The best road trips in Utah are a short drive away!
One of the gems of the American southwest, Utah is a state chock full of diversity. With pristine lakes, snow-capped mountains, and a culture and history all its own, there’s something for everyone in Utah.
This beautiful state is home to five national parks, so there’s plenty of nature to explore. This also means that there’s a plethora of activities for outdoor sports enthusiasts to enjoy.
So what’s the best way to explore Utah? We’d recommend a classic road trip. Whether you want forests or deserts, mountains or lakes, cities or small towns, you’ll find a Utah road trip that’s everything you want it to be.
With so many options, it can be hard to choose, so we’ve outlined some of the best road trips in Utah for you.
Table of Contents
Best Road Trips in Utah
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The Alpine Loop
This Utah road trip is perfect if you’re looking for a shorter trip. This 20-mile drive starts at American Fork Canyon and takes you through the Uinta National Forest, ending at Provo Canyon. This is a Utah road trip you can adjust to fit your whims.
The Uinta National Forest is well-known for its wide range of outdoor activities offered during all seasons. Along the drive you’ll want to stop at Timpanogos Cave National Monument and maybe even hike the trail to the caves if you’re feeling like hopping out of the car for a while. Near the end of your trip, you’ll go by Empire Pass, so prepare for breathtaking views.
You will eventually end up at Sundance Resort, where you’ll find even more adventure activities at your disposal.
Where to stay: Sundance Mountain Resort
Red Rock & Dark Skies
If you’re a stargazer, this is the Utah road trip for you. This four-day road trip spans 459 miles in the southwestern part of Utah, taking you on a tour of the best places to stare up at the Milky Way.
On this road trip in Utah, you’ll go through Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Kodachrome Basin State Park. Three of these four locations are certified International Dark Sky Parks, meaning you’ll have the best view of the Milky Way possible.
If you’re really looking to take advantage of this unique trip, look up some star parties you might be able to join.
Where to stay: Cedar Breaks Lodge
This Utah road trip takes you 38 miles round trip down the Bryce Canyon National Park Rim Road. This road winds throughout the entire national park, so you’ll get to explore every bit of it.
With 13 viewpoints that let you overlook the natural amphitheaters, the landscape along this drive will take your breath away. You can take your time exploring the national park by stopping to wander and hike whenever you please. We’d especially recommend doing the 1-mile hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point if you’re looking for some unrivaled views.
Where to stay: Bryce View Lodge
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
This Utah road trip will take your breath away. The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway stretches for 42 miles from the town of Kamas to the Wyoming border. It is also one of the highest roads in Utah, reaching a peak of 10,687 feet at Bald Mountain Pass.
While you drive through the Uinta Mountains, you’ll enjoy views of beautiful alpine forests, rivers, glaciers, and Mirror Lake itself. You’ll also pass Provo River Falls, where you can stop, have a picnic, and enjoy the view.
Where to stay: Lodges at Deer Valley
Food lovers, this is the Utah road trip for you! Stretching from Brigham City to Willard, this trip along US 89 will take you past dozens of local farms and stands offering the freshest and most delicious produce you can imagine.
Be sure to start with an empty stomach – you won’t be able to resist trying everything they have to offer: cherries, peaches, raspberries, tomatoes, and more! It’s a great way to support local farmers, appease your taste buds, and have fun with your loved ones all at the same time.
Where to stay: Howard Johnson by Wyndham Brigham City
Moab and Arches National Park
Moab is well-known for its wide range of outdoor activities, especially mountain biking. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, this is the road trip in Utah for you.
Running from Salt Lake City to Moab, this trip will take you through the magnificent Arches National Park, home to over 2000 amazing natural arches. You may choose to stop and hike in the park, which we would highly recommend if you want to see some unique landscapes. This route also offers many detours for those who may want to get a little more off the beaten path.
Where to stay: Adventure Inn Moab
This 40-mile road trip in Utah will take you through the Fishlake National Forest in the center of the state. The main stars of this road trip are the alpine mountain scenery and the pristine Fish Lake, the state’s largest natural mountain lake. There are plenty of opportunities for fishing and boating on these serene waters, so be sure to kick back and enjoy.
Most people like to do this road trip in the fall because of the beautiful scenery of the alpine trees. There are also many offshoots from the Fishlake Scenic Byway that you can take if you want to extend your trip.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express Richfield
Salt Lake City to Zion National Park
If you decide to take this longer Utah road trip, you’ll pass through many other attractions on the way to Zion: Fishlake National Forest, the Cedar Breaks National Monument, and the city of St. George on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
Once you get to Zion, be sure to explore every corner of this incredible national park. Home to breathtaking vistas with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as well as the stunning Zion Canyon itself, this road trip is well worth the time it takes to get there.
Where to stay: Zion Mountain Ranch
Tiny Towns: Spanish Fork to Salina
A little more off the beaten path, this Utah road trip lets you see another side of the state besides just its beautiful landscapes. Utah is home to many small towns that are basically ghost towns now. So, if you’re interested in true small-town American culture and history, this is the road trip in Utah for you.
Starting in Spanish Fork on US 6, be sure to stop and check out Thistle. This tiny town was flooded a few decades back and is now a ghost town. When you move on to Mt. Pleasant, you’ll be awed by the historical buildings and attractions. Other notable towns along the way include Ephraim and Manti before you finally end up in Salina.
Where to stay: Gunnison Inn
Ogden Canyon Loop
The Ogden River Scenic Byway is one of the best road trips in Utah. Starting on State Road 36, you’ll head up through Ogden Canyon and follow the Ogden River away from the city and into the alpine forests. As you continue to wind your way through the Ogden Valley, you’ll come across the small but stunning towns of Huntsville and Eden.
You’ll also pass by the Pineview Reservoir if you’re looking to stop for a quick swim. Other attractions along the way include the Abbey of the Holy Trinity and the Shooting Star Saloon, where you’ll find some of the best burgers in the state.
Where to stay: Compass Rose Lodge
These are some of the best road trips in Utah, but there are so many more! Start here to whet your appetite for exploring this beautiful state and be sure to get off the beaten path when you can if you want to discover all Utah has to offer. This state is chock full of incredible scenery, serene nature, authentic American small towns, and big cities with rich culture and history, so be sure to take a few road trips if you get the chance.
As always, happy travels everyone! We’ll see you on the road!