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Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive: 21 Best Stops to Make & Things to See

Going on Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive can be one of the most adventurous road trips in the Western USA. Although not many people know about it. They just quickly drive from LA to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City not having an idea how much lies on this stretch of the road.

In reality, there are tons of things to do and see. Incredible heritage sites, beautiful state parks, conservation areas, unique eateries and museums, ghost towns, hidden waterfalls, hot springs, and fantastic weather await you there.

This part of America has surprises and charms. If you are planning to go on a Southern California Utah road trip, then why not turn a most popular drive between these two destinations into an adventure.

Below, I am sharing a list of the best (in my opinion) stops on Salt Lake City to Los Angeles (or vise versa) drive. During my 3.5 years in LA , I have been to many places in that area and went on many getaways . And this list consists only of the most interesting sites.

In fact, while I was working on this article, I got so nostalgic that it made me want to buy a ticket and fly to the US, hop in a car, and go explore more of the country ! Oh, one day I will. But for now, enjoy this post and have fun road-tripping! 

Note: If you don’t have your own car or come from out of state to go on LA to Salt Lake City road trip, you’d need to hire a vehicle. Besides LAX airport, I advise you to check cars at Burbank airport. Sometimes, it offers a better fleet and better prices. The best rental company to rent a car is DiscoverCars .

What to Know Before Going On a Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive

Drive from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City is a long one. You could easily split it into two other road trips such as Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive and Las Vegas to Salt Lake City drive.

If you are visiting this area for the first time, I’d highly recommend you devote at least a day or even two to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. These two cities deserve separate trips and shouldn’t be visited in a hurry for a few hours. On purpose, I haven’t included them on this list. 

Also, keep in mind that some long stretches of the road are part of the desert. And for many miles, you may not be able to see any gas station or grocery store. Stock up on snacks and get gas whenever you are in a city, especially if you plan to detour from the main road to drive to parks or ghost towns (which are on this list too).

I would also suggest planning this trip in such a way that you could spend a night(s) in one of the smaller cities (that I mention below). You’ll find many extravagant unique hotels on this drive in some truly magical spots. 

How Long Is Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Distance?

The driving distance from Los Angeles to Salt Lake in Utah is approximately 700 miles (1125 km). There is pretty much one highway (I-15) that connects these two cities and the entire drive takes between 10-11 hours. The exact driving time will depend on which part of LA you are coming from. 

Without making any stops, it is possible to get from one destination to another in one day (I’ve done it once). But to be honest, it’s pretty challenging. Especially considering the fact that often there is traffic in all major cities you will be passing through. Plus, there is really quite a lot to see en route. So you may want to stop at least in some areas. And if you do, obviously it will take much more time and you’d need to find a place to spend the night.

So, if you want to take it slowly and see everything listed in this post, it’s best to have at least three full days (two nights) and leave early each morning. 

When to Go on LA to Salt Lake City Road Trip

Before I get into all of the stops on the Los Angeles to Salt Lake road trip, I’d like to mention a few words about the best time when to go on this drive. I drove this stretch of the road four times in total every season of the year. And in my experience, any season is really good for this road trip.

However, depending on when exactly you go, the scenery is going to differ. Also, some activities may be unreachable in the winter or too hot to do in summer.

For example, that stretch of the road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in winter is usually very windy but from June to September it is very hot. Las Vegas to Salt Lake City drive in summer is also hot. Especially that part which is in Nevada and Southern Utah. But from December to February, a distance between St George and Salt Lake sees snow.

Personally, if I am to return and drive the entire LA to Salt Lake distance again, I’d go in spring (April-May) or fall (September-October). The weather is more predictable, crowds are fewer, it is a good time to go on short hikes nearby, and enjoy pleasant temperatures. 

If you go on this road trip in winter, do not forget a warm coat and proper shoes. And if you go in summer, make sure to pack sunscreen, plenty of water, and a hat. 

What to See Along the Way – Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive Stops

I wanted to include all the stops that we made and personally liked. We have visited them over the course of five trips, including drives from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. To be honest, if you plan to make all these stops, be ready to have a long road trip or hop from one place to another with the speed of the light. 

Visiting most of these places may take a lot of time. Thus plan accordingly and skip those places that are of no interest. 

And as mentioned above, I do not include Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City on this list. Just certain activities and sightseeing spots in or around them. Also, almost all the stops I added here are located along the I-15 freeway. Getting to them requires slight detours. I do not include anything too far when you need to venture further off the main stretch. 

Amazing Stops On a Los Angeles to Las Vegas Drive

1. mormon rocks interpretive trail.

After you leave Los Angeles, why not make a quick stop and stretch your legs on an easy 1-mile long trail that brings you through a beautiful landscape of unique and huge rock formations. But more than that, it tells the history of Mormons in Southern California.

It can be a great first stop on the road trip from LA to Salt Lake City to go on a good morning hike to get fresh air, learn a few interesting facts, take nice photos and see native Southern California flora. If you have any breakfast packed with you, it can be also a romantic spot where to enjoy a meal. 

Mormon Rocks area will not take much time. 30-60 minutes will be enough to go on a hike, see the rocks and learn about the Cajon Pass and the development of California.

Los Angeles to Las Vegas road trip

2. California Route 66 Museum

The first place I put on a list of Los Angeles to Salt Lake City road trip is California Route 66 Museum in Victorville. This museum, as you have probably guessed, is dedicated to a famous historic highway Route 66. It is not a very big venture but it has engaging and interesting exhibits.

Anyone who is fascinated to see a collection of Route 66 artifacts about Mother Road will find it here. Some popular items in the collection of the museum are the first Santa Monica “End of the Trail” booth, 1917 Model T Ford, local telephone equipment, and old radios (like old car transistor radio). 

Admission is $2 per person or $5 for a family up to 7. But donations are welcome to help it continue to work.

California route 66 museum

3. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch

For this stop, I recommend making a little detour and driving a short stretch of actual Route 66. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is located on it. 

This ranch is basically a field (or maybe forest?) of bottle trees made by a guy whose name was Elmer. All he needed was a welding machine and 10 years of his life to create this unique project with hundreds of bottles, street signs, and some junk. 

If you take a closer look, you will make a discovery – there is not a single similar “tree” here. They all look very different. These compositions, generally speaking, are real works of so-called readymade art. The bottles are not put on the “branches” but are selected individually for each composition. The top has a crown with a thematic rarity such as a wheel, a rifle, or a sign. In general, the “forest” is also a light-color-sound installation where the bottles shimmer in the sun with all the colors of the rainbow, and the whole space is ringing and buzzing from the wind.

Yes, it is a very cool spot to check out on Los Angeles to Salt Lake City road trip. It is creative, artistic, and undoubtedly unique. The gate to enter the ranch on some occasions can be closed but visitors can walk around the fence and see everything.  

Los Angeles to Las Vegas road trip

4. Molly Brown’s Country Cafe

If you are getting hungry, now can be a good time for a meal. In the high desert of Southern California along the famous route 66, you can pop into Molly Brown’s Country Cafe to enjoy the finest country food. This cafe prides itself on the high quality of food and good prices. This is why for many years in a row they earn the title of ‘best breakfast’ in the area. 

The cafe has four locations, including one in Hesperia and Victorville that you drive through earlier. But a roadhouse in Helendale along route 66 has its own character and atmosphere with the perfect service and hospitality. Check more reviews here .

5. Route 66 Sign

The route 66 sign can be found on many stretches of the historic highway 66 in different states. But if you want to see it in California, you’ll find it on Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive between Helendale and Lenwood right after Molly Brown’s Country Cafe. The approximate location is here .

There is really nothing to do near the sign but many people will want to stop and take some photos. The road is empty for the most part and the steppe view makes it look like you are in the middle of nowhere, yet in a historic area. 

6. Desert Discovery Center

Desert Discovery Center is a very interesting place to visit on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas or from LA to Salt Lake City. It is basically an interactive museum that provides information on the natural history of the Mojave Desert and people from this area. 

The museum is small but well designed. It has the second biggest meteorite found in the United States and live exhibit with desert tortoises. The outdoor pond and trail around the building are nice for observing wildlife. The location is a bit hard to spot but it is very close to I-15 freeway. 15-20 min quick stop here will be enough to learn something new, walk around, and see what to do around in nearby desert and parks.

Visiting this center is free of charge but you can support them by buying drinks and snacks that have very good prices.

Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive

7. Liberty Sculpture Park

Liberty Sculpture Park, right by the I-15 freeway, is another stop to make on the way to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. It is a unique one of its type space to visit with sculptures dedicated to protesters of the ’89 Democracy Movement that began on April 15 in Beijing. 

The owner of the park Weiming Chen, a Chinese sculpture artist, did a fantastic job building up this park. He dedicated a large part of his past few years to creating such a huge art project in a desert.

Admissions are free and everyone is welcome. Entry to the park is on Yermo road about half a mile off the road. While I get that visiting such a place is not everyone’s cup of tea, the majority will still appreciate it and love the message.

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City road trip

8. Calico Ghost Town

Ghost towns are very common throughout California but Calico, between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, is more than a ghost town . It is like a mini amusement park showcasing the history from 1881. And it’s a great place to visit for tourists who want to see something unique to America but also entertaining.

Previously, this town was famous for the extraction of large quantities of sulfur and silver. The territory of the settlement had about 22 saloons and more than 1000 people lived there. It had its own little Chinatown and even a tiny red-light district. Although after the fall in the value of silver around the world, residents had a difficult time. Most of them had to leave in 1907 turning Calico into a ghost town on the map.

However, this town didn’t stay empty for a long time. Walter Knott, famous for being a founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, purchased the abandoned territory and turned it into a tourist attraction, opening various museums, offering excursions and workshops. Visitors can take part in a large number of small workshops for processing wood and other materials and with the help of staff they can see saloons and houses of residents during that era when the city was prosperous. Mines are open for visits as well as the entire territory which is big enough to explore all day long.

We visited Calico twice, once on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and another time when showing my mom who came to visit. The first time, it took us 8 hours to tour everything because there was really that much.

If you plan to include this stop to your Southern California road trip itinerary, I’ll say you’d need at least 2 hours in Calico. But that’s the very minimum of time needed to get acquainted with it.

Calico is located slightly off the highway I-15 after you pass Barstow and will take less than 10 minutes to detour. If on the way back, you’d like to stop for a meal, there is another historic diner Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner . 

LA to Utah road trip

9. Zzyzx Mineral Springs/Soda Springs

The next stop is actually a slight bit of a detour from the typical route. However, this historic spot can offer a few adventurous moments to lovers of abandoned places. 

