A Travel Price Comparison for Utah Moab vs. Salt Lake City for Hiking, Attractions, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Moab or Salt Lake City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Moab or Salt Lake City? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Moab

Moab is a scenic, adventurous, and active town. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the shopping, food, and hiking.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a religious, architectural, and notable city. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Moab and Salt Lake City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
  • Home to Temple Square
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less hiking options
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Moab than Salt Lake City, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Moab is better known for its hiking and impressive beauty, while Salt Lake City is more popular for its museums and scuba diving & snorkeling. Moab is more touristy than Salt Lake City and is known for its desert landscapes and the iconic arches found at Arches National Park. Also, Moab is famous for Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Salt Lake City is well known for its religious landmarks and its large Mormon population.

How is Moab different from Salt Lake City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Salt Lake City and Moab. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is great for its historical sights. However, Moab is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

Salt Lake City offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Many of the fascinating sights around town are influenced by the city's Mormon culture. Temple Square is a highlight for most visitors. It spans 35 acres and is beautifully landscaped with several fountains. There are also four main churches - The Temple, the Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and Assembly Hall. The city also has several museums such as the Natural History Museum and the historic Liberty Park.

Moab offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. There are a couple of museums in the area that will teach you about the geology and history. You can pop in the Moab Museum or the Film Museum at Red Cliffs Ranch, as well as the galleries around town.


Is the Food Better in Moab or Salt Lake City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Both Moab and Salt Lake City offer notable local cuisine and restaurants.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Moab. The town has grown over the years and now you'll find a diverse selection of restaurants that serve decent food. There are steakhouses, pizzerias, and even a couple ice cream shops.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Salt Lake City. In recent years the food scene has really improved and you'll find a variety of restaurants that serve everything from upscale dishes to more casual fare.

Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Nightlife?

Moab
Salt Lake City

The vibe at night is respectable in both Moab and Salt Lake City.

Moab doesn't have the most active nightlife scene. The town has grown significantly and you'll find bars, taverns, and breweries where you can hang out in the evening, but it's still a quiet place with a laid back atmosphere.

Most people don't head to Salt Lake City specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. Known for its large Mormon population, nightlife isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Salt Lake City. While it will likely never be a party city, there are a growing number of entertainment options around town.

Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a popular place for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Moab is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Salt Lake City has a few good snorkeling spots. There are a number of good ski resorts nearby, making this a good base or starting point for a ski vacation.

Moab is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Hiking?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Moab is a world-class destination for its hiking trails. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many people visit Moab specifically for its hiking. The area is filled with hiking trails, both inside the nearby national parks as well as outside. Canyonlands National Park is large with impressive overlooks, while Arches National Park has fun hikes that take you by diverse arches and include many opportunities for scrambling. Outside of the park, hikers can visit Corona Arch or search for dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Tracks Trail.

Salt Lake City has hiking trails worth exploring. The city offers easy access to many diverse trails, so if you're a nature enthusiasts, you'll appreciate this destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Moab
Salt Lake City

If you're looking to go shopping, Moab and Salt Lake City both offer plenty of notable spots.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Moab. There are gift shops, places to buy outdoor equipment, and convenient stores around town. There are also a number of art galleries that sell local items or impressive photography.

Salt Lake City offers some nice shopping areas. The city has sprawling outlet malls as well as local stores and craft shops. City Creek Center is a favorite shopping destination, but there are also several large shopping malls that are worth visiting.

Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Families?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Moab is a very popular place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Moab. It's a world of outdoor adventures. You'll find river rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and many kid-friendly trails. There's also the Tracks Museum, where kids can learn about dinosaurs as well as swimming pools or swimming holes in the area.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Salt Lake City. There are museums that kids will enjoy like the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Leonardo Museum. There are also fun-filled activities like a visit to Lagoon Amusement Park. You can learn about history at This Is the Place Heritage Park or learn about the undersea world at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.


Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Couples?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Moab is a very popular place for couples. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Moab makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The area is filled with adventurous fun, with everything from world-class hikes to impressive rafting trips. The dramatic landscape provides the backdrop for a truly spectacular trip.

Salt Lake City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with beautiful gardens like Red Butte Garden. There are also nice restaurants and romantic hotels that will make this a nice place for a couple's getaway.

Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Moab is a very popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Moab. The town has many campgrounds and even a few hostels. Arches National Park has only a few backcountry overnight camping sites. Terrain is rough and most areas aren't accessible by trail.

Salt Lake City is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are a couple of hostels in town, but most backpackers overlook this destination or breeze through town quickly.

Is Moab or Salt Lake City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Moab is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Salt Lake City offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a surprisingly good public transit system that includes light rail, buses, and commuter trains, but if you want to get out of town you'll need to have a car.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Moab. There are efforts to create a transportation program within town, but there are limited transportation options available. If you book a tour, they usually provide transportation.


