Best Road Trip Destinations

Utah’s National Parks: The Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary

Embark on an unforgettable adventure through Utah’s National Parks, where breathtaking landscapes and iconic scenic drives await. This road trip itinerary will take you on a journey through the majestic beauty of Utah’s five national parks, ensuring you experience the highlights of each park along the way. From mesmerizing canyons to towering hoodoos, Utah’s National Parks offer a diverse range of natural wonders to explore.

Travel through the stunning landscapes of Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural stone arches. Witness the dramatic red rock formations of Canyonlands National Park and capture the beauty of Bryce Canyon’s unique hoodoos. Immerse yourself in the peaceful serenity of Capitol Reef National Park, and hike the scenic trails of Zion National Park, where towering cliffs and the famous Narrows await.

Embarking on this road trip will allow you to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Utah’s National Parks firsthand. Be prepared to witness vibrant sunsets, breathtaking vistas, and landscapes that will leave you speechless. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or simply looking for an escape into the great outdoors, this road trip through Utah’s National Parks is the answer.

Stay tuned as we guide you through the ultimate itinerary, offering helpful tips and recommendations along the way. Get ready to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, immersing yourself in the unparalleled beauty of Utah’s National Parks. Let the journey begin!

About Utah’s National Parks

Utah is a state renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, boasting five remarkable national parks that showcase the state’s diverse landscapes. These national parks, along with numerous state parks, provide ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to embark on unforgettable adventures. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking awe-inspiring scenery, Utah’s national parks offer something for everyone.

When embarking on a road trip through Utah, you’ll have the chance to explore not only the national parks but also experience some of the most iconic scenic drives in the country. These drives will take you through mesmerizing terrain, providing stunning vistas at every turn.

Utah’s national parks are known for their unique geological features, including towering hoodoos, expansive canyons, and sandstone arches. Each park offers its distinct charm and opportunities for adventure. Whether you’re hiking in Zion National Park, traversing the enchanting fairyland of Bryce Canyon, or gazing at the delicate formations in Arches National Park, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of natural wonders.

Not to be overshadowed, Utah’s state parks offer their own allure, with fewer crowds and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. These parks provide opportunities for camping, picnicking, fishing, and much more.

Scenic Drives in Utah

One of the highlights of any Utah road trip are the scenic drives that wind their way through the stunning landscapes. From the iconic Monument Valley to the dramatic switchbacks of Scenic Byway 12, there’s no shortage of breathtaking routes to explore. These drives will not only take you to the national parks but also provide a chance to witness the captivating beauty of Utah’s surrounding areas.

Here are some notable scenic drives to include in your road trip itinerary:

  1. Scenic Byway 12: This 122-mile route winds through picturesque canyons, forests, and plateaus, offering unparalleled views. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop at Bryce Canyon National Park for panoramic sights.
  2. Scenic Byway 24: Connecting Capitol Reef National Park to Goblin Valley State Park, this scenic drive takes you through magnificent red rock landscapes. Be sure to make a stop at Goblin Valley to marvel at its unique rock formations.
  3. Monument Valley Loop Drive: This iconic route showcases the quintessential American Southwest scenery with its towering buttes and mesas made famous by countless movies and photographs.
  4. Utah’s Scenic Byway 128: Known as the “River Road,” this route follows the Colorado River, meandering through beautiful canyons and offering breathtaking views along the way. Don’t forget to stop at Castle Valley for a photo-op.

Exploring Utah’s national parks and scenic drives is like diving into a living postcard, where every turn reveals a new vista that will leave you in awe. So buckle up, hit the open road, and get ready for an unforgettable road trip adventure through Utah’s unrivaled natural beauty.

National Parks State Parks Scenic Drives
1. Arches National Park 1. Goblin Valley State Park 1. Scenic Byway 12
2. Bryce Canyon National Park 2. Dead Horse Point State Park 2. Scenic Byway 24
3. Canyonlands National Park 3. Kodachrome Basin State Park 3. Monument Valley Loop Drive
4. Capitol Reef National Park 4. Antelope Island State Park 4. Utah’s Scenic Byway 128
5. Zion National Park 5. Snow Canyon State Park

Planning Your Utah National Parks Road Trip

Planning a road trip can be an exciting and daunting task. But fear not, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide to planning your Utah national parks road trip. From creating an itinerary to finding the best accommodations, we’ll provide you with all the information you need for a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Choosing Your Starting Point

When planning your road trip through Utah’s national parks, it’s important to choose a starting point that makes the most sense for your travel preferences.

“Whether you prefer to start your journey in the north or south, each option offers its own unique advantages. Consider factors such as proximity to airports, accessibility to major highways, and the specific parks you want to visit.”