When you drive along the I-15 highway throughout the desert, you’ll come across an unusual road sign pointing to a settlement with a strange name “Zzyzx”. The road leading to it is 7 kilometers and is partly paved and partly dirt road. It leads to an abandoned old sanatorium built in 1940s by a self-proclaimed minister and charlatan Curtis Howe Springer. Zzyzx also has another name – Soda Springs because of the presence of a natural source of mineral water. 

When Springer built his sanatorium, he made it a little oasis in the middle of the desert that he advertised as a retreat center for curing all possible diseases. It worked for almost 30 years, attracting wealthy people from all over America who believed the lies of a swindler. In 1974 the land was reclaimed by the government and the center closed. 

Today, the site is operated by California State University as a center for desert studies, archaeological research, and studies of the arid climate. Most of the concrete buildings are still standing, but they have been converted into research facilities. The artificial lake is now one of the few remaining places of the promise of endangered species of Tui Chub fish in Mojave.

Zzyzx mineral springs ghost town

10. The World’s Tallest Thermometer

After exploring Zzyzx (if you detour there), you’ll be driving through the small town of Baker that has a giant temperature attraction by the main road Baker Blvd. This attraction is the World’s Tallest Thermometer that displays the real temperature of the air. The thermometer was built with concrete to stand strong and withhold gusts of desert winds. It is 134 feet tall (41 meters) which reflects the highest recorded temperature of 134 degrees (57 Celsius).

This attraction is easily noticeable from the highway but it is cool to visit in person on a hot day when the temperature is high. Inside the thermometer, you’ll find some artifacts displaying the history and portraits of Willis and Barbara Herron who created such an attraction. Outside is a picnic area and a gift shop.

While there is really nothing to do there, this thermometer is a fun little place to visit, take photos, relax, take a break from driving, and shop in a convenience store around the base of the landmark. 

Does my content help you plan your trip? If yes, I’ll appreciate a cup of coffee from you, so I could produce more free guides and itineraries!

11. Seven Magic Mountains 

Getting back on a freeway, the next stop on this road trip is a large public artwork Seven Magic Mountain that is made of stacked stones painted in bright colors. Stones are not natural rock formations, so there is no scientific or historical reason behind them. It’s just an art exhibit to attract tourists on the way from Las Vegas to LA. Since this art installation is located right by I-15, it also serves as a cool spot to recharge and stretch your legs from driving.

As with a few other stops on this list, Seven Magic Mountains is not anything extraordinary, so do not have your expectations high. It is a place to look at, take photos, and read a few fun facts on a sign nearby.

drive to salt lake city

12. Fremont Street 

If I had to pick only one place where to stop in Las Vegas on a road trip from Los Angeles to Utah, I’d probably go to Fremont Street. Las Vegas definitely is a grand city that requires a few days of time and there is definitely a ton of things to do.

If you are visiting Vegas for the first time, you should plan on spending at least two days in this city and staying in one of the hotels on the Strip. But for a quick stop, if just passing through, why not stop at an incredible entertainment and gaming destination – Fremont Street. 

It is a walking street in the downtown area with a history spanning over a hundred years. This street was the first one in the sin city when it was just building up and it is close to some incredible photo spots . It is also in close proximity to the strip with unique experiences like ziplining or famous Vegas buffets.

This is a place where you’ll find cheap drinks, street performers, some great shops , and a constant party vibe. There are ten casinos and hotels here. Unlike the longer and more glamorous southern lane, Fremont Street is walkable and has shade. A four-piece dome provides shade during the day, while a dazzling light and sound show illuminates the road at night.

Even if you decide to stay overnight to continue your journey the following morning, Fremont Street offers the average daily cost of hotel rooms at $65 per night, not like new resorts on the Strip where prices start at $125 per night.

Fremont street

Best Las Vegas to Salt Lake City Drive Stops

13. valley of fire state park.

After you are back on the road again after spending some time in Las Vegas, it’s time to head to one of Nevada’s best state Parks – the Valley of Fire. It is located only 80 km north of Las Vegas but surprisingly, tourists rarely come here. However, this is a true gem in Nevada state!

The Valley of Fire is like a vibrant palette that is very unique in its nature and very difficult to find anywhere else in the world. Over the course of thousands of years, wind and water sculpted the landscape here into a masterpiece of haunting beauty. And Anasazi artists etched mysterious petroglyphs on smooth cliffs.

There are many interpretive trails that lead visitors past raspy red rocks and allow them to get to know the kingdom of stone better. If you have time, embark on one of the hikes in the park and explore all the beauty from the trail. Otherwise, if not having much time, just drive down the Valley of Fire highway which goes in a loop around the park and opens up views of the main rock formations.

North toward Overton, the Lost City Museum holds remnants of the long-vanished Anasazi civilization and talks about the history of this region.

Valley of fire state park

14. St George

Just north of Valley of Fire state park lies one of Utah’s most gorgeous cities St George. Having a favorable climate, it has relatively warm winters. Being surrounded by gorgeous nature, it offers ample hiking and walking trails. But besides that, there is a rich restaurant scene, a charming downtown with museums and lots of culture, historical buildings, and even dinosaur tracks.

St George should be far more than just a stop on a drive to Utah. Because it is also the best city where to stay on a road trip from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. It is a calm, peaceful destination that has soothing nature in its backyard. And if you want to extend your trip, you can always use this city as a base for trips to Zion National Park or Snow Canyon State Park. 

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive

St George’s accommodation options are perfect for that unique getaway you have been dreaming of . Quirky hotels like Inn on the Cliff and The Inn at Entrada can help to have a romantic time. And their pools with jaw-dropping views will definitely make the most Instagram-worthy photos.

Among some of the things to do in St George are to go hiking at Sand Hollows State Park and Pioneer Park or Red Cliffs Recreation area with a magical Yant Flat hiking path .

Also, don’t miss Brigham Young Winter House (the winter home of the president of the Mormon Church), Town Square Park , Children’s Museum , and Little Black Mountain Petroglyphs . 

St George Utah

15. Kolob View Point

Kolob viewpoint is a gorgeous area of Zion National Park located by I-15 that sees a small percentage of visitors. It is still a part of Zion that you need to drive to through the main highway.

Many people don’t know that and just stick to the park. However, the Kolob View scenic drive offers the same types of views that you have to hike to in Zion (like the famous Angels Landing hike , for example). And it can be an incredible stop on the Las Vegas to Salt Lake City drive if you don’t plan on visiting Zion National Park.

To reach Kolob View Point, just exit on E Kolob Canyon Road near the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and drive 5 miles before you reach a parking lot. If you have time, make sure to park your car and hike a 1-mile round trip trail to a scenic Timber Creek Overlook. From there, you get stunning views of the canyon cliffsides. And on a nice sunny day, you can even see the northern edge of the Grand Canyon!

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to stop to hike, still do not miss this stop. It is just a mini drive from the freeway that takes only 15 minutes on a round trip. It is incredibly beautiful, peaceful and quiet. In fact, so quiet that you can hear your own heartbeat.

For the best colors of the mountains, it is better to come here in the late afternoon or early evening. There are also two more trails here but they are longer and lead into the canyons. 

The parking lot is always empty and even on Saturday or Sunday morning, it is not a problem to find a place to park and enjoy the views without lines or traffic. 

Las Vegas to Salt Lake City road trip

16. Kanarraville Falls

Kanarraville Falls is another stop not to miss if you have plenty of time and want to experience an adventurous hike. However, there are a few important things to know before you go. 

Kanarraville Falls is a natural attraction with hiking trails that go partially in the water. To hike them, you need to get a permit that will allow you to hike. And second, make sure to bring water shoes or be ready for cold feet. In the summer the water temperature is lower than 4o degrees (4C) what can be refreshing for some and too cold for others. 

The hike is not very physically demanding. It takes between 3-4 hours to hike it (and return) with stops for photos and snacks. And it is truly one of the most adventurous hikes in Utah and the entire US! There are sweeping landscapes on all sides, river crossings, a trail through canyons, and waterfalls in the end (that you can climb). If you have time and love adventure, don’t miss this hike! But do not forget to apply for a permit with at least a month of time in advance. Find out more about the tickets and hike here .

Kanarraville falls, Utah

17. Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

One of the most mysterious and sacred places in Southern Utah is a site of Native American rock carvings on rock formations that is called the Parowan Gap. It’s worth taking the time to stop on the way from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, especially since it’s only a short drive from the freeway. 

The passage, the Parowan Gap, was a path frequently traveled by the ancestors of the Southern Paiute and Hopi People. During their trips, some stopped to chisel images into the rock and leave them for us to question.

Today, petroglyphs of the Parowan Gap form a beautiful collection that anyone who is in the area can see. While we may never find out what these symbols mean, they tell the story of people who roamed this land centuries ago. And it’s definitely something fascinating to take a look at. Boards with information next to petroglyphs help interpret what the carvings say. There are easy walking trails around it, bathrooms, a parking lot, and easy access.

You can make a quick stop here to view Native American history and then also one mile east from the Gap near Little Salt Lake glimpse dinosaur tracks.    

on a drive between LA and Salt Lake

18. Meadow Hot Springs

This next place makes an excellent stop between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City for anyone who’d like to relax in a pool of hot water in the desert after an intensive hike or extended driving. But there is one thing that can ruin the experience here – people. Based on some recent reviews, some people who visit the area, litter and are disrespectful to others. Please, don’t be one of them. Obey posted signs, take all your trash with you, drop a donation and be considerate of other visitors.

Based on the fact of how popular this spot is, it’s better to come in the morning and avoid weekends altogether. Winter is probably the best season to soak in pools since crowds are fewer and water temperature is very pleasant. The temperatures hover at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38C). 

Utah country

19. Nebo Loop Road

This stop is not really a stop but more of a detour from the freeway and scenic drive through the Uinta National Forest. If you have plenty of time and energy after so many stops, I suggest you continue a journey on this road. Even if you decide to skip it, I highly recommend returning on another day or possibly on a returning trip from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. It’s such a gorgeous drive!

The loop starts near the town of Nephi and makes its way through scenic overlooks, trails, campgrounds, and rest stops. There are plenty of spots where to stop but the drive is a fascinating activity on its own. The best season to go is probably autumn with all the colors and fresh air. In winter, the road is closed. In summer, it is a perfect destination to get away from the summer heat of the valley. 

Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

20. Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple

After you are done driving the Nebo Loop Road, don’t return on a highway just yet. Turn right on parkway 198 and go towards Spanish Fork. About a few miles north, on the left side of the road, you’ll have a chance to visit an unusual gem in Utah.

That gem is one of my favorite places in the entire US where I got a chance to volunteer for one month and learn about sustainable living. And this place is called Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple – a piece of India in the middle of the Mormon state.

