what to see in moab

Mix small-town charm with adventure as you photograph Moab, Utah. (Photo: Getty Images)

Insta-Inspired Travel

From National Parks to Mars-Like Landscapes, Here’s What to Snap in Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah, is home to two national parks, Arches and Canyonlands, and boasts a red-rock landscape that emulates Mars more than it does Earth. And this destination pairs its adventure ethos with small-town charm, making it a dream destination for outdoor photographers.

And while it’s easy to get caught up in the towering rock spires and red desert landscapes, don’t forget to pay attention to the other charms that make a visit to Moab special — photographers will find there are more than expected.

Influencer Rachel Rudwall just returned from a trip to SpringHill Suites Moab, where she spent time exploring and photographing Moab’s unique scenery. Below she shares tips for capturing this destination’s beauty and creating beautiful Instagram content.

Delicate Arch

what to see in moab
Catch Delicate Arch at sunset or sunrise. (Photo: Getty Images)

This is arguably Moab’s most photographed site, and for good reason. This arch stands alone in the desert landscape and has long been a symbol of Utah on its state license plates. The hike in is short but not easy. Come prepared with water and a hat, and wear sunscreen, as the whole trek is exposed. Hike early or late, as midday crowds make capturing a beautiful photo here difficult.

Instagram Tip: While you and everyone else are trying to get great arch photos, there are some tips for improving yours. Instead of taking the shot everyone is taking, try shooting from the opposite side of the arch or get down in the basin and shoot up it.

If you want that classic arch shot without the crowds, try waiting it out until just after sundown when the sky turns pink and the crowds disappear.

Corona Arch

This adventurous hike leads to one of the region’s most beautiful arches. Hike across open slickrock then up a ladder bolted to the rock to climb a short cliff. You’ll use steps cut into the rock and a cable aid to ascend another steep slickrock ridge.

Keep going to the base of the massive Corona Arch. You can hike right under it as it towers overhead, looking up at blue sky and this massive, red-rock arch. The arch opening is 140 feet across and stretches 105 feet high! Because it’s outside the national park, it’s totally free to visit.

Instagram Tip: This arch is so big that it’s hard to get its perspective. Add a person to your shot for scale. For a unique shot, lie down under the arch to capture its fragility and grand size. When posting to Instagram, add a small vignette to focus on the arch in your photos.

Downtown Moab

Rachel calls downtown Moab “a cross between the Wild West and a hippie town” and says its diverse shops, restaurants and boutiques offer something for everyone. From charming local storefronts to hokey T-shirt stores, use your lens to capture the essence of this small desert resort town.

Instagram Tip: Rachel recommends photographing downtown early in the morning or late in the afternoon because desert light is so harsh midday. The shops of Moab don’t open too early, so opt for sunrise snaps if you like your photos without crowds.

While it’s great to capture the grandeur of downtown and its shops backed with red rocks, zoom in to focus on store signage and shop fronts.

Utah State Road 128

Regarded as one of the most scenic roads in Utah, this road out of Moab is an epic drive with few tourists or crowds along the way. Driving the length of the road from Moab to Cisco is approximately 46 miles and takes about one hour.

Paralleling the Colorado River and surrounded by red sandstone for the first 13 miles, it’s one spectacular view. Continue past Castle and Professor valleys and to a viewpoint of the iconic Fisher Towers, set against the snowy La Sal Mountains, before reaching the ghost town of Cisco.

Instagram Tip: When driving along Utah State Road 128, use time-lapse to record your journey. These quick videos show your followers where you’re visiting in a fun, unique way that’s ideal for an Instagram Story.

Steady your phone on the dashboard and record longer than you think because of how much time-lapses are sped up.

Moab Made

what to see in moab
Shop for local goods at Moab Made. (Photo: Courtesy of Moab Made)

Moab Made is an Instagram-lover’s delight, as everything in there is photogenic,” says Rachel of this artisan gift shop. “I only wish I could bring it all home with me to create an Instagram-worthy home!”

This store is full of locally made art and creations by Moab artists. But not everything is a large art piece. If you’d like to take something home to remember your trip, check out the selection of prints, soaps, jewelry, small-batch caramels and stickers.

Instagram Tip: “If you’d like to shoot the cute art, jewelry or other creations from Moab’s local artists, ask permission of the store first,” says Rachel, “then include the Instagram handles of the artists you’re featuring to give credit where it’s due.”

Don’t miss the rocky storefront of this shop. It’s a perfect spot for capturing the essence of downtown.

Hunter Canyon

Instead of following the crowds in Arches, head to lesser-visited but equally beautiful Hunter Canyon. Rachel says, “I love everything about Hunter Canyon. It’s beautiful, uncrowded, close to town and yet feels a world away!”

The out-and-back hike here travels through a twisting canyon lined with towering sandstone cliffs with a creek running most of the year and cascading over the rocks. Dense vegetation and red sand and rocks make for spectacular photos.

Instagram Tip: “To photograph a place like this, you’ll want to provide scale to the viewer, so look for ways to include people, trees or other objects that grant perspective.” Rachel adds, “Look for ways to play with light, shadow and color because the orange of the rock plays nicely with the blue of the sky and green of the trees, and the shadows fall differently throughout the day.”

When ‘gramming your photos, up the saturation a bit to align with what your eye sees but not so much that it looks faked.

See More of Rachel’s Journey in Moab, UT