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The Ultimate Road Trip from Denver to Moab

Denver to Moab

The southwest city of Moab is renowned for being a gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Even aside from housing two of Utah’s most picturesque national parks, this desert city serves as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline seekers. From scaling towering boulders to ziplining over sandstone cliffs, a trip to Moab is filled with outdoor adventures, jaw-dropping vistas, and unforgettable desert hikes. 

Departing from Denver, your journey to Moab will be met with several breathtaking stops along the way. Marvel at Nature’s Trifecta in Grand Junction and then relax in a rejuvenating hot spring in Glenwood Springs. Experience both the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains and Utah’s desert wilderness on this unforgettable, 6-day road trip from Denver to Moab!

Travel Time from Denver to Moab

This roundtrip itinerary begins and ends at Escape Camper Vans’ Denver location, and spans approximately 752 miles. The entire itinerary would take about 12 hours and 20 minutes to complete, and we recommend allotting at least six days to make the most of your journey. With nearly one week, you’ll have enough time to fully explore the thrilling city of Moab, while also spending time in some of Colorado’s most breathtaking areas


Directions Tips:

For the most scenic route from Denver, hop on I-70 for most of the way. This is considered to be one of the most picturesque interstates in the country, complete with plenty of jaw-dropping stops along the way. Once you reach Grand County, veer onto Highway 128, another stupendous drive which will lead you straight into Moab.

 

Total Miles: 752 miles

Total Travel Time: 6 days, driving 12 hours and 20 minutes

Best Time of Year for a Road Trip from Denver to Moab 

Although Moab’s desert oasis is considered a year-round destination, the spring and fall are definitely the most popular times to visit. These shoulder seasons provide optimal weather and hiking conditions, however it’s important to keep in mind that campgrounds and popular trails can become quite crowded.

Spring

Many consider the spring to be the best time of year to visit Moab. The weather is perfect for long days spent adventuring, with temperatures usually in the 70’s. However, this also makes the springtime the most popular and crowded time to visit, especially during Spring Break or over long holiday weekends. Campgrounds tend to fill up very quickly, so be sure to book your sites well in advance if you plan to visit Moab during the busy season.

Summer

The sweltering heat during the summer makes it tough to fully enjoy all of Moab’s outdoor adventures. However, if you save your hikes for the early morning hours and spend your afternoons cooling off in the river, you can still have a great time in July and August. Otherwise, a summer road trip to Yellowstone may be a better option if you want to spend your afternoons out on the trails. 

Fall

The fall is another popular time to visit Moab, due to cooler temperatures and fantastic hiking conditions. Similarly to the spring, campgrounds can get quite crowded in September and October, so aim to reserve your campsites well in advance. 

Winter

Winter is a very serene time to visit Moab, with far fewer visitors than the spring and fall. Temperatures tend to remain in the mid-forties, which can be great for days filled with outdoor adventures- just remember to layer up. However, evenings in the desert can be frigid, so you’ll need to ensure that you’re sufficiently bundled up in your camper van!

Preparation for a Denver to Moab Road Trip

A bit of planning and preparation are an essential part of any road trip, especially if you plan to travel during the busy season. To ensure that your journey to Moab is a smooth one, aim to reserve your campsites in advance, and take extra precautions to make sure that you’re prepared for a few nights of sleeping in the desert!

A man standing in the desert on a Denver road trip.

Camping

Many of the campgrounds you’ll encounter on this itinerary allow for reservations to be made up to six months before your stay. Try to book your sites well in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit Moab in the spring, as the national park campsites will fill up quickly. If you’re struggling to find available campgrounds, keep in mind that there are several dispersed (or free) camping options near Moab, as well as throughout Colorado.

Navigation

Your Smartphone can double as your GPS, but keep in mind that many areas along this route will have minimal cell reception. Download Offline Maps so that you’re still able to navigate in more remote areas, and remember to pack a portable charger so that your battery is always sufficient. 

A paper map of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park is also great to have on hand. This way, you’ll be able to easily navigate off-the-beaten-path trails throughout both parks. 

Food

Before leaving Denver, swing by a market near our Escape Camper Vans hub to stock up on ingredients for easy to make camper van meals. With so many breathtaking sights to visit throughout this itinerary, not having to stop for food along the way will be a big help in maximizing your time! 

Because most of your trip will be spent in the desert, you’ll also need to make sure you have enough water. Not all campsites provide potable water, so it’s important to be extra prepared.

Supplies

Escape Camper Vans allow you to fully customize your vans with all the specific gear that you’ll need to ensure a smooth trip. To protect yourself from the strong desert sun, throw in a door canopy from our list of extra add-ons, along with an extra bedding kit if you’re planning to camp during the colder winter months. For campground meals, a kitchen kit will also come in handy, as will camp chairs and picnic tables. Finally, make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat for added sun protection. 

