Traveling to Utah is quite the experience, offering incredible sights and endless hours of hiking opportunities — but many worry about planning the road trip. It may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Utah has something to offer for everyone, from the teeming city life of Salt Lake City to the vast stretches of desert, all the way to the incredible views of the many national parks. Here is the best that Utah has to offer.
Salt Lake City
You should begin your Utah experience by landing in the state’s largest city, Salt Lake City. You can even fly into SLC and then fly out of Las Vegas, if you’re really into the idea of an extended road trip. Here, there is such a wide variety of activities to choose from and sights to take it, you could even do a whole 2 week trip just in Salt Lake City and not see everything.
However, we recommend checking out the Red Butte Garden, which is a 21-acre botanical garden feature beautiful birds and plenty of horticulture. You can also check out the Bonneville Salt Flats, which are made up of a hard salt crust and makes up one of the most out of the ordinary landscapes around.
Up next, you can head towards Moab, which is about a 4 hours drive from Salt Lake City. It’s a great hub to stay at as it’s a location where you can easily access two of the most beautiful national parks that Utah (and really, the United States as a whole) has to offer: Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.
Arches National Park
The Arches National Park is not one to miss, and is just a 9 minute drive from Moab. There are plenty of hikes that you can take on here. If you have limited time, the Delicate Arch hike is the one to do. This is probably the most famous site of the park and is also family-friendly, coming in at about 3 miles total round trip.
Another hike here that is truly worth the trip is the Windows Hike, which is actually a bit shorter than the Delicate Arch path but will still allow you to see wonderful sights and many arches.
Canyonlands National Park
Once you have hiked around Arches National Park, it’s time to move forward in our road trip. 36 miles from Moab is the Canyonlands National Park, and it is sure worth the drive. There are four different sections of this park, which are divided into sections called districts: the Green and Colorado Rivers, the Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze.
If you prefer scenic drives to hikes, then Island in the Sky is the way to go. It spans over 34 miles of gorgeous scenery and will absolutely take your breath away.
If you’re up for a hike, then you can choose to visit the Needles, which spans over 6.5 miles. One important thing to keep in mind is that these two districts (the Needles and the Island in the Sky) are about a two hour drive from one another.
Bryce Canyon National Park
One of the most breathtaking landscapes you will ever encounter can be found at Bryce Canyon National Park. This is definitely not one to skip, and you’ll be thanking us for it. Here you’ll see the famous “Hoodoos,” which are amazing natural formations that are thin and tall and are actually formed by erosions.
This park offers many hikes, but also can easily be accessed by car. You’ll still be able to see many of its most breathtaking sights by driving around.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is definitely the most famous of all the national parks that are in Utah. There’s a reason why everyone has heard of this one: it’s absolutely incredible. Something important to note is that unless you are using the campgrounds there, you often cannot access the park by car. There are shuttles that can take you in and out of the park, however.
The Narrows hike is very long, about 16 miles roundtrip, and does require walking through a river and also swimming. However, if you’re up for the challenge, this hike is a very rewarding one. If you prefer a short hike, then you can opt for the Canyon Overlook Trail. This one is just one mile long and will still give you plenty of gorgeous views.