Epically dramatic landscapes, fascinating rock formations that look straight out of this world, unparalleled hiking opportunities, and a whole lot of desert adventure is what makes a Utah road trip a must on any traveler’s bucket list.
Plotting your Utah road trip? Chances are you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with options, so we decided to put together a list with the destinations you absolutely cannot miss while road tripping around the state!
The Ultimate Utah Road Trip for Some Serious Desert Magic
Zion National Park
Multi-colored sandstone cliffs, congregations of desert wildlife, and views like no other are what make Zion National Park a must in your Utah itinerary.
What’s best? There’s a little something here for everyone. Whether you’re into hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, or simply taking iconic Insta photos, Zion National Park has a little something on offer no matter your travel style.
Bryce Canyon National Park
What makes Bryce Canyon so unique, you ask? Hoodoos galore! In fact, Bryce Canyon is home to the largest collection of them in the world, which pretty much translates into magnificent views guaranteed to leave you in awe.
Aside from hoodoos, Bryce Canyon is also home to unbelievable wildlife, woodland, and interesting caves that make the park a hiker’s paradise.
As one of America’s most emblematic landmarks, Monument Valley brims with Native American and Old West history, which only adds value to its iconic beauty. The region is known for its sandstone buttes, mesmerizing hiking trails, and horseriding ops, which will make you feel as though you’re living inside a Western movie!
Capitol Reef National Park
While Capitol Reef might not be as popular as Utah’s other national parks, visiting it is a must on your itinerary, especially if you’re into backcountry hiking trails, rock climbing, and mountaineering. If you’re not up for exerting energy, though, there are roads that cover all three sections of the park, so there’s no excuse not to pay this gem of a park a visit to check out its highlights!
What makes the landscape of Capitol Reef so unique is the Waterpocket Fold, which was formed millions of years ago and created a rocky-looking landscape that looks as though it comes straight out of Mars. Moreover, the park is also home to a humongous natural arch, ancient petroglyphs, and a vast array of wildlife that you wouldn’t expect to find in the desert.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Want to feel as though you’re a character in a Western movie? Dead Horse Point State Park is your go-to. In fact, 1991’s Thelma and Louse’s final scene was shot here, which should be enough to convince you to visit this epic state park in Moab!
Dead Horse Point is what we would describe as a collection of grand overlooks. Plus, the fact that it neighbors the more popular Arches and Canyonlands national parks means it’s the perfect destination to get unparalled desert views while getting to avoid the hoards of tourists.
Moreover, there are plenty of activities on offer here, including hiking, mountain biking, sleeping in yurts, and even cave exploring.
Arches National Park
Extraordinary desert views and natural arches are the staples of Arches National Park, which makes it a must in any Utah road trip itinerary.
Featuring over 2000 natural arches and a variety of strange rock formations, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring sights at Arches, and the fact that it’s relatively small makes it easy to cover a ton of ground in just a day or two.
Whether you’re feeling up for an incredible desert hike or would much prefer to view the highlights from the comfort of your car, both are great options to get an introduction to this mesmerizing desert oasis.
Canyonlands National Park
Vast views of canyons, sweeping desert vistas, and strange red rock formations lining the sky are what make Canyonlands National Park such a unique destination to visit.
Because this national park is absolutely humongous, you could literally devote an entire year to exploring it and still never really get to do the same things twice, so make sure you dedicate at least a couple of days to explore its highlights!
Canyonlands is divided into three different districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. If you’re short on time or are not very experienced when it comes to hiking in the desert, Island in the Sky is the best place for you to start exploring Canyonlands as the trails are relatively short and easy. If you’re up for more challenging hikes and would rather have the sights pretty much all to yourself, the Needles is sure to please, and for those who are really, really intrepid travelers and don’t mind roughing things up, The Maze is the ultimate adventure (it’s considered one of the most remote regions in continental USA!)
I hope this list of the best destinations in Utah helped you plan the perfect road trip! When it comes to checking off items on a bucket list, Utah makes things pretty tough because there’s seriously SO much to do in this wonder state. These destinations, however, are probably the most iconic and the ideal way to get a pretty damn good introduction to the region.
Have you ever been to Utah? What are some other incredible spots to add to a road trip route? Let us know your favorites in the comment section below!