Which Camper Van is Best for a Denver to Moab Road Trip?

Escape Camper Vans’ Denver hub offers three different camper van models to choose from, any of which would be perfect for a road trip to Moab! All three models offer kitchenettes, queen sized beds, and can sleep up to five people when you add a rooftop sleeper. The Del Mar and Mesa are our two largest vans, while the Mavericks is a bit smaller and more compact. Spend some time comparing each model to determine which is best for your desert road trip!

Denver to Moab Itinerary Trip Stops

Day 1- Denver to Grand Junction, Colorado

Once you’ve picked up your van at Escape Camper Vans’ Denver locale and loaded all your road trip essentials, it’s time to get behind the wheel and begin heading west! Hop on the wonderfully scenic I-70, where you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of Colorado’s exquisite mountain range for most of your drive. 

Peoples feet infront of Zion Valley while camping in a Utah National Park.

After about four hours on the road, you’ll arrive in the jaw-dropping city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Considered a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, here you’ll find towering mountains, imposing canyons, and magnificent rivers. 

With only one day to explore Grand Junction, we recommend focusing your visit on Nature’s Trifecta– three wildly different and incredibly unique natural landscapes that the area is known for. The phenomenal sites include the Colorado National Monument, The Grand Mesa, and Rattlesnake Arches.

Things to do in Grand Junction, CO

Colorado National Monument: Grand Junction’s main draw is the famous Colorado National Monument. Awe-inspiring viewpoints, hikes to soaring red rock spires, and a 23-mile scenic drive along the canyon rim are among the national monument’s top highlights. 

The Grand Mesa: This spectacular mesa stands at 10,000 feet above sea level, and is celebrated for being the world’s largest flat-top mountain! Explore the 300 lakes that surround the enormous mountain while keeping an eye out for the many moose and elk that are known for roaming around the area.

Rattlesnake Arches: Famed for housing the second-highest number of natural arches in the world, Rattlesnake Arch is the perfect warm up before exploring Arches National Park. Within one mile, you’ll find 35 different arches to explore!

Places to Eat in Grand Junction, CO

Tacoparty: Inventive tacos and cocktails are served at this trendy locale, which prides itself in using only locally grown ingredients. Because of their commitment to using farm fresh produce, their menu and taco selections change each season.

626 on Rood: Elevated New American cuisine is served in this inviting restaurant, which also features a lovely outdoor patio. Their robust seasonal menu offers a mix of small plates and entrees, along with an extensive wine list. 

Campgrounds in Grand Junction, CO

James M. Robb Colorado River Campground: Situated along the Colorado River, this scenic campground is divided into two sections, both of which operate all year. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and amenities include laundry facilities, showers, fire rings and picnic tables.

Saddlehorn Campground: Wake up to jaw-dropping views of the Colorado National Monument at this year-round campground, which features flush toilets and potable water. Some sites can be reserved up to six months in advance, while others are only available for day-of reservations.

Day 2- Moab, Utah

After breakfast at your campsite, hop back on the road and make the scenic, two hour drive down to Moab. Celebrated for containing two of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks, the southwest city of Moab is an oasis for outdoor adventurers! While visiting Arches and Canyonlands are the area’s biggest draws, the city also offers plenty of activities outside of these spectacular national parks. Be sure to leave enough time to explore Moab’s thriving downtown, as well as immerse yourself in all the outdoor excursions that this vibrant city has to offer.

Looking through an escape camper van's window to see a red rock.

Things to do in Moab, UT

Dead Horse Point State Park: The dramatic desert cliffs and canyons of this park make it a must-visit for anyone traveling to Moab. If you don’t have time for a long hike, it’s worth driving over to the park’s famous overlook for an unparalleled view of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

Go Ziplining: For the ultimate adrenaline rush, soar over Moab’s rugged canyons on an unforgettable ziplining adventure. Experience six different ziplines while admiring a birds-eye-view of Moab’s striking sandstone cliffs!

Visit a Winery: If your body needs a break from all the outdoor adventures, a relaxing visit to one of Moab’s two wineries might be the perfect solution! Decompress as you stroll through a picturesque vineyard, followed by sampling a robust selection of fine local wines. 

Places to Eat in Moab, UT

Moab Food Truck Park: Can’t decide where you want to eat? At this popular food truck park, you can savor a variety of dishes from fourteen different food trucks. There are plenty of picnic tables for enjoying your meal, as well as staggering views of Moab’s stunning desert scenery.

