Moab is a city on the southern edge of Grand County in southeastern Utah in the western United States. The population was 5,046 at the 2010 census, and in 2017 the population was estimated to be 5,253. It is the county seat and largest city in Grand County. Moab attracts a large number of tourists every year, mostly visitors to the nearby Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The town is a popular base for mountain bikers who ride the extensive network of trails including the Slickrock Trail, and for off-roaders who come for the annual Moab Jeep Safari.
Southbound Main Street (U.S. 191) (2012)
|Country||United States of America|
|• Type||Mayor/city council|
|• Mayor||Emily Niehaus|
|• Total||4.1 sq mi (10.7 km2)|
|• Land||4.1 sq mi (10.7 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||4,026 ft (1,227 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,267/sq mi (489.1/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-7 (Mountain (MST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-6 (MDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1430389|
The Biblical name Moab refers to an area of land located on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Some historians believe the city in Utah came to use this name because of William Andrew Peirce, the first postmaster, believing that the biblical Moab and this part of Utah were both "the far country".:16 However, others believe the name has Paiute origins, referring to the word moapa, meaning "mosquito". Some of the area's early residents attempted to change the city's name, because in the Christian Bible, Moabites are demeaned as incestuous and idolatrous. One petition in 1890 had 59 signatures and requested a name change to "Vina".:50 Another effort attempted to change the name to "Uvadalia". Both attempts failed.
During the period between 1829 and the early 1850s, the area around what is now Moab served as the Colorado River crossing along the Old Spanish Trail. Latter-day Saint settlers attempted to establish a trading fort at the river crossing called the Elk Mountain Mission in April 1855 to trade with travellers attempting to cross the river. Forty men were called on this mission. There were repeated Indian attacks, including one on September 23, 1855, in which James Hunt, companion to Peter Stubbs, was shot and killed by a Native American. After this last attack, the fort was abandoned. A new round of settlers from Rich County, led by Randolph Hockaday Stewart, established a permanent settlement in 1878 under the direction of Brigham Young. Moab was incorporated as a town on December 20, 1902.
In 1883 the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad main line was constructed across eastern Utah. The rail line did not pass through Moab, instead passing through the towns of Thompson Springs and Cisco, 40 miles (64 km) to the north. Later, other places to cross the Colorado were constructed, such as Lee's Ferry, Navajo Bridge and Boulder Dam. These changes shifted the trade routes away from Moab. Moab farmers and merchants had to adapt from trading with passing travelers to shipping their goods to distant markets. Soon Moab's origins as one of the few natural crossings of the Colorado River were forgotten. Nevertheless, the U.S. military deemed the bridge over the Colorado River at Moab important enough to place it under guard as late as World War II.
In 1943, a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp outside Moab was used to confine Japanese American internees labeled "troublemakers" by authorities in the War Relocation Authority, the government body responsible for overseeing the wartime incarceration program. The Moab Isolation Center for "noncompliant" Japanese Americans was created in response to growing resistance to WRA policies within the camps; a December 1942 clash between guards and inmates known as the "Manzanar Riot," in which two were killed and ten injured, was the final push. On January 11, 1943, the sixteen men who had initiated the two-day protests were transferred to Moab from the town jails where they were booked (without charges or access to hearings) after the riot. Having closed just fifteen months prior, all 18 military-style structures of the CCC camp were in good condition, and the site was converted to its new use with minimal renovation. 150 military police guarded the camp, and director Raymond Best and head of security Francis Frederick presided over administration. On February 18, thirteen transfers from Gila River, Arizona, were brought to Moab, and six days later, ten more arrived from Manzanar. An additional fifteen Tule Lake inmates were transferred on April 2. Most of these new arrivals were removed from the general camp population because of their resistance to the WRA's attempts to determine the loyalty of incarcerated Japanese Americans, met largely with confusion and anger because of a lack of explanation as to how and why internees would be assessed. The Moab Isolation Center remained open until April 27, when most of its inmates were bused to the larger and more secure Leupp Isolation Center. (Five men, serving sentences in the Grand County Jail after protesting conditions in Moab, were transported to Leupp in a five-by-six-foot box on the back of a truck. Their separate transfer was arranged by Francis Frederick, who had also handed down their prison sentences, using a law he later rescinded to charge them with unlawful assembly.) In 1994, the "Dalton Wells CCC Camp/Moab Relocation Center" was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and, although no marker exists on the site, an information plaque at the current site entrance and a photograph on display at the Dan O'Laurie Museum in Moab mention the former isolation center.
Moab's economy was originally based on agriculture, but gradually shifted to mining. Uranium and vanadium were discovered in the area in the 1910s and 1920s. Potash and manganese came next, and then oil and gas were discovered. In the 1950s Moab became the so-called "Uranium Capital of the World" after geologist Charles Steen found a rich deposit of uranium ore south of the city. This discovery coincided with the advent of the era of nuclear weapons and nuclear power in the United States, and Moab's boom years began.
