FIERY FURNACE, MOAB
Best Moab Tour
Arches National Park, Fiery Furnace
The moment the park ranger says there’s no turning back once you enter Arches National Park’s Fiery Furnace, a certain gravitas settles in as visitors begin this gloriously colorful and otherworldly three-hour walk through narrow canyons. It’s moderately strenuous—mostly because you’ll have to squeeze through narrow cracks—but the park rangers’ enthusiasm and the surrounding orange and red mountain splendor make any pain bearable. The ranger-led tour is so popular that tickets—$10 for adults, $5 for children—must be reserved online in advance.
Highway 191, five miles north of Moab, 435-719-2299, NPS.gov/Arch
Best Non-Traditional Bacon
Buck's Grill House
Bacon may be starting to lose its grip as the dominant food trend, but if you’re only sort of ready to move on, we’ve got two drool-worthy words for you: duck bacon. At Buck’s Grill House, get the strips of smoky, savory, fatty goodness as a side—it goes well with everything—or order the blue duck burger, which perfectly combines beef, duck bacon and blue cheese for one of the best burgers in Grand County.
1393 N. Highway 191, Moab, 435-259-5201, BucksGrillHouse.com
Best Zion Supply Stop
Sol Foods Market & Deli
Not so long ago, visitors to Zion National Park had little to choose from when it came to stocking up for a camping expedition into the majestic wilds. But Sol Foods, in neighboring Springdale, has kicked grocery shopping into high gear with its focus on variety, quality and good prices. The Utah-only section celebrates the best consumer goods from the Beehive State, and there’s also a well-stocked deli, gourmet and health-food options, movies to rent and even a front porch where you can enjoy a meal in front of the towering Zion landscape.
995 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale, 435-772-3100, SolFoods.com
Best Poor Boy Meal
Back in the ’60s, Moab Diner—then the Poor Boy Diner—sold hamburgers for 29 cents. Well, those days of cheap burgers are long gone. But the diner’s bowl of zesty chile verde can be had for a mere $4.99, served with flour tortillas. Add an order of the diner’s signature Sweetwater potatoes—fried skin-on potatoes covered in green peppers and bacon bits—plus a thick and creamy milkshake for sharing, and you’ve got a meal that’s as classic as the diner itself.
189 S. Main, Moab, 435-259-4006, MoabDiner.com
Best Cowboy Grub
The Market Grill
On the west side of Cedar City, next to the stockyards where trucks unload cattle for market, stands a small, potent testament to the all-but-gone cowboy life. The Market Grill is a 33-year-old family-run diner with a seasoned griddle that turns out huge, fluffy pancakes. The eggs and corned-beef hash are resolutely tasty, and there’s typically a cowboy at the bar jawing with the chef. Even the smell of cow manure that floats in the air as you leave the premises is pleasant, a reminder that this gem of Americana defines the word “authentic.”
2290 W. Highway 56, Cedar City, 435-586-9325
Best Reason to Say Cheese
When you hear tourists say “Cheese!” in or around Moab, they’re likely posing for a photo—or exclaiming over the deliciousness of Quesadilla Mobilla’s gooey offerings. This food truck’s campfire-inspired fare will put a smile on any face with menu items like the dirt bag—cheese and refried beans encased in a tortilla—or more adventurous quesadillas filled with green-chile chicken, sauteed artichoke hearts, fresh spinach, black olives and, of course, cheese.
Best Place For Women to Meet Women
Women's Redrock Music Festival
Do you love the desert, folk music and men-free spaces? The Women’s Redrock Music Festival’s motto is “Music by women, for everyone.” Annually in August, the scenic southern Utah town of Torrey turns into a hotspot for women both gay and straight. Headliners for 2012’s festival included Crystal Bowersox, Toby Beard and Raining Jane, and prize-winning spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson. Besides live music, the festival offers a songwriters workshop, a line-dancing class, hikes and yoga.
Best Sepia-Toned Memories
Circle H Old Time Photos
Southern Utah’s colorful history is tied to the Old West, from the birthplace of Butch Cassidy to the Monument Valley locations of John Ford’s classic films. So, when you visit, why not bring a little piece of that history home with you? Moab’s Circle H Photos provides the costumes, props and backdrop for you and your family to pose as though your stopover actually took place more than 100 years ago, leaving you with an authentic-looking keepsake.
131 N. Main, Moab, 435-259-2474
Best Monte Cristo Sandwich
Timberline Inn Restaurant
Just off the west side of Interstate 15 across from the small-town charms of Beaver, the Timberline Inn Restaurant offers standard American cuisine with “a pinch of flair.” No pinches were involved in the making of the Timberline’s Monte Cristo, though: Its flair is in its excess. The egg-fried sandwich contains piles of turkey, ham, Swiss and cheddar, all sprinkled with powdered sugar, served with sour cream and strawberries on the side. Despite its European roots, the sandwich is a perfect encapsulation of Utah’s passion for all things sweet.
1542 S. 450 West, Beaver, 435-438-2474, Timberline-Restaurant.net
Best Guardian of the West
Back of Beyond books
This is a bookstore that cries out for you to unwind and ease into a slower, more meditative rhythm. Sofas and chairs, all worn and comfy, dot the store, inviting patrons to spend time perusing possible candidates for purchase. It’s far from being a place that discourages loitering—Back of Beyond’s owner will congratulate you on deliberating your purchases. The shop stands both in contrast to and in agreement with the rugged individualism celebrated in its extensive range of Edward Abbey works and Western literature.
83 N. Main, Moab, 435-259-5154, BackOfBeyondBooks.com
Best Unusual Pie Sampler
SunGlow Motel & Restaurant
Located 27 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park, SunGlow is a destination itself. Sit yourself down among the happy tourists and cowboy locals and order the pie sampler, which gives you half slices of four varieties of pie: buttermilk, oatmeal, pinto-bean and—the ultimate in pie-dom—the sweet-pickle pie. Odd, yes; awesome, definitely.
91 E. Main, Bicknell, 435-425-3821, SunGlowMotel.com
BUSTA CRACK SHACK, CEDAR CITY
Best Music Hideaway
The Busta Crack Shack
Who says you need drywall or proper lighting? A couple of college kids in Cedar City succeeded in turning a rundown shack—where crackheads used to squat and get high—into a music venue. In its short existence, the Busta Crack Shack has been visited by popular bands out of Salt Lake City and Provo, playing for the small audiences that cram into the tiny space to hear the latest music from up north.
31 S. 100 West, Cedar City, Facebook.com/BustaCrackShack