By taking a Moab to Albuquerque road trip, you’ll get to tour some of America’s rugged, scenic, and historical locations. Moab itself is primarily known for being a home base for two beautiful national parks, and Albuquerque is reasonably close to a park or two. There are also some lovely state parks along this route, and you’ll even be able to see some interesting sights and cities along the way. If your camper is gassed up and packed, then it’s time to get started on your road trip from Moab to Albuquerque.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is aptly named as it features roughly 2,000 sandstone arches within its 100 square miles of desert terrain. Since Arches is to the north of Moab, you won’t even have to go far into your Moab to Albuquerque RV road trip before exploring this unique national park. Hiking is, of course, quite popular here, but you can also go horseback riding, canyoneering, and rock climbing. Whether you want to take an easy stroll to the Balanced Rock Arch or scramble over slick rocks and narrow ledges on the way to Devils Garden, you’ll be able to see numerous arches at Arches National Park.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is slightly to the southwest of Moab and Arches National Park and hosts 520 square miles that are largely comprised of canyonlands. If you’re looking for a park that can give you the thrill of seeing those stunning red-rock canyon vistas, then Canyonlands delivers that in spades. Mesas, canyons, crevasses, and Native American natural paintings are all on display at Canyonlands National Park.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Colorado. If you enjoy looking at Puebloan ruins, then this 52,000-acre national park containing more than 600 preserved cliff dwellings is a must-see. Multiple easy-to-moderate trails take you to places like Cliff Palace, Petroglyph Point, and Point Lookout. If you want to learn more about the history of this park and its ancient former inhabitants, then you may want to consider signing up for a ranger tour or two.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is several hours off your route, but this stunning exposed-rock canyon and its surrounding flora and fauna are worth traveling a few extra miles to see. The Gunnison River provides excellent opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and the like while the gorgeous trails in this national park give hikers and backpackers all they can handle. Stargazing, rock climbing, and seasonal snowshoeing and skiing are also popular here.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park
If you want to visit some more Puebloan ruins, then you should plan to stop off at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. It’s two and a half hours away from Albuquerque, so you’re not too far from the end of your Moab to Albuquerque road trip. Hiking and biking are popular here as these are the preferred exploration methods of this national historic park. Since this park is an International Dark Sky Park, it’s a stellar place to go stargazing. Those interested in learning more about the history of sites like Una Vida, Pueblo Bonito, and Casa Rinconada can do so by participating in ranger-led walks.
Dead Horse Point State Park
First up on your road trip itinerary from Moab to Albuquerque is Dead Horse Point State Park, which gives you some of the features available at the Grand Canyon without the crowds. At this lovely state park right outside of Canyonlands National Park, you can see plenty of stunning canyon vistas and the beauty of the Colorado River. Hiking, mountain biking, and geocaching are prevalent here.
Goosenecks State Park
If you keep heading south on Highway 191 rather than getting off at Monticello, you’ll reach Goosenecks State Park in about an hour and 15 minutes. This unique state park features a steep canyon through which the San Juan River winds its way in the pattern of goosenecks. Another unusual feature of this small park is that it doesn’t have much in the way of trails and such. If you’re looking for a park where you can see jaw-dropping scenery without having to hike to it, then Goosenecks State Park may be perfect for you.
Mancos State Park
Mancos State Park is close to Mesa Verde National Park, so it’s not too far off your route. It centers around the Jackson Gulch Reservoir, so there are plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing, and sailing. On dry land, you can bike, hike, and bird-watch. You can also hike or bike a portion of the Colorado Trail, which stretches from Denver to Durango.
Heron Lake State Park
Heron Lake State Park is a couple of hours off your route, but these brilliant blue waters in New Mexico are worth the extra effort. The wake-free lake is great for fishing, swimming, and boating while the trails are great for hiking and seasonal cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for peaceful tranquility on your road trip from Moab to Albuquerque, you can find it at Heron Lake State Park.
Hyde Memorial State Park
Hyde Memorial State Park is just east of Santa Fe, so it’s a great place to stay if you’re planning to explore that well-known New Mexico city. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Black Canyon are breathtaking when explored on foot. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like foxes, butterflies, and coyotes at Hyde Memorial State Park.
Monument Valley is just a bit south from Goosenecks State Park. Its iconic red sandstone buttes have long been favorites of photographers and tourists for many years. It’s on the Navajo Nation's land, so you can also learn more about their fascinating culture by exploring the area.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
A little over an hour and a half into your road trip from Moab to Albuquerque, you’ll arrive at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. This national monument is comprised of 176,000 acres that contain more than 6,300 separate archaeological sites relating to Puebloan culture. This park is close to Mesa Verde National Park and Mancos State Park, so you’ll have plenty of exploration options available.
Four Corners Monument
If you want to be able to stand in four states at once, then make time for a stop at the Navajo Nation’s Four Corners Monument. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah all meet at the center of this monument. You can stop by the visitor center or even buy some Native American crafts from local vendors.
Valles Caldera National Preserve
This national preserve features a 13-mile-wide depression formed by an enormous volcanic eruption over a million years ago. Its wide-open spaces and winding streams make it a great sanctuary for a variety of local wildlife. Black bears, coyotes, prairie dogs, golden eagles, and more all call this amazing place home.
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument is just a little to the east of Valles Caldera. In addition to being able to explore 33,000 acres of mesas and canyons, you can also see evidence of more than 11,000 years of human habitation in the area.
Monticello is in southeastern Utah and is where you get on Highway 491. A couple of dump stations are nearby to give you the means to clean out your camper. Local attractions include the Frontier Museum and the Monticello Utah Temple.
Cortez is in southwestern Colorado and is centrally located between Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Mancos State Park. If you decide to explore the area, you can use the multiple dump stations and campgrounds found in nearby Durango.
Shiprock is close to the Colorado/New Mexico border. It’s known and named for Shiprock, which is a nearby red sandstone formation shaped like a ship that’s more than 1,500 feet high. The San Juan River flows nearby.
Down the road a bit is Farmington, which is also on the San Juan River. You can visit places like Bisti Bay, Brookside Park, and the Farmington Museum. If you choose to stay nearby, you can do so at multiple RV campgrounds.
Bernalillo is close enough to Albuquerque that visitors can take advantage of Albuquerque’s dump stations and campgrounds. Nearby places of interest include the Coronado Historic Site, the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, and the outskirts of the Cibola National Forest.