Utah is easily one of the most underrated travel destinations in the entire world. From massive mountains to epic national parks to otherworldly rock formations, there is something in store for everyone in this state. This ultimate 7-day Utah road trip itinerary will take you to places you never knew exists.
Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Let’s start by covering the basics.
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Is Utah Worth Visiting?
Yes, Utah is absolutely worth visiting because of its major national parks, otherworldly landscapes, and hiking and skiing opportunities.
I have no doubt in my mind that Utah will leave you with your jaw dropped on the floor, especially if you follow this Utah road trip itinerary.
How Many Days Do You Need For Utah National Parks?
You need at least three to four days to see the Utah national parks. But, if you plan to do any longer hikes or would like to see Utah’s amazing landscapes outside the national parks, such as Monument Valley, Bonneville Salt Flats, Pink Lake or the Bentonite Hills, at least seven days would be ideal.
Also, take note that this one-week Utah road trip itinerary is jam-packed with activities. If you would prefer your Utah road trip to be more relaxed, add two or three days for more time flexibility.
Is It Difficult Driving In Utah?
It is not difficult driving in Utah in the bigger cities like Salt Lake City or Moab. Regular USA driving regulations are instated, and other people drive safely. However, there are many unpaved roads in the more rural parts of Utah that are difficult for campers and compact cars to drive on.
That being said, my husband and I car camped throughout all of the following Utah destinations in my tiny compact car without any serious issues. Many of the roads were indeed bumpy, but we (and my car) survived just fine.
For a family, a larger vehicle with four-wheel drive is advisable in Utah. For budget-friendly adventurers, I recommend researching your specific destinations and campsites to see if a 4×4 is necessary.
Now, let’s get into the itinerary, shall we?
7-Day Utah Road Trip Itinerary
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Map
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 1
Morning: Arrive In salt lake city & Pink Lake
On your first morning in Utah, do everything you need to do to prepare for a week of exploring outside the main cities. Pick up your car rental, buy groceries for the week and get a full tank of gas. You’ll likely be flying into Salt Lake City, which has more than enough access to everything you’ll need.
[Gas and groceries (at least snacks and sandwich supplies, if not all meals) are particularly important. Don’t undermine the remote nature of Utah.]
Then, start your drive to Pink Lake. Yes, Pink Lake. This is just one of the many places you’ll see this week that seems completely out of this world.
Read everything you need to know about visiting Pink Lake here.
Afternoon: Bonneville Salt Flats
After a picnic lunch at Pink Lake (or in the car), head two hours west to the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are free to visit and offer an endless view of how Salt Lake City received its name. I have a complete guide to visiting Bonneville Salt Flats as well as an inside look at how the flats’ extreme weather may affect your visit.
Evening: boyd Station
Most of the evenings on this road trip itinerary are left open to relax at your hotel, set up your campsite, find a free campsite and get a full night’s sleep. This evening is no exception.
Head south toward Boyd Station (on the Pony Express Trail) to either find a free campsite or stay in a nearby hotel. This area will act as a half-way point to your first destination tomorrow.
Also, note that this drive will be extremely remote, so be sure to fill up your gas tank in Wendover, Nevada, (five minutes from Bonneville Salt Flats) before embarking. There are no other gas stations from the Bonneville Salt Flats to this region.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 2
Morning: Dugway Geode Beds
Wake up bright and early (ideally by 6:00 a.m. at the latest) and head to one of Utah’s best hidden gems, the Dugway Geode Beds.
The Dugway Geode Beds are also free to visit. Here, you can hunt for your own natural geodes to keep as souvenirs. Although the road to this destination is completely unpaved, the rocky drive is so worth this fun family-friendly activity.
You can read all about visiting the Dugway Geode Beds here.
Then, after an hour or two of remote geode hunting, continue your journey south to your first Utah national park, Capitol Reef.
Afternoon: Capitol Reef National Park
Once you arrive at Capitol Reef National Park, purchase an America The Beautiful Park Pass. This will grant you entry into all of the Utah national parks for a year and save you a ton of money on park entrance fees throughout the week.
Then, pick a few hikes and/or walks in Capitol Reef to venture. I personally highly recommend the Chimney Rock Loop Trail (3.3 miles), Hickman Bridge Trail (1.8 miles) and Cassidy Arch Trail (3.1 miles), but how you spend your time here is up to you. For more specifics, see my Capitol Reef National Park half-day itinerary.
To end your afternoon, drive to Goosenecks Overlook to watch an epic sunset over Capitol Reef.
