‘Field Station Moab’: 3 Nights in Hotel-Turned-Adventure Hub – GearJunkie

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You’d be forgiven for doing a double-take after walking into the lobby of Field Station Moab. The path to the check-in desk takes you past racks of outdoor apparel, trail snacks, and equipment. That first impression lets you know this hotel knows why its guests are in town.

Renovated by AutoCamp and opened in April 2023, Field Station is an offshoot concept that brings the brand’s glamping know-how to traditional hotels while still catering to adventure-minded guests. A second location in Joshua Tree opens in May. It’s part of a growing list of adventure hotel destinations in Utah, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest.

Beyond the prominent amenities of a hotel stay, the appeal of an adventure hotel includes outdoor activity-oriented design cues. These include in-room bike storage, moveable bag hooks, and the ability to rent a tent or trekking poles.

You can switch things up even if you pack for your favorite activity. Casual cyclists can leave bikes at home and still enjoy a rental or guided tour from a hotel partner. Everything required can be waiting for pickup at the trailhead.

Of course, a hotel stay means less time spent packing up gear before leaving your campsite each day. And waiting out a monsoon storm or other desert weather is generally more fun indoors than in a tent. 

The rooms range from a king bed for two to Double Queen Bunk Rooms with two queen beds and a full-size bunk bed to host up to six guests. Listed rates are $159 outside peak months, but you may find lower rates if you plan ahead. Additionally, van lifers can park in one of seven dedicated spots for $29. This grants van lifers access to communal bathrooms, showers, laundry, and the hotel’s lobby and outdoor services.

Field Station Moab entrance
The Gear Shop lobby is a big clue that you’re staying in an adventure hotel; (photo/Field Station)

Why Moab?

Moab is a desert resort town, and city managers estimate that Moab’s population grows by nearly 40,000 during peak season. The main attraction is the outdoors, with dozens of mountain bike trails and whitewater runs. Plus, the red sandstone cliffs and rock towers make the area a bucket list for climbers. Paved paths also lead you out along and into the surrounding parks. In other words, nobody’s there for a big sales convention.

Another major draw is the two nearby national parks. Field Station Moab sits just 4 miles from the entrance to Arches National Park, which runs a timed entry from April through October. And it’s roughly a 30-minute drive to the island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.

Spring and fall are the most popular times to visit Moab, especially among climbers and bikers. The warmer midsummer temperatures and monsoons aren’t so severe that the parks see a drop-off in visitors. However, there is less overlap with other adventurers.

Field Station Moab

Field Station’s design mix of form and function creates a boutique feel with a no-fuss attitude. Beyond the Gear Shop in the lobby, the next sign that this hotel was different was the black scuff marks along the hallway walls left by passing bike handlebar grips. Rather than fighting a constant war to clean them or cover them, Field Station accepts the lived-in look. That’s not a critique but a noted vibe. If that seems off-putting, this hotel might not be for you.

There is no complimentary breakfast or coffee. Instead, the hotel runs its own Little Station Coffee + Kitchen in the lobby, adjacent to the check-in desk. It serves all the caffeine you’d expect (just no espresso after 2 p.m.) and breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also buy beer, cider, and wine and take it to the large open patio or sit by the fire pit.

Field Station Moab view from gear shopField Station Moab view from gear shop
A view of the gear and apparel with the cafe section of the lobby in the background; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

The Rooms

The rooms continue the hotel’s no-nonsense approach with an aesthetic that mixes a bit of van life with premium IKEA. The main wall upon entry includes a sink with a spacious countertop and shelves for unpacking your dopp kit and organizing things.

Down the wall, bench seats with drawers hold clothes and gear. Strips along the wooden bench help keep packs or bags from sliding off. A peg board at the end lets you quickly arrange pegs to hang empty packs, helmets, and other gear.

The last bench segment is padded and the best place to sit while eating or working on a laptop. A small portable coffee table to eat and work on is a modern, practical touch I wish more hotels would adopt. Extra space beside the first bed (in a double) includes a bike stand for bike storage. That’s a convenience that also offers peace of mind.

Field Station Moab hotel room layoutField Station Moab hotel room layout
The Scandinavian design creates functional rooms that are easy to keep organized and clean; (photo/Field Station)

The sleek stand-up showers felt downright luxurious after a day in the desert. And the bath linens and cleaning goods come from eco-friendly brands. After a first night’s adjustment, the memory foam mattresses were clean and comfortable for sleep and sitting upright to lounge.