The city population grew nearly 500% over the next few years, bringing the population to near 6,000 people. The explosion in population caused much construction of houses and schools. Charles Steen donated a great deal of money and land to create new houses and churches in Moab.
With the winding down of the Cold War, Moab's uranium boom was over, and the city's population drastically declined. By the early 1980s a number of homes stood empty, and nearly all of the uranium mines had closed.
In 1949, Western movie director John Ford was persuaded to use the area for the movie Wagon Master. Ford had been using the area in Monument Valley around Mexican Hat, Utah, south of Moab, since he filmed Stagecoach there 10 years earlier in 1939. A local Moab rancher (George White) found Ford and persuaded him to come take a look at Moab. There have been numerous movies filmed in the area since then, using Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park as backdrops.
Since the 1970s, tourism has played an increasing role in the local economy. Partly due to the John Ford movies, partly due to magazine articles, the area has become a favorite of photographers, rafters, hikers, rock climbers, and most recently mountain bikers. Moab is also an increasingly popular destination for four-wheelers as well as for BASE jumpers and those rigging highlining, who are allowed to practice their sport in the area. About 16 miles (26 km) south of Moab is the "Hole N' The Rock", a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) 14-room home carved into a rock wall which National Geographic has ranked as one of the top 10 roadside attractions in the United States. Moab's population swells temporarily in the spring and summer months with the arrival of numerous people employed seasonally in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries.
In recent years, Moab has experienced a surge of second-home owners. The relatively mild winters and enjoyable summers have attracted many people to build such homes throughout the area. In a situation mirroring that of other resort towns in the American West, controversy has arisen over these new residents and their houses, which in many cases remain unoccupied for most of the year. Many Moab citizens are concerned that the town is seeing changes similar to those experienced in Vail and Aspen in neighboring Colorado: skyrocketing property values, a rising cost of living, and corresponding effects on local low- and middle-income workers.
Moab is just south of the Colorado River, at an elevation of 4,025 feet (1,227 m) on the Colorado Plateau. It is 18 miles (29 km) west of the Utah/Colorado state line. Via U.S. Route 191, it is 31 miles (50 km) south of Interstate 70 at Crescent Junction, and it is 54 miles (87 km) north of Monticello. Via Utah State Route 128 it is 46 miles (74 km) southwest of Cisco. The entrance to Arches National Park is 4 miles (6 km) north of Moab on US 191. Hurrah Pass is located on the trail between Moab and Chicken Corners.
Moab has an arid climate characterized by hot summers and chilly winters, with precipitation evenly spread over the year (usually less than one inch per month). There are an average of 41 days with temperatures reaching 100 °F (38 °C), 109 days reaching 90 °F (32 °C), and 3.6 days per winter where the temperature remains at or below freezing. The highest temperature was 114 °F (46 °C) on July 7, 1989. The lowest temperature was −24 °F (−31 °C) on January 22, 1930.
Average annual precipitation in Moab is 9.02 inches (229 mm). There are an average of 55 days annually with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1983 with 16.42 inches (417 mm) and the driest year was 1898 with 4.32 inches (110 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 6.63 inches (168 mm) in July 1918. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 2.77 in (70 mm) on July 23, 1983.
Average seasonal snowfall for 1981–2011 is 6.9 inches (18 cm). The most snow in a season was 74 in (190 cm) during 1914–15, and the snowiest month on average is December, with the record set in 1915 at 46.0 in (117 cm).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,779 people, 1,936 households, and 1,169 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,313.1 people per square mile (506.9/km²). There were 2,148 housing units at an average density of 590.2 per square mile (227.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.35% White, 5.46% Native American, 0.36% African American, 0.29% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.88% from other races, and 1.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.44% of the population.
There were 1,936 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,620, and the median income for a family was $38,214. Males had a median income of $35,291 versus $21,339 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,228. About 12.0% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
Moab is known for its opportunities for outdoor recreation in stunning natural settings; activities include the following:
Moab is famous for canyoneering, hiking, river rafting, biking, motorcycling, ATV riding, and 4x4 driving. The Moab area is home to many easy to difficult off-road trails for novice to experienced off-roaders.
The following public schools serve Moab area students:
Moab is home to a regional campus of Utah State University.
Prior to the construction of the railroad in 1883, Moab was a strategic place to cross the Colorado River. A toll ferry service across the river ended when a permanent bridge was built in 1911. This bridge was replaced with a new bridge in 1955, which was in turn replaced by another new bridge in 2010. The 1955 bridge was subsequently demolished. The highway that uses this bridge has been renumbered multiple times and is now numbered U.S. Route 191.
