Moab’s golden arches |

Moab’s golden arches

Utah, features beautiful views, outdooradventures

When Rainer Stammler wants to get away and get outdoors, he heads to Moab, Utah.

“It’s wonderful terrain, great weather. It gets you out of town,” he said. “It’s an adventure for everybody. It puts you on the limit of some of your skills.”

He’s been traveling there for over 13 years, and even had a vacation home there for seven. So when high school physical education teacher Craig Mortensen was looking for somewhere to take his third-year students, Stammler knew just the place.

“It’s a great class,” Mortensen said. “The kids love it there.”

He takes his students on a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon and Moab once a semester. With mountain biking, rock climbing, repelling, hiking and sight seeing, Mortensen said the class has become popular at Moffat County High School and students fight to get in.

“It’s not real easy, the things we do,” he said. “It’s risky. They love the risk. They learn the safety part of it, too.”

Fourteen of his students, along with five chaperones, made the trip April 13 to 20. They had a barbecue lunch at Mortensen’s house Thursday to look at the photos.

“I heard from last year that this class was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” senior Michael Babb said.

Before the class, he had only driven by Moab, but never stopped and explored.

“(There’s) all the different outdoor activities in once place,” Babb said. “It’s a central location for all of that.”

Robert Riberia, an information specialist with the Moab Area Travel Council, couldn’t agree more.

Masses of people come through the center each year, and particularly now because it’s “mud season” here and people want to get into the sun. With an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit this month and averages reaching the high 90s by July, tourists say it’s a welcome change from the unpredictable weather of Colorado.

“I think it’s also the diversity of activities that are available here,” Riberia said. “We have two national parks in our backyard.”

Canyonlands National Park, located 30 miles southwest of Moab, is the largest national park in the state. It is divided into three regions: Island in the Sky, the Needles and the Maze.

Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches and offers amazing views easily seen from the paved roadway. It’s five miles north of town. Popular sites, such as Landscape and Delicate arches, require a hike to see.

Both require a fee to drive through, though there are public lands available near Moab that offer visitors additional recreational possibilities at no charge.

The nearby La Sal Mountains offer rock climbing adventures and Jeep drivers find many paths designed for four-wheeling. The Colorado and Green rivers are popular with those seeking whitewater rafting experiences.

Riberia said many visitors have the misconception that the outdoor recreations in Moab are all extreme, but he said there are many hiking trails designed for beginners as well.

And for those looking for a break from strenuous activities can spend a quiet afternoon browsing the shops of downtown Moab, visiting the Dan O’Laurie Museum of Moab or Film Museum or sampling the vintages of local wineries. Moab, which Riberia calls a “photographer’s wonderland,” also features a golf course.

Lodging options range from primitive camping to luxury spas, so everyone can find something suitable for them.

It’s not just regional visitors that the town attracts. Riberia said he sees tourists from Germany, Italy, Japan and France most often.

“When you’re here in the summer, it almost feels like English is the minority language,” he said.

It seems clear, though, that Craig residents find the spot equally charming. Mortensen said he takes his family there for spring break and plans to keep going back because he hasn’t seen everything there is to see.

“What a great playground,” he said. “We haven’t even covered half of it. There’s so much territory to cover.”

So why should thrill-seekers make the 4 1/2-hour trip to the popular outdoor vacation spot?

“The diversity of what you can do here,” Riberia answered. “There’s such a wide variety in such a relatively small geographic area.”

To learn more about Moab’s recreational opportunities, lodging, shopping and dining options, visit

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