Other design notes include the cement flooring. It quickly made sense the first time I removed my socks and shoes. A pile of red dirt was left behind. The rooms forego the typical mini-fridge for a Dometic electric cooler.

A Social Stay

I spent most mornings in the lobby with a coffee and a bite from the cafe while working on my laptop. It was an excellent way to take in (eavesdrop) what other guests were getting up to each day and how they organized their plans.

Come evening, the lobby bustled again with people getting food and sitting outside on the patio with views of nearby bluffs. The pool and hot tub filled with guests soaking tired limbs and recounting their day’s experience.

At nightfall, that scene shifted to the fire pit and gravel patio. The van life crowd often stayed out on the patio later. The open space is part of what they paid for, and their bed was just steps away.

Field Station Moab patio fire pitField Station Moab patio fire pit
The open patio has plenty of room, but guests covet the chairs around the fire pit; (photo/Field Station)

When the pool and patio atmosphere was in full swing, and the hotel’s patio music was bumping, the guests in nearly rooms could definitely hear it. There was a bit of a feeling to join the fun, but anything after 9 p.m. was contrary to the early morning plans of guests trying to avoid the midday heat.

AutoCamp promotes the social aspect and left a positive impression overall. As a solo traveler, the open spaces and cafe made it easy to strike up short conversations. I felt a mutual appreciation for taking time off to play outside. There was also something fun about noticing most guests were wearing bike shorts or walking around in running shoes.

Curated Experiences

Starting with the mindset that Field Station is there to host outdoor enthusiasts of all levels, the hotel hosted events like Mappy Monday to help orient guests to different parks and recommended trails and sights. It was a good reminder that the surrounding area contains deep canyons, so topographic lines are essential to gauging distances.

Field Station partners with several local outfitters to offer curated trips for biking, climbing, canyoneering, and the more family-friendly “racketeering.” The many beginner-friendly guided bike tour packages are the most popular. These included a bike/helmet rental with pickup inside Dead Horse Point State Park. The park is adjacent to Canyonlands and offers competing views, especially at sunset.

Field Station Moab map room and instruction areaField Station Moab map room and instruction area
The lobby has an instructional area where staff can help visitors review maps, learn outdoor skills, and become familiar with essential gear; (photo/Field Station)

As mentioned, the lobby desk also rents gear and sells various products, such as trail snacks, apparel, and camping stoves. You can also ask about storage options for leaving gear in the luggage room while you spend a night or two in the parks or backcountry.

The lobby has several maps and field guides for in-depth knowledge of area attractions. And I found the staff knowledgeable and ready with suggestions from their own experiences and those of other guests. Seeing others excited about their experience may inspire you to change your planned itinerary. Especially if you burn out a muscle group on a big day and want a more relaxed follow-up day.

The hotel’s website offers seasonal guides, a calendar of summer events (both onsite and afar), and its own suggested itineraries.

My Experience at Field Station Moab

I took a hybrid approach to my three-night hotel stay by backpacking beforehand. I spent the night prior in a minimalist tent at the base of a canyon and pondered the creation of the Upheaval Dome looming above. Knowing a hotel bed was on the agenda made my sleeping pad feel more cushioned.

Backpacking in and out of Canyonlands was taxing. I relished washing off all the red grit under a hot shower, soaking my legs in the hot tub, and lounging in a proper bed after a filling meal.

The hotel served as my basecamp for morning laptop work, day trips to the parks, and hitting the town after a shower at night.

Field Station seating areaField Station seating area
The main stairwell breaks up the open lobby to create comfy nooks like this area with the bookshelf and water station; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

Arches National Park is just down the highway, and staying close helped me beat (some of) the crowds and traffic waiting to enter. The Islands in the Sky section of Canyonlands is roughly 30 minutes away, while the entrance to the Needles section is about 90 minutes away.

I packed a lunch and trail snacks for the drive to and through Needles and hiked the 10-mile Chesler Park Loop before it rained. I was back in town eating a recovery hamburger from Milt’s Stop & Eat before dark.

Returning to the hotel each day gave me a spot to unpack my day, relax, and adjust my plans for the next day. My plans pivoted daily based on crowds, weather, and my tendency to extend hikes to see what’s around the next bend. In all, I hiked more and biked less than I’d planned. I took in jaw-dropping views, dined around town, and already have a return trip in the works.

Field Station can’t compete with the natural beauty of the Moab area. But staying there helped me get outside earlier and more rested to enjoy more of it.

Field Station Moab pool viewField Station Moab pool view
(Photo/Field Station)

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