With amazing arches, vibrant red rocks and plunging canyons, Utah beckons travelers from all walks of life to bask in its beauty. Home to an impressive five national parks, this southwestern state has no shortage of natural wonders for intrepid travelers and casual sightseers alike.
This essential guide will help you prepare for the scenic paths ahead. We’ll cover the best times to visit, develop a Utah road trip itinerary and explore some insider travel tips.
Get ready; this Utah national parks road trip will be one for the books!
Utah Road Trip Itinerary
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This is not just any road trip; it’s a Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip! Since the state is brimming with opportunity, formulating a plan ahead of time is a smart first step.
The order you tackle the parks in will depend on your starting point. For this Utah road trip itinerary, we’re starting at the Cruise America location in Salt Lake City
then making our way south through each park. Feel free to change the order of the stops to better suit your starting point.
Arches National Park
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It’s a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City to Moab, Utah. Named for the incredible rock formations that fill the park, Arches is a must-see location open all year round.
What to do
: A trip to Arches is not complete without a visit to the renowned Delicate Arch
. As the largest free-standing arch in the park, it draws visitors from around the globe. Thrill-seekers can get their fix with the mountain biking and rock climbing opportunities in Arches. Many of the park's scenic spots are just a short walk from the main road, making Arches accessible for all ages.
Campsite options include Goose Island Campground (eight minutes from Arches) and Pack Creek Campground and RV Park. For those lucky enough to snag a spot inside the park, Devil’s Garden Campground offers sites in the heart of Arches. Click here for more camping options
Canyonlands National Park
Photo Credit: Jakob Køhn
The next stop on our Utah national park road trip is Canyonlands National Park. This national park is just 30 minutes from Arches, so you’ll be there in no time.
What to do
: If your legs are tired from hiking, take in the views by car. Go 1,000 feet up to Island in the Sky, a 34-mile round trip drive inside the park. If the weather is pleasant, hop in a kayak and take a peaceful paddle down the Colorado River. For a more heart-pumping adventure, cruise along White Rim Road by mountain bike. Browse more activities in our guide to camping at Canyonlands National Park
Campsite options include Canyonlands RV Resort and Campground, which offers full hookups for RVs. To stay inside the park, check out Willow Flats Campground. Though it is low on amenities, it’s set in a beautiful location.
Capitol Reef National Park
Photo Credit: James Lee
Two national parks down, three to go. Capitol Reef is about 2 hours away from Canyonlands, so you’ll have plenty of time to play some RV games
on the way. The rugged landscape of Capitol Reef enchants over a million visitors each year.
What to do
: Lace up those hiking boots; Capitol Reef offers hikes at all difficulty levels. There are 15 hikes available in the historic Fruita area, so you can take your pick. Then, drive up to Panorama Point for a view of Capitol Reef that will knock you off your feet. Of course, you can’t leave without seeing Waterpocket Fold
. Sunset Point Trail provides a great view of this land formation.
Campsite options include Duke’s Slickrock Campground, Fruita Campground and Thousand Lakes RV Park. To learn about the amenities available at each of these Capitol Reef RV campgrounds, click here
Bryce Canyon National Park
Photo Credit: Sean Lee
You and your crew are in for a treat on the way to Bryce Canyon. State Route 12 has been dubbed Scenic Byway 12 thanks to the domes, canyons and plateaus that appear along it. The beauty of Bryce Canyon earns it a place along this route.
What to do
: Bryce Canyon is open all year, and each season brings different recreational activity options. Take an ATV tour through the park's rocky terrain or enjoy a sleigh ride in the winter. Full moon hikes are popular at this national park. For one or two days each month, rangers lead hikers through the park under the night sky. Our guide to Bryce Canyon National Park
is here to offer more tips.
Campsite options include Sunset Campground, which offers 50 RV-only sites, and Bryce Canyon Pines, which has 30 RV sites and full hookups.
Zion National Park
Photo Credit: Tevin Trinh
Your time is done at Bryce Canyon, and you’re almost a card-carrying member of the Might 5 club. There’s just one place left to complete the list—Zion National Park
. Fortunately, Zion is a little over an hour away from Bryce Canyon.
What to do
: Trails abound in Zion National Park. Experienced hikers can take in the magnificence of Angel’s landing. For a more relaxed stroll, hike one of the Emerald Pools Trails. The sunsets at Zion are dazzling, but the night sky holds treasures of its own. Zion is a prime stargazing location; catch the Milky Way galaxy overhead before leaving.
Campsite options include Watchman Campground and Zion River Resort. Watchman is located inside the park, making it a great place to stay for quick park access. If you’re in search of more amenities, Zion River Resort is ideal.
Best Time for a Utah National Park Road Trip
All five of the national parks mentioned above are in southern Utah, which experiences all four seasons. While each season brings its own charm to the parks, spring and fall are the most popular times to visit.
Spring brings pleasant weather and a wide range of activities. Go horseback riding through Arches and gaze upon vibrant wildflowers in Zion and Capitol Reef. As waterfalls melt and the sun begins to shine, The Mighty Five become a nature lover’s playground. March and April are full of new life and opportunities for adventure.
Another beautiful season to hop in the RV and head to The Might Five is fall. Before the intense cold of the winter sets in, temperatures are mild in the parks. Many hiking trails remain open, and the fall foliage is captivating. Your camera roll will be filled with gemlike reds, oranges and yellows that explode onto the scene in October.
No matter when you visit, your Utah national parks road trip is all the more fun with the right vehicle for your travels. Read on to learn how to make the most of your trip!
Make This Trip a Memorable One in Your Cruise America RV
You’ll be spending a lot of time on the road. Why not make it a comfortable journey? Cruise America RV rentals give you the space and amenities you need while on the road. With a wide range of options, you can pick the right size vehicle for your trip. Plus, we offer deals for RV travels in the Southwest
Before embarking on your Utah national park road trip, browse Cruise America RV rentals