Moab, UT has been an annual visit of mine for the last 15 years. Although I feel like I have photographed and mountain biked everything it has to offer, I’m still discovering new things when I visit. This guide is intended to help you make the most of your visit to Moab. It covers all the heavy hitters and icons. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment on the page and I will make sure to get it answered! Enjoy yourself out there. You are going to be blown away by the beauty you discover.
When To Go
I love Moab, so I think anytime is a good time to go. Heck, if you are headed there tomorrow drop me an email and if I’m free I will meet you out there. The summers (Julyish) are great if you like to photograph thunderstorms. However, the days will be hot! I normally go in spring (March – May). The end of spring is usually the best. Not only will you have some nice warm nights for camping, but the wildflowers might in full bloom. Because Moab is a great location for astrophotography (photographing the night sky) make sure to check the lunar charts to ensure the darkest nights. Unless of course you would like to photograph the moon. Then you might want to head out when the moon is at its peak.
Here is a list of iconic locations you don’t want to miss when you are visiting Moab. If you’re efficient, you could probably shoot at these locations on a long three day weekend. You can find all these places listed, along with their descriptions, on the map below. Most all of the places listed are easily accessible. You just drive up and walk a short distance.
- Arches National Park – There is a lot that goes into photographing Arches. Each one is uniquely set up for sunrise or sunset. If you have an iPad or iPhone, get this app! If not, make sure to stop at the visitors center in the heart of Moab. They will be able to answer all your photography questions.
iFoto Guide – Arches National Park
- Cisco – If you are coming from the east, you can photograph Cisco on your way into or leaving town along the scenic byway. Here you will find some interesting and very photogenic Americana. The town is tiny, and won’t take long to photograph, but well worth the short detour.
- Fisher Towers – The towers are located along the Colorado river scenic byway. You can photograph them right from the road if you are short on time and don’t feel like hiking up to them. These are great candidates for black & white. The valley that the Fisher Tower’s reside is full of other photographic opportunities as well.
- Mesa Arch – You have to photograph Mesa Arch and the classic time to do it is sunrise. It will require a short 1/4 mile hike. Get there early and be prepared for a crowd. Make sure you are respectful of the other photographers that are already in position. Just make sure and ask if you are in their way.
- Canyonlands Overlook - This overlook provides an incredible view of vast canyons below. You really want to photograph this location when the sun is low in the sky which will provide a nice dimensional light. I’d suggest you photograph this area shortly after you have photographed sunrise at Mesa Arch.
- Dead Horse Point – There is a very cool photo of a Juniper tree to be had here…but I will let you find it. Dead Horse Point is on the same mesa as Canyonlands Overlook at Mesa Arch so you can try to get all these locations in at the same time. However, if you are camping on the mesa, then you might try Dead Horse at sunset and the other two at sunrise. Or, Mesa Arch at sunrise and the other two at sunset….although hitting both overlooks at sunset would be pretty hard to do since they are rather far away from one another.
- Needles Overlook – This overlook is about an hour south of Moab. It is pretty awesome, and if you have the time make sure to check it out. However, if you only have a night or two I would spend your time on the ‘Island In The Sky’ (Canyonlands, Mesa Arch, Dead Horse Point). You can get a similar view form the Canyonlands Grand View overlook.
Photographing Mesa Arch
When You Put The Camera Down
Beyond photography, there is all sorts of great stuff to check out while you visit. Here is a list of places to visit and things to do when you are patiently waiting for the light.
- Jail House Cafe – Start your day off right with some world famous ginger pancakes.
- Eddie McStiff’s – Awesome food and beer. I have had many a great night here. Someday, when we photograph Moab together, I’ll share some great stories about this place with you.
- Pasta Jays – The best Italian food in town…but it does get crowded so expect a wait.
- Moab Brewery – Eddie McStiffs is on the north side of town. If you are staying on the south side, you can’t go wrong by walking or riding to the Moab Brewery.
- Edge Gallery (bretedge.com) Brett Edge is a local photo guide and runs the best photo gallery in town. Make sure to visit, he is a great guy with a great eye.
- Go Mountain Biking – There would be an empty spot in my heart if I didn’t mention the incredible mountain biking. There is too much for me to include in this, but I suggest you visit this site (http://www.utahmountainbiking.com) for more info. Some of my favorite trails for photography are Porcupine Rim, Sovereign Trail and Amasa Back. The views are amazing. My favorite bike shop is Rim Cyclery
View Photographer’s Guide To Moab in a larger map
A Few Of My Favorites
Click Here to view all my photos from Moab.