Moab gained freight railroad access in 1962, when a spur railroad line (now the Union Pacific Railroad's Cane Creek Subdivision) was built to serve the Cane Creek potash mine. Moab has never had passenger rail service, although the California Zephyr has advertised service to Moab in the past via stops at Thompson Springs (no longer a scheduled stop), Green River or Grand Junction, Colorado.
Bus service is no longer available. There are a number of locally owned shuttle services that provide transportation to Salt Lake City and Grand Junction, CO.
The region around Moab has been used as a shooting location for film and television.
In the 1995 film Canadian Bacon, Moab is one of the launch locations for American missiles on the Hacker Hellstorm. The course for the pod races in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) is a computer-generated imagery montage of Moab area landmarks, including Angel Arch. The 2010 film 127 Hours, based on the true story of Aron Ralston, was shot in the vicinity of Moab.
Moab has also been in several TV shows, such as:
Conor Oberst's self-titled album includes a song entitled "Moab".
Arnold H. Beyeler (born February 13, 1964) is an American professional baseball coach and a former player and manager. In 2019 he will serve his first season as first base and outfield coach for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball on the staff of new manager Brandon Hyde.Geological resistance
Geological resistance is a measure of how well minerals resist erosive factors, and is based primarily on hardness, chemical reactivity and cohesion. The more hardness, less reactivity and more cohesion a mineral has, the less susceptible it is to erosion. Over time, differences in geological resistance in the same geological formation can lead to the formation of columns and arches, like those in Moab, Utah; and of bridges, like Utah's Rainbow Bridge.Grand County High School
Grand County High School is the only high school in Grand County School District in Moab, Utah, USA. It enrolls over 400 students in grades 9-12 from Moab, Castle Valley, and Thompson Springs in Grand County and Spanish Valley in San Juan County. The average graduating class is around 100 students.Jacques Boyer
Jonathan "Jacques" or "Jock" Boyer (born October 8, 1955, in Moab, Utah) is a former professional cyclist who, in 1981, became the first American to participate in the Tour de France.KBDX
KBDX (92.7 FM) is a radio station broadcasting an Oldies format. Licensed to Blanding, Utah, United States, the station is currently owned by Redrock Radio Group L.L.C. and features programming from ABC Radio - Classic Oldies.During August 2008, KBDX was simulcasting a radio station from Truro, Massachusetts known as WGTX. KBDX could be heard broadcasting "Dunes 102", which is WGTX's slogan. WGTX received calls from listeners in Utah who were confused and thought they had heard a radio phenomenon known as E-skip.
KBDX now operates with its own dominant Red Rock 92 format, with ABC news on the hour and a meteorologist. The Red Rock format is a blend of 1970s and 80s pop hits, and is the only format of its kind in the Four Corners.
It has a very wide coverage area from south of Shiprock, New Mexico, and can be easily heard north of Moab, Utah. The station has two full power local translators, one in Moab, Utah (101.5 FM) and the other in Cortez, Colorado (96.1 FM). FCC information reports the transmitter is located at over 11,000 feet on "Abajo Peak" just west of Monticello, Utah, giving it a formidable coverage footprint.KCUT-LP
KCUT-LP, also known as Moab Rocks Community Radio is a Rock formatted low-power FM broadcast radio station licensed to and serving Moab, Utah. KCUT-LP is owned and operated by Tunnel Vision Music.KCYN
KCYN (97.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Country music format. Licensed to Moab, Utah, United States, the station is currently owned by Moab Communications, LLC and features programming from CNN Radio and Jones Radio Network.KZMU
KZMU (90.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Variety format. Licensed to Moab, Utah, United States, the station is currently owned by Moab Public Radio, Inc. Founded in 1992, KZMU is an all-volunteer station served by some 75 D.J.s and three part-time staff.In the spring of 2003, KZMU began operating solely on wind power through Utah Power's Blue Sky Program, in which KZMU purchases blocks of power from wind farms in Oregon and Wyoming.Kay Dalton
Orris Kay Dalton (born May 4, 1932) is a former American and Canadian football coach.Kokopelli Trail
The Kokopelli's Trail is a 142-mile (229 km) multi-use trail in the Western U.S. states of Colorado and Utah. The trail was named in honor of its mythic muse, Kokopelli. The trail was created by the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) in cooperation with the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (NFS) in 1989.Mark Sundeen
Mark Sundeen (born 1970) is an American author. His book Car Camping was published by HarperCollins in 2000. His book The Making of Toro was published by Simon & Schuster in 2003. North by Northwestern: A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaskan Waters (ISBN 978-0312591144) was released in early 2010. His nonfiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Outside Magazine and McSweeney's. His book The Man Who Quit Money (2012) tells the story of Suelo, currently living part-time in a cave near Moab, Utah when he is not wandering the country, who has practiced his form of simple living since 2000.
