WOMEN GONE WILD
Moab’s adventure, food and fun offer a rollicking Girlfriends Getaway.
It’s spring break and Moab calls. No matter who you go with—your significant other, family members, college pals or friends of a feather—Moab rolls out the welcome mat with so many options that you can create a new trip each time you visit.
One way to experience Moab is with a circle of besties, and for women, that’s a Girlfriends Getaway. After all, this is the place where Thelma and Louise had the ultimate adventure. Although the ending for the 1991 movie was supposed to take place at the Grand Canyon, many parts of the film were shot in and around Moab, including the climactic scene.
Whether it is just for some “me” time, the freedom to shop and log some spa time, or to have relaxed adventures wearing comfy yoga pants, a Girlfriends Getaway is a great reason to hop in the car with your besties. Tell them, just like Thelma said to Louise, “Let’s keep goin’!” and then get ready to make your own “her-story.”
Salt Lake City to Moab
The 3½-hour drive down to Moab starts by heading south on Interstate 15 to Spanish Fork before heading east on U.S. Route 6, which then joins U.S. Route 191 just north of Helper. Continue on 191 south through Helper and Price before coming to Interstate 70. Head east on I-70 to the Crescent Junction exit. Pick up 191 heading south again, and you’ll head straight into Moab.
When you get into town, you’ve got several options for accommodations, Got a larger group? Check in at the Bowen Luxury House or the Moab Pearl . Both are homes with a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. It’s an ideal setting for everyone in the group to find their own space but also have a place to come together.
If camping out (while still having some of the comforts of home) is more your style, try Red Rock Base Camps. It’s camping—with a little help from your friends. You reserve a spot at any campground around the Moab area, and then reserve one of Red Rock’s trailers. They drop it off for you. Not only do you have a place with one or two queen beds where you can sleep and charge your phone after an evening by the campfire, but the service also comes with an outdoor kitchen trailer off the back, complete with gas stove, stainless-steel counter space, cooler and wash station with hot water.
A smaller group looking for a relaxing weekend will want to try Desert Hills Bed & Breakfast. This family-run property sits in a quiet residential neighborhood and features four rooms and one family suite. On-site chickens and a backyard garden provide the ingredients
Wherever you end up setting up base camp, get ready for an evening out and take a scenic drive along Highway 28 before arriving at Utah’s largest winery, Castle Creek Winery, for a wine-tasting session. Castle Creek has their own vines and also purchases grapes from local growers to create cabernet sauvignon, merlot, Monument Red, Outlaw Red, chardonnay, chenin blanc, Lily Rose White and Petroglyph White. Pick your favorite and buy a bottle for later in the weekend.
Castle Creek Winery sits on the property of Red Cliffs Lodge, and you only need to walk across the parking lot to find the Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage. The museum pays tribute to Moab’s Hollywood film history—from classic John Wayne Westerns to modern ones starring Johnny Depp—all shot in and around Moab. Of course, there’s a tribute to Thelma and Louise, and your group will need to pay homage.
Head upstairs to find more Castle Creek wines at the Cowboy Grill, where dinner is served. Offer a toast to Thelma and Louise while trying the Southwest ceviche appetizer, a mix of white fish and avocado served with tortilla strips. Since this is a Girlfriends Getaway, we’ll tell you to pass on the Rocky Mountain oysters and instead order the Outlaw Red Chicken as an entrée. The bird is sautéed in Castle Creek Outlaw Red wine with onions and red peppers.
If you don’t want to worry about driving home from dinner on this or any other night of the trip, check out Moab Trail Taxi for fast and easy service around town.
Moab to Canyonlands
Use social media to locate YummyTown Food Truck. A local favorite for Mediterranean lunch dishes and Shrubs—a macerated fruit concentrate mixed with soda water in combinations such as raspberry and golden beet. In 2018, the truck is serving up breakfast for the first time with scrambled egg and gyro pitas and other offerings.
