5-Day Van Trip to Moab

September 8, 2023







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As a self-proclaimed city girl, I never thought I’d be interested in (or even able to) rent a campervan for a weekend getaway. But, if there’s one thing I know about life, it’s to expect the unexpected. Enter: VanCraft! My husband, Jacob, heard about VanCraft here in Denver and it immediately peaked my interest. The concept is simple: rent a campervan for a short-term trip, explore and live on wheels for a few days, and then return it. It’s just like a rental car, but comfier and wayyy more memorable.

Now that we live in Denver, we’ve created a laundry list of road trips we want to take both in and out of state. For this first VanCraft rental, we planned a 5-day road trip to Moab, Utah over Labor Day weekend. I’m breaking down all of the details about the van experience and our Moab weekend below. Let’s get into it!

Renting a VanCraft Van

VanCraft has three pick-up locations: Salt Lake City, San Diego, and Denver. They also have a few different Sprinter van sizes to choose from. Since we planned this a bit spontaneously and last minute, the Long Wheelbase was the last available for us to rent on Labor Day weekend (their biggest size). It seats 6 and sleeps 4, so it was super roomy and comfortable for our two-person trip.

We booked online and picked up at the office 20 minutes from our house in Denver. The pick-up experience took about 30 minutes (lots of forms to sign, an educational video, and a van walk-through with a team member). From there, we drove back home to load up our stuff and hit the road. Easy peasy!

Van Amenities

Inside the van itself, there were plenty of amenities to make the whole experience safe and comfortable, including:

  • Queen size bed
  • 4-person bench seating with seatbelts
  • 2 comfortable driver & passenger seats
  • 2-burner propane stove
  • Kitchen sink
  • Utensils, plates, bowls, & cookware
  • Pull-out pantry shelves
  • Drawers and cabinets for storage
  • 45-quart fridge
  • USB outlets
  • Outdoor hot shower
  • Garage for gear storage
  • Bath towels, pillows, comforter
  • Dish sponge and soap

But Amanda, where’s the bathroom? VanCraft has an optional cartridge toilet to rent, but we just used the restrooms at our campsite, restaurants, and trailheads throughout the national parks.

Denver to Moab Road Trip Route

There were quite a few routes and stops we could have taken, but we chose this for our 5-day trip:

Day 1: Drive from Denver to Glenwood Springs (hike at Hanging Lake upon arrival)
Day 2: Drive from Glenwood Springs to Moab (hike at Colorado National Monument en route)
Day 3: Moab: Explore Arches National Park
Day 4: Moab: Explore Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park
Day 5: Drive from Moab to Denver

Day 1: Glenwood Springs

On Day 1, we hit the road in the van and headed west. Destination: Hanging Lake! We had made a 3pm timed reservation which is required for all hikers. Leaving Denver around 11:30am, we made it in just the nick of time for our hiking reservation. If you’re going anywhere near Glenwood Springs, add this hike to your to-do list! Although it’s tougher than others I’ve done, it might just be my new favorite Colorado hike. The lake itself is a gorgeous turquoise, and the tall & stunning Spouting Rock waterfalls are right around the corner.

After Hanging Lake, we checked into our campground (Ami’s Acres) and headed downtown for a beer at Casey Brewing and dinner at Smoke Modern Barbecue. A successful first day!

Day 2: Colorado National Monument

On Day 2 of our trip, we were Moab bound (with a few detours planned). Our breakfast: Sweet Coloradough. The van’s breakfast: diesel.

On the way to Moab, we had our sights set on the Colorado National Monument to stretch our legs. We were not disappointed. After hiking the Devils Kitchen trail, I was blown away that more people aren’t talking about this area! It felt like Utah, but it’s right in Colorado near Grand Junction. Highly recommend visiting the Colorado National Monument whether you only have a couple of hours like we did, or a day or two. There were tons of trails and a 23-mile Rim Rock Drive experience that we want to come back for.

For lunch we stopped at Tacoparty in Grand Junction where I ate the most beautiful, flower-covered guacamole I’ve ever seen. From there, it was only about two more hours to Moab. We checked in to our campsite (Sun Outdoor Arches Gateway) and ate thai takeout in our van dining room. Yum!

Day 3: Arches National Park

Day 3 was magical. I somehow convinced Jacob to wake up for sunrise somwhere inside Arches National Park that I had read about. At 5:30am, we pulled out of the campsite and headed to the park in total darkness. After a 30-minute drive to the Windows Loop trailhead and a short hike with flashlights, we found the perfect sunrise spot at North Window Arch.

Once the sun was up we spent the entire day in Arches National Park driving in the van and hiking to 10 arches. We had packed breakfast, coffee, water, and lunch to eat in the van throughout the day so we didn’t have to leave the park for food. All in all, we hiked over 12 miles (!!!) and saw all of these arches in this order: North Window Arch, Turret Arch, Delicate Arch, Double Arch, Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, Skyline Arch, Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch.

Phew! Once exhaustion set in, we headed downtown for beers at Moab Brewery and dinner at Zax.

Day 4: Canyonlands & Dead Horse Point State Park

Day 4 was our final full day in Moab, and we packed it from sunrise to sunset, literally. We woke up early for the second day in a row to watch the sunrise, this time at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. Little did we know it’s a super popular area for sunrise and we couldn’t even see the view through the arch with all of the people and tripods set up. We ended up climbing above the crowd for an archless but gorgeous view. I still recommend this despite the crowds!

From there, we moved our van to the next trailhead to claim a parking spot and took a 2-hour snooze in bed before our next hike. The perks of van life, right?! We then spent about half the day exploring the Canyonlands “Island in the Sky” district, including 1.8 mile Grand View Point hike and Green River Overlook before heading to Dead Horse Point State Park. Talk about underrated! This was almost more stunning than Arches, and is definitely talked about less.

Back in Moab, we grabbed a quick lunch which also happened to be the best quesadilla I’ve ever had in my life from Quesadilla Mobilla. Our original plan was to hang downtown that evening, but it was our last night in Moab and we had to go out with a bang. Back to our favorite spot in Arches to watch the sunset!

Pro tip: if you go to the North Window and climb a bit behind the arch itself, you can catch this incredible view of Turret Arch through the North Window. National Geographic, consider this my official submission.

Day 5: Drop-Off

On our last Moab morning, I couldn’t leave without trying the highly recommended Moab Garage Co. (Yes, those are tots on my breakfast sandwich!)

It was so good that I bought a hat as a souvenir! We hit the road straight home to Denver for a 5 and a half hour drive that ended up taking about 45 minutes longer with traffic. I buckled myself in the back bench area to get some blogging done while driver Jacob listened to a podcast up front. The van rode so smoothly and was such a comfortable ride for a long road trip.

All in all, I highly recommend VanCraft for your next adventure from Denver! Use code AMANDA15 for 15% off your very own VanCraft rental. Happy exploring!

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