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Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah
Location of Moab within Utah
Coordinates: 38°34′21″N 109°32′59″W / 38.5725, -109.54972
Country United States
State Utah
County Grand
 - Total 3.6 sq mi (9.4 km²)
 - Land 3.6 sq mi (9.4 km²)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km²)
Elevation 4,026 ft (1,227 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 4,779
 - Density 1,313.1/sq mi (507.0/km²)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 84532
Area code(s) 435
FIPS code 49-50700GR2
GNIS feature ID 1430389GR3
For other instances of Moab, see Moab (disambiguation).

Moab is a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah, in the western United States. It is 233 miles (374 km) southeast of Salt Lake City and 354 miles (569 km) west of Denver, just off of Interstate 70 at the intersection of U.S. Route 191 and State Route 128. The population was 4,779 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grand CountyGR6. Moab hosts a large number of tourists every year, mostly visitors of the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, which are located close by. The town is also a popular base for mountain bikers who come to ride the nearby Slickrock Trail, and off-roaders who come for the annual Moab Jeep Safari.



Moab is the biblical name of a bastard son of Lot and his firstborn daughter. The biblical Moab fathered the Moabite people that lived in a mountainous strip of land running along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. This strip of land is also named Moab. It is uncertain how a city in Southeastern Utah came to use that name. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers attribute the name to William Pierce, the first postmaster, believing that the biblical Moab and this part of Utah were both "the far country". [1] However, others believe the name has Paiute, not biblical origins [2].

During the 1800s the area around what is now Moab served as the Colorado River crossing along the Old Spanish Trail. Mormon settlers attempted to establish a trading fort at the river crossing called "Elk Mountain Mission" in 1855 to trade with travelers attempting to cross the river. Later that year and after repeated Indian attacks, the fort was abandoned. A new round of settlers established a permanent settlement in 1878. 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. 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.


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 uranium Capital of the world after geologist Charles Steen found uranium ore.

In 1949 the famed Western movie director John Ford was talked into using 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 went, found Ford, and persuaded him to come take a look at Moab. There have been numerous movies filmed in the area ever since, using the beauty of 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, the area has become a favorite for photographers, rafters, hikers, and most recently mountain bikers. Moab is also an increasingly popular destination for four-wheelers as well as for BASE jumpers, who are allowed to practice their sport.


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 the current bridge in 1955. The highway that uses this bridge has been renumbered multiple times and is presently numbered U.S. Highway 191.

Moab gained freight railroad access in 1962, when a spur railroad line was built to service potash mines. Moab has never had passenger rail service, although the California Zephyr has advertised service to Moab in the past via the stops at Thompson Springs (no longer a scheduled stop), Green River or Grand Junction, Colorado.

Moab currently does not have regular bus service, although charter busses and shuttle service to Salt Lake City or Grand Junction in Colorado are available.

Air service is available at Canyonlands Field.


Moab is located just south of the Colorado River, at 38°34′21″N, 109°32′59″W (38.572545, -109.549776)GR1 at an elevation of 4,025 feet (1227 meters) on the Colorado Plateau.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.4 km²), all of it land.


  As of the censusGR2 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/sq mi (227.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.35% White, 0.36% African American, 5.46% Native 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.


The following public schools serve Moab area Students:

  • Red Rock Elementary School Grades K-3
  • Helen M. Knight Intermediate School Grades 4-5
  • Grand County Middle School Grades 6-8
  • Grand County High School Grades 9-12

In addition the following schools have branch campuses in Moab

  • College of Eastern Utah
  • Utah State University
  • University of Utah

Moab in Film and TV

Moab has been used as a filming location for movies, TV programs and commercials.

Movies:Rio Grande (1950), Warlock (1958), The Comancheros (1961), Cheyenne Autumn (1963), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1963), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1988), Thelma and Louise (1990),City Slickers II (1994), and Mission: Impossible II (2000). 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.

TV programs: Unearthed, an episode of the television series, The Amazing Race, Prison Break, MacGyver, The first episode of Man vs. Wild

Commercials:Marlboro Cigarettes Marlboro Man campaign, General Motors GM returns to Castle Rock and Union Pacific Railroad's "Building America" campaign.

See also

  • Atlas Uranium Mill
  • Moab Tailings
  • Upheaval Dome
  • Westwater Canyon
  • The Lion's Back
  • Slickrock Trail


  1. ^ Grand Memories 1972 edition p16., published by Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, no ISBN visible on book
  2. ^ City of Moab-History

  • Moab, Utah is at coordinates 38°34′21″N 109°32′59″W / 38.572545, -109.549776Coordinates: 38°34′21″N 109°32′59″W / 38.572545, -109.549776
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Moab,_Utah". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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