2 Choices: Denver to Moab Road Trip Itinerary

We have made the drive from Denver to Moab many times. After making the same route over and over, we decided to switch it up and take a completely different route.

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If you are looking for a great Denver to Moab road trip, you have a few options of great routes to enhance the drive a bit! Regardless of which route you choose, you’re sure to have a great time, as well as the kids.

If you have more time, try the South Route which takes you through southern Colorado to some great, gorgeous towns.

If you don’t have as much time, take the west route which is more direct. Then, you can have 1 overnight stay along the way, or just make a couple fun stops.

We’ve done both routes, and they are both really fun!

So pick which Denver to Moab you’d like to follow of the options below, and start planning for a fun road trip!

Denver to Moab road trip pin 1
Free things to do in Denver with kids city photo

Denver to Moab South Route

This route will take you south from Denver, giving you lots of opportunities to hit fun stops, national parks, and gorgeous towns. Grab some great, healthy snacks to help pass the time and keep the kids happy, and then begin your journey to Moab.

1. Denver with Kids

Whether you call Denver home or you are flying into Denver, it’s worth a short stop to see what this mile-high city has to offer.

>>> Find the Best Rental Car Prices <<<

It’s nicknamed the mile-high city because the elevation is at 5,280 feet. That said, drink lots of water and avoid alcohol if you are not used to the elevation.

Here are a few things to enjoy while in Denver:

  • Denver Aquarium– Fish, sharks, tigers and mermaids!
  • Children’s Museum– a very loved attraction in Denver. Located right next to the Aquarium.
  • Denver Zoo- All the animals you can imagine. The visit starts right away with lions!

On a budget? There are plenty of Free things to do in Denver as well (like a free candy factory tour!!)

Got extra time during the day? Denver is fun, but there are a lot of really great day trips from Denver the whole family will love.

Next on the Denver to Moab Road Trip for families:

Things to do in Colorado Springs with kids garden of the gods

2. Colorado Springs with Kids

Denver to Colorado Springs- just over an hour drive

Colorado Springs is full of fun things to do with kids. I actually prefer visiting Colorado Springs over Denver, so if you have limited time, head here and skip a day Denver.

  • Garden of the Gods- a fun are filled with incredible red rock scenery. There are easy, paved trails to take the kids, or get off the beaten path and hike around the park area.
  • Space Foundation Discovery Center– less known, therefore less crowded. But tons of fun to learn about space, space technology, and drive a rover.
  • Manitou Cliff Dwellings– in the town just down the road from Colorado Springs you’ll have easy access to dwellings from the Ancestral Pueblo people. Get up close and walk through them.

Check out more fun things to do in Colorado Springs with Kids!, like going through a cave and visiting a castle.

Have a few days? Steal this Colorado Springs 3 Day Itinerary

Next on the Denver to Moab road trip for families:

Great Sand Dunes National Park sand boarding

3. Play at Sand Dunes National Park

Colorado Springs to Sand Dunes National Park – about 2-1/2 hour drive

You’ll probably want to stay in Alamosa when visiting the Sand Dunes. Alamosa is the biggest city near the Sand Dunes with plenty of lodging and food. It is about a 30-40 minute drive to the Sand Dunes from Alamosa.

We stayed at Comfort Suites which was a pretty standard hotel with a pull out couch so we could all fit in one room.

There are plenty of other standard hotels in Alamosa, like

You can, of course, see if there is any lodging available right near the Sand Dunes, but there are limited choices that are seasonal and book quickly:

What to do at Sand Dunes National Park

  • Hike around the Dunes
  • Rent a sled and/or board and really play on the sides of the dunes
  • Play in Medano Creek in late spring/summer
  • Hike Zapata Falls off the road into the park

The sand dunes get really hot on the surface in summer, so you’ll want to plan early in the morning or later in the evening.

When you visit the Sand Dunes, make sure to rent an appropriate sled for the sand, not a snow sled.