Sign up for one of the many tours available from the Canyonlands Field Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to providing outdoor education about the Colorado Plateau. They provide a variety of half-, full-, and multi-day trips on land and water, but you might want to consider joining the Women Wild by Nature River Trip, an annual women-only rafting trip led by CFI co-founder and director Karla VanderZanden. The four-night trip runs Sept. 23-27, 2018.
And since this weekend is about indulging yourself, after your outing today, arrange an afternoon spa party for your friends or just an individual massage at Spa Moab. Choose from among a couple’s, Biker’s Relief or Desert Woman massage.
Cruise the Colorado River
Make reservations to take the Sound & Light Show Boat Tour from Canyonlands by Night and Day. The tour, which has been offered since 1963, runs March through October, with departure times starting at 6:15 p.m. in March and getting later as the days get longer to coincide with sunset. It’s a slow-moving boat ride over a calm section of the Colorado River while watching the colors change as the sun goes down. Guests also enjoy a cowboy-style, Dutch-oven dinner featuring barbecue chicken, pork and beef. If you’re in the mood for something more adrenaline-pumping in the daylight, check out the company’s new Spin and Splash jet boat tour.
Stop by Moonflower’s Datura Deli. For breakfast. They feature locally roasted Fresh Moab coffee along with baked goods, breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches. Call 24 hours in advance and pre-order a sack lunch to take with you on your adventures for the day.
Your options for getting outdoors for the day depend on what you’re in the mood to do. Rim Tours Mountain Bike Adventures was there at the beginning of Moab’s mountain biking revolution back in 1985 and continues to trailblaze in 2018 with a range of single and multi-day tours where they supply the bikes. Those who are new to the sport might want to try the half-day Courthouse Loop. Those with more experience will enjoy the Dead Horse Point Singletrack trip, which takes riders 2,000 feet above the Colorado River.
If driving is more your style, check out Outlaw Jeep Tours for a ride-along tour or try driving off-road yourself with the help of an experienced guide. One of the most popular options is the three-hour Hell’s Revenge Sunset Tour.
If you’d rather spend your Saturday out on the water, Moab Jett rides the river on New Zealand-style jet boats capable of doing a “Hamilton spin,” which is a flat spin within the boat’s own length. Their signature two-hour-adventure tour provides splash jackets for guests to enjoy the ride.
Cap off a busy day at The Broken Oar Restaurant. Famous for their Bowl of Sweet Potato Fries appetizer—with fries coated with a house blend of cinnamon sugar, salt, caramel and lemon zest—for the main course, check out the pork chop in the Oar’s signature Sriracha-bourbon sauce. The restaurant also offers a wine list and craft beers on draft from Squatters and Wasatch Brewery.
Grab breakfast at Love Muffin Café. As the name suggests, they have muffins, but also breakfast paninis, including the jelly panini that features spicy sausage, eggs, Gouda, onion and grape jelly.
If your busy weekend hasn’t let you get to either Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park yet, this is the time to get out there. Even if you don’t have a ton of time to spend or have a group with varying outdoor abilities, one of the great things about both of these parks is that they have short hikes that pretty much anyone can do while enjoying stunning vistas in Canyonlands or legendary rock formations in Arches. If you happen to be in Moab on April 21, the first day of National Park Week, entry is free.
Moab to Salt Lake City
On the way home, make a stop in Green River (at the junction of U.S. 191 and I-70) at Tamarisk Restaurant. This eatery, sitting on the banks of the Green River since 1979, is known for its Navajo fry bread, which is a must-try.
When your group arrives back on the Wasatch Front—exhausted, sun-kissed and basking in happy memories—finish off your Girlfriends Getaway by reciting in unison, Thelma Dickinson’s famous line in the movie: “I don’t ever remember feeling this awake!”
Kathleen Curry & Geoff Griffin host the Travel Brigade Radio Show podcast.