This temple is more than a shrine. It has an animal sanctuary with llamas, peacocks, macaws (that talk!), Japanese koi, and Zebu cows. There is an inside gift shop, a vegetarian buffet (with Indian food), bathrooms, and a temple for prayers and ceremonies. You are welcome to come to walk around the beautiful well-preserved territory, feed the llamas (bring cut apples or baby carrots), try the food, visit the worship area, and see Indian art. If there is a swami in the temple, he may be able to read your palm (if you are into that).

This temple is an incredible spiritual sight on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. You’ll have no regrets about visiting, just positive emotions and harmony of being there.

Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Utah

21. Utah Lake

One more stop that I recommend you to visit on Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive is a majestic Utah Lake. As with the other two previously mentioned places, you can always return here later if staying in Salt Lake for a few days. While there are not really any extraordinary things to do here, it can be an active stop before you reach your final destination.

Utah Lake is a gorgeous state park with beach access, a campground, walking trails, and picnic areas. It is an area to enjoy the sights and sounds, the views and fresh air. Once you are near the water, you can’t even tell this is in the vicinity of the city. I have been to this lake a few times during the month of volunteering in Utah. And I always thought the lake area was perfect for meditation and rejuvenation.

I found a lot of similarities between this lake and Lake Champlain in Vermont . It’s quiet, clean and has mindblowing views of the mountains. You’ll definitely love stopping here. Do it for the photos and to appreciate all the beauty!

Utah lake

Where to Stay on the Los Angeles to Salt Lake Drive

With all of these stops to make on the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive, you may want to find a lovely romantic place to spend a night or even a few. If you have time and budget allows, do not drive the entire distance without stopping at least in some places. Turn this road trip into an adventure!

And below I would love to share some of my favorite accommodation options between LA and Utah. I saved them for inspiration a long time ago when we lived in LA . Today they still get stellar reviews and offer the same level of high service. If you haven’t booked anything yet, take a look and get inspired too.

Las Vegas 

The STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod – a budget hotel at the northern end of the Strip. It’s perfect for travelers who look to stay on the Strip but without spending much. Rooms are large and clean. There is a pool, own microbrewery, cafe, grill area, and Starbucks. 

Cancun Resort by Diamond Resorts – another option of a cheap hotel in Las Vegas that is quiet and less known among travelers. The highlight here is the lush backyard pool complex with waterfalls, waterslides, and tall palm trees.  

Palms Casino Resort – a laid-back hotel that used to attract celebrities and nightclub fans just in the recent past. Today it boasts slick rooms with sensational views (mainly in the Ivory tower), tasty restaurants, and party options. 

St George 

Abbey Inn – by Tripadvisor, it is the #1 Traveler Ranked hotel in St. George. Situated in a perfect location near Interstate 15, university, temple, restaurants, and downtown. It has a year-round outdoor pool, free breakfast, and moderate rates. 

Las Palmas Resort – large resort in the Green Valley area with lots of pools and on-site activities. It is a great choice for families and anyone else who is looking to spend more time relaxing in the hotel.  

The Advenire – a beautiful luxury option in St George for those looking for a lot of comfort on their road trip to Salt Lake City. Being on the main street, this hotel has chic elegant rooms, an outdoor jacuzzi, on-site dining, and views on all sides. 

Abbey Inn & Suits – Off Interstate 15, this trendy clean hotel makes the perfect base to relax before hitting the road again the following morning. It has some of the best reviews on all aggregators and offers comfortable rooms with breakfast included. And it is a perfect option for budget travelers since prices start at $65 per night. 

Big Yellow Inn – an upscale B&B in a Georgian home with antique decor, homemade breakfast, and old-fashioned charm. This is an excellent place to stay for mid-range travelers or families on a road trip in Utah if you are after Victorian-era homes with modern conveniences. You’ll love the antique vibe, stellar service, and a wonderful selection of unique rooms. 

Are you looking for more inspiration on US travel? See my other posts:

– Los Angeles to Palm Springs Road Trip – 8 Amazing Places to Visit 

– Columbia River Gorge Road Trip in Oregon

– Romantic Weekend Getaways in Kentucky to Go On At Least Once in Your Lifetime

– 7 Magical Places in the US That Have Snow Year-Round  

– Road Tripping in Vermont – Where to Go to Make the Most of the Season  

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City road trip #roadtripusa #californiautahroadtrip #westusa #bestofusa

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel a lot and live in different countries. At present time, she is based in Spain while waiting for the war in Ukraine to be over to be able to return home. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar places and discover the world while working remotely.

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Thank you for this amazing information about road tripping from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Utah. Planning to go early in the New Year and glad to know there is plenty to see, and particularly appreciate the places to stay. Keep up the helpful blogs.

Thank you for stopping by to tell me this, Randy! Enjoy the drive!

Loved reading your blog. Very informative! Planning for a trip later this month.

Thank you, Adi, happy to hear that! Enjoy your trip!

It was great reading your blog. I’m Turkish. And I was planning to travel from losangeles to Salt Lake City. So helpful. Because of winter time now. Which beginning feb. I was scared to driving. But I’m not now. I mean most of the road is secure to drive anyway. Thank you Anya

My pleasure, Rusen and thank you for stopping by to leave a comment! Have a wonderful trip and enjoy the drive!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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9 things you need to see on a road trip from california to utah itinerary.

August 24, 2020 · In: Las Vegas , Nevada , Road Trips , USA , Utah , WANDERLUST

I’ve crowned 2020 the year of road trips (and avoiding air travel). Visiting Utah has been on my list of to-visit spots for years after hearing about the beautiful landscapes. The below itinerary is gives you a sample of all the things to see in Southern Utah. Keep reading for our road trip from California to Utah itinerary.

Things you need to known before you leave on your road trip (FAQs)

I had quite a few questions on Instagram and Tiktok that I think will be helpful for your planning!

How long do you need? Our trip took 9 days, departing from San Diego and ending at the Arches National Park (the farthest point of the itinerary). Our trip was a bit aggressive, so looking back 10-12 days would be more ideal.

Are things open due to the pandemic? We visited early July and I would recommend contacting/ researching all locations before visiting. Many places had updated hours and limited service. However, most spots were still operating!

Any tips for traveling during the pandemic? A full blog post is coming on this soon, however, a few quick tips:

  • Contact hotels in advance to ask about their COVID safety precautions. Not everyone has the same precautions and you want to make sure you’re safe!
  • Bring lots of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and masks. This is important for disinfecting your hotel room, shoes (after visiting public bathrooms), etc.

Stop 1: Seven Magic Mountains

los angeles to utah road trip time

Our first stop from San Diego (our starting point) was the Seven Magic Mountains art installation, located outside of Las Vegas. Designed by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the installation is about 35 ft high. You’ll only need about 20 – 30 minutes at this stop.

  • Location: ~10 miles outside of Las Vegas
  • Admission: Free

Tips for visiting Seven Magic Mountains:

  • Try to get there early to avoid the crowds! (The earlier the better).
  • Don’t be afraid to play with angles for your photos. Walk around, get low, get high, try different things. ⁣
  • Keep your outfit neutral to not conflict with the colors!

Stop 2: Las Vegas, Nevada


Does the party capitol of the world really need an introduction? Las Vegas realistically requires two days if you want to see the sites and dine at their Michelin-star restaurants. Our goal was to focus on Utah, so this was a quick lunch stop.

Planning to spend a few days? Check out our article for how to spend 3 days in Las Vegas.

Stop 3: Valley of Fire State Park


The Valley of Fire is known as the largest and oldest Nevada state park. Created 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Era, Valley of Fire is named after the red sandstone formations. Visitors like to check out the 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, and most importantly the petroglyphs that are over 2,000 years old.

The Logistics you need to know before you visit:

  • Location:  1 hour from downtown Las Vegas, 5 hours from Los Angeles
  • Amenities:  There are a number of different campsites with tables, and BBQs. Camping is on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Entrance fee:  $10 per vehicle
  • Visitor Center Hours:  Daily 9 AM – 4:30 PM. ( park closes at sunset)

Read the full article below on things to do in the Valley of Fire here .

Stop 4: Mystic Hot Springs


I originally stumbled across Mystic Hot Springs on Instagram while searching for unique activities to do on our Southern Utah road trip. I was especially drawn to the vintage vibes and ability to social distance. Visiting really does feel like stepping into an older and different world. If you’ve visited Salvation Mountain in California and loved it, this is along those lines.

  • Location: About 4 hours from Las Vegas, and 2.5 hours from Zion.
  • Soaking Pass: $25 for a 2 hour pass

For more information on our experience at the Mystic Hot Springs, read the article here .

Stop 5: Arches National Park

los angeles to utah road trip time

Arches National Park, located in Moab deserves 2 days at least. Named after the over 2,000 arches in the park, this 73,000+ acre natural wonder is a must-visit on a trip through Utah.

With the soaring temperatures in the summer, the viable times to be in the park if you’re hiking are early morning and late afternoon. We spent a total of day in Arches and will definitely need to come back.

  • Admission: $30 per vehicle (included in the National Parks Pass)

How to spend one day in Arches:

  • Start with a drive through the park up to Devil’s Garden. It’s so scenic & a great way to get a feel for the park! ⁣
  • ⁣Hike to Delicate Arch (opt to do this early in the morning or late in the day) ⁣
  • ⁣Stop to check out the Three Gossips rock formation & the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. ⁣
  • ⁣Hike to the Windows District & Double Arch. ⁣
  • ⁣Stop by Balanced Rock for a quick photo op! ⁣

Stop 6: Escalante

los angeles to utah road trip time

We decided to stay at the Escalante Yurts in between Arches and Bryce Canyon as a co-worker highly recommended it. We absolutely loved our experience in the elevated and unique yurt. Our only regret is not having spent more time in Escalante. The area is a hidden gem that easily deserves 2-3 days of your time.

A few must-see’s in the area (based on other travelers’ recommendations:

  • Willis Creek
  • Devil’s Garden
  • Golden Cathedral

Don’t miss dining at the Escalante Outfitters down the road. Their food was our favorite meal of the entire trip!

Stop 7: Bryce Canyon

los angeles to utah road trip time

Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon is most well-known for its bright colored red hoodoos. Hoodoos are according to  National Geographic  are “a spire of rock that has an easily eroded column and a more resistant cap.” Seeing these in person, it’s hard to believe that they were created by nature! It looks like an artist took a chisel and carefully carved each rock.

  • Entrance Fee:  $35 per vehicle (included in the national parks pass)
  • Location:  ~1.5 hours from Zion National Park & ~1.5 hours from the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

We combined our trip to the Bryce Canyon with a trip to the coral pink sand dunes on our way to Zion National Park. If you have time however, you can easily spend a day here.

For more information on things to do in Bryce Canyon, read the article here.