98 Center: This laid-back locale is the best spot in town if you’re craving delicious Vietnamese cuisine. All ingredients are sourced from local farmers and artisans, and the menu features a variety of lunch and dinner options. 

Trailhead Public House and Eatery: Housed in a historic building that dates back to 1886, this is one of the most popular restaurants on Main Street. Enjoy classic pub fare along with plenty of vegan dishes, and cap off your meal with their signature, homemade bread pudding!

Campgrounds in Moab, UT

Hittle Bottom Campground: Camp along the Colorado River at this scenic site, which operates on a first come, first served basis. This year-round campground provides picnic tables, vault toilets, and access to several hikes, though it does not offer any showers, hookups, or potable water.  

Big Bend Campground: This picturesque campground is open all year and sites are first come, first served. While amenities are quite basic, this site does provide picnic tables, fire grates, and vault toilets.

Day 3- Arches National Park, Utah

Just north of Moab, Arches National Park features an otherworldly landscape encompassed by over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Hike past countless unique geological formations, or take in the sights via an 18-mile loop road which weaves past several of the park’s top landmarks and viewpoints. Once the sun goes down, stick around to watch the stars sparkle over the towering arches. As an International Dark Sky Park, Arches offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in the state!

A photo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park on a denver road trip.

Things to do in Arches National Park, UT

Hike to Delicate Arch: As the largest arch in the area, this has become one of the most visited landmarks in Arches. Reached by a 3-mile round trip hike, the 46-foot high natural structure is well worth the trek. Because of the arch’s massive popularity, you’ll need to get a very early start if you want to enjoy the view with minimal crowds.

Balanced Rock: This towering geological structure is another legendary park landmark. The colossal, crimson red boulder stands at 128-feet and can be easily seen from the road, though it’s worth hiking the quick trail to get up close to this enormous site.

Devils Garden: Countless arches and looming spires congregate in this spectacular area of the park, which is brimming with exciting hikes and striking viewpoints. While here, be sure to venture on the 1.6-mile hike to Landscape Arch, which is celebrated for being one of the world’s longest rock arches!

Campgrounds in Arches National Park, UT

While you could easily base yourself at one of the campgrounds in Moab for your entire trip, there is an option to sleep inside the park. This way, you can get an extra early start and have many of the most popular arches practically to yourself before the crowds roll in!

Devils Garden Campground: This year-round site inside the park is the perfect way to make the most of your time in Arches. Reservations can be made up to six months before your trip from March through October, though campsites become first come, first served from November through February. Amenities include potable water, grills, and picnic tables.

Day 4- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

After an early breakfast in Moab, get ready to spend your day traversing through Utah’s largest national park. Canyonlands’ awe-inspiring landscape was carved by the Colorado River, which weaves through the heart of this spectacular, desert laden park. 

Canyonlands National Park is divided into four distinct sections, with the most popular being Island in the Sky, followed by The Needles. If you’re short on time, we recommend focusing on Island in the Sky’s enormous mesa. This is the easiest district of the park to reach, and it’s brimming with plenty of breathtaking hikes and jaw-dropping overlooks.

Things to do in Canyonlands National Park, UT

Hike the Mesa Arch Trail: This quick, 0.6-mile hike leads you to a spectacular 27-foot-long arch situated at the top of the mesa’s edge. The panoramic views from the top offer some of the best vantage points of Canyonlands, particularly at sunrise!

Grand View Point: Marvel at breathtaking views of endless canyons, towering mountains, and the otherworldly landscape of The Needles District. While this impressive overlook offers unparalleled views, there’s also a mile-long hike that you can venture on for even more outstanding vantage points.

Explore The Needles: Vibrantly colored sandstone spires make up the southeast portion of the park, creating a truly ethereal landscape. If you have extra time in Canyonlands, it’s worth venturing to this slightly more remote area of the park to hike among the alluring, needle-like spires.

Campgrounds in Canyonlands National Park, UT

Again, you can absolutely opt to stay in the same campsite for the duration of your time in Moab. However, if you’re keen to spend your evening stargazing in Canyonlands, the park offers two different campgrounds to choose from. 

Island in the Sky Campground: This small campground within the park features only twelve sites, all of which are first come, first served. The year-round site features toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings, though it does not offer any drinking water or hookups.

The Needles Campground: At this year-round campground, sites can be reserved from the spring though fall, but are otherwise first come, first served. Basic amenities include vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings.

Day 5- Glenwood Springs, Colorado

After loading up your camper van, it’s time to trade in Utah’s desert scenery for the imposing mountains of Colorado. Instead of heading straight back to Denver, break up the drive with a stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, located about three hours away from Moab. 

