National Park Tours From Salt Lake City – Utah is home to five of the most spectacular national parks in the United States. Throw in some national monuments and some stunning state parks and you have an incredible road trip destination. If you’re planning your Utah national park itinerary, we have plenty of information to share with you.
In this post, learn how to plan the best road trip through Utah’s Mighty 5. It can be done in a 7-day road trip. But with more time, you can explore more of each park or add state parks, slot canyons, scenic drives, and even places like Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon.
National Park Tours From Salt Lake City
It’s no secret that we’re huge Utah fans. We visit the state so often that we joke that we should move here.
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We’ve hiked to Delicate Arch four times, driven the White Rim Road in Canyonlands, Looped the Fold and explored Cathedral Valley on Capitol Reef, seen Bryce Canyon at sunrise, and stood on Angels Landing and hiked along the Narrows in Zion National Park. We’ve also spent time exploring the Grand Staircase-Escalante, hiking the San Rafael Swell, and visiting Goblin Valley State Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Through this experience, we have learned a lot about Utah. Not only where to go and what to do, but also how to put together an unforgettable road trip itinerary. And that’s what we want to share with you in this post.
This Utah national park itinerary post is intended to be used in conjunction with our other articles about Utah. We have tons of information not only about Utah’s Mighty 5, but also state parks, national monuments, and off-trail experiences. Instead of rewriting this content, I will provide links to each article. It will open in a new browser window so you can easily refer back to this article.
If you want to see everything we’ve written about Utah, click here to visit our Utah Travel Guide.
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There are many different ways to combine a road trip through Utah, and in this post, I will give you six different suggestions, to help you plan your perfect road trip. If you have questions, please comment below and I can help you customize this itinerary to fit your schedule and interests.
Before we begin, here is one last word of advice. Utah is full of incredible outdoor experiences. You’ll have a much more enjoyable experience if you slow down and enjoy the national park, rather than going through it on a super-fast road trip. If you’re like us, this road trip you’re currently planning will be just an introduction to the wonders Utah has to offer, and you’ll be dreaming and planning future return visits.
The best places to start your road trip through Utah are Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Both of these airports have frequent flights from a large number of airlines.
The majority of these itineraries in this post are written so that you do a loop, starting or ending at one of these airports.
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You can also fly into Moab, but flights are limited and expensive and not a great option for most people. Still, it’s worth a look, and I imagine in the coming years more flights will be available to Moab.
This 7-day Utah national park itinerary is a bit difficult but you can visit all five of Utah’s national parks. This road trip is perfect if you’re short on time and want the experience of visiting five national parks in one sweet little road trip.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the upper left corner of the map to see layers (points of interest and walking routes). You can click the checkmark to hide or show the layer. If you click on the icon on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
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Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
Pick up your rental car at the airport (standard vehicles are fine for this itinerary) and drive to Moab. Once in Moab, sit down at your hotel and have dinner.
This beautiful state park is a great introduction to Utah’s Mighty 5. 2,000 arches dot the landscape, as well as giant rock fins, mesas and a perfectly balanced rock.
Canyonlands is the least visited but also the largest national park in Utah. There are four districts that make up this national park. Today, you will spend most of your day on the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park.
Follow our Canyonlands Day Itinerary for suggestions on how to spend your time, and check out Best Things to Do in Canyonlands: Island in the Sky, to learn about things to do here.
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I recommend driving to Torrey, the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park, in the late afternoon (3 hours, 164 miles). This will give you more time to explore Capitol Reef. However, if you don’t like the idea of a long drive at the end of the day, you can sleep in Moab and get an early start tomorrow.
In my opinion, Capitol Reef is the most underrated park in Utah’s Mighty 5. With hiking trails that rival those in Zion, a beautiful backcountry experience, and low crowds, this national park is a joy to visit.
On this Utah national park itinerary, you only have one day to explore the park, but you may find that future return visits will be well worth your time.
Spend the day visiting Capitol Reef’s top attractions. From historic Fruita, drive the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive to Grand Wash. Climb Cassidy Arch and walk through the first part of the Grand Wash. Grand Wash is very similar to the Narrows in Zion, only without the river, so your feet stay dry but you can still hike through a wide slot canyon.
Utah National Parks & Monuments
Continue down the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive and then drive the very cool Capitol Gorge Road to the end. Walk through Capitol Gorge to the Pioneer Register, where settlers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries scrawled their names on the canyon walls.
Drive back to Fruita and consider hiking the Cohab Canyon Trail or to the Hickman Bridge if you still have energy. See the petroglyphs and end your tour with a view from Sunset Point.
In the late afternoon, drive to Bryce Canyon (2 hours, 105 miles). Better to stay near Bryce Canyon so you can see it at sunrise.
This small park, with hoodoos and hiking trails, is quick and easy to visit. The sunrise here is magical and it’s worth starting early to see this park first thing in the morning. Spend the day visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, and in the afternoon, drive to Springdale (2 hours, 84 miles).
U.s. National Parks: Bryce To Zion
Zion National Park is one of the best places in Utah to go hiking. Angels Landing, the Narrows and Observation Point are popular hiking trails, but there are many more to choose from. With a day, you can hike one longer trail in the morning and spend the afternoon exploring Zion Valley or hiking shorter trails. Tonight, sleep in Springdale.
If you want to make this round trip from Salt Lake City, it’s a 4.5 hour drive (310 miles).
This Utah national park itinerary is very similar to the itinerary above, only you will visit the national parks in the opposite order. The downside of this itinerary is that you have to do it point-to-point. It is very impractical to drive from Moab back to Las Vegas (it takes almost 7 hours to drive the 465 miles back to Las Vegas).
In Las Vegas, pick up your rental car and drive to Springdale (2.5 hours, 170 miles). Check in at your hotel in Springdale.
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Hike the trails in Zion and then drive to Bryce Canyon National Park in the afternoon (2 hours, 84 miles).
Start at sunrise at Bryce Canyon. Enjoy the view from the rim, hike a short trail, and then drive north to Torrey (2 hours, 105 miles) and check into your hotel.
Spend the day exploring Capitol Reef National Park and in the afternoon drive to Moab (3 hours, 164 miles).
From Moab, it is 240 miles that takes 4 hours to get to Salt Lake City International Airport. Plan a late afternoon flight to give yourself enough time to get to the airport.
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This is a longer version of the first road itinerary through Utah’s Mighty 5. The three extra days allow you to slow down, spend more time in Zion and add a few visits to state parks and national monuments.