Salt Lake City may be a bustling metropolis, but it is also surrounded by breathtaking natural wonders waiting to be explored. From the red rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park to the stark beauty of Bonneville Salt Flats, there are numerous destinations within driving distance that offer a much-needed escape from city life.
In this article, we will take you on a journey through some of the most memorable road trips from Salt Lake City. As famed author John Steinbeck once said, ‘People don’t take trips…trips take people.’ The road trips detailed in this article have the power to do just that – take you on an unforgettable adventure.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a stunning natural wonder located in the southwestern part of Utah, known for its iconic hoodoos and unique geological formations. The park boasts an impressive collection of towering spires, whimsical arches, and intricate mazes that have been carved by millions of years of erosion.
Visitors can explore the park’s beauty through hiking trails such as the Queens Garden Trail or the Navajo Loop Trail. These hikes offer breathtaking views of the park’s famous hoodoos, which are tall and narrow rock formations that resemble totem poles.
Aside from hiking, Bryce Canyon National Park offers visitors a chance to stargaze and camp amidst beautiful scenery. At night, the sky comes alive with stars due to its remote location far from city lights. This makes it one of the best places to stargaze in North America.
With exceptional vistas and ample outdoor activities on offer, Bryce Canyon National Park is definitely worth adding to any road trip itinerary when visiting Utah.
Moab, which is in the southeast of Utah, is a great place for people who love the outdoors and want to try new things. Geological features that are unique to the area make it a great place for sports like mountain biking and rock climbing. One of the most popular places to go is the Slickrock Trail, which is known for its difficult landscape and slick sandstone surface, which even experts have trouble with.
Arches National Park is a must-see attraction in Moab that visitors can do in addition to things that get their hearts racing. There are more than 2,000 natural stone arches in the park. These arches were made by erosion and weathering over millions of years. Hiking through the park is a great way to see these amazing natural features up close.
Park City, Utah
Park City is a famous ski town in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. It was the site of several events at the 2002 Winter Olympics and offers world-class skiing for guests. But this cute town has a lot more to offer than just snow sports.
In fact, Park City is a great place to visit year-round because it has so many outdoor activities, places to eat, and culture sites for people who want to go on alpine adventures.
Here are some reasons why Park City should be on your road trip itinerary:
- Skiing at one of the three resorts: Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort or Canyons Village.
- Exploring Main Street’s art galleries and boutiques.
- Hiking or mountain biking on one of the many trails in the area.
- Enjoying delicious cuisine at one of the town’s acclaimed restaurants.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a paradise for people who love nature because it has beautiful scenery and a wide range of animals. Just a few hours’ drive from Salt Lake City, this place is great for anyone who wants to experience the real outdoors.
The Grand Teton National Park is one of Jackson Hole’s most famous places to visit because it has so many ways to enjoy the great outdoors. There are hiking paths, scenic drives, and mountain biking, among other things to do. People who like water-based activities can have a great time kayaking or rafting down the Snake River.
Jackson Hole is also a popular place to watch animals. Elk, bison, moose, and even grizzly bears can be seen in their natural environments by tourists. The National Elk Refuge is a great place to see tens of thousands of elk up close when they are moving south for the winter.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Idaho Falls, Idaho offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and urban amenities, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking both natural beauty and modern comforts.
Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Snake River Greenbelt that stretches along the river for five miles and features scenic views of waterfalls, wildlife, and lush vegetation. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, kayaking or canoeing on the Snake River.
For those who prefer city life, Idaho Falls has several local eateries that offer a taste of authentic cuisine from around the world. The downtown area boasts numerous restaurants that range from upscale fine dining to casual cafes serving local craft beer and wine.
Bonneville Salt Flats
The Bonneville Salt Flats offer a unique and otherworldly landscape that is worth exploring.
Aside from its natural beauty, the location is also rich in history and science, offering visitors an opportunity to learn about the formation of the flats and their significance.
Witness the Otherworldly Landscapes
One of these is Goblin Valley, located about three hours southeast of the city. This state park features over 3,500 hoodoos tall, thin spires of rock that have been eroded into fantastical shapes over millions of years.
The formations are spread across several valleys and canyons within the park, creating a surreal landscape that feels like something out of a science fiction movie. Visitors to Goblin Valley should come prepared with their cameras as this is one of the most photogenic spots in Utah. The best time to take pictures is during sunrise or sunset when the light casts long shadows across the valley floor, accentuating the shapes and textures of each hoodoo.
Learn About the History and Science of the Salt Flats
The salt flats in Utah are remnants of ancient lakes that covered much of the state during prehistoric times. The Great Salt Lake, for example, is what remains of Lake Bonneville, which was once a vast freshwater lake covering an area larger than present-day Lake Michigan. As the climate changed and the lake began to evaporate, it left behind deposits of minerals such as gypsum and halite, which eventually turned into the salt flats we see today.
The history of salt mining in Utah dates back to Native American tribes who used salt from these flats for trade and preservation purposes. Later on, European settlers established commercial operations for extracting salt from these flats.
Today, visitors can learn about this rich history at various locations around the area like The Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway or at local museums where they can witness exhibits that showcase both ancient and modern methods of extracting salt from these famous flats.
Enjoy Unique Photo Opportunities
There are many secret gems in the area, like the Bonneville Salt Flats, which have a huge area of white salt crusts that reflect the sky and make a surreal scene that is great for taking pictures.
Other famous places include the Great Salt Lake, with its beautiful sunsets and strange rock formations along its shores, and Antelope Island State Park, where people can take pictures of bison grazing in front of a beautiful mountain backdrop.
If you want to take more adventurous photos, Utah’s public parks have a lot to offer. Zion National Park has tall sandstone rocks and narrow slot canyons that make for dramatic scenes. Bryce Canyon National Park, on the other hand, has strange hoodoo formations that look almost alien.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is a beautiful place to see the rock forms. This natural wonder has cliffs and canyons that are hundreds of feet high, as well as scenic drives and hiking trails that offer great views of the nearby landscape. But what really makes it stand out is that fossils have been found there.
Visitors can see the bones of dinosaurs, mammals, and fish that lived long ago because they are still in the rocks all over the park. These fossils show what life was like on Earth millions of years ago and how species changed over time.
Dinosaur National Monument has more to offer than just fossils. For example, you can go river rafting down the Green River. The river flows through deep valleys and makes for a thrilling ride for those who want to try something new.
Salt Lake City is a hub of outdoor adventure, and there are several road trips you can take to escape the city and experience the natural beauty of Utah and neighboring states.
As per statistics from Visit Salt Lake City website (2021), nearly 4 million people visit Utah’s national parks each year with Zion being the most visited followed by Arches.
This indicates significant interest among tourists to explore these beautiful natural wonders through road trips from Salt Lake City.