Utah, a red rock haven in the USA’s southwest region, is home of the Navajo, Ute, and Apache Native tribes, land of Utah’s Mighty 5, and region of incredible National Parks and State Parks that are on almost everyone’s bucket lists. Salt Lake City, the state’s capital city, is the major metropolitan hub of this enchanting state and is going to serve as the home base and starting point for our Utah Road Trip itinerary.
If you are visiting from out of state or out of the country and plan to see some of the sites on our list, you can also fly into Las Vegas, Nevada, or Grand Junction, Colorado. We recommend purchasing a National Parks pass in order to save a little money on entrance fees and help support the National Parks Service. You can order online or purchase at one of the National Park’s Visitor Centers.
10-Day Utah Road Trip Itinerary
There is absolutely so much to see, explore, and behold in the red-rock state. So much that it is almost impossible to do in only 10 days, but we have attempted to jam-pack the best of Utah into this road trip itinerary. We have included scenic drives, slot canyons, the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks, the best hikes, and favorite places to lodge or camp along the way.
Day 1: Salt Lake City to Zion National Park
Rent or use your car and begin in Salt Lake City. The first day will be the biggest driving day in this 10-day round trip across Utah. Head south approximately 4.5 hours to Zion National Park. Located in Springdale, Zion features a 1,000-foot deep red-rock canyon with dramatic scenery and some epic hiking trails. Some of the most-loved trail areas are Angel’s Landing and the slot canyons at the Narrows. You can camp or lodge in the area for a good night’s rest.
Day 2: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park
After you wake up and enjoy breakfast, begin the almost two-hour drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, the land of red-rock hoodoos (pillars), forested plateaus, and the monumental canyon. Bryce Canyon presents ample opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and camping under the stars. Situated at elevations of up to 9,000 feet, you can even snowshoe or cross-country ski in the wintertime. Some favorite attractions include the Queen’s Garden and Sunset Point. You can either camp or lodge in the area or drive onto Escalante to stay the night before for day 3’s adventures.
Day 3: Escalante
On your way to Capitol Reef National Park, you can stop and stay in the charming town of Escalante off of the famous Scenic Byway 12. This is a good day to get a hotel if you have been camping, enjoy a hot meal at a local eatery, and rest up for more epic hiking trails and adventures! If you are ready for a hike into the solitude of Utah’s backcountry, you must visit the mind-blowing Grand Staircase?Escalante National Monument.
Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park
A 90-mile drive from Escalante will take you to Torrey, where the next big Utah National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, lies. Spend the day and night here discovering the expansive vistas, endless landscape, and beautiful desert rock. Navigate the slot canyons, explore the hiking trails, or take a driving tour on the 22-mile Capitol Reef Scenic Drive (including six miles of dirt roads). Rent a campsite for the night and sleep amongst the desolate beauty.
Day 5: Goblin Valley State Park
Wake up and drive 90 miles to Goblin Valley State Park for another day and night of hiking and camping. Nestled along the San Rafael Reef, Goblin Valley is a world unlike any other. The area is marked by sandstone “goblin” rock formations that look comparable to what Mars looks like. Camp among these rock “goblins,” mountain bike, or hike the nearby canyons.
Day 6: Moab, Utah
Wake up refreshed and make the approximately one and half-hour drive to Moab, your home base for the next four nights. From Moab, you can take day trips to the rest of the Mighty 5. Rent an Airbnb or a room at a local bed and breakfast and allow yourself to relax for a day. We suggest having a picnic next to the grand Colorado River (or even rafting the river)!
Day 7: Arches National Park
Your first day trip from Moab is just 10 minutes away to Arches National Park. A mecca for hikers and nature lovers alike, Arches features over 73,000 acres of balanced rocks, other-worldly sandstone formations, red-rock hoodoos, and its namesake – arches. You can hike the popular Delicate Arch trail, take the Windows Primitive Loop Trail (a 1.2-mile hike to see the Double Arch), or walk the somewhat easy trail up to the Devil’s Garden. After you’re done exploring, head back to Moab for the night.
Day 8: Canyonlands National Park
The next morning, your day trip is a half-hour away to the fascinating Canyonlands National Park. This incredible land features The Island in the Sky scenic drive (also known as Grand Viewpoint Road), which is a 51-mile out-and-back road through the National Park as well as Dead Horse Point State Park. Other noteworthy attractions include the Needles District, The Maze district (super remote), and the Mesa Arch hike (incomprehensible views and beginner-friendly). You can decide to camp here or head back into Moab for the night.
Day 9: REST DAY!
Whether you stayed in Canyonlands or slept in Moab, Day 9 is your rest day. You deserve it after eight jam-packed days of driving, hiking, camping, and learning. Do a little shopping, schedule a massage, or simply relax in bed.
Day 10: Homeward Bound to Salt Lake City
HOORAY! You did it. You completed your 10-day Utah National Park Road Trip where you witnessed the extraordinary beauty of this Navajo nation. Now go ahead, pat yourself on the back, and head back to Salt Lake City.
Other Fascinating Stops in Utah
1. Grand Canyon
2. Lake Powell
3. Monument Valley Buttes (Arizona border)
Have you been to any of these spots? Tell us your story on the Wide Open Roads Facebook Page!