When you think of Utah, you’ll likely think of the Mighty Five National Parks—Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. All of these national parks are unique, diverse, and absolutely stunning. What you may not realize is how close in proximity Salt Lake is to all these natural marvels. Did you know that there are over 60 national and state parks only a few hours away from Salt Lake? Whether you’ve got a trip on the books to one of the parks, or are just beginning planning, there’s a good chance you’ll be flying into Salt Lake International Airport, so why not spend a couple of days in the city either before heading to the parks, or on your way home? After all, that’s what we’re all about here in Salt Lake, city meets outdoor adventure, or as we call it—things that shouldn’t go together miraculously do. 

Utah State Capitol Cherry Blossoms

When to visit? 

Salt Lake is a year-round destination with its skiing, hiking, arts and culture. But many wonder when exactly is the best time to visit? Although all seasons are compelling for their own reasons, if you’re planning a trip that includes some road tripping to the national or state parks, we would recommend spring or fall. For the itineraries below, we’ll stick to visiting in springtime. Spring in Salt Lake gives you a taste of all seasons, including things like skiing, catching the cherry blossom blooms, and experiencing perfect temperatures down south at the national parks. You can truly have it all in springtime! 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Where to visit? 

With so much adventure to be had, sometimes it’s hard to choose where exactly to go. Check out a comprehensive list of national parks and monuments, or all of our amazing state parks.

If you find all of those possibilities a bit overwhelming, we get it, that’s why we're here. We’ve made it simple for you with these three sample itinerary ideas to choose from. 

Arches National Park

ITINERARY #1:
Arches National Park + Timpanogos Cave National Monument  + Salt Lake

  • ARCHES 

Heading down to Arches National Park? You’ll see the famous Delicate Arch before you even arrive plastered all over Utah’s license plates. It’s a renowned park for good reason. For ideas while there, check out Visit Utah’s Complete Guide to Arches.

  • TIMPANOGOS CAVE 

On the drive down to the park, we recommend making a stop at a truly unique national monument, Timpanogos Cave. Known for its stunning limestone formations and intricate cave systems adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological wonders, you can take educational tours and learn about the area's rich natural history.

Salt Lake's Desert Edge Brewery
  • SALT LAKE 

On the way back from the park, we recommend extending your stay in Salt Lake for a couple of days. What better way to reward yourself for all the outdoor hiking than checking out Salt Lake’s craft brewery scene? You can check out 15 of the best breweries with The Salt Lake Brewery Pass.

Snowbird Tram

ITINERARY #2:
Salt Lake + Zion National Park + Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

  • SALT LAKE 

For this itinerary, start your adventure in Salt Lake before heading to the parks. You can check out museums, gardens, Olympic venues, and more with our Salt Lake Specialities Pass. This pass makes it easy to choose what to see and do, highlighting some Salt Lake staples, including seven different attractions to choose from.

Zion National Park
  • ZION NATIONAL PARK 

Next, head roughly four hours south to the magnificent Zion National Park. From the Emerald Pools, to the Narrow, to the famous Angels Landing Hike, Zion is an incredible destination. For ideas on what to do while in Zion, check out Visit Utah’s Complete Guide 

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
  • CORAL PINK SAND DUNES STATE PARK 

Lastly, make a stop at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and find yourself on another planet. Channel your inner child and jump around the dunes, or seek some adrenaline with an off-highway vehicle adventure.

Natural History Museum of Utah

ITINERARY #3:
Salt Lake + Bear Lake State Park + Yellowstone National Park

  • SALT LAKE 

Again, we recommend starting your trip in Salt Lake. Why leave right away when you just got to this incredible destination? Whether you’re checking out one of the pass products mentioned above or just want to explore some of the award-winning cuisine, nightlife, arts and culture, there are tons of intriguing experiences to be had in Salt Lake to start your adventures off on the right foot.

Bear Lake State Park
  • BEAR LAKE STATE PARK 

On your way to Yellowstone National Park, take a scenic route and head to the Caribbean—the Caribbean of the Wasatch that is—Bear Lake State Park. This local favorite gets its name from the massive crystal clear Caribbean-blue lake that spans across Utah and Idaho. It’s great for sailing, water-skiing, scuba diving and more. 

Yellowstone National Park
  • YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Finally arrive at Yellowstone National Park, roughly five hours drive from Salt Lake. Not only is our destination blessed with five national parks in our own state, but we’re also surrounded by tons of others, like Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Basin, and Grand Canyon to name a few, and with a world-class international airport in the city, Salt Lake is a convenient way to get to them. There are so many options to explore – mix-and-match your own!

Salt Lake is truly a crossroads of the West where the trip planning can be inventive and endless. Whether you follow one of these sample itineraries or make your own, we hope we’ve given you a good starting off point for planning your next vacation and let Salt Lake take you in a whole new direction.