Utah has numerous places to explore and amazing sights, thanks to its diverse and stunning landscapes. Here are the best Utah road trips.
What are the best road trips in Utah?
Some of the best road trips in Utah include Scenic Byway 12, Utah’s Dinosaur Sites, the Mighty Five national parks, the Fishlake Loop, Utah small towns, and the Ogden River Scenic Byway. Spring is the best time to go on these Utah road trips since the weather is great and there are no crowds.
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The Top 6 Utah Road Trips
Utah is renowned for its hundreds of orange rock formations, deep canyons, dozens of state and natural parks, desert landscapes, striking sandstone sculptures, roaring rivers, small towns, and majestic mesas, just to name a few.
And, the best way to explore these amazing places in Utah is through a road trip, since most are accessible via roadside viewpoints and paved highways.
Such a road trip will give you an opportunity to bond with friends and relax, and will leave you with memorable experiences.
In this travel guide, we will walk you through the top six best Utah road trips. So, whether you are planning a couple’s trip, a family trip or solo travel, this list has several great options to consider.
Scenic Byway 12
If you only have time for a single Utah road trip, then it has to be the Scenic Byway 12. Also known as the All-American Road, this route will allow you to experience almost everything that the Beehive State is famous for, within a single day.
You can begin your journey at the Capitol Reef National Park, situated in south-central Utah.
From there, you will hit State Route 12 and then take a detour to spend an hour or so in the Anasazi State Park Museum if you are a history buff. Here, you can learn more about ancient Puebloan pottery.
From the Anasazi State Park Museum, you should continue with your journey on Byway 12.
You can then take a detour and join Hell’s Backbone Road, where you will enjoy some of the most amazing mountain views.
If you have time, you can also trek to Lower Calf Creek Falls, which offers stunning views of the Canyon and the waterfall itself. Also, there’s a pool at the bottom of the falls, where you can cool off after a tiresome hike.
After you’ve had enough of the Calf Creek Falls, you should then proceed to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Some of the things to do here include swimming, hiking and ice-fishing, just to name a few.
Another place that you should consider visiting during your Scenic Byway 12 road trip is the Bryce Canyon National Park, where you can explore the majestic sandstone cliffs spread throughout the park.
Your road trip along this route will then end at Dixie National Forest, where the Red Canyon sits. The entire forest park is filled with scenic trails cutting through the pinyon pine forests and beautiful rock formations.
It’s considered one of the most photographed places in the state.
Utah’s Dinosaur Sites Road Trip
For millions of years, the Beehive State was part of a coastal floodplain, filled with various types of flora and fauna, including dinosaurs. And, their evidence is still visible through thousands of bones and footprints.
So, if you are into archaeology and history, then a road trip to Utah’s dinosaur sites should be on your bucket list. This will give you a unique opportunity to learn and appreciate history.
You will begin your road trip in the city of Huntington, which lies along U.S. Route 10. Here, you can purchase some necessary supplies that you will need for your road trip.
From there, you should proceed to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, which has one of the highest concentrations of dinosaur bones.
After you’ve had an extensive tour of the Dinosaur Quarry, you can head over to Electric Lake, which will also take you through the Wasatch Plateau. Here, you will soak in breathtaking views of the wildflowers and the towns below.
You will then proceed to Fairview via Mormon country, where you will get an opportunity to experience a different life from what you are used to in the city.
If you have time to spare in Fairview, you should check out the museum, with its incredible collection of pioneer artifacts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
From Fairview, you will proceed northeast wards on the UT 264 route to the town of Scofield, which is approximately 16 miles away. Here, you can grab something to eat and drink, as you plan your trip back home.
Mighty Five Road Trip
A tour of the Mighty Five national parks is one of the best Utah road trips for nature lovers. These five national parks are Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. Each of these parks is brimming with stunning natural beauty and hundreds of things to do.
For this road trip, it will be highly advisable to set aside at least six to seven days, to ensure you absorb all the beauty in and around the national parks.
But, we can guarantee you that it will be worth it. In case you can’t manage to visit all the five parks, then you should check out the following three.
Arches National Park
Your first stop will be Arches National Park. While this national park is quite small compared to the others, it has plenty of things to do and see.
Here, you will trek to the Delicate Ark, where you can watch some amazing sunsets. If the night is clear, then you can spend some hours after dark stargazing.
Other places that you can explore while at the Arches National Park include The Windows area, where you can explore rock formations and hike the Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop Trail, where you will encounter rock gardens, desert plants and picturesque arches.
Bryce Canyon National Park
After you’ve had your fill of Arches National Park, your next stop should be Bryce Canyon National Park. It features breathtaking orange rock formations.
And the good news is that you can trek up to these rock formations and soak in their beauty from a closer range.