Creating Your Itinerary

Create a day-by-day itinerary to ensure you make the most of your time exploring Utah’s national parks. Start by researching the highlights and must-see attractions of each park, and then allocate the appropriate amount of time for each stop.

Here’s an example of a 7-day itinerary:

Day Park Activities
Day 1 Zion National Park Hike the Narrows
Day 2 Bryce Canyon National Park Explore the Hoodoos
Day 3 Capitol Reef National Park Scenic Drive on Highway 12
Day 4 Arches National Park Delicate Arch Hike
Day 5 Canyonlands National Park Mesa Arch Sunrise
Day 6 Monument Valley Navajo Guided Jeep Tour
Day 7 Back to Starting Point Departure

Remember to allow flexibility in your schedule to account for unexpected detours or additional time needed at certain locations.

Finding Accommodations

There are various options for accommodations during your Utah national parks road trip. Here are a few popular choices:

  1. Campgrounds within the national parks for a more immersive experience with nature.
  2. Lodges and cabins located within the parks for convenient access to the park’s attractions.
  3. Hotels and motels in nearby towns for a comfortable stay with easy access to the parks.
  4. RV parks and campgrounds for those traveling in recreational vehicles.

It’s recommended to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability.

road trip planning

“A well-planned road trip through Utah’s national parks will allow you to make the most of your time and experience the incredible beauty that this region has to offer. With the right itinerary, accommodations, and travel tips, your Utah national parks road trip is sure to be an adventure you’ll never forget!”

The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

Now it’s time to dive into the ultimate Utah national parks road trip itinerary. This itinerary will take you on a journey through all five of Utah’s national parks, allowing you to experience the highlights of each park. From exploring the towering hoodoos in Bryce Canyon to hiking through the narrows in Zion, this road trip itinerary covers all the must-see attractions in the Mighty 5.

Zion National Park

Your road trip begins in Zion National Park, known for its stunning red cliffs and unique hiking opportunities. Start your adventure with a hike to Angel’s Landing, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the park. Then, make your way to the Narrows, where you can hike through the narrow slot canyon and wade through the Virgin River.

national park highlights

Bryce Canyon National Park

From Zion, head east to Bryce Canyon National Park, famous for its otherworldly hoodoos – tall, thin spires of rock. Take a scenic drive along the park’s main road and stop at various viewpoints to marvel at the unique rock formations. For a closer look, hike the Queen’s Garden Trail or the Navajo Loop Trail and descend into the heart of the amphitheater.

Capitol Reef National Park

Continue your journey to Capitol Reef National Park, a hidden gem known for its colorful cliffs and rugged landscapes. Take a scenic drive along the Capitol Reef Scenic Byway and be sure to stop at the visitor center to learn about the park’s geology and history. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to Hickman Bridge, a massive natural arch that offers stunning views.

Arches National Park

Next, make your way to Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Explore the park’s iconic formations, including Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and the Windows Section. Take a hike to the famous Delicate Arch viewpoint and witness a spectacular sunset over the arch.

Canyonlands National Park

Your road trip concludes in Canyonlands National Park, a vast wilderness of canyons, mesas, and buttes. Visit the Island in the Sky district and enjoy panoramic views from the various overlooks. Take a hike to Mesa Arch or experience the thrill of off-roading on one of the park’s scenic drives.

With this ultimate Utah national parks road trip itinerary, you’ll get to experience the highlights of each national park and witness the breathtaking beauty that Utah has to offer. So pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the Mighty 5.

Tips for a Successful Utah National Parks Road Trip

Embarking on a road trip through Utah’s national parks is an exciting adventure, but proper preparation is key to ensure a smooth and memorable journey. Here are some valuable tips to help you make the most of your Utah national parks road trip:

1. Choose the Best Time to Visit

Utah’s national parks offer unique experiences throughout the year, but certain seasons are more favorable than others. Visit during spring or fall to avoid the extreme heat and crowds, and to witness the stunning colors of the changing seasons.

2. Plan Your Itinerary in Advance

With five national parks to explore, a well-planned itinerary is essential. Research each park’s highlights, hiking trails, and scenic drives to make the most of your time. Consider spending multiple days in larger parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon to fully immerse yourself in their natural wonders.

3. Pack the Essentials

Before hitting the road, make sure you pack essential items such as comfortable clothing, sturdy hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and sufficient water for your hikes and outdoor activities. It’s also a good idea to bring a map or GPS device and a portable charger for your electronic devices.

4. Be Mindful of National Park Fees

Utah’s national parks have entrance fees, which vary depending on the park and the type of vehicle you have. Prior to your trip, familiarize yourself with the fees and consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass if you plan to visit multiple parks, as it offers substantial cost savings.

