From an array of historic sites to standing nose-to-nose with ancient fossils of dinosaurs, Utah today is that thrill-a-minute destination which adventure seekers, as well as families, have long since been seeking for. The diverse, stunning landscapes combined with the plethora of unique recreational activities inspire travelers from all over the world to visit Utah at least once in a lifetime. It’s one of those places that once you have visited, you will certainly be inspired to return again in the future! A 7 day Utah road trip is the best way to explore this gorgeous part of the United States.
The two things Utah is most known for are the colorful national parks and the legendary ski resorts. Whether you are looking to enjoy a relaxing, luxurious retreat in one of the many gorgeous Utah cabin rentals or perhaps experience an adventure seekers paradise, Utah is undoubtedly the place to go in the States.
The Mighty 5 National Parks are a popular attraction but as are some of the lesser-known spots. We want to focus on how you can enjoy a little bit of everything during an action-packed week-long adventure.
It is difficult to imagine how you could cover a state so large and so full of incredible spots and spectacular beauty in a matter of days or even a week. The reality is, you will barely touch the surface in a week-long road trip but it’s an experience you will cherish forever.
7 Day Utah Road Trip
Let’s take a look at the potentially exhausting but amazing road trip itinerary, assuming that most visitors to Utah will start their adventure in Salt Lake City. We have been fortunate to experience Utah on a couple of different occasions and each time, we literally fell in love with the state even more.
Day 1 – Explore Salt Lake City
Day 2 – Salt Lake City to Arches National Park
Day 3 – Arches National Park to Canyonlands National Park
Day 4 – Canyonlands National Park to Monument Valley
Day 5 – Monument Valley to Natural Bridges National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park
Day 6 – Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 7 – Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park
This seven days in heaven itinerary, for those who have an appetite for a whirlwind trip, combines to offer a heady mix of family fun, solace of nature and of course, a continuous adrenaline rush. Taking you past rainbow colored deserts to gazing upwards towards stunning rock formations and eventually sliding down powder-laden slopes, all this will culminate in a Utah experience that you are never likely to forget.
Let’s take a look at some of the spots you cannot afford to miss when you next venture to what is one of our favorite states because of the incredible natural beauty.
Salt Lake City
Many people tend to overlook this city of Mormon Heritage, and instead, make a beeline for the more sought after national parks. With a number of museums, restaurants serving tempting local food and the mighty Wasatch Mountain range beckoning you in the background, a visit to Salt Lake City is worth more than just a curious glance.
Once you have got over the jet-lag, start the day with a variety of coffee from around the world, at the quiet Salt Lake Roasting Company. From here, take a leisurely stroll to the spiritual heart of the city, Temple Square, to get an insight on the Mormon religion. Head to the National History Museum, a playground for the paleontologists, to view the dinosaurs and fossils. Take a stroll around Memory Grove Park before grabbing lunch at one of the eclectic restaurants and cafes scattered across the city.
In the afternoon, do the 28-mile drive to Snowbird, in the Wasatch mountains, either to ski during winter or mountain biking in summer. Take the cable car to the 11000 feet Hidden Peak for some breathtaking views.
As we mentioned, Salt Lake City is a haven for luxury retreats and cabin rentals. We have been fortunate to stay in a gorgeous property just outside of Salt Lake City or nearby Park City and whether you are looking to enjoy the ski season in the heart of winter or perhaps the summer season, this is definitely a place we would recommend if you need to recharge your batteries.
Arches National Park
Ready to hit the road and start the adventure? The dramatic backcountry destination of Arches National Park lies less than 4 hours away from Salt Lake City in Moab. Try and reach the Visitor Center as early as possible to avoid the rush.
If you love hiking, Arches National Park hiking trails will leave you speechless with the breathtaking scenery waiting to be discovered.
Visitors have the option to drive around the 36-mile periphery, which covers most of the important sites. We opted to take the scenic drive through the park and venture to some of the iconic natural phenomena including Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, the Windows section and of course, Delicate Arch!
Canyonlands National Park
This is the biggest of all the parks in Utah, offering spectacular panoramic views looking down thousands of feet into the Colorado River, and gazing upwards towards the cliffs and pinnacles even higher.
Early morning or late afternoon trips are recommended to take advantage of the light conditions for photographic opportunities. The must-see places include Dead Horse Point State Park and the unmissable Island in the Sky.
Monument Valley forms a part of the Navajo Nation and is an iconic symbol of the American West. The rugged landscape here passing through the three historic towns of Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff, makes for the best part of the entire Utah itinerary.
The landforms here were made famous by the many Hollywood westerns shot here, and are unlike anything found elsewhere.
Natural Bridges and Capitol Reef National Park
Home to three of the five largest bridges made of sandstone, the Natural Bridges National Monument is just the perfect place to stop and unwind before the hectic program ahead.
The splashing and contrasting colors of the red and white sandstones in the Capitol Reef Park have earned it the nickname of Land of the Sleeping Rainbow. The 90-minute scenic drive around the park goes past places of pristine beauty and natural wonders.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The true beauty of Mother Nature is aptly reflected in the number of natural amphitheaters she has created on the pink cliffs side of Bryce Canyon National Park. The resultant color hues which arise with the rising and setting of the sun make for an unforgettable spectacle.
The scenic drive through Bryce Canyon literally takes you to 9,000 feet! And the views don’t disappoint! Inspiration Point was perhaps our favorite with the maelstrom of colors epitomizing the beauty throughout Bryce Canyon National Park. The amazing sight of the vistas and the iconic ‘hoodoos’ are a real sight to behold.
Hoodoos are totem-pole like structures that provide a distinctive representation of Bryce Canyon and are even more spectacular in person than pictures can ever show.
The amazing sight of the vistas and the iconic ‘hoodoos’ are a real sight to behold. Hoodoos are totem-pole like structures that provide a distinctive representation of Bryce Canyon and are even more spectacular in person than pictures can ever show.
A self-guided Bryce Canyon tour will leave you speechless with the number of amazing viewpoints offering majestic panoramic landscapes. Bryce Point, Natural Bridge, and Ponderosa Canyon are just a couple more examples of natural features you won’t want to miss on your adventure through this national park.
Zion National Park
Stunningly crafted by water over decades and decades of time, the Zion National Park, offers some of the most unimaginable and good hiking trails with beautiful landscapes to match. One of the first, and most popular parks of Utah, the activities here include camping, hiking, and canyoneering.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive goes through the important sections of the park, which ultimately end up at the Virgin River, and the adjacent waterfalls and clear pools of water. If you are fit enough, climb the path to the Observation Point for the quench of the ultimate outdoor wonder.
Utah is a haven of adventure and breathtaking natural beauty. Everyone that visits Utah will have their own stories to share and every experience will be different…that’s the inherent beauty of Utah and the spectacular landscape it possesses. With excellent air connectivity into Salt Lake International Airport, getting to Utah is now easier than ever. So what are you waiting for?
As we mentioned, a Utah road trip in only one week is not only action-packed but also exhausting. Why not consider exploring all of the amazing natural attractions before heading back to Salt Lake City and spending a couple of nights in one of the picture-perfect luxury retreats?
We are eager to head back to Utah sooner rather than later and hopefully, we have inspired you to consider booking a trip in the near future! Did I also mention that Utah was the perfect state to also venture into another amazing national park – Yellowstone? Be sure to check out our recommendations on the best route to take to drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park.
Please feel free to share your experiences in Utah in the comments below and also add some of the lesser known spots that we cannot afford to miss when we next visit the Beehive State!