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Great Outdoors
Utah's Moab Adventure Center Suggests Potpourri Of Hiking & Canyoneering Adventures Independent Or Accompanied By A Guide

A visit to Moab, UT, one of the world's great natural playgrounds, may include independent backcountry hiking with only a map for a guide or a more in-depth exploration that may include canyoneering and rappelling where assistance by a professional guide is often recommended.

"Most people who come to our area do short hikes on their own," said Jamie Pearce, manager of the Moab Adventure Center. "Our helpful staff is always ready to offer suggestions and trailhead directions and take care of whatever outfitting they may need."  The center sells a full line of outdoor gear, clothing and equipment.

"Our team knows the ins and outs of the region's mountains, canyons and national parks and we can mix and match suggestions for both independent and guided activities to match visitor abilities, budgets and interests," explains Pearce.

Pearce points to several hikes are only a half-mile roundtrip for beginners or folks with limited time. For example, in Arches National Park is Sand Dune Arch, also the name of what she calls "a fun, funky hike" that weaves through the red rock to reveal a natural sand dune actually under an arch. Another hike, Double Arch, leads to the phenomenon of two arches stacked on top of each other.  In Canyonlands National Park there's a short hike to Mesa Arch with stunning views.

Longer hikes might include a mile roundtrip to Upheaval Dome, "a geological phenomenon in the desert where you look downward into rock layers," she says. The four-mile-roundtrip Morning Glory Arch hike is into and through a canyon, wandering through red rock with the company of a little stream and some riparian life. "There are rolling hills and this hike is fairly easy," she notes.

However, more complex hikes may have different start and end points that will require transfers or vehicle shuttles. She suggests that assistance with logistics and a guide's knowledge will enhance the experience. One such hike is a more extreme trek from Moab Rim to Hidden Valley. "This is a steep hike (around six miles) with vistas of the Colorado River and overlooking the town of Moab. The path drops to a canyon called Hidden Valley where the magic of prehistory is revealed in rock carvings known as petroglyphs. There is a steep downhill on shale requiring good shoes," she adds.

Moab Adventure Center guides also enter the picture when guests want to delve deeper and more extensively into the geology and history of the area, or if they've commissioned a custom program where the logistics require assistance, she says. The instances might include canyon rappelling and advanced mountain biking, in addition to challenging hiking opportunities.

Pearce recalled a group who took a guided jeep tour to a pair of natural rock spans known as Gemini Bridges. They rappelled down the bridges and were transported from the bottom of the rappel back to their hotel. The same group then did a downhill mountain bike tour through Onion Creek followed by a two-day whitewater raft trip through Cataract Canyon.

Other opportunities for guides to enhance an experience include custom photography tours. "People say, 'I want this shot and I want it at this time of day.' Our guides can accommodate these requests," she says. "Others ask for wildflower tours, archaeology and rock art tours, and paleontology tours to see dinosaur tracks. Sometimes groups of seniors will ask for guides who can assist their experiences. Others heave heard about our sunset tour with catered dinner atop a vista of the Colorado River."

The cost for a private tour with a guide, equipment and transportation ranges between $150 to $350 per hour depending upon the activity and group size.

"People who are very, very interested in certain things in Moab, or who want the experience all to themselves, will book these highly personal experiences," she says.

Guests who prefer joining a pre-set group tour can enjoy a 10 percent discount when combining three or more full- or half-day activities in a package.