Stop 8: Coral Sands Sand Dunes

los angeles to utah road trip time

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes are named after its unique hued sand. Located near the town of Kanab, the state park is somewhere you can spend a few minutes to a few hours in.

  • Location: 12500 Sand Dune Rd, Kanab, UT 84741
  • Admission: $10 per vehicle

A few notes on visiting the sand dunes:

  • Plan to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon as the sand is scorching in the middle of the day.
  • You can rent ATVs or sand sleds if you arrive early enough (they get booked pretty quickly). Learn more here .
  • If you don’t have a lot of time, walk around a bit to enjoy the colors before heading to your next stop!

Stop 9: Zion National Park

los angeles to utah road trip time

By the time we reached Zion National Park on our whirlwind California to Utah road trip, we were  tired . Not to mention that due to the pandemic things were operating a little differently in Zion. (We’ll get to that in a bit) That left us researching things to do in the area. That’s where horseback riding in Zion comes in. It’s unique and a great way to visit the park!

A note on Zion during the pandemic: We visited Zion over the fourth of July weekend, shortly after they re-opened. Shuttles required buying passes the day before, and the scenic drive was only open to bikers, walkers, and the shuttles. This highly impacted our itinerary. For the latest news on Zion visit  their website .

A few other tips on Zion:

  • For breakfast or lunch, Deep Creek Coffee Co. is a must. They had great coffee and healthy meal options.
  • Stay at the Majestic View Lodge and ask for a room with a view of the mountains. It’s a short drive from downtown, but quiet enough to be relaxing.

To learn more about what we did in the park, learn here .

los angeles to utah road trip time

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Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip

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  • Post last modified: March 14, 2024

You are currently viewing Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip

This ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip itinerary makes the most of America’s breathtaking Southwest. Not only does it take you to the iconic Zion National Park, but it also ticks off several other unique natural playgrounds. So fasten your seat belt and enjoy the show. You’re in for a remarkable Los Angeles to Zion National Park drive.

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Route from LA to Zion National Park

  • Start: Los Angeles
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Horseshoe Bend
  • Grand Canyon
  • Joshua Tree
  • Finish: Los Angeles
  • Total distance:  1,300 mi / 2,092 km
  • Total driving time:  22 h

Route info: An in-and-out Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip is clearly shorter than this loaded itinerary. However, with all the remarkable scenery, it’s easy to motivate the extra hours on the road.

1. Los Angeles, CA

It’s finally time for the ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip to begin. But before you head east, don’t miss out on some of the best things to do in LA.

Stroll the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier magnificently juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. At the foot of Colorado Avenue, where the iconic Route 66 ends, it’s the perfect starting point for the LA to Zion National Park road trip.

For more than 100 years the Santa Monica Pier has attracted locals and tourists alike. With time the pier has become a true Los Angeles landmark.

Gloriously so the Santa Monica Pier offers fantastic views of the Pacific coastline. But the Santa Monica Pier is as much about its unique atmosphere.

Home to an amusement park, dining options and street performers something fun is always going on at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s hard to imagine a better spot for people watching.

Make your dreams come true at Disneyland

If you want to begin the road trip from Los Angeles to Zion National Park with happy faces, there’s no better place to go than Disneyland. The renowned amusement park is known as the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland encompasses nine different themed areas to check out.

The original five lands of Disney are Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Later the fun-filled group has been extended with New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

With so much to enjoy, including colorful characters and thrilling rides, Disneyland is an endless family favorite. However, it’s also a magical place where adults can have a well needed respite from reality.

Sign reading "TOONTOWN" in rounded font at Disneyland, California

2. Las Vegas, NV

  • Driving distance:  270 mi / 435 km
  • Driving time:  4 h

Las Vegas, positioned in the Mojave Desert, is closely associated with its sprawling casino resorts and bright neon lights. Now you have the chance to go big on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip.

Indulge in the Strip

The legendary Las Vegas Strip is the busiest part of Las Vegas Boulevard South. Here you find an in particular high concentration of luxury casinos and attractions.

It’s the epicenter of the entertainment hub that Las Vegas is.

Caesars Palace is a Greco-Roman themed institution along the Strip. Just wandering through all its grandeur, including extravagant statues and columns, is an experience on its own.

For pure Italian vibes the Venetian demands your attention. The hotel, which replicates the city of Venice, gives you a unique opportunity to add a memorable gondola ride to the itinerary.

Bellagio is another Las Vegas crowd pleaser. Its frequently running musical fountain shows, with water soaring up as high as 460 feet (140 m) into the air, is the perfect end to a day in Las Vegas.

Walk across the Hoover Dam

Just 37 miles (60 km) from the bright lights of Las Vegas the Hoover Dam is located. On the border between Nevada and Arizona it’s a National Historic Landmark that represents engineering at its finest.

Even though the Hoover Dam was completed already in the 1930s, it’s as fascinating today as it was then.

The amount of concrete used in building the Hoover Dam would be enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City . That’s how huge the structure is.

When visiting, it’s a must to walk across the dam. The 1,244 feet (370 m) from one side to the other fully lets you capture its grandness.

The Hoover Dam on the border between Arizona and Nevada

Additional stop: Valley of Fire State Park is located right along the route from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. The state park, Nevada’s oldest and largest, lures visitors in with its never ending landscape of red rocks.

3. Zion, UT

  • Driving distance:  160 mi / 257 km
  • Driving time:  2.5 h

Colorful red sandstone cliffs, blue skies and evergreen canyons. Welcome to the gorgeous Zion National Park in Utah .

Take on the famous Angels Landing

Zion National Park offers truly jaw-dropping hiking opportunities. So of course the best things to do in Zion National Park include exploring the various world-class trails.

For the experienced hiker, Angel’s Landing might be the hike on top of the list on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip. It’s a trail that is known for its thrilling climbs.

At 5 miles (8 km) the trail’s length maybe doesn’t sound like a challenge. However, the trail has an elevation change of 1,488 feet (453 m), and some stretches are just a few scary feets wide.

If you’re up for the task, just pay attention to that you because of its popularity need a special Angels Landing hiking permit .

Relax with a quiet Riverside Walk

Even though you find dramatic hikes like Angels Landing in Zion, it’s also a place that caters to every traveler. So if you look for something less challenging, don’t despair.

The Riverside Walk is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) long both ways. It’s a perfect trail for a more casual stroll on your way from LA to Zion National Park.

Along Virgin River, in the heart of Zion National Park, the Riverside Walk is flat and easy. The hike ends where the canyon gets so narrow that only the river fits. There a more dramatic Zion hike, the Narrows, begins.

More info: Best places to stay at Zion

The narrow and steep Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park, Utah

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

  • Driving distance:  73 mi / 117 km
  • Driving time:  1.5 h

Bryce Canyon National Park is the second out of four national parks on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park itinerary. Just 1.5 hours from Zion, it’s a place filled with peculiar rock formations, including its signature hoodoos.

These tall and thin spires of rock come in enormous quantities in Bryce Canyon. Entering is like visiting another world.

Enjoy awe-inspiring hoodoo overlooks

Over millions of years a natural amphitheater, called the Bryce Amphitheater, has been carved out by Mother Nature. The Bryce Amphitheater is the park’s main area, where you find its greatest concentrations of hoodoos.

From the road through Bryce Canyon, it’s just steps to some of the park’s most iconic overlooks. Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point are such points that all are easy to reach from the park road.

However, during the busy summer season it’s a good to consider the park’s shuttle. If you explore the park by shuttle, your car gets some well deserved rest before the LA to Zion loop continues.

More info: Where to stay in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon valley floor with red rocks and green trees

5. Antelope Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance:  157 mi / 253 km
  • Driving time:  3 h

You really go from one natural wonder to another on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip. Near the Utah-Arizona border, within Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, the fabulous Antelope Canyon is located.

Antelope Canyon is defined by its wavy sandstone walls. Around the year its shapes make people’s jaws drop, but its mystique peaks during the months when beams of sunshine cut into the canyon.

While Antelope Canyon is one slot canyon, there are two different sections that you can visit.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular section. This also is where the famous light beams occur at midday from the second half of March until mid October.

Lower Antelope Canyon has its own entrance point and is not as visited. Although you don’t find any light beams here, its shapes are as great as the ones on offer in Upper Antelope Canyon.

No matter which section you go for, you need a reservation with an authorized guide. Especially during the summer season the tours tend to book up early in advance.

Wavy Canyon walls in Antelope Canyon, Arizona

6. Horseshoe Bend, AZ

  • Driving distance:  7 mi / 11 km
  • Driving time:  0.5 h

Less than 30 minutes from Antelope Canyon you find Horseshoe Bend . The iconic bend of the Colorado River, enhanced by towering cliffs, is what the experts call an incised meander.

It’s a few miles from where Grand National Park actually begins, but the scenic spot is the perfect way to kick off your Grand Canyon adventure.

With the Colorado River flowing roughly 1,000 feet (300 m) below you, the Horseshoe Bend overlook is remarkable. Nowhere within Grand Canyon National Park you find such an intimate Colorado River vista.

At Horseshoe Bend, sometimes referred to as the east rim of the Grand Canyon, the steep cliffs and reflecting Colorado River are beautiful contrasts. It’s a unique LA to Zion photo opportunity.

Horseshoe Bend is also easily accessible. From its parking lot it’s a walk of 0.75 miles (1.2 km) to the viewpoint. Just pay attention to that the heat during the warmer half of the year often gets intense.

Hot or not, Horseshoe Bend is a great morning or sunset activity on the LA to Zion National Park itinerary. Early morning the sun is behind you at the overlook, while in the evening it sets in front of you.

Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River during sunrise

7. Grand Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance:  133 mi / 214 km

After 2.5 more hours on the road you arrive in Grand Canyon Village at Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The South Rim is the most popular rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s open year round and offers a good selection of lodging within Grand Canyon National Park.

Although the Grand Canyon isn’t this itinerary’s main focus, it’s a side attraction like no other.

Admire the world wonder

As you get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, an exceptional landscape awaits. Only steps from where you park your car you find the natural wonder that you came for.

Grand Canyon is a huge American attraction. The world-famous Arizona wonder is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and more than a mile (1,847 m) deep.

The easily accessible Rim Trail follows the rim from the Grand Canyon Village area to a point called Hermit’s Rest. Along the walk you find one majestic viewpoint after another.

Mile after mile. Rock layer after rock layer. When you visit the overlooks, it’s like the Grand Canyon never ends.

The convenient vistas offer sights that you never forget. With so much to take in many visitors don’t go past the sweeping viewpoints on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Head into the Grand Canyon

If you like what you see from the edge of the rim but want more, it’s time to put on your hiking boots and head into the Grand Canyon. The deeper you go, the more there’s to explore.

