Car-hiking at its best! Seriously. If your soul longs to be immersed in mile upon mile of spectacular scenery, head to Moab, Utah (preferably April through October). There’s plenty of accessible adventure for people of all mobility levels.
Over the course of three, very warm July days, my husband Lou and I, together with our caregiver Josh, took in Moab‘s scenic offerings, all from the comfort of our air-conditioned travel van. It’s the perfect vacay for any nature lover traveling with limited mobility or unpredictable energy levels like me.
Know Before You Go
Access Pass (You can thank me later.)
If you’re eligible, apply for a National Parks Interagency Access Pass. It costs about ten bucks and a little of your time to process. But, once you have it, it’s good for a lifetime of free entry to any US national park. (State parks not included.) Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. For more info: The Interagency Access Pass
Timed Entry Reservation
Visiting Arches National Park? Be sure to get your timed entry ticket. To avoid congestion at the park entry during peak hours, Arches National Park now requires that you have a timed entry reservation. It’s easy to get one, and most hotels provide detailed instructions. You can also go online and quickly secure your time up to three months in advance here.
In July 2023, park entry did not require a timed reservation after 4 PM. It was actually a great time to visit the park because the afternoon sunset lighting highlighted the unique rock formations.
Summers can be hot in the Moab region. Pack plenty of water and salty snacks. Evenings cool off pretty quickly, making it a better time to walk and roll on accessible paths in the parks.
ADA Accessible Accommodations
We stayed at Hoodoo Moab, and recommend it highly. Read more: Accessibility at Hoodoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton. This hotel is a quick ten minute drive to Arches National Park and Scenic Byway U-128. Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point take about 45 minutes to an hour to get to from the hotel. Ask for Suite 119 if you are in need of an accessible room with a divided living area for a caregiver or family travel.
Where to Car-Hike
Arches National Park
With over 2,000 arching rock formations, there’s so much to see from a car window at Arches National Park. Whether or not you’re able to get out of the car, it’s easy to take in most major attractions thanks to frequent pull-outs and convenient parking areas.
The Park Avenue pull-out has a short paved trail to the lookout that’s suitable for wheelchairs. Other stops provide dirt paths that are more easily navigated using a motorized mobility device, like a power-chair or scooter.
What I liked most about our trip to Moab was Arches National Park, specifically Balanced Rock. The unbelievable formation weighs 3,600 tons or 7,200,000 pounds. That’s as much as 20 Blue Whales! Everything we saw at Arches was a feast for the eyes and senses.Lou
Canyonlands National Park
Grassy meadows, varnished canyons, and wide open skies unfold on the drive from Moab to Canyonlands. Magical.
Scenic Byway U-128
The beauty of this scenic drive was the big surprise of our three-day car adventure. Very convenient to Moab, it makes for a lovely morning of taking in the Utah countryside and Colorado River.
Suitable for motorized mobility devices and wheelchairs, a brand-new bike path parallels the byway for several miles.
Given the progression of my condition, I was a little anxious that I could even pull off this trip. But, car-hiking around the Moab area turned out to be very relaxing and truly inspiring. I am motivated to return to Scenic Byway U-128 aboard my scooter in cooler weather.Claire
Dead Horse Point State Park
For a $20 entry fee to this state park, you can drive to Dead Horse Point for a thrilling view of the Upper Colorado River winding its way through historic landscape. Once upon a time, this canyon formation was used – quite unsuccessfully – by cowboys to corral their herds.
Making Accessibility Happen
Accessible travel for people with disabilities is big business. Speak with your dollars, your vote, and your voice to let commerce know what’s working, and what’s not.
Special thanks to Josh Martinez for his input and transcription for this article. Most of all, we thank him for being a wonderful traveling caregiver companion.
And, as always, thanks to my husband and life’s co-adventurer, Lou.
As a caregiver, the most rewarding aspect of our car expedition throughout Moab was watching Claire and Lou enjoy each other’s company while taking in the magnificent scenery.Josh