Ideally, on night two, find a campsite or hotel near the city of Escalante, which is located between Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Because, tomorrow, you’ll be starting your day at Bryce.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 3
Morning: Bryce Canyon National Park
Are you excited for Bryce Canyon National Park? Because you absolutely should be. Start your day early again (6:00 a.m. at the latest; earlier if you want to beat the crowds) because you have a big day ahead of you.
This unique U.S. wonder is known for its abstract rock formations called hoodoos. When you enter the main area of the park, you’re immediately met with endless views of these hoodoos, as well as several hiking and walking trailheads.
If you’re up for a rewarding challenge, hike the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail (3.5 miles). This trail is busy and hot during the day, so the earlier you start this hike, the better. Afterward, walk to Sunset Point where you’ll get another panoramic view of Bryce Canyon.
Afternoon: Zion National Park
When you feel like you’ve seen enough of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos, grab lunch outside of Bryce. There are several restaurants to choose from. Then, head on over to Zion National Park.
Upon arrival, drive through the park on the Zion-Mount Carmel Scenic Drive toward the opposite park entrance. The views of this drive are comparable to none. Plus, you’ll get to pass through the iconic Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.
Next, you have a few options. You could either hike Angels Landing, The Narrows, Watchman Trail or see Zion National Park without any hiking at all.
There is a ton to explore in this Utah national park, so don’t be afraid to spend an extra day here if your personal road trip schedule allows.
Evening: Zion National Park & Kanab
To end your day at Zion National Park, hike the Zion Overlook Trail to watch the sunset over Zion Canyon. The hike is short and doable for all levels but still gives you an authentic Zion hiking experience. If you aren’t keen on hiking Angel’s Landing, this hike is a perfect alternative.
Start your hike at least 45 minutes before sunset. And, be sure to check the sunset time for Zion National Park, not the surrounding cities, as the mountains in Zion create an earlier sunset.
After the sun sets past the mountains, head back to your car and drive to Kanab. Find a campsite or hotel here for the night.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 4
Morning: Coffee, belly of the Dragons & Moqui Sand Caves
Can you believe you’re already more than half way through this Utah road trip? Celebrate by sleeping in and indulging in coffee and baked goods from a local Kanab coffee shop!
By around 10:30 a.m., make your way to the Belly of the Dragon, a long belly-like cave that is free to visit in Kanab. Spend about 30 minutes here exploring the cave and nearby landscapes.
Next, head to the Moqui Sand Caves, a nearby roadside collection of otherworldly sand-filled caves. Don’t underestimate the walk to the caves, though. Bring gripped shoes, such as hiking boots, tennis shoes, or my favorite Teva sandals, so that you can easily hike up the steep five-minute climb to the caves.
Afternoon: Toadstools or Antelope canyon
After lunch, you have a couple of options. You can either go to Toadstools Trail (1.8 miles) to walk on Mars and witness hoodoos like the ones you’ll see later in the week at Goblin Valley State Park. Or, you can drive straight to Page, Arizona, to visit Antelope Canyon.
Although Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend (which we’ll discuss next) are technically in Arizona, these landmarks are still very close to Utah. Their innate beauty and bucket-list draw make the relatively short drive across the boarder very worthwhile.
Ultimately, though, the choice is up to you on whether you go to Toadstools, Antelope Canyon or just relax during this time.
Evening: Horseshoe Bend
Afterward, get ready for another epic canyon sunset; this time, over the legendary Horseshoe Bend. Plan to arrive at Horseshoe Bend at least 45 minutes before sunset, as there is about a mile walk from the parking lot to the canyon.
Also, bring bug spray! There will likely be swarms of gnats at the canyon in the evening. Even though the gnats are basically harmless, they are really annoying.
Shortly after sunset, head back to your car and drive toward Monument Valley. Find a place to stay the night (campsite or hotel) as close to Monument Valley as possible. You’ll begin day five here bright and early.
(Note, there are not many free campsites near Monument Valley, so it may be in your best interest to find a hotel or paid campsite for the night.)
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 5
Morning: Monument Valley
Another early morning awaits on day five, but, trust me, it’s worth it.
Drive into Monument Valley, specifically to Forest Gump Point (GPS coordinates 37°06’09.5″N 109°59’21.1″W), early and plan to arrive about 10 minutes before sunrise.
When the sun rises over this region of Monument Valley, famously known as the road from the movie Forest Gump, the massive red rock formations glow bright orange. This is what makes sunrise the best time of day to visit Monument Valley.
Plus, you’ll beat the crowds and get to take some incredible travel photos.