On many bucket lists, and an iconic hike for the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip, is the Bright Angel Trail.

It’s an out-and-back trail that really takes you to the depths of Grand Canyon.

The Bright Angel Trailhead is located at a formidable elevation of 6,850 feet (2,088 m). At Indian Garden 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the trailhead, where many day hikers choose to turn back, you’re already down at 3,800 feet (1,158 m).

That’s a huge elevation loss.

So when you decide to return back to the rim, you have hardly done half of the job. The national park service recommends that you allow twice as much time for the way back up as it took for you to hike down.

Hiking into the Grand Canyon is truly a spectacular activity on the LA to Zion itinerary. However, it’s also a demanding activity that takes you far away from the comforts of Grand Canyon Village.

More info: Lodging at the Grand Canyon

Outlook at Grand Canyon South Rim revealing ancient geological formations

8. Joshua Tree National Park, CA

  • Driving distance:  369 mi / 594 km
  • Driving time:  5.5 h

On the way back from Zion National Park to Los Angeles you pass by Joshua Tree National Park. The park is named after the Mojave native Joshua tree, but its glittering rock formations are as celebrated features.

Stretch your legs past imaginative rocks

You can easily see where the rocks in Joshua Tree have gotten their names from. The shapes of the park’s most famous rocks are incredibly distinctive.

Arch Rock Trail is 1.4 miles (2.1 km) long and leads to the park’s most famous arch. On top of a stack of boulders the Arch Rock is a memorable and easy addition to the itinerary.

On the way to Arch Rock a detour takes you to Heart Rock. Its heart shape might make it the most romantic rock there is. Especially if you plan a romantic Zion National Park road trip, don’t miss out on this one.

Another unique shape is the park’s legendary Skull Rock. The rock, named for its apparent skull look, is the shining star of the 1.7 miles (2.7 km) Skull Rock Trail. But along the trail you find several other remarkable rocks to see and climb on the way back from Zion National Park to LA.

Aptly named Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California

9. Los Angeles, CA

  • Driving distance:  131 mi / 211 km

After a majestic Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip, it’s time to round off the adventure. The last 131 miles (211 km) on the road finishes the loop and takes you back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip FAQ

This ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip loop is 1,300 miles (2,092 km) long. Driving it takes about 22 hours, not including any stops along the way. In contrast, the shortest possible out-and-back route from Los Angeles to Zion National Park is 856 miles (1378 km). With a driving time of 14 hours, it saves you 8 hours, compared to this ultimate LA to Zion National Park loop.

The main stops on this ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip are Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona and Joshua Tree National Park. Additional destinations along the route include Valley of Fire State Park and Phoenix.

A road trip from LA to Zion National Park is a great experience every month of the year. All the attractions on the LA to Zion itinerary, including Zion National Park, are open year round. Summer, when the temperatures are as hottest, is the peak period of the year. Then the visitor counts skyrocket at all the natural attractions on the LA to Zion National Park itinerary. Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons for the parks on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park itinerary. This period, with comfortable average temperatures, is ideal if you plan demanding hikes. Winter, when the rim gets covered in snow, is a special time of the year to visit Zion National Park. But pay attention to that the low temperatures make the trails within Zion National Park more challenging.

For the most rewarding experience, we recommend allowing two weeks or more. With so many top sights, including Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, you certainly don’t want to rush through the itinerary. But if you have less time, you can take a pacier road trip with less time at each stop. Or you could simply break the LA to Zion National Park itinerary up to focus more on your favorite destinations.

Related guides

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  • LA to Grand Canyon road trip
  • LA to Death Valley road trip
  • LA to Yellowstone road trip
  • LA to Nashville road trip
  • LA to NYC road trip

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Epic Road Trip from Los Angeles to Zion & Bryce

How to see 12 sites in 3 days.

Photo of Zanne

Here’s a guide of what to see along this epic road trip from Los Angeles to Zion and Bryce, and what to see along the route. We had limited time, but so much to see. We selected the following destinations and now share our itinerary and route for how to see 12 amazing places in only 3 days. Since we traveled in March, our itinerary had to be adjusted to account for the massive participation we had throughout the winter right up to the day before we left. Many roads were closed due to rain washout, flooding or snow, but we discovered quite a few surprises along the way. I’m just going to hit a couple of highlights from each stop because we have a lot of ground to cover.

Zzyzx Road (Nevada) Mojave  Desert National Preserve  (Nevada) Seven Magic Mountains (Nevada) Las Vegas  Strip (Nevada) Red Rock Canyon (Nevada) Virgin River Gorge Scenic Drive through “The Narrows” (Arizona into Utah)

Day 2: Zion National Park

los angeles to utah road trip time

Day 3: Bryce National Park, Red Cliffs

Dixie National Forest, Utah Red Cliffs National Recreational Area, Utah Bryce National Park, Utah

los angeles to utah road trip time

Day One: Road Trip from Los Angeles to Utah

We left about 4:00 AM, in the dark hoping to beat the infamous Los Angeles traffic up to Zion.  It was incredibly windy that morning and driving the elevations up to Pear Blossom Highway was not fun. Despite the wind and the twisting roads, I actually fell asleep on the drive, and I never sleep in the car. Ever.  Of all the cars we have used for travel, this made the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe my favorite because if it’s that comfortable that I fall asleep, you know its a comfortable ride (Thank you Chevy!). If it had been morning, we would’ve seen the Joshua Trees and the Super Bloom up near Palmdale, but I’m going to cheat and share the photos I snapped on the way home.

los angeles to utah road trip time

We arrived at Zzyzx Road, California just as the sun was coming up.  This part paved, part dirt road set the tone for our adventure as the sun rose on us. Zzyzx Road leads to the Zzyzx Settlement into the Mojave Desert, which was our next stop.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Mojave Desert

We took the road through Kelso, stopping at the Visitor’s Center, but it was closed. Kelso was an interesting little ghost town, which made for some great photos.  Next, we took that to Cima and up through the Desert just before the Nevada state line.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Seven Magic Mountains

Once we fueled up in Primm, our next stop was Seven Magic Mountains. This art installation is famous for being known as that big neon painted boulders you see on Instagram.  I always see these amazing looking women, in these glamorous outfits with the perfect InstaPoses in front of this art installation. Then there’s me. I woke up at 2:30 AM and was driving all day.  It was windy as hell, and not the kind of “wind blowing through my hair” kind of breeze. It was wind whipping my hair around my face painfully, as I could feel the windburn, and my lips chap raw. I had on the bulky fashion look known as wearing two winter coats and the bottom of my sweater rolled up into my jacket. I’m damn cold. Dig me.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Las Vegas Strip

We continued on Highway 15 and then drove right down the middle of the Las Vegas Strip because there really is no other place like Vegas, baby.  Coming back from Utah, we extended our trip an extra two days with a little bit of luxury at the Penthouse Suite at Mandalay Bay Resort (more posts on that later). We stopped for lunch and then changed up our scenery once again.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

What a great place to spend an hour or two. If we had had more time, we would have enjoyed more hiking in this beautiful place. It was a perfect place to fit into our road trip, giving a chance to both stretches our legs and feasts our eyes. The panorama views from the visitor’s center and exhibits were amazing.  The winding scenic road gives you almost the entire park to see during the drive.

los angeles to utah road trip time

And now on to one of my favorite parts of the trip…

Virgin River Gorge, Nevada into Arizona into Utah

los angeles to utah road trip time

We didn’t realize that this was even on our epic road trip Los Angeles to Zion route. When we had stopped just outside of Mesquite,  we were chatting with the cashier. We told her about our trip, and she cautioned us to be careful driving through the bridge that cuts through The Narrows because of the high winds we had today.  Then I handed the keys to Greg because she lost me at “high winds” and “bridge” let alone “Narrow”.

los angeles to utah road trip time

The Virgin River Gorge Scenic Drive is about 25 miles slicing across northwest Arizona just outside the Grand Canyon Parashant.  The Gorge has hiking and biking trails that follow the river but is also famous for its scenic drive views.  The Narrows are 500-foot limestone walls slicing through either side of Highway 15.   The drive connects Beaver Dam, Arizona to St. George Utah, and eventually runs into the Mojave Desert.   The golden hour lighting on the landscape was definitely equal beauty to visiting a national park.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Road Tripping Utah

We finally arrived in Utah at about 7:00 PM that night.  We stopped for fast food, now having driven in four states and being awake over 17 hours. All I wanted was to climb into a bed. Suddenly, Greg turned into a parking lot of a shopping center and made a U-Turn, heading back in the direction that we just came.

“Did we miss a turn?” I asked. “No.” He replied, staring straight ahead. “Then why…” I started to ask; “Just wait,” he told me.

We went up a hill, and there it was: like a box being opened, the scene unfolded in front of us. A perfect sunset sky on fire with reds, oranges tipped with blues and purples. If adventure had a color, this would be its crayon.

los angeles to utah road trip time

After the sunset, the next surprise came as the icy snow peaks rose the greet us.  The mountains are calling.  Therefore, Greg declares we had to see them before it got dark.  So off we start taking guesses at which roads lead to the perfect view. We drove through neighborhoods, construction sites, and dirt roads.  He wasn’t satisfied.  We were tired and it was dark. We had to get to our Airbnb.  “They will be there in the morning,” I said.

Day 2 in Utah

Can you guess what was the first thing we saw when we walked out of our Airbnb the next morning? Well, it was dark, since we woke up before the sunrise but we saw them on the drive back.

Mountains of Utah

Best Cup of Coffee…Ever

If you are driving through Hurricane, Utah, there is a coffee shop in La Verkin called River Rock Roasting Company I am addicted to Vanilla Iced lattes and this was the best one I have ever had. They also had this amazing orange roll (like a cinnamon roll, but yeah, orange-flavored) that I still dream about. I posted these photos on my Instagram and Hannah over at Hannah Henderson Travels who is based in Paris, immediately commented “I know that place! They have the best coffee!” Not to mention the morning views of the mountains off the back patio. This is what makes a true road trip experience: great coffee and great views.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Epic Road Trip Los Angeles to Zion Arriving at the National Parks

Zion national park day 2.

This deer greeted us at the Zion entrance

Bryce Canyon National Park Day 3

Driving up to Bryce Canyon made me wonder how the National Park could be even better than the drive-through Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon. The snow caps pines covering the mountains were breathtaking. The charming vintage vibe town just outside of the park made me nostalgic for a place I had not seen before now. The iconic tunnels you pass through were a highlight of the entire trip. Even before you reach Bryce, you can see some of the majestic hoodoos beckoning you.

On the road from Hurricane, Utah to Bryce

Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Utah Last stop on our epic road trip from Los Angeles to Zion and Bryce (and beyond)

We were still feeling adventurous coming back from Bryce and felt like we wanted to see as much of Utah as we could. As the late afternoon turned to dusk, we pulled into the Red Cliffs Recreation Area to watch the sunset over the mountains. This is definitely a place I want to come back to hike and explore. And as the sun sank down past the snowy peaks, it concluded our three-day epic road trip from Los Angeles to Zion and Bryce. On our return trip home, we stayed a few days at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas for some spa time and fine dining.

If this left you wanting more Utah, stay tuned for additional content coming specific to Zion and Bryce National Parks, or check out my content for National Parks Week and my Top 10 National Parks.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Originally published April 1, 2019, by WhereGalsWander. All content and photos owned and copyrighted by WhereGalsWander and cannot be used or replicated without written consent.

Photo of Zanne

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The Ultimate 10-Day Utah Road Trip Itinerary | Best Utah National Parks Road Trip (2024)

Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: February 4, 2024

Plan the ultimate Utah road trip with our 10-day itinerary that will take you through all 5 Utah National Parks and leave you ready to return for another adventure!

There’s an inescapable allure to the open road, and nowhere does it beckon more enchantingly than the dusty trails and expansive landscapes of Utah’s five extraordinary National Parks, better known as the “Mighty Five.”

Welcome to an odyssey filled with towering red-rock monoliths, deep winding canyons, and the symphony of the winds dancing around ancient stone arches.

As you buckle up and hit the road, expect to be humbled by the grandeur of Arches, awed by the wild backcountry of Canyonlands, enamored by the lush woodland haven of Capitol Reef, entranced by the unique geological wonders of Bryce Canyon, and blown away by the raw magnificence of Zion.

Each park is a world unto itself, unique in its geological formations, yet united in their haunting beauty.

Get ready to wear yourself out hiking, enjoying the warm sun on your skin and the occasional rush of cool canyon breezes.

This is a journey of discovery, exploration, and most importantly, immense fun. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride – our Utah National Parks road trip starts now!

READ MORE: Check out our full guide to the best things to do in Salt Lake City !

Table of Contents

Beginning in Las Vegas

Beginning in salt lake city, how much time is needed to see the utah national parks, when is the best time of year to visit utah’s national parks, rving through the 5 utah national parks, book (everything) in advance, america the beautiful national park pass, pack in layers, start early, nearby hotels – springdale, rv campgrounds in zion national park, what to see and do in zion national park, if you have more time in zion national park, nearby hotels, rv campgrounds in bryce canyon national park, what to see and do in bryce canyon national park, if you have more time in bryce canyon national park, nearby hotels – torrey, rv campgrounds in capitol reef national park, what to see and do in capitol reef national park, if you have more time in capitol reef national park, nearby hotels – moab, rv campgrounds in arches national park, what to see and do in arches national park, if you have more time in arches national park, what to see and do in canyonlands national park, if you have more time in canyonlands national park, rv campgrounds in canyonlands national park, returning to salt lake city, returning to las vegas, continuing on your road trip, southern utah, central and northern utah, wrapping up your utah national parks itinerary, the ultimate utah national parks road trip.

Utah is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. And whether you plan to stay for each of our recommended ten days or want to extend the road trip, know that you are in for one of the most hyper-scenic experiences in America.

We’ll cover all of the best places to visit and things to do in each of the 5 national parks.

But even the drive between national parks merits time of its own to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Arches Utah

The Best Route Through the Utah National Parks

Although you can begin and end this Utah National Parks road trip on either end of our suggested itinerary, we recommend that you begin in Zion National Park and end at either Canyonlands National Park or Arches National Park, both located just outside of Moab.

To reach Zion National Park you can begin at either Las Vegas with all its crazy things to do, or Salt Lake City.

The best place to begin this epic Utah road trip is by starting in Las Vegas. This will give you the shortest distance to reach Zion National Park, at just over 2 hours of driving along Interstate 15.

Traveling from Las Vegas will also give you plenty of opportunities to take some side trips to amazing places like Lake Mead National Recreational Area, Valley of Fire State Park and the open country of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah where you could even add on a stop at the Grand Canyon National Park.

However, if you have your return trip planned out of Las Vegas, know that it will take nearly 8 hours to drive from Moab, where you’ll finish this itinerary at either Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park, back to Las Vegas.

So if you have a roundtrip in and out of Las Vegas, you should consider adding a few extra days to this Utah road trip itinerary and consider stops at Monument Valley in Southern Utah and Grand Canyon National Park, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona as you loop back toward Las Vegas.

Of course, if you are on a long road trip that extends beyond these few days in Utah’s national parks, then you can continue on from Moab into Colorado or carry on further north to explore the more remote and less-visited beauty of Northern Utah, such as Goblin Valley State Park and Dinosaur National Monument.

Have extra time in Las Vegas? Check out our top day trips from the city!

If you want to make a roundtrip road trip through Utah, consider beginning and ending your adventure in Salt Lake City.

Although you’ll have to backtrack south along Interstate 15 for around 4 hours, beginning in Salt Lake City will give you the chance to take your time visiting all the national parks while working your way back toward Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City has a lot of great things to do in itself. So you could add a few days to this Utah road trip itinerary to spend in Salt Lake City itself.

But if you plan to make the most of this 10-day Utah national parks road trip then you’ll want to hit the road immediately upon arriving in Salt Lake City and head south to begin in Zion National Park.

Of course, you can also follow this road trip itinerary in reverse from Salt Lake City as it is approximately the same driving time from Salt Lake City to Moab, where you can begin your adventure at either Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park.

Related: Consider heading north into Wyoming to spend time exploring Jackson Hole .

To truly immerse yourself in the grandeur of Utah’s five National Parks, it’s recommended to set aside at least 10-14 days for your road trip.

This timeframe gives you about two to three days in each park, allowing you to savor the park’s iconic spots and venture a bit off the beaten path.

Don’t forget to factor in drive time between parks, ranging from 1.5 to 3 hours, and occasional rest days. This leisurely pace gives you plenty of opportunities to not only appreciate the majestic scenery and diverse ecosystems, but also to try out various activities such as hiking, biking, or stargazing.

However, if you’re pressed for time and simply want to soak in the iconic sights, a minimum of 7-10 days can provide a taste of each park’s unique beauty. Allocate a day or two for each park, with a focus on hitting the main highlights.

While this doesn’t allow as much time for long hikes or exploring the more remote corners, you’ll still witness some of the most breathtaking landscapes the American Southwest has to offer.

We have built this road trip itinerary to span 10 days and consider this the barebones minimum to truly enjoy every scenic drive and all of the great hiking trails you will find along the way.

Ultimately, the best itinerary is the one that aligns with your interests, travel style, and the time you have available. Regardless of how much time you spend, a road trip through Utah’s National Parks is an unforgettable journey of discovery and awe.

It is no longer a secret that Utah houses extraordinary scenery all throughout it. As such, trying to time your road trip around the crowds will be a challenge even if you’re not interested in visiting national parks for more than a day or two.

The best time to visit Utah’s National Parks largely depends on what you’re looking for in your journey. If mild weather, fewer crowds, and a vibrant explosion of colors sound appealing, then spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) are your best bet.

In spring, the parks are painted with wildflowers, and the weather is usually comfortable for exploring. Similarly, in the fall, the parks showcase a dramatic play of autumn hues, and the daytime temperatures are perfect for hiking.

Summer (July to August) in Utah can be intensely hot, with temperatures often reaching over 100°F (38°C) in the daytime. Despite the heat, this is the busiest time at the parks due to the school holidays.

If you plan a summer visit, aim for early morning and late afternoon activities when temperatures are cooler, and be sure to stay hydrated. Summer also brings the advantage of longer daylight hours, giving you more time to explore.

Winter (November to March) presents a different kind of beauty in Utah’s National Parks. While some areas may be closed due to snow, the ones that remain open are truly enchanting, with dustings of snow adding a magical touch to the red rock landscapes. The parks are quiet and peaceful, and lodging can be much cheaper.

If you don’t mind the cold and are adequately prepared, winter can be a unique and serene time to experience Utah’s natural wonders. Whether you’re seeking the vibrant colors of spring, the quiet serenity of winter, or anything in between, Utah’s National Parks are a spectacular destination year-round.

Snow Zion

Embarking on an RV journey through Utah’s five magnificent National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands – is an experience like no other. It allows you to carry the comforts of home while you traverse through mesmerizing landscapes filled with soaring cliffs, fascinating rock formations, sweeping vistas, and brilliant night skies.

The versatility of RV travel offers an all-in-one transportation, dining, and accommodation solution, freeing you from the constraints of hotel check-in times, restaurant reservations, and packing or unpacking at each location.

But do remember that you will still need to book your campground reservations far in advance as this Utah national parks road trip is just as popular with RVers.

But there’s a unique freedom and flexibility that comes with RVing. Instead of rushing to make it to a hotel before nightfall, you can stay out late for stargazing, knowing your comfortable bed is just a few steps away. Early morning hikes become much more accessible when your starting point is in or near the park.

Moreover, an RV’s kitchen facilities mean you have the option to cook your meals, catering to dietary preferences or restrictions and saving you money on dining out.

If you don’t own an RV, fear not, there are numerous rental options available that cater to different needs and budgets. You can conveniently pick up an RV in major cities like Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, both excellent starting points for your Utah National Parks road trip.

Our favorite RV rental company, RVShare , offers a variety of RVs, from compact camper vans perfect for couples to larger motorhomes suitable for families or groups.

Opting for an RV, whether owned or rented, provides an immersive way to experience the captivating beauty of Utah’s National Parks while enjoying the convenience and comfort of having your accommodations on wheels.

Related: Don’t forget to spend some extra time in the adventurous town of Moab !

Tips For Planning A Utah Road Trip

You won’t be the only one planning your epic Utah national parks road trip. But if you plan it right, you can make the most of your time there. These are our best tips for helping you to enjoy your road trip.

Planning a road trip through Utah’s five National Parks is an exciting endeavor, but it’s crucial to book your travel arrangements well in advance. These parks are immensely popular and accommodations, whether you’re opting for campgrounds, RV parks, or nearby hotels, tend to fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.

The same applies to guided tours , which can offer invaluable insights into the parks’ geology, history, and ecosystems. By booking ahead, you not only secure a place to rest after a day of exploration, but you also avoid the stress of last-minute planning.

Additionally, some parks require advanced permits for specific hikes or activities, so early planning ensures you won’t miss out on these unique experiences. Remember, a well-planned journey paves the way for a relaxed and fulfilling adventure amidst Utah’s stunning landscapes.

If your travel itinerary includes the spectacular quintet of Utah’s National Parks, purchasing the America the Beautiful National Park Pass is not only cost-effective but also convenient. Each individual park has an entrance fee, ranging from $20 to $35.

The American the Beautiful Pass, priced at $80, covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as day-use fees at national forests and grasslands. This means that if you’re visiting three or more parks, the pass quickly pays for itself.

Plus, it eliminates the need to deal with payment at each park entrance, allowing for smoother transitions between your destinations. Keep in mind, the pass is valid for a full year, so any other national parks you decide to visit within that time are essentially free entries.

The America The Beautiful national park pass is an excellent investment for explorers setting their sights on America’s wealth of natural beauty.

Read More: Check out our list of the best day trips from Salt Lake City !

One of the key aspects of a successful trip to Utah’s National Parks is packing and dressing in layers. The state’s desert climate means there can be significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, sometimes exceeding 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the peak of summer, days can be scorching hot, while evenings bring a refreshing coolness. On the other hand, winter can see sunny, mild afternoons followed by crisp, chilly nights.

Layering your clothing allows you to easily adjust to these changes and maintain comfort throughout the day. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry, add an insulating middle layer for warmth, and top with water and a wind-resistant outer layer.

Remember, a comfortable explorer is a happy explorer, and the right clothing is essential in making the most out of your Utah National Parks adventure.

Check out our list of hiking tips for more ideas about what to pack and how to plan your adventures!

Starting your activities early when visiting Utah’s National Parks offers several advantages, and it’s a strategy veteran park visitors swear by.

First, you’ll avoid the peak daytime temperatures that can make strenuous activities like hiking not only challenging but potentially dangerous, especially in the summer months.

Second, many popular spots in the parks can get crowded as the day progresses. An early start allows you to beat the crowds, secure parking spaces, and enjoy the tranquil beauty of these natural landscapes at a leisurely pace.

Additionally, the soft morning light provides exceptional opportunities for photography. Lastly, many of Utah’s wildlife are most active during the cooler morning hours, offering a chance to spot and appreciate these creatures in their natural habitat.

So rise before the sun, soak up the serene morning vibes, and get a head start on your day of adventure in Utah’s stunning National Parks.

Utah National Parks Itinerary – Visiting The “Mighty 5”

Utah is hyperscenic. And following our itinerary below will give you the best chance to see and experience a taste of Utah’s national parks that will leave you ready to return to explore more of your favorite places.

We’re beginning this Utah national parks road trip in Las Vegas. But remember, you can swap out Day 1 with a start from Salt Lake City if you find that is better for your overall plans.

Day 1: Las Vegas to Zion National Park

As you leave the neon glow of Las Vegas behind and hit the road toward Zion National Park, prepare for a journey that’s as much about the drive as it is about the destination.

The roughly three-hour drive will take you through an array of landscapes, from the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert to the pastel-colored cliffs of Virgin River Gorge in Arizona.

If you have the time, make sure to stop at the Valley of Fire State Park, an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, which gets its name from the red sandstone formations that look as if they’re on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.

Here, you can hike, explore ancient petroglyphs, and take stunning photographs of the landscape.

Upon reaching Zion National Park, you’ll find an array of activities to keep you entertained.

You can start with the Scenic Drive, which provides an excellent overview of the park’s main attractions, and the park shuttle makes it easy to hop on and off at different points.

We don’t recommend that you do too much on this first day as you will have plenty of time to explore Zion National Park the following day.

But simply driving through Zion National Park will give you an overview of the splendor and beauty of the area and set you up for what to expect from the other Utah national parks.

If you’re staying in the park, be sure to arrive at your accommodations early on this first night. This will give you time to set up and enjoy an incredible star-filled night .

But perhaps even more importantly, it will allow you to get a good night’s sleep so that you can plan for a very early start the next day.

Remember, although this is the first national park on your national parks road trip, you are not the only one with the idea to visit Utah national parks.

Get your sleep and be ready for an action-filled day as you explore Zion National Park from one end to the other!

Zion National Park

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

Unless you’ve made arrangements to stay in Zion National Park, the town of Springdale is about as close as you can get to the park. Here are a few great options:

  • Pioneer Lodge – This rustic-style lodge offers a range of amenities including a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and easy access to the park, making it a convenient base for visitors eager to explore the stunning landscapes of Zion.
  • Holiday Inn Express – Nestled in the majestic red rock cliffs of Zion Canyon, the Holiday Inn Express in Springdale, Utah offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations. With its outdoor pool, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, and breathtaking views, it serves as a comfortable and convenient hub for travelers exploring the marvels of Zion National Park.

There are a few RV campgrounds in Zion National Park. But these will fill up quickly. So be sure to book as far in advance as possible to ensure that you have a campsite:

  • Watchman Campground
  • South Campground

Check out this National Park site for information on booking your campsite.

Day 2: Zion National Park

Welcome to Zion National Park, a nature lover’s paradise nestled in the southwestern corner of Utah.

Revered for its impressive sandstone cliffs radiating hues of cream, pink, and red, Zion is a place where landscape meets the sky creating an awe-inspiring backdrop like no other.

The Virgin River, the architect of the park, has carved its way through the rock, sculpting the canyon over millions of years, and creating an oasis of sorts in the desert where diverse plant and animal life thrive.

Zion National Park isn’t just about breathtaking vistas; it’s an invitation for adventures.

With over 200 square miles of exploration, the park offers rugged hiking trails, such as the iconic Angel’s Landing and the narrows of the Virgin River.

It’s a land of discovery, where every corner turned unfolds a scene of stark beauty, a land where one can truly grasp the magnificence of the natural world.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or a casual traveler seeking the serenity that comes with immense natural beauty, Zion is a world-class destination that promises to captivate your spirit.

As a brief overview, here are the top things to see and do in Zion National Park. We’re not telling you where to begin or end.

And some activities may not be suitable for everyone. And you really can’t truly see the park without including at least one Zion National Park Hike.

However, when deciding what to do in Zion National Park, this is our list of the absolute best things to do!

  • Angels Landing Hike : This famous hike is not for the faint of heart due to its steep and narrow path, but it provides some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of Zion National Park.
  • The Narrows : This unique hike takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in the Virgin River itself, so be prepared to get a little wet!
  • Emerald Pools : This trail leads to a series of picturesque pools and waterfalls. There are both lower and upper trails depending on your preference for difficulty and distance.
  • Zion Canyon Scenic Drive : This drive provides stunning views of the park. You can access the park’s shuttle system which stops at multiple points along the route for easy exploration.
  • Canyoneering : Zion is known for its excellent canyoneering routes. This adventure sport combines route finding, rappelling, problem-solving, swimming, and hiking.
  • Watchman Trail : A relatively easy trail offering impressive views of Zion Canyon, Springdale, and the Watchman Spire.
  • Weeping Rock : A short hike that leads you to a rock alcove where water seeps out of the rock, providing a cool respite during hotter months.
  • Kolob Canyons : Located in the northwestern section of the park, this area provides a quieter experience with equally stunning canyon views. Don’t miss the Taylor Creek trail.
  • Wildlife Watching : Keep an eye out for the park’s abundant wildlife, including mule deer, wild turkeys, and the rare sighting of a bighorn sheep.
  • Stargazing : With limited light pollution, the park offers fantastic opportunities for stargazing . Zion regularly offers ranger-led stargazing programs as well.

Angels Landing

While most of the activities in Zion National Park involve getting out on the hiking trails, there are also some great viewpoints of the national park and a great visitor center where you could spend hours learning about the rock formations that gave rise to such a spectacular place.

Although visitor centers are typically great places to start, unless you stopped by on your first day traveling to Zion National Park, you won’t want to spend too much of your time there as this will eat into your less-busy time exploring the park itself.

If you have additional time in Zion National Park, consider exploring some of the less-trafficked areas of the park.

The Kolob Canyons, a lesser-visited section of the park, provides quieter trails and equally magnificent scenery.

Here, the Taylor Creek Trail is a delightful hike leading to the Double Arch Alcove.

If you’re up for a challenge, try the trail to The Subway, a unique tunnel-shaped canyon and geological marvel, though do note that this requires a permit. Also consider a horseback riding tour of White Mountain for a unique experience!

Alternatively, explore the Zion Human History Museum to learn more about the park’s cultural history or simply find a peaceful spot by the Virgin River and enjoy the serene beauty around you.

If you’re there in the right season, you might even partake in a peaceful bird-watching session, as Zion is home to over 290 species of birds.

Day 3: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park

Don’t rush away from Zion National Park! Take your time and get one last hike or scenic drive in before heading north toward Bryce Canyon National Park.

The drive to Bryce Canyon National Park from Zion National Park will take a little less than 2 hours… unless you find yourself stopping to take in some of the incredible views along the way.

Taking Highway 9 out of Zion National Park, you’ll travel a few miles east before turning north onto Highway 89, arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in America.

These 43 miles will lead you between the mountains that separate Zion National Park from Bryce Canyon National Park and there are places you may want to pull over to take in views of both.

Depending on how early you arrive in the area, you may want to check into your accommodations and grab a hearty meal to prepare you for a full day of exploring Bryce Canyon National Park.

To reach the park itself, you will turn off Highway 89 and go through a small stretch of hotels , restaurants and tourist shops and attractions in the small towns of Bryce and Bryce Canyon.

If you have time, you can park and take a shuttle through the national park or give yourself a quick self-guided driving tour . Be on the lookout for wildlife in the evening hours.

Remember, while Bryce Canyon National Park is not as popular as Zion National Park or Arches National Park, it is sure to be crowded the next day.

So head to bed early and get your rest so you can wake up early ready to spend a full day exploring the best that the national park has to offer!

Where To Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Most of the accommodations near Bryce Canyon National Park are located in either Bryce, Bryce Canyon City or the town of Tropic.

While Tropic has more hotel offerings, it will require you to backtrack a little to return to the national park the following day.

ere are a few great options for where to stay near Bryce Canyon National Park:

  • Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn (Bryce Canyon City) – Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn, situated just a mile from the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park, offers cozy accommodations complemented by rustic decor reminiscent of the region’s pioneer heritage. It features a range of amenities including an indoor pool, on-site dining, a general store, and even horse riding activities.
  • Bryce Pioneer Village (Tropic, Utah) – Bryce Pioneer Village, located in Tropic, Utah, offers a charming and rustic lodging experience just a short drive from the park. With options for motel rooms or individual cabins set in beautiful gardens, along with amenities like an outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant, it provides a comfortable base for visitors to unwind after a day of exploration.

There are a few RV campgrounds in Bryce Canyon National Park. But these will fill up quickly. So be sure to book as far in advance as possible to ensure that you have a campsite:

  • North Campground
  • Sunset Campground

Read next: The Ultimate 3 Days In Las Vegas Itinerary

Day 4: Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a geological wonderland located in southwestern Utah. Not quite a canyon in the traditional sense, Bryce is rather a spectacular series of natural amphitheaters filled with a maze of spire-shaped rock formations called hoodoos.

These towering limestone sculptures, painted in shades of pink, orange, and white, stand tall against a crisp blue sky, creating a whimsical landscape that appears to be more fantasy than reality.

The magic of Bryce Canyon extends beyond its otherworldly daytime views. Designated as a Dark Sky Park, Bryce offers one of the best celestial displays in the country once the sun sets.

Trails for every level, from the relatively easy Navajo Loop to the more strenuous Peekaboo Loop, lead visitors into the heart of the hoodoos, promising an intimate encounter with the park’s unique geology.

Whether you’re there to watch the sun cast its first light on the hoodoos or to gaze upon the star-studded sky, Bryce Canyon National Park is a place that both humbles and inspires with its majestic natural beauty.

As a brief overview, here are the top things to see and do in Bryce Canyon National Park. As with other Utah national parks, we’re not telling you where to begin or end.

And some activities may not be suitable for everyone. However, when deciding what to do in Bryce Canyon National Park, this is our list of the absolute best things to do!

  • Sunrise/Sunset Point : Witness the breathtaking sight of the hoodoos glowing in the soft light of sunrise or sunset at this viewpoint.
  • Hiking the Navajo Loop Trail : This popular trail descends from Sunset Point through the slot canyon of Wall Street and the Silent City formations.
  • Bryce Point : Famous for its extraordinary sunrises, panoramic views of the Bryce Amphitheater can be seen from this point.
  • Ride the Scenic Drive : A 38-mile round trip drive with over a dozen viewpoints to pull over and admire the park’s stunning landscapes. Or explore by ATV for an adventurous twist!
  • Hike the Rim Trail : This relatively easy trail offers some of the best views of the park and can be hiked in sections.
  • Peek-A-Boo Loop : A longer and more strenuous hike that offers stunning views of the park’s iconic hoodoos.
  • Visit Mossy Cave : A less-visited part of the park where you can see a waterfall, a mossy overhang that’s cool even in summer, and hoodoos up close.
  • Stargazing : Bryce Canyon has some of the darkest night skies in North America, making it an excellent place for stargazing.
  • Horseback Riding : Experience the park’s trails from a new perspective with a guided horseback riding tour .
  • Winter Sports : In the winter, the park offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for a different view of Bryce’s spectacular hoodoos.

If you find yourself with some extra time in Bryce Canyon National Park, consider venturing into the lesser-visited areas of the park. The Fairyland Loop Trail is a longer and less crowded trail that offers fantastic views of the hoodoos, towers, and walls for which Bryce Canyon is famous.

You could also explore the Bristlecone Loop that takes you to Yovimpa Point and Rainbow Point, the highest points in the park, with views extending over 100 miles on clear days.

Another option is to spend a leisurely afternoon horseback riding through the park’s canyon trails, soaking up the unique geological wonders around you.

And, if your visit falls during a new moon, don’t miss one of the ranger-led Full Moon Hikes or a guided astronomy program, as Bryce Canyon is renowned for its clear, dark skies, perfect for stargazing.

Bryce Canyon

Day 5: Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park

Don’t rush away from Bryce Canyon National Park! Take your time and get one last hike or scenic drive in before heading north toward Capitol Reef National Park.

The scenic drive to Capitol Reef National Park will take approximately 3 hours. But with the cute little town of Escalante positioned right in the middle of the road trip, plus all of the beauty around, you may want to give it more time.

There are some great slot canyons to hike just north of Escalante if you enjoy finding yourself wedged between sandstone layers of rock that stretch upwards toward the sky.

Take a side trip down the dirt road (sometimes graded) on Hole In The Rock Road to visit Zebra Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon.

Both offer the opportunity to enjoy some open-country hiking that leads into the narrow slot canyons.

Depending on the time of day and season, you may find yourself slogging through water in either canyon and the opportunity always exists to do a little amateur rock climbing as you work your way further back into each canyon.

Zebra Slot Canyon doesn’t require any technical climbing skills. But to see the famed “zebra stripes” in the canyon you’ll want to do some scuttling up and through some very narrow slots.

Be sure to arrive at your accommodations with plenty of time to enjoy the evening. Pick up food in Escalante, or give yourself enough time to cook a meal in your RV if you’re traveling in one.

Then catch some great shut-eye before heading out into Capitol Reef National Park for a full day of adventure the next morning.

If you’re a night owl, you may consider stepping outside after sunset to take in the many stars that blanket the sky.

It’s likely that you’ll be able to very clearly see the Milky Way Galaxy with your bare eyes, depending on the season and timing.

Where To Stay Near Capitol Reef National Park

Your options for staying near Capitol Reef National Park are limited with most of the accommodation options being in the small town of Torrey, Utah, just a 15-minute drive to the national park entrance.

There are other options that lie further west away from the park. So we’d recommend considering the following options when it comes to where to stay near Capitol Reef National Park.

Both are highly rated and we think you’ll appreciate all they have to offer in addition to their proximity to the national park.

  • Broken Spur Inn and Steakhouse – Located in the heart of Torrey, Utah, the Broken Spur Inn and Steakhouse offers comfortable lodging and an on-site steakhouse, ensuring guests enjoy not only scenic views of Capitol Reef National Park but also satisfying meals before or after a day of exploration.
  • Skyview Hotel – Skyview Hotel in Torrey, Utah, pairs modern comforts with breathtaking views of the red cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef National Park. Enjoy the pleasant charm and nice amenities such as a heated outdoor pool and a spacious picnic area.

In Capitol Reef National Park there is only one campground and it is likely to fill up quickly due to the remote nature of the campsite. Be sure to book far in advance to ensure that you have a campsite:

  • Fruita Campground

Day 6: Capitol Reef National Park

Welcome to Capitol Reef National Park, an enchanting realm nestled in the heart of Utah’s red rock country.

Named for its white domes of Navajo Sandstone that resemble the U.S. Capitol building, and the water pocket fold, a ‘reef’-like geologic wrinkle extending nearly 100 miles, Capitol Reef is a dazzling display of colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, and twisting canyons.

The park’s unique geologic features tell a story of ancient environments, from lush tropical forests to arid deserts, that existed here millions of years ago.

Venturing into Capitol Reef is like stepping back in time. The park is home to the historic Fruita Rural Historic District, where lush orchards and rustic buildings offer a glimpse of the area’s pioneer heritage.

The rich human history, dating back to the ancient Fremont people, is inscribed on the sandstone cliffs in the form of petroglyphs, a silent testament to the park’s past inhabitants.

Whether you’re exploring its scenic byways, hiking through its dramatic landscapes, or picking fresh fruit in one of the maintained orchards, Capitol Reef National Park offers an unforgettable journey into a lesser-known, but equally captivating, corner of Utah’s impressive national park system.

Cathedral Valley

As a brief overview, here are the top things to see and do in Capitol Reef National Park. As with other Utah national parks, we’re not telling you where to begin or end.

And some activities may not be suitable for everyone. However, when deciding what to do in Capitol Reef National Park, this is our list of the absolute best things to do!

  • Scenic Drive : A 25-mile round trip that takes you through the heart of the park’s Waterpocket Fold, offering magnificent views of cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges.
  • Hickman Bridge Trail : This moderate trail leads to the impressive Hickman Natural Bridge, one of the largest in the park.
  • Fruita Historic District : Explore this old Mormon settlement with its charming orchards where you can pick fruit in season, a historic schoolhouse, and the Gifford Homestead which sells locally made pies and breads.
  • Cassidy Arch : A strenuous hike leading to a large, spectacular natural arch named after the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy.
  • Petroglyphs : Just east of the Fruita oasis, view petroglyphs inscribed in sandstone by Native Americans of the Fremont Culture.
  • Cathedral Valley : A remote, less visited area of the park, featuring stunning monolithic sandstone formations.
  • Sulphur Creek Route : A water hike through a narrow canyon, featuring three waterfalls to bypass. Best done in warmer weather.
  • Chimney Rock Loop : A moderately difficult trail offering panoramic views of the Waterpocket Fold and the surrounding area.
  • Goosenecks Overlook : A short walk to a viewpoint where you can see the deep, dramatic meanders of Sulphur Creek.
  • Stargazing : Like many of Utah’s national parks, Capitol Reef offers incredible stargazing due to its status as an International Dark Sky Park.

With some extra time at Capitol Reef National Park, diving deeper into its hidden treasures can make your visit even more unforgettable. A great way to start is by exploring the Cathedral Valley, a less frequented but equally breathtaking region of the park, known for its monolithic formations.

If you’re an avid hiker, consider the strenuous but rewarding Upper Muley Twist Canyon trail, which offers some of the most spectacular panoramic views in the park.

Take a step back in time by visiting the old Fruita Schoolhouse, a one-room building that served the small community from the 1890s to the 1940s.

If you’re visiting during the right season, don’t miss the chance to pick some fruit in the historic Fruita orchards, a unique experience that harks back to the area’s pioneer past.

Looking for more epic road trips? Check out our guide to driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles !

Day 7: Drive to Moab for Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park

Next you’ll be heading north toward Moab, where you’ll encounter the spectacular Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Moab itself merits a little extra time if you have it. From a quaint downtown area that offers all sorts of places to eat and shop to some side trips to places like Corona Arch just outside of town, the area around Moab is worth the time if you have it.

From Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll drive just under 3 hours to reach Moab. Unfortunately, the backroads of this epic Utah national parks road trip ends for a brief stint on Interstate 70 straddling Green River, Utah before ducking back down on Highway 191.

Arches National Park is just as popular, if not more, than Zion National Park so it’s unlikely that you can enjoy too much with the late afternoon arrival into the area. Instead, use this time to head out toward Corona Arch and enjoy that afternoon or early evening hike instead.

Be sure to check in with your accommodations as soon as you can and get settled in for a quiet night. You’ll want to be ready to wake up early to hit Arches National Park before droves of other people do.

But if you are truly committed, consider waking up well before sunrise to head into the park and hike out to Delicate Arch for sunrise, arguably the most iconic arch in the entire national park.

Delicate Arch Utah Road Trip Itinerary

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park

Almost all accommodations for visiting both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park will be in and around the small town of Moab. Because Arches National Park is arguably just as busy, if not busier than Zion National Park, the town of Moab has grown up to support a massive influx of visitors and there are ample options for accommodations in the area.

Here are a few of the best options:

  • Archway Inn – Complete with an outdoor pool, hot tub, spacious rooms, and a fitness center, this lovely hotel furnished with classy sandstone architecture is a top