Road trips are a fun, exciting, and bucket-list way to see a large amount of area in a relatively short amount of time. Here at TravelPirates we love road trips, so we put together the ultimate Utah road trip for you. Paired with the super cheap flights we found to Salt Lake City, there's no better time to book this fun adventure.
How To Plan Your Utah Road Trip
Travel through five national parks, see the salt flats, visit snowy mountains, and walk through slot canyons. In just a week, you can see some of the most gorgeous sights that Utah has to offer. It's the perfect spring break trip to go on with your friends or family. Check out our suggested stops and route below. There's no excuse not to go now, because we put it all together for you!
Please keep in mind that the route and time frame below are only suggestions. Feel free to extend your stay and drive any which way you would like.
You will start this trip from Salt Lake City and end in Salt Lake City. Feel free to do the route in reverse order from what is listed. It's also easy to drive from part of western Colorado to begin your trip in Moab and circle from there. Of course, you could spend a month in any of these places and still not have your fill, but one week should get you well enough acquainted.
Stop 1: Park City, Utah
38 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport
Park City is a fun mountain town about 45 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City, and home to two awesome ski resorts. On the town's doorstep is Park City Mountain Resort, with lifts operating right from town, and just down the road is Deer Valley Resort, one of Utah's poshest ski resorts. If you get there early enough you could definitely do a half-day on the mountain. The annual Sundance Film Festival is held here in late January.
Stop 2: Arches National Park
236 Miles From Park City
Arches National Park is a must see while in Utah (and it will be a completely different from wintery Park City). The stunning stone arches and rolling petrified dunes, backed by the often snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains, make this one of the most scenic parks in the United States.The most famous of the arches is Delicate Arch, standing like a horseshoe jutting out of the ground, framing the distant mountains. You can do short hikes to many of the most popular formations, but some of the best views can be seen right from the scenic drives. The top attractions in the park are Devil's Garden, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Double Arch, Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, the Windows, Broken Arch, and Sandstone Arch.
Arches National Park is also located just outside Moab, a town well-known by mountain bikers and outdoor adventurers. There are plenty of wonderful places to camp in this area.
Stop 3: Canyonlands National Park
27 Miles From Arches National Park Visitor Center
Canyonlands National Park is Utah's version of the Grand Canyon, without the crowds. The park has three sections, but the main portion, which attracts the majority of sightseers, is Island in the Sky. It is arguably as impressive as the Grand Canyon in its own unique way, and far less visited. The other two sections of the park, the Needles District and The Maze, offer a slightly different type of landscape but are also impressive. These areas are more remote.
One of the main attractions in Island in the Sky is Mesa Arch. You can catch sunrise here, but you must start your hike during the dark to get a good spot. On your way in or out of this park make sure to take a slight detour to Dead Horse State Park. It's a beautiful place to watch the sunset if you can plan your route that way.
Stop 4: Goblin Valley State Park
108 Miles From Canyonlands National Park
Journey to this strange and colorful valley, unlike any other in Utah. The landscape, covered with sandstone goblins and formations, is often compared to Mars. Explore the geology, and camp among the nooks and gnomes, but don't forget to head here near sunset first so you can see the formations lit by the sun. You may also want to camp out here and witness a night sky the likes of which you've probably never seen. Goblin Valley is part of the International Dark Sky Association and offers the perfect viewing of our galaxy. It will be an incredible experience.
Stop 5: Capitol Reef National Park
57 Miles From Goblin Valley State Park
Capitol Reef National Park is another great place to explore Utah's interesting landscapes. Located directly west of Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef reveals a huge wall of banded sandstone rising above the Fremont River. Canyons, rock spires, cliff walls, arches, and gorges dominate the scenery and are an inspiration for anyone with an interest in photography. In the distance, the wall dominates the landscape and glows an almost purple color in the late day sun.
Most people come here for sightseeing, and it's easy to drive by on the way somewhere else.
Stop 6: Coyote Gulch, Escalante National Monument
111 Miles From Goblin Valley
Coyote Gulch is at the end of Hole In The Rock road just outside of Escalante, Utah. This unpaved road offers a stretch of wild Utah. You don't have to drive all the way to the gulch. Instead stop and experience Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons for a wonderful day hike with the perfect lighting and scenery for some pretty amazing photos.
Stop 7: Bryce Canyon National Park
98 Miles From Coyote Gulch
The brightly colored and tightly packed hoodoos that dominate the landscape at Bryce Canyon are what set this national park apart from the rest of the spectacular sites in Utah. It's much more impressive in person when the sun lights it up during golden hours, creating a magical landscape that begs to be explored. There's a great drive that runs through the park offering the best scenery if you are tight on time. If you can hike, make sure to take the Queens Garden route into the canyon.
Stop 8: Zion National Park
85 Miles From Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park features some of Utah's most outstanding scenery, with red rock cliffs, waterfalls, and beautiful vistas. Many of the park's most impressive sites are found in Zion Canyon, along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which follows the valley floor. While there, make the effort to hike the infamous Angel's Landing and the beginning portion of The Narrows. These will be two unforgettable hikes that you can complete in one day if you start early. Consider making a quick detour to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park to see some really cool landscapes. It's the perfect excuse to try sand surfing as the sun sets and paints the hills orange.
Stop 9: Bonneville Salt Flats
380 Miles From Zion National Park
About 90 minutes west of Salt Lake City along I-80, near Wendover, is an unassuming area of flat land, extending off into the distance as far as the eye can see. When the sun sets, the area is breathtaking—a great way to end your trip on a high note. In winter some of the flats are covered in a thin layer of water, which is great for photos.
Stop 10: Salt Lake City, Utah
111 Miles From Bonneville Salt Flats
Head home from here or if you have time explore the city a bit.
- Day 1: Salt Lake City to Park City (38 minutes); drive to Moab to spend the night (4 hours)
- Day 2: Morning in Arches; drive from Arches to Canyonlands (30 minutes); drive to Goblin Valley and camp for night (1.75 hours)
- Day 3: Morning at Goblin Valley; drive to Capitol Reef (1 hour); spend afternoon there, then drive to Escalante (1.5 hours)
- Day 4: Morning drive to slot canyon or Coyote Gulch (1 or 2 hours); hike all day; drive to Bryce for night (3 hours)
- Day 5: Spend most of the day enjoying Bryce Canyon; drive to Zion (2 hours); watch sunset on Angel's Landing
- Day 6: Spend a half day enjoying Zion; drive to Bonneville Salt Flats (6 hours); watch sunset at the flats
- Day 7: Return to Salt Lake City Airport (1.75 hours)
Total Driving Time: 21 hours | Total Distance: 1,213 miles
*This itinerary is fitted for a seven days for convenience, but you can take as long as you want on your road trip. Seven to ten days is the best time frame.