There’s an incredible outdoor escapade waiting for you in Utah, and it’s just a road trip away. The Beehive State is a paradise for adventurers who love nature exploration more than anything in the world. There’s an endless stream of activities you can plan while in the state, and there’s barely enough time to experience them all! So have a look at our sampling of best Utah road trip destinations and enjoy your vacation in the state.
For your Utah road trip, make sure to check out some of these iconic spots and explore not only the outdoors but the food, people, and culture that will make you fall in love with the state.
This Utah road trip destinations article guide will help you to plan an amazing vacation. To have the experience of a lifetime, book your vacation rentals at Rental Trader.
- 1 1. Salt Lake City – Popular Skiing Utah Road Trip Destination
- 2 2. Moab – Rock Landscapes
- 3 3. Bell Canyon’s Waterfall – Hiking Trails & More!
- 4 4. Zion National Park – Emerald Pool Desert Oasis
- 5 5. Mount Timpanogos – Utah’s Second Highest Mountain
- 6 6. Coyote Gulch – Jacob Hamblin Arch Hike
- 7 7. Goblin Valley State Park – Majestic Goblin Formations
- 8 8. North Rim of the Grand Canyon – Part Of Arizona’s Crown Jewel
- 9 9. Coral Pink Sand Dunes – Navajo Sandstone Erosion
- 10 10. Fifth Water Hot Springs – Photographer’s Paradise
1. Salt Lake City – Popular Skiing Utah Road Trip Destination
Utah’s largest city, Salt Lake City, is a great starting point for driving tours across the state. There’s plenty to do and witness while you’re in the capital, so don’t be in a hurry to leave without taking a tour around first. It’s known as the Mormon’s religious center, with its Temple Square spanning more than 35 acres and filled with eye-catching landscapes and buildings. There are also historical monuments to see, giving you an insight into their faith.
Salt Lake City is a popular destination for skiing enthusiasts. Some of the ski resorts like Deer Valley, Snowbird, Park City, Solitude, and Alta, can all be accessed easily from the city center. If you’re a lover of this sport, the city is where you should be planning your next winter vacation. It will be one of the best road trips in Utah for you.
2. Moab – Rock Landscapes
Moab is a gateway holding a treasure trove of memories that have shaped the city into what it is today. It’s where you start when you want to explore nature in great detail, whether in Canyonlands National Park, the Arches National Park, and the Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s also where you can enjoy the Colorado River and its cool waters.
Take a photo of the Delicate Arch and the Devils Garden Loop, where you can see some of the most jaw-dropping rock formations. There are over 2,000 natural arches to feast your eyes on, giving you a glimpse of earth’s wonders. When you take a trip to the Canyonlands National Park, you’ll be welcomed by the 337,598-acre red-rock landscapes just stretching before you. For cliffside camping, head to the Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab that overlooks the great Colorado River.
Get a touch of retro when you book a stay at the Expedition Lodge, where the journey is as amazing as the destination itself. It’s the perfect basecamp for adventures in Moab, giving a mix of old-fashioned sensibilities with modern convenience wrapped in one. You can sample some of Moab’s local dishes and brews, which are just a few short walks from each other.
3. Bell Canyon’s Waterfall – Hiking Trails & More!
You can do a run or scenic hike to the Bell Canyon Waterfall, an iconic waterscape that takes an hour to reach from the trailhead/parking lot. It is located in Sandy, Utah, and gives you an unhampered view of the beautiful Salt Lake Valley. The stream consists of several waterfalls, with the first one the most visited since it’s pretty accessible even for the hiking amateur.
If you’re up for a more challenging trail, you can go to the Upper Bell Canyon Reservoir, which sits just above the first majestic waterfall. It’s a more strenuous hike, but the views when you get there are more than worth the climb. There are other kid-friendly hiking options in Utah, find out about them.
4. Zion National Park – Emerald Pool Desert Oasis
For your Utah road trip, a hike to the Zion National Park cannot be missed. The paths in the park are reminiscent of the time when ancestors and the native people foraged for food and safety in the area. The sandstone cliffs in Zion are out of this world, boasting that red, pink, and cream hues that are accentuated by the vast blue sky. You can hike Angel’s Landing for a one-of-a-kind adventure, or walk up to the Observation point that blesses you with a 270-degree view of Zion.
If you’re up for an oasis experience, the Emerald Pools is the park’s gem that takes you to several desert oases sheltered by lush vegetation, red rock monoliths, and waterfalls. The first pool is an accessible hike, giving you heartwarming sights of glistening waterscapes that are a gift of nature.
