Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spiraling Towards Moab

Every year, I go to the Moab Music Festival for my spiritual reawakening. I hope you can join me next year. I'll explain more about the Festival in upcoming posts. The first thing everyone asks me is: how do you get to Moab?

It can take as long to get to Moab as it takes to get to Europe, especially if a thunderstorm stops airplanes from landing in Denver or Salt Lake City. My first piece of advice: don't be in a hurry to get to Moab, or return home. Enjoy the journey.

Here are your basic travel options to go to Moab:

  • Fly to Canyonlands (CNY). The story they told me at the airport is that the U.S. Postal Service subsidizes one airline to carry mail into Moab, so there is always a commercial flight directly there. Currently, United makes the flight via Denver. In the past Salmon Air flew through Salt Lake City. The Thrifty Car Rental people will leave a car for you at the airport. It takes 20-30 minutes to drive into Moab.
  • Fly to Grand Junction (GJT). This is my favorite route. It's usually a lot cheaper than flying into Canyonlands/Moab directly. There are many rental car choices at the airport. The two-hour drive along the Colorado River is the best drive I've ever made. Stunning. Take I-70 West, then UT-128 to Moab. The only trick is to take the second Cisco exit off I-70 which is clearly marked as the route to Moab. The first Cisco exit works, too, but it's a long drive on a frontage road through a ghost town. Try to leave Grand Junction in time to drive through the Colorado River gorge during the day. These days you can get to GJT on United (via Denver), Delta (via Salt Lake City), and Frontier (via Phoenix). I usually plan on lunch at one of these airports on the way to GJT.
  • Fly to Salt Lake City (SLC). It takes about four hours to drive from Salt Lake City to Moab. You can take the Big Horn Shuttle. The shuttle's fine if you're meeting someone, but you might as well rent a car at SLC otherwise. The drive over Soldier Pass can be treacherous if weather conditions turn bad. I prefer the drive from Grand Junction because it's shorter and the Colorado River section is so overwhelming. However, the drive over the Wasatch Mountains and across the high desert on US-6 is plenty entertaining.
  • Fly to Denver (DEN). It's about six hours to drive from Denver to Moab. Just get on I-70 and drive to UT-128.
  • Drive from anywhere. After 9/11/2001, one of the musicians couldn't get a flight to the Moab Music Festival. He drove from Los Angeles. I've driven from San Francisco. On that ride, we spent a night at Lake Tahoe, then drove I-50 across Nevada. I've also driven from Crested Butte and Telluride. Almost any drive across this part of the United States is long and beautiful.
  • If you have a private plane, why not fly directly to CNY.
Once you get to Moab, there are many lodging and dining options. You'll want a car to drive to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and to trails around Moab. If you're staying for a stretch, consider renting a condo. Then you can take advantage of the farmers market and butcher to cook up a few meals.

After you drive down UT-128, take a look at the opening of Austin Powers in Goldmember:

Safe travels!

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