Afternoon: Moab Arches National Park
Because you started your day pre-sunrise, you’ll likely be able to make it Moab midmorning. Head straight to Arches National Park to begin exploring the last city of this Utah road trip itinerary.
Once you enter the park, head straight to the Delicate Arch trailhead to (hopefully) beat the midday crowds. Delicate Arch is one of the most heavily trafficked trails in Arches National Park, but, even with crowds, the views are so rewarding.
On your way to Delicate Arch, you’ll also pass Twisted Doughnut Arch toward the end of the trail, so keep a look out for it.
Then, treat yourself to a picnic lunch inside the park. Or, leave the park to grab a quick lunch in Moab city.
Afternoon: Arches National Park
One of the best parts of Arches National Park is that it is non-hiker-friendly. There are numerous insanely easy hikes in Arches National Park, so indulge yourself in them this afternoon.
First, head to Double Arch and Cove Arch. Take a brief two minute walk from the parking lot to the arches, and take 20 minutes or so to explore.
Then, drive to the Landscape Arch trailhead to begin your journey to the longest arch in the Arches National Park. This hike is longer than the walk to Double Arch and Cove Arch, but the trail is flat and mostly paved, which makes it easy.
Lastly, if time allows, head to the Instagram-worthy Sand Dune Arch. Here, you’ll find a hidden gem of an arch tucked inside, you guessed it, a sand dune.
Evening: Moab Dinosaur Tracks & Petroglyphs
Sometime in the late afternoon, leave Arches for one of the many free Moab adventures: hunting for roadside dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs.
To find Moab’s free dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs, drive down Potash Road until you get to Poison Spider BLM site and parking lot (past the rock climbers). Follow the BLM sign directions to the short hike that will take you up to both the dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs.
(Hint: the dinosaur tracks are on a massive boulder about 3/4 up the trail, and the petroglyphs are on the red rock wall near on top of the trail.)
Afterward, find a campsite or hotel in Moab. As opposed to Monument Valley, there are a ton of free campsites in Moab, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding a site.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 6
Morning: Canyonlands National Park
To continue exploring Moab, you’re starting off your day in Canyonlands National Park.
The best, most popular place to watch sunrise in Canyonlands National Park is at Mesa Arch, so if you have enough energy to make the short 0.7-mile hike before the sun rises, definitely take the hike.
If not, still start your day at Mesa Arch to try to beat the crowds. Afterward, drive to Shafer Canyon Overlook, Buck Canyon Overlook and Candlestick Tower Overlook. For details about each of these stops (and more), see my half day in Canyonlands National Park itinerary.
Afternoon: Rainbow Mountains
Around 11:00 a.m., depart from Canyonlands to see what is, in my opinion, the most epic part of this entire Utah road trip itinerary: Utah’s rainbow mountains.
Yes, you read that right. Rainbow mountains.
Believe it or not, there are rolling hills — also known as the Bentonite Hills — tucked in the middle of the Utah desert that boast bright red, pink, blue and purple rings.
I know this road trip stop sounds too good to be true, but, believe me, the two-hour drive is so worth it. You can read everything you need to know about where to find these otherworldly mounds in my free rainbow mountains, Utah, guide.
After journeying through metaphorical Mars, stop by Goblin Valley State Park on your way back to Moab if you have time.
You can fully experience Goblin Valley in an hour or two, which makes it a perfect stop to end the day. Then, when you’re finished exploring this unique valley of hoodoos, head back to Moab for the night.
Utah Road Trip Itinerary Day 7
Morning: CoronA Arch, BowTie Arch & arches National Park
It’s your final day on this Utah road trip, and we’re ending with a bang. For starters, head to the Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch trailhead located just outside of Arches National Park.
Corona Arch in particular is one of the best arches to see in Moab. And, it’s free to visit.
However, note that there is a moderate hike to the arch that is often very busy, so it’s best to start the hike as early as possible. We began the hike around 6:30 a.m., and we had the entire hike and arch to ourselves for at least an hour. Plus, we got to witness sunrise from a massive arch in solitude.
Afternoon & Evening: Free Time In MOAB
For your very last afternoon in Moab, I’ve left this itinerary space open for free time. Often times, road trip stops and driving times take more time than planned. And, even though I’ve purposefully overestimated drive and stop times, it is likely that something will come up and put you “behind” schedule.
That being said, use your last afternoon and evening to visit any destinations you missed or would still like to visit.
Or, if you’ve managed to stay on schedule (kudos, by the way), take this afternoon to relax and shop for souvenirs in and around Moab.
Which part of this Utah road trip itinerary are you most excited for? Let me know by leaving a reply below or sending me a message on Instagram. My DMs are always open!
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