Is Moab or Salt Lake City a more walkable city?

Moab
Salt Lake City

Moab and Salt Lake City are respectable when it comes to walkability.

Moab is generally not a very walkable town. While it's possible to walk around within the town, most visitors don't come to visit they town, they come to explore the area. You'll need a car to access most points of interest in the area.

Salt Lake City is generally not very walkable. While some neighborhoods are walkable, like Temple Square, most visitors prefer to have a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Moab Worth Visiting? and Is Salt Lake City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Salt Lake City or Moab?

How long in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Moab and Salt Lake City. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Moab than in Salt Lake City. Usually, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Moab, and 2-3 days is enough time in Salt Lake City.

Families should spend more time in Moab than Salt Lake City. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Moab, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Moab than Salt Lake City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Moab that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Moab than Salt Lake City if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Moab.


  • How many days in Moab or Salt Lake City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Moab 2-5 
    Salt Lake City 2-3

One day in Moab or Salt Lake City?

In Moab, you'll find shopping and food. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Salt Lake City. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Moab is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

Salt Lake City is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


Five days in Moab or Salt Lake City?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Moab. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. It offers something for everyone. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

You'll find museums and food around the notable destination of Salt Lake City. This city offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Moab or Salt Lake City?

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the town of Moab. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Your budget might influence how long you stay. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

The religious city of Salt Lake City offers food and scuba diving and snorkeling. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Salt Lake City or Moab?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Moab is $388, while the average daily cost in Salt Lake City is $246. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Moab and Salt Lake City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Moab $336
    Salt Lake City $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Moab $672
    Salt Lake City $238
Compare Hotels in Moab and Salt Lake City

Looking for a hotel in Moab or Salt Lake City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Moab


Hotels in Salt Lake City


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Moab Hotel Prices and Salt Lake City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Moab $17
    Salt Lake City $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Salt Lake City

Also for Salt Lake City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City hotel or address: $262
  • Private Transfer from SLC to Park City UT : $262
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Round-Trip Transfer: $229
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC): Transfer to Salt Lake City: $201
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City UT - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $181
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $120
  • Private Transfer from SLC to Salt Lake City : $120
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Arrival Transfer: $115
  • Private Transfer: Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) : $107

Is it cheaper to fly into Moab or Salt Lake City?

Prices for flights to both Salt Lake City and Moab change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Moab $37
    Salt Lake City $50
Typical Food Prices in Moab

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Moab:


  • Moab Brewery
    $42
  • Breakfast for Two
    $17

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Moab

For Moab, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Colorado River Dinner Cruise with Music and Light Show: $99
  • Colorado River Sunset Boat Tour with Optional Dinner: $119

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Moab $3.13
    Salt Lake City $28
Typical Entertainment Prices in Moab

For Moab, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Slickrock Trail Pass
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Moab

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Moab.

  • 2 hour Moab Ebike Petroglyph Tour: $107
  • 25+ National Parks Self-Guided Driving Tours Bundle: $85
  • 3-Hours Sunset Arches National Park Pavement Sights Tour: $191
  • Afternoon Arches National Park 4x4 Tour: $185
  • Afternoon Canyonlands Island In The Sky 4X4 Tour: $185
  • Afternoon Half Day Moab Jeep Tour: $152
  • Arches & Canyonlands: Two-Day Private Tour & Hike: $1,198
  • Arches National Park 4x4 Adventure from Moab: $197
  • Arches National Park Back Country Adventure from Moab: $142
  • Arches National Park Backcountry Tour: $252
  • Arches National Park Scenic Tours From Moab: $161
  • Arches National Park: Driving Tour with Audio Guide: $8.99

Tours and Activities in Salt Lake City

For Salt Lake City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 2 Hour Salt Lake Boat Tour with Swimming on the Lake: $79
  • 4-Day Winter Yellowstone Tour: $2,499
  • 45 Minute Great Salt Lake Boat Tour: $37
  • 5-day Tour Yellowstone Park Los Angeles-Salt Lake City: $1,558
  • From 3-Day Yellowstone Wildlife Adventure: $999
  • From Private Bryce Canyon National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Canyonlands National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Capitol Reef National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Goblin Valley State Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Tour of Arches National Park: $1,475
  • Grand Teton,Yellowstone National Park 3-Day Tour from SLC: $1,070
  • Grand Teton,Yellowstone National Park 3-Day Tour from SLC: $1,070

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Moab $66
    Salt Lake City $17


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Moab and Salt Lake City, we can see that Moab is more expensive. And not only is Salt Lake City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Salt Lake City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Salt Lake City and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Moab would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Moab than you might in Salt Lake City.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Moab Expensive? and Is Salt Lake City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Moab or Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City has a larger population, and is about 40 times larger than the population of Moab. When comparing the sizes of Moab and Salt Lake City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.