Everything you need to know about planning your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Next on the Denver to Moab Road Trip with kids:

Pagosa Springs hot springs

4. Pagosa Springs, Colorado – Denver to Moab Road Trip

Alamosa to Pagosa Springs – 1 hour 40 minutes drive

Pagosa Springs is a beautiful town in southwest Colorado. You’ll drive through Wolf Creek pass, which can be beautiful in great conditions and demand caution in snowy conditions. Pagosa Springs makes a great stop on this Denver to Moab road trip.

Where to stay

We stayed at Wyndham Pagosa and it was perfect! The large property has a unit that will fit your family, big or small. It was nice having a kitchen, laundry, and multiple bedrooms to stretch out a little.

Check out other places to stay in Pagosa Springs to find the perfect fit!

What to do

  • Soak in the Hot Springs- Whether you choose the posh resort springs or the free public springs right in the river, make sure to soak up these beneficial waters.
  • Take a hike- There are plenty of hikes, but I suggest making the short drive to Treasure Falls for a real treat (and just a short hike!)
  • Wildlife Park– This place saves and rehabs animals. If you time it just right, you can walk through during feeding time.
  • Go Tubing– hit the river during the summer, or tube down a mountain in the winter
  • Take to the Rapids– Try a fun rafting trip with the kids

See the full list of things to do in Pagosa Springs with kids.

Next stop on the Denver to Moab road trip:

Mesa Verde National Park Square Tower House

5. Visit Mesa Verde National Park

Pagosa Springs to Mesa Verde National Park- 2 hours 20 minute drive

We did not stay near Mesa Verde National Park. Rather, we used it as a stop on the drive from Pagosa to Moab.

If you’d like another stop on the way, stop in Durango for some fun.

This is a unique National Park. When I think of National Parks, I usually think of hiking around all day to see all the beauty it offers.

This park is beautiful, but it’s more about seeing the ancient sites than about hiking around.

You can easily bring kids to Mesa Verde National Park. It is full of cliff dwellings made by the Ancestral Pueblo people from hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

The sites can be seen from many quick pull-overs. Some sites will be up close (like the pit houses), and some sites will be seen on a mountain across the way.

The main cliff dwellings can almost all be seen from a pullover; however, if you’d like to get close up, you will have to book a ranger-guided hike to see them.

There is so much to see at Mesa Verde National Park, and my kids really loved making this stop.

Check out all the easy, cool stops in Mesa Verde National Park!

Next stop on the Denver to Moab Road Trip:

red rocks arch with kids

6. Moab, Utah

Mesa Verde National Park to Moab, UT – 2 hours 45 minutes drive

We stayed at another Comfort Suites in Moab. This one was also a standard hotel with a pull out couch, perfect for our family to all stay in one room.

The final destination is Moab, Utah. This outdoor playground has so much to discover. Here are a few fun things to do in Moab with the kids.

  • Arches National Park– plenty of beautiful and unique hikes, many are easy enough for kids. Bring a baby carrier if you have a little one, as many trails are not stroller-friendly.
  • Hike Around Moab- Whether you seek dinosaurs, petroglyphs, or more arches, Moab has a ton of great hikes.
  • Downtown Moab– Grab some ice cream, eat at the food truck park, or check out live outdoor shows.
  • Play at a park– there’s a few great parks in Moab. Check out Swanny City Park for summer events and shows, or Old City Park for a disc golf course and horseshoes.

>>> Check out the many kid-friendly hikes you can do in Arches National Park. <<<

See the full list of activities and hikes in what to do in Moab with kids!

Denver to Moab Itinerary– South Route

If you have a full week, here is a sample itinerary of how to plan your route from Denver to Moab with great stops along the way!

Day 1- Denver

Day 2- Colorado Springs

Day 3- Sand Dunes, then Drive to Pagosa

Day 4- Pagosa Springs

Day 5- Drive to Mesa Verde and stop. Continue to Moab.

Day 6 and 7 – Explore Moab

Denver to Moab itinerary with watermark image in background

Make an even better trip by going from Denver to the Grand Canyon!

Denver to Moab- Mountain Route

The mountain route is a shorter drive while taking your Denver to Moab road trip. If you drove it straight, it would only take about 5-1/2 hours.