5. Mount Timpanogos – Utah’s Second Highest Mountain
The second-highest mountain in Utah, Mount Timpanogos, is a haven for mountaineers because it offers a lot of scenic stops along the way. On your hike to the top, stop for an energizing swim at the cold Timpanogos Glacier or take in the beauty of Scout Falls. You can set up your basecamp at the Timpanogos Basin, but please leave no trash or trace when you’re ready to get on with the trail.
At the foot of the glacier, you can rest for a bit at the small hiker’s hut and take a dip in the emerald river. The water is cold, but a quick dip might be the refreshment you need! It’s a straightforward trail, with a good balance of wildlife and wildflowers scattered in the area. Your road trip will be extra special with this destination included in your schedule.
6. Coyote Gulch – Jacob Hamblin Arch Hike
Another worthy recreational spot in Utah you don’t want to miss is the Coyote Gulch. It’s a semi-narrow canyon nestled in the Grand Staircase-Escalante Desert that snakes down towards the Escalante River. It’s an overnight detour, so make sure to park your car safely and take the hike from the trailhead. You can hike down to the Jacob Hamblin Arch and set up on the campgrounds for a date night with nature.
There are many sights to explore while in Coyote Gulch—you’ll see several ledges, side canyons, and abandoned river meanders called rincons—so don’t forget to take plenty of pictures. The area is teeming with wildlife. If you have rock-scrambling and overland navigation skills, you can take the more strenuous hikes and stay for two nights and three days since there’s really so much to see and do while you’re here!
7. Goblin Valley State Park – Majestic Goblin Formations
There’s not a lot of road trip enthusiasts stopping by Goblin Valley, but you might just want to include it in your itinerary. It boasts an appeal that will inspire your adventurous spirit to go out and explore what the park has in store. It’s a light drive from Moab, making it a must-see when in Utah. The state park features a majestic valley with formations that will remind you of goblins.
Once you’ve arrived and ready to hike, head to The Three Sisters Trail to find the goblin-like formations. From the top, you will see the Carmel Canyon Drainage System, which lies 100 feet below the valley. It’s a great view from up there, which is why you need to bring your camera and shoot a few pictures for keepsake.
This is one of the most unique Utah road trip destinations, so don’t miss out on it!
8. North Rim of the Grand Canyon – Part Of Arizona’s Crown Jewel
If you’ve been to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim would feel like the other side of the coin. This site is the least visited of the two sides but is a hidden gem that you’d want to step into for this road trip. You’ll see why the Grand Canyon is such an awe-inspiring scenic spot in America and the world. If you want to skip the hike but still want to witness some exquisite views, take a drive down the Marble Canyon Loop, which is a 190-mile road passing by the Vermillion Cliffs Overlook, Lees Ferry, and of course the Marble Canyon.
For dinner, you can head to nearby Kanab and dine at Sego Restaurant. It’s where you’ll taste the creation of former Amangiri executive chef Shon Foster, who is known for his hearty and super palatable dishes.
The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a romantic stopover you can do en route to Zion. It’s located between Kanab and Mount Carmel and boasts an ever-shifting sandy landscape. The sand moves up to 50 feet every year, so you usually won’t be experiencing the same scenery twice. The dunes are born from the Navajo Sandstone erosion and are believed to have existed for 10,000-15,000 years old.
ATV, buggies and off-road vehicles are at home in these dunes, but you can also freely walk the expanse as much as you’d like. There are guided tours and sports rentals available, so it’s possible to have a more active exploration of the area. The park has campgrounds and is open year-round, so pack that camping gear and include this in your Utah road trip itinerary.
10. Fifth Water Hot Springs – Photographer’s Paradise
Diamond Fork or Fifth Water Hot springs, as it is known, is an extraordinary stop that belongs in your driving tour of the state. Here you can find three scenic waterfalls that lead to the area’s natural pools. For the best photos, take snaps of the second waterfall, and go further up the creek to explore more of the hot springs. It’s slightly sulfur-smelling, but the water can be soothing to sore muscles and relaxing to the mind.
The waters of Diamond Fork can be a picturesque attraction in itself. The hues are unbelievable: translucent green to milky blue, all trying to entice you to take a dip. Before you get in, make sure to check the temperature and find out if it’s right for you!
If you love photography, then this is one of the best Utah road trip destinations.
Wrapping Up Utah Road Trip Destinations
Going on your Utah road trip doesn’t have to be overwhelming or worrying as long as you’ve prepared everything you need to bring beforehand. Get your itinerary ironed out and pack all that’s necessary. Check your car’s gauges before setting off, and don’t forget to have fun on the road!