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains and renowned for its numerous hot springs, Glenwood Springs is the perfect spot to unwind before wrapping up your trip. Visit Colorado’s treasured Hanging Lake, treat yourself to a relaxing spa day, or breathe in the fresh mountain air as you continue to immerse yourself in nature.

You can explore Denver with Escape Camper Vans on a road trip with a dog.

Things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO

Hanging Lake: This famous body of water was formed by a geological fault, creating an ethereal oasis complete with cascading waterfalls and a verdant backdrop. Because of the stunning lake’s increased popularity, you must now reserve permits in advance to hike the Hanging Lake Trail.

Soak in a Hot Spring: As the name of the city suggests, Glenwood Springs is known for its rejuvenating hot springs. There are three natural hot springs to choose from, including an underground vapor cave!

Explore Glenwood Canyon: This 16-mile canyon carved by the Colorado River provides a plethora of magnificent hikes, scenic viewpoints, and opportunities for wildlife spotting. The canyon also allows for easy access to the river, where you can opt to rent a kayak or hop on a whitewater rafting tour!

Places to Eat in Glenwood Springs, CO

The Pullman: Elevated comfort food and cocktails are served at this inviting restaurant which boasts a modern industrial style ambiance. In addition to a varied dinner and drinks menu, the contemporary eatery also features a selection of inventive desserts- including decadent ricotta donuts!

Slope & Hatch: This casual locale features a menu of innovative tacos and frankfurters, along with a wide array of specialty cocktails. Their creative cuisine can also be sampled from their new food truck, which features a mix of their classic dishes, along with a few new menu items.

Campgrounds in Glenwood Springs, CO

Ami’s Acres Campground: This family-run campground is surrounded by a gorgeous mountain landscape, and features full hookups, restrooms with showers, and picnic tables. The site operates year-round and online reservations must be made in advance. 

Glenwood Springs West KOA: Amenities are abundant at this spacious site, and include hookups, showers, a hot tub, and a laundry room. The campground and RV resort is open all year and reservations are mandatory. 

Day 6- Drive Back to Denver, Colorado

Pack up your camper van once more before making the scenic, 163-mile drive back to Escape Camper Vans’ Denver hub. Just as when you began your trip, you’ll take the stunning I-70 back to Denver. Feel free to stop and take in the view along the way, just remember to have your van back by your predetermined drop off time. 

Why Rent a Camper Van for a Denver to Moab Road Trip?

Compared to a traditional RV, a camper van allows you to truly make the most of your Denver to Moab road trip. Between added flexibility, increased mobility, and way more freedom, there are several reasons why renting a camper van in Denver is the best way to kick off your journey to Moab.

Mobility: Our compact campers vans are easy to maneuver on the winding roads of the Rocky Mountains, as well as Moab’s vast desert terrain. While a large RV would have its limitations, our camper vans allow you to veer off-the-beaten path and venture down unexpected roads, explore remote trail heads, and squeeze into tighter campsites and parking spots.

Ease of Use: It can be quite intimidating to get behind the wheel of a massive RV, especially if you’re not used to driving such a huge vehicle. Our camper vans are about the size of a large family SUV, making them far less daunting to drive. With so many hours spent on the road during this trip, feeling comfortable and at ease is paramount to having an enjoyable trip!

No Sewer or Electric Hookups: Many of the campsites throughout this itinerary offer basic amenities, and are unable to provide sewer or electric hookups. While this would pose a problem for a traditional RV, our camper vans are designed to be self contained. This means that not only do you have more flexibility when it comes to choosing a campsite, but you also have the freedom to immerse yourself in the great outdoors and even try dispersed camping. 

Convenient: Our self-contained camper vans are designed to ensure that you have everything you need at all times. In addition to having all your necessary supplies on hand, your beds and kitchenettes are also always set up and ready for you. This way you can spend more time sightseeing, rather than taking care of the logistics that come with an RV or constantly setting up a tent at each new site. 

 

  1. Eye-Catching Design: Every Escape Camper Van features a one-of-a-kind design painted by a talented artist. Not only do these vibrant designs make for incredible photos against Moab’s desert landscape, but they’re also great conversation starters! If you’re eager to meet fellow campers, we guarantee our colorful camper vans are the best way to strike up a conversation!

Reserve with Escape Camper Vans for your Denver to Moab Road Trip

Ready to marvel at the natural wonders of Grand Junction, roam through two spectacular national parks in Moab, and dip into the awe-inspiring waters of Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs? Experience the perfect blend of towering mountains, sweeping deserts, and phenomenal geological formations on this unforgettable adventure. Book your dream Escape Camper Van today and pack your bags for the ultimate road trip from Denver to Moab!

Book My Moab Road Trip!

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