5. Explore Beyond the National Parks

While Utah’s national parks are the main attraction, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the lesser-known state parks and other natural attractions in the area. These hidden gems often offer equally breathtaking beauty and fewer crowds.

“A road trip through Utah’s national parks is an invitation to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories. By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a journey of a lifetime.”

By keeping these road trip tips in mind, you’ll be ready to embark on a successful adventure through Utah’s national parks. Get ready to witness awe-inspiring natural wonders, hike breathtaking trails, and capture memories that will last a lifetime.

National Park Entrance Fees

National Park Vehicle Entrance Fee Motorcycle Entrance Fee Pedestrian or Cyclist Entrance Fee
Arches National Park $30 $25 $15
Bryce Canyon National Park $35 $30 $20
Canyonlands National Park $30 $25 $15
Capitol Reef National Park $20 $15 $10
Zion National Park $35 $30 $20

Where to Stay on Your Utah National Parks Road Trip

Finding the right accommodation is crucial for a comfortable and convenient road trip experience. When exploring Utah’s national parks, you have various options for lodging. Whether you prefer to stay within the parks, in cozy lodges surrounded by nature, or in accommodations near the parks, there are choices to suit every traveler’s needs and budget.

Camping in the National Parks

If you enjoy being close to nature, camping in the national parks is an excellent choice. Most of the parks offer campgrounds with stunning views and convenient access to the park’s attractions. Remember to check the availability and reservation requirements in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Staying in Lodges

If you prefer the comfort of a lodge, each of Utah’s national parks has its own lodge or nearby lodges that offer cozy accommodations with modern amenities. Staying in a lodge allows you to immerse yourself in the park’s atmosphere and enjoy the convenience of being just steps away from the park’s wonders.

Accommodations Near the Parks

If you prefer more options, there are also accommodations available near the parks. You can find a range of hotels, motels, cabins, and vacation rentals in the surrounding areas. These accommodations provide easy access to the parks while offering additional amenities and services.

“Finding the right place to stay is essential for a memorable road trip experience. Whether you opt for camping, staying in a lodge, or choosing accommodations near the parks, make sure to consider your preferences and budget.”

Below is a comprehensive table summarizing the types of lodging available in each of Utah’s national parks.

National Park Camping Lodges Accommodations Near the Park
Zion National Park Campgrounds available The Zion Lodge Hotels, motels, vacation rentals
Bryce Canyon National Park Campgrounds available The Lodge at Bryce Canyon Hotels, motels, cabins
Arches National Park Campgrounds available None Hotels, motels, vacation rentals
Canyonlands National Park Campgrounds available None Hotels, motels, vacation rentals
Capitol Reef National Park Campgrounds available The Lodge at Capitol Reef Hotels, motels, vacation rentals

Remember to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best options for your Utah national parks road trip.


As we reach the end of our journey, we can confidently say that a road trip through Utah’s national parks is an experience like no other. From the awe-inspiring landscapes to the famous scenic drives, this adventure promises to create memories that will last a lifetime.

By following our ultimate road trip itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Mighty 5 – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks. Each park offers its own unique charm and natural wonders, from towering rock formations to breathtaking canyons and arches.

Remember to plan your road trip in advance, considering the best starting point and the ideal time to visit. Be sure to check for any national park fees and make reservations for accommodations, whether you prefer camping or staying in lodges near the parks.

So pack your bags, gather your travel companions, and embark on this unforgettable adventure. Utah’s national parks await you with open arms and stunning vistas. Enjoy the road trip and create lifelong memories on this journey through Utah’s breathtaking landscapes.


When is the best time to visit Utah’s national parks?

The best time to visit Utah’s national parks is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. However, each park has its own unique beauty and can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Are there entrance fees for Utah’s national parks?

Yes, there are entrance fees for Utah’s national parks. The fees vary by park and are used to help maintain and preserve the parks for future generations. You can find more information about the fees on the official National Park Service website.

Can I camp in Utah’s national parks?

Yes, camping is allowed in most of Utah’s national parks. Each park has designated campgrounds where you can set up tents or park RVs. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Are there guided tours available in Utah’s national parks?

Yes, there are guided tour options available in Utah’s national parks. These tours can provide you with valuable insights and information about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. You can book guided tours through the park’s visitor centers or online.

What are some must-see attractions in Utah’s national parks?

Some must-see attractions in Utah’s national parks include Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, The Narrows in Zion National Park, and Bryce Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park. Each park has its own iconic landmarks and natural wonders to explore.

Can I bring my pet to Utah’s national parks?

Pets are welcome in Utah’s national parks, but there are some restrictions and guidelines to follow. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and are only allowed on designated trails and roads. It’s important to clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.

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