This is the best route if you have less time. Even including all these stops suggested will take 2 days. Or, skip Glenwood Springs and do it in 1 day.

Whether you’d like to stay the night in another place along the way, or you’re just looking to break up the drive, here are a few stop to make on the way.

1. Denver

Of course you can spend some time in Denver. A few activities are noted above in the first itinerary.

two kids on a double inner tube going down a gentle waterslide

Kids and adults ride this gentle waterslide all day long!

2. Glenwood Springs

Denver to Glenwood Springs- about 3 hours

Glenwood Springs is about 3 hours west of Denver down I-70. It’s a great place to get out and stretch, but the main attraction is the hot springs. They are well worth a stop!

Things to do in Glenwood Springs:

  • Soak in the hot springs
  • Try out the vapor caves (adults only)
  • Go to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park- both summer and winter bring fun and thrills
  • Hike Hanging Lake– considered the prettiest hike in Colorado, this is best in warm weather. Must make reservation.

I would stop here for the night so you can really enjoy the hot springs. They are not a budget-friendly item, and to be honest, we almost didn’t go because I didn’t like the cost.

But we stayed and I truly was so glad we did. We had a blast here and spent a lonnng time, which made it worth the cost in the end. The kids (and adults!) loved the gentle but exciting waterslide. Plus there is a kids area for the younger ones, so everyone can really enjoy themselves!

Stay at the hot springs resort, or choose something more budget friendly like the Holiday Inn.

up close to three waterfalls at Rifle Falls State Park

3. Rifle Falls State Park

Glenwood Springs to Rifle Falls- about 42 minutes

This can be an easy stop to get out and stretch. But you’ll be spoiled with a beautiful waterfall scene, surrounded by trails that lead to caves.

rich colors in a red rock canyon with mesas surrounding.

4. Colorado National Monument

Rifle Falls to Colorado National Monument1 hour 50 minutes

This is a real treat. Drive through this park, making pullovers where you feel inclined.

The history and geology of this place is amazing. Many viewpoints are quick and easy to get to right off the parking area.

5. Moab

CO National Monument to Moab- 2 hours 5 minutes

The final stop is the destination. You’ve now made it, making an exciting Denver to Moab road trip for the whole family.

If you need ideas in Moab, check out the activities listed in the final section of the 1st route.

Denver to Moab Itinerary- Mountain Route

Day 1- Denver, Glenwood Springs

Day 2- Rifle Falls, Colorado National Monument, end in Moab.

Denver to Moab Road Trip

That completes the Denver to Moab road trip for families!

If you are making a round trip and need to get from Moab to Denver, why not try the other route? You’ll get a lot out of your drive.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration and fun things to do on this Denver to Moab road trip.

Want to give your kid a great summer in Utah? Check out the 11 Cool Overnight Summer Camps!

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  1. The Denver to Moab road trip itinerary looks like an amazing resource. Especially for those traveling with families!

  2. We love road trips. For a road trip from Denver to Moab, we would enjoy visiting the Manitou Cliff Dwellings that you mentioned.

  3. I’ve only visited the Denver and Colorado Springs areas. I’d love a Denver to Moab road trip! So many beautiful sights along the way.

  4. A Denver to Moab road trip is a great idea. There are so many fun stops along the way!

  5. There’s not a single thing on this Denver to Moab Road Trip that I didn’t love! The parks and cliff dwellings are on the top of my list one day 🙂

  6. Love this road trip itinerary from Denver to Moab, Utah. I know it’s designed for kids, but thinking I would love it also.

  7. Road trips can be so much fun with kids, and your Denver to Moab Road Trip Itinerary is fabulous! The list of places to stop along the way are on our bucket list.

  8. This looks amazing. I love Denver but would like to take the route into Utah and Moab. The sand dunes look really fun, and Mesa Verde. Great looking road trip

  9. This is so awesome! I love Colorado so much. We have visited all of these places numerous times but I have never made it to Moab. I will definitely be adding that to my list!!

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