When we realized that we had a few extra dollars in the bank, we knew exactly what we wanted to do with it. Since moving to Denver, we realized that we were only six hours from Moab, Utah. For as long as I have known my husband, the desert and its otherworldly landscape was something that he wanted to see.
Unfortunately, we started to do our research and the hotel prices were ridiculous. Almost two hundred dollars a night for a Motel 6 was not in our budget. We realized that there were a number of campsites, my husband’s first choice for accommodations. It was supposed to be very hot so we compromised with a cabin stay at a campsite.
We stayed at the Riverside Oasis in a small cabin that had an air conditioner (thank goodness!), a small fridge, a double bed and a bunk bed. It was about $50 a night. We had an option to bring our own bedding and save a few dollars on the price.
Because we stayed at a campsite, we had access to a grill. We saved a ton of money by cooking our own meals. We ate one meal out and unfortunately it was the worst meal we had on the trip. It pained me to pay the $40 bill. I only spent about $60 on our meals for the entire trip.
We knew it would be hot so we brought 3 gallons of water to fill the Camelbak bags as well as a 24 pack of bottles. Arches National Park had several water stations so we were able to fill up there a number of times. Even with stops at the water station, we went through all of our water in the four days.
We decided to keep our activities to a minimum. Although I was very interested in signing the kids up for a canyoneering class, my 6 year old wasn’t big enough. We thought about a 4×4 trip but the cost turned us away quickly. We ended up spending most of our time exploring and hiking Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. For a four day visit, we had plenty to keep us occupied and the cost was minimal.
I do wish that we had thought ahead and purchased a National Park pass. We have never lived within a day’s drive of so many national parks so it was never worth spending the money. Now, we live within a day’s drive of at least 5 national parks. I hope to purchase an annual pass during our next park visit.
What is the budget breakdown for us?
3 tanks of gas to drive from Denver to Moab as well as explore the expansive parks: $185
3 nights at the Riverside Oasis: $163
Food cooked at our campsite: $60
One meal out: $43
Water (24 count from Costco, 3 gallons from Target): $7
Arches National Park Entrance Fee: $10
Canyonlands National Park Entrance Fee: $10
Total Cost for a Four Day Trip to Moab, Utah: $478
For less than $500, we had a four day trip where we made memories as a family. I pushed through a lengthy and strenuous hike that I didn’t think I could do and successfully finished it. My children walked across rock bridges without any hand holding. We spent the evenings under the stars, roasting marshmallows and talking about things that might have been left unspoken. That was worth every penny spent.