The best time to experience this park’s beauty is during sunrise. Furthermore, you will also be able to avoid crowds, since this park is quite popular during the summer months. However, if you can’t manage to brave the morning cold, then sunset is equally a great time.
Apart from catching the sunrise and sunsets, Bryce Canyon National Park also offers numerous hiking opportunities.
The Navajo Loop combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail are the best trails for a hike.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is the fourth-most visited park in the country. Its stunning beauty is probably the reason why millions of visitors choose it over other national parks every year.
Hiking offers one of the best ways of exploring this park and appreciating its beauty. And, you have several hikes to choose from, depending on the area of the park that you want to explore.
If you only have time for a single hike, then you can either choose Observation Point, Angel’s Landing or The Narrows. While these hikes are quite challenging, you will enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the park.
The Fishlake Loop
If you feel like you’ve had a fill of the state’s desert terrain and you want a change of scenery, then the Fishlake Loop will be perfect.
This road trip traverses lush mountains and scenic alpine lakes. It’s one of the top Utah road trips for spring and fall.
You will start your trip in the town of Loa. From there, you will hit the intersection of Highways 24 and 25 – which marks the beginning of the Fishlake Scenic Byway.
You will then follow the byway and you will eventually see Fish Lake, set against the majestic Mytoge mountain range.
Fish Lake is the Beehive State’s largest natural mountain lake. It’s also one of the most popular fishing resorts in this area.
Here, you can spend your time strolling or relaxing on the lake’s shores. You can also head to the quaint Fish Lake Lodge, where you can enjoy some freshly prepared food.
There is plenty of wildlife in this area. And, there’s a high chance you will see several along the way. Some of the most popular sightings include moose and elk.
Also, there are plenty of birds around the lake, including bald eagles and golden eagles.
Once you’ve finished exploring this area, you will then follow the road and it will lead you back to Loa. The round-trip distance is around 40 miles. On average, it will take you four hours to and fro.
Utah Small Towns Road Trip
There are several quaint towns in Utah, set between vast red-rock formations, national parks and delightful lakes.
These small towns offer a unique, charming experience, which you won’t find elsewhere in the state’s modern towns and cities like Provo and Salt Lake City. Some of the charming towns to add to your Utah road trips itinerary include:
Panguitch is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and rural charm.
This laid-back town is nestled between lakes and mountains, making it a great jumping-off point for outdoor lovers. After you’ve finished strolling the town and browsing its antique stores, you can head outdoors for activities like fishing, hiking, bird watching and watersports.
Mt. Pleasant is undoubtedly one of the most charming small towns in Utah. It sits in the middle of a vast agricultural valley, meaning the views are amazing wherever you look.
The town itself features an old-fashioned western charm that you won’t find elsewhere in Utah.
As you stroll around the town, you will come across several antique homes, with their striking Midwestern architectural style.
You should also visit the Fairview Museum of History and Art, where you can learn more about the area’s history.
Heber City is located in the backdrop of the spectacular Wasatch Mountains. This Mormon town was established in 1859.
Back then, there was nothing but stretches of wilderness. While the wilderness still remains today, Heber City has also grown to become one of the most beautiful towns in Utah.
Some of the things to do here include paying a visit to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Memorial Museum.
Here, you can learn more about the challenges that the town’s founders faced. You can then follow that with outdoor activities like hiking, paddleboarding, fishing and horseback riding.
Some of the other small towns that you should consider checking out include Midway, Filmore, Kanab, Green River, Springdale, Moab, Garden City, Huntsville, Brigham and Torrey.
Ogden River Scenic Byway
The Ogden River Scenic Byway is a 44-mile road trip, which mainly traverses the Ogen Canyon, located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
It passes through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes. Along the way, you will see lush forests, waterfalls, rivers, canyons and valleys.
It will take you through rocky cliffs overlooking the Ogden River, through the canyon and then towards the Pineview Reservoir’s southern shoe. The road will then touch the town of Huntsville briefly.
From Huntsville, this route will continue following the Ogden River for a couple of miles and then ascend a few miles to the top of Mount Cristo.
You will then descend and find yourself in the Woodruff community.
Along the route, you will pass the access roads to several ski resorts in the area, including Wolf Mountain, Powder Mountain, and Snowbasin. So, if time allows, you can take a detour and explore some of these ski resorts.
The route also passes the access road to Causey Reservoir, from here you can enjoy spectacular views of the canyon.
Other activities to enjoy at the Causey Reservoir include fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Also, there are a couple of hiking trails nearby for you to explore.
Along the route, there are several campgrounds, picnic areas, and a hiking trail leading to the deeper areas of the forest. Furthermore, there are lots of fishing opportunities both in the rivers and in reservoirs.
- Utah is one of the most beautiful states
- There are hundreds of road trips that you can take in Utah
- These road trips will lead you to some of the most stunning views
- Spring and fall are the best times for Utah road trips