during the week to avoid lots of traffic.

  • Popular Attractions: Views of Moab, access to 4×4 jeep trails such as Metal Mashers, Gemini Bridges hiking trail, access to Island in the Sky Scenic Drive (western terminiation of Gemini Bridges), access to Dead Horse Point State Park nearby.
  • Mileage: 13 miles one way
  • Time: ~2.5 hours with stops
  • High Clearance Vehicle Required? Yes, 4WD recommended
scenic drive utah moab

Long Distance Scenic Drives Near Moab

If you’re on a road trip of the American Southwest, then Moab is the place to stop! Many incredible scenic drives exist to other fantastic locations in southern Utah and Arizona. A few notable routes include:

  • Moab to Page, Arizona: Pass through Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley until spilling into the Glen Canyon Recreation Area and Lake Powell.
  • Moab to Bryce Canyon: For an exceptionally scenic drive, skip the I-70 route and head down HIghway 24. From Hanksville, drive through Torrey, Boulder, and Escalante before reaching Bryce. This route takes you through the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef National Park, and the stunning Grand Staircase of Escalante before arriving in the unassuming Bryce Canyon.
  • Moab to Zion National Park: This surprising drive takes you through plenty of gorgeous mountains in the Dixie National Forest as well as the Piute Reservoir. You’ll get close to Bryce Canyon, so be sure to stop along the way!

Quick Tips for Driving in Moab’s Scenic Drive

When it comes to visiting Moab, there are a few things you’ll need to know to hit the road. Driving in the desert isn’t insanely complicated, but it can be extremely dangerous. Here are a few safety tips.

Never drive after a storm. Flash floods and muddy roads can leave you stranded or worse. Wait 24 hours after big rainstorms.

Always carry a GPS. Cell services is spotty so either download Google maps before you head out or carry a GPS of the route.

Pack essentials, even for short drives. Always be sure to have water, snacks, a blanket, some extra layers, and sun protection.

Uphill vehicles always have the right of way. Some roads are tight, so for passing, yield to the uphill driver or find a place to pull out.

Share the road. Many of Moab’s scenic drives are shared by bikers. Give them plenty of space and wave a friendly hello!

If you’re traveling in a group, give the number of cars in your party behind you as you pass. This lets other vehicles know if they should wait. A fist means you’re the last car in the train.

Get out and see the most beautiful scenery in Moab along some of these epically scenic drives. Don’t forget your camera and enjoy the most beautiful drives in Moab.

More Moab Resources

Headed to Moab? Be in the know with these expertly-curated guides and resources:

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Visiting Moab, Utah soon? If you're planning your Moab itinerary, chances are that a scenic drive or two are on the bucket list, so I gathered and put together a list of the most scenic drives in Moab, Utah that you can't miss!
Meg Atteberry
Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

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Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.