Sundeen was born in Harbor City, California, in 1970 and grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. He graduated from Stanford University in 1992 with a degree in English and later moved to Moab, Utah. He later earned a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Southern California. In 2004, Sundeen worked as a blogger for Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Currently living in Montana and Utah, Sundeen instructs Outward Bound programs and teaches college-level creative writing courses in addition to writing his books.Mitchell Melich
Mitchell Melich (1 February 1912 in Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah – 12 June 1999) was Solicitor for the United States Department of the Interior under the first Richard Nixon administration.Moab Jeep Safari
Easter Jeep Safari is an annual event hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers off-road club, where 4-wheelers come to challenge the rough terrain of the backcountry in the Moab, Utah area. Although its title does say it's a festival of jeeps, a few take on the trails in 4x4 trucks. The Easter Weekend safari lasts for nine days, going through Easter Sunday.Moab Man
The Moab Man (also called "Malachite man") is a find of several human skeletons found after bulldozing in a mine whose rock dated to the Early Cretaceous period, about 140 million years ago. The original discovery of two individuals was made in 1971 by Lin Ottinger in the Keystone Azurite Mine near Moab, Utah and has been used by creationists as an argument for humans coexisting with dinosaurs. John Marwitt, an archaeologist and the field director for the Utah Archaeological Survey, examined the fossils and concluded that the fossils were probably only hundreds of years old, the result of burials of Native Americans.Rex Berry
Charles Rex Berry (September 9, 1924 – July 1, 2005) was a professional American football cornerback in the National Football League. He played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers (1951–1956). He was a star athlete at Carbon High School (called the Carbon Comet) in Price, Utah and played on several American Legion baseball teams. He combined on a 2-0 shutout of Smithfield with Eldon Rachele in state baseball play. He led Helper to the 1940 American Legion state baseball title.Suelo
Daniel James Shellabarger (known as Daniel Suelo, or simply Suelo, and The Man Who Quit Money, born 1961) is an American simple living adherent who stopped using money in the autumn of 2000. He was born in Arvada, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, and lives part-time in a cave near Moab, Utah when he is not wandering the country.Suelo gained fame in October 2009 when his profile appeared in the US men's style print magazine Details. This story was picked up by websites such as The Guardian in the UK, The Huffington Post, and Matador Change. He was also interviewed for the BBC in September 2009, by The Denver Post in November 2009, and the Brazilian INFO in November 2009. His story has since been repeated by many websites and news agencies around the world. Suelo was the subject of a 2006 video profile entitled Moneyless in Moab (2006), by Gordon Stevenson and a 2009 video profile entitled Zero Currency (2009), by Brad Barber as well as being featured on KBYU's Beehive Stories (2010), also by Brad Barber.Penguin approached Suelo about writing an autobiography, but he said that he would not accept payment for telling his story and he would be interested to do so only if the book was given away for free. Penguin was not interested in this approach, but asked a friend of his, Mark Sundeen, about writing a biography. Sundeen wrote The Man Who Quit Money, which was published by Riverhead/Penguin in 2012, and Suelo did not accept any money from his book but requested that the publishers give away a number of copies to people for free, which they did at promotional book tours. A short film about Suelo, narrated by Mark Sundeen, is on BBC News Online.In 2016 Suelo moved back to his hometown to care for his aging parents, and has been using money in this capacity while still caring for his mother who is in her nineties as of 2017.
Suelo is one of a number of individuals who voluntarily live without money. These also include Heidemarie Schwermer, Mark Boyle and Tomi Astikainen. Suelo appeared as a guest writer on Mark Boyle's blog in January 2011.The Lion's Back
The Lion's Back is a sandstone ridge in Moab, Utah that used to be popular among drivers of four-wheel drive (4x4) vehicles. The attraction and campground are now private property and no longer accessible to vehicles.The Times-Independent
The Times-Independent (sometimes abbreviated The T-I) is a weekly newspaper located in Moab, Utah and serving Grand County, Utah.The company is the successor to the Grand Valley Times (started 1896) and Moab Independent, which merged in 1919.
|Climate data for Moab, Utah (1981–2010 normals)|
|Record high °F (°C)||67
|Average high °F (°C)||43.3
|Average low °F (°C)||19.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−24
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.61
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||2.1
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||5.0||5.6||6.0||5.8||4.8||2.9||4.8||6.4||5.7||5.6||4.7||5.1||62.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||1.2||.7||.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.3||1.5||3.9|
|Source: NOAA (extremes 1893–present)|
Places adjacent to Moab, Utah
Municipalities and communities of Grand County, Utah, United States
County seat: Moab
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties