Utah is such an amazing state to take a road trip through. A Utah road trip is the perfect opportunity to check out a wide diversity of adventures.
Your biggest challenge on a Utah road trip will be trying to squeeze it all in. My top recommendation on a Utah road trip is definitely Zion.
Zion National Park is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the world and worth driving though even if you only have half a day.
Where to Start Your Utah Road Trip
If you are flying in for your Utah road trip, you’ll probably fly into Salt Lake City. The nice thing about Salt Lake City is that it’s easy to get stocked up with everything you need to make this Utah road trip a complete success.
If you don’t have time to do a long road trip through Utah don’t worry. There is a lot to do within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City so you could easily use it as a home base for exploring the Cottonwood Canyons and Park City.
Best Time For A Utah Road Trip
You could do this road trip at any time of the year. Since this road trip includes mountains and deserts, depending on the time of year, some areas will have snow and some areas will be extremely hot.
If you aren’t going to Utah to ski, then the best time to do this trip is Fall because the mountain will be clear of snow and the desert won’t be too hot.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary
If you skip the northern Utah area and focus just on hitting Utah’s Big 5, then one week is the perfect amount of time to complete this Utah road trip itinerary and here’s how I would do it:
Day 1: Arrive in Salt Lake City and explore Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons
Day 2: Zion National Park
Day 3: Zion NP in the morning + Bryce Canyon NP in the evening
Day 4: Zebra Slot Canyon + Calf Creek or Capitol Reef
Day 5: Arches + Moab
Day 6: Dead Horse SP and/or Canyonlands NP
Day 7: Park City
But honestly, you need two weeks to really experience all the destinations I’ve included below.
I love mountain towns and Park City is one of my favorites. The town itself has great restaurants and shopping, although our two favorite places in Park City are Ritual Chocolate and Mountain Town Olive Oil.
What makes Park City so rad is how the ski lifts are right in the center of town, making it easy to hike the hills and hitch a ride down or buy a pass to downhill mountain bike all day.
RVing + Camping Tip: There aren’t a lot of options for RV’s and tents in Park City. There’s a state campground at Jordanelle State Park or RV only camping at Park City RV resort off the I-80. We often just park at Park City Walmart for the day and take the free bus ride into the heart of town.
A trip to Utah wouldn’t be complete without exploring the canyons. There are two canyons (Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons) and in my opinion, you have to explore both.
The canyons have so many great hiking mountain biking trails, as well as some of the US’s best rock climbing. In the winter, the canyons offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world.
Brighton resort is my favorite spot for skiing in the winter and the hike to Mary’s Lake in the summer and fall is gorgeous and easy enough for the entire family.
While Snowbird was a little advanced for me to ski, my daughters loved snowboarding there and the views in Little Cottonwood are incredible.
Both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons have great rock climbing but if you rock climb, you will definitely want to check out American Fork in addition.
RVing + Camping Tip: You won’t want to drive a large rig up the canyons. Our 30′ class C is fine but I wouldn’t take our 42′ fifth wheel up these roads. There are RV parks in Salt Lake for big rigs. Smaller RVs and tent campers will love camping at any of the national forest campgrounds in the canyons.
If you rock climb, you won’t want to miss out on Maple Canyon. The conglomerate rock is something you don’t climb every day and makes for some fun and interesting moves. Plus, there’s camping right at the base of many climbs making it the perfect set up for a day on the crag and an evening under the stars.
RVing + Camping Tip: Note that Maple Canyon Campground is pretty small and up a dirt road. I’ve taken the 30′ class C but wouldn’t recommend anything bigger especially on a crowded weekend. It’s a great campground for tents though!
This is a hidden gem that I thought was totally worth the detour. In Red Cliff, there is an easy hike to a pool where you can swim or cliff jump into.
RVing + Camping Tip: To get here isn’t easy though if you are in a motorhome any bigger than ours because the tunnel to get there is only 11’8″ high. There is a KOA nearby if you are traveling in a truck/trailer and can drop your trailer first. We loved camping right in Red Cliff and there is also a beautiful campground close by called
Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon is a gorgeous desert landscape surrounded by orange and white striped sandstone cliffs providing opportunities for some great rock climbing as well as hiking and biking trails.
RVing + Camping Tip: There is also a nice campground in the Snow Canyon State Park that fits large RVs.
Zion National Park
Related: Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park
There are a lot of amazing national parks to visit but this is one of our absolute favorites and one you can’t miss. Zion is a magical place and one of the easiest national parks to explore.
RVing + Camping Tip: Try to camp at Watchman or South Campground in the park for the best experience at Zion. If you can’t get a spot, there are RV parks in Virgin that accommodate large rigs or there is lots of great free camping just before Virgin.
Bryce National Park
Related: Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon
You don’t need a lot of time to explore Bryce but it is definitely worth the detour to see the beautiful hoodoo spires jutting out from the canyon floor.
RVing + Camping Tip: Again, just like Zion, camping inside the park is great and there are RV parks right outside the national park, however, you might want to look into camping at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park or the free camping off Highway 12 called Hole in the Rock, which is the dirt road you take to get to Zebra Slot Canyon.
Zebra Slot Canyon
Just a few minutes outside Escalante and 8 miles down a well-graded, yet bumpy, dirt road is the trailhead to Zebra Slot Canyon.
This is a must-do in Utah but timing the weather can be tricky. It is hot and exposed to the sun the entire hike to get to the entrance of the slot canyon. And once you enter the canyon, the water level can be quite high and extremely cold. We did it in early May (already really hot weather) and there was water up to our waists that we had to wade through before we got to the really narrow section where you have to wiggle and stem to make it through. Fall is an ideal time to tackle this.
Bonus: Add in Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. We haven’t made it to this one because it requires driving down the dirt road for an additional 18 miles, but we’ve heard it’s quite fun too!
Hike Calf Creek
I had to also add this one because it’s been on our bucket list for so long but every time we drive through there’s nowhere to park our large RV and the campground is always so full.
RVing Tip: The parking lot has a max RV length of 25 feet and the parking lot fills fast so get there early.
Capitol Reef is certainly a hidden gem. It’s surrounded by unique rock formation and has interesting trails throughout the park. There are also some interesting historical buildings here and a store where you can buy delicious jams and pies.
RVing + Camping Tip: The campground inside the park is a great place to stay, however, it’s first-come-first-serve and fills up quickly during popular times. Not to worry because there is plenty of BLM camping areas that are free and can accommodate big rigs.
Moab is an awesome destination for mountain biking, off-roading, hiking, and rock climbing and because it’s so epic, it can really draw a crowd.
RVing + Camping Tip: I’ve learned that late spring is not the best time to hit Moab or if you do, reserve your campground/hotel ahead of time. There are many options for camping in the Moab area from state and national park campgrounds to RV resorts to a ton of BLM and free camping areas but even still, everything fills up fast in Moab’s prime season of spring.
Arches + More
You can’t visit Moab without exploring Arches NP. there are many great trails here including Delicate Arch and Fiery Furnace. Nearby is Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands NP, both of which have gorgeous viewpoints and epic trails for hiking and mountain biking.
Bonus: If you have more time, I’d head to Bear Lake on the Utah/Idaho border and stop by Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge along the way.
On your way back to Salt Lake City, stop in Logan for a hike, climb, or just to grab some grub.
- Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon NP
- Ultimate Guide to Zion NP
- Zion in Winter
- Epic Things to Do in Idaho
- Top Hike in the Grand Canyon