When you first drive down Main Street, Moab’s commercial, downtown strip, you might not get the town’s appeal right away. The wide thoroughfare is lined with T-shirt shops and touristy restaurants, and is low on charm. But don’t let Moab’s impersonal exterior fool you. All you have to do is take a few walks, enter some storefronts, and talk to some of the residents to realize that this is a town centered on community.
Here local theater, local radio, and local art rule, and Moabites are proud of that. At its core, this is a frontier outpost, where people have had to create their own livelihoods for more than 100 years. In the late 1880s, it was settled as a farming and ranching community. In the 1950s it became a center for uranium mining after Charlie Steen found a huge deposit of the stuff outside town. After about a decade of unbelievable monetary success, there was a massive downturn in the mining industry, and Moab plunged into an economic free fall. Then came tourism, and Moab was able to rebuild itself with the dollars of sightseers, four-wheelers, bikers, and boaters. Today the town is dealing with environmental and development issues while becoming more and more popular with tourists and second-home owners from around the world. No matter how it changes, however, one thing simply doesn’t. This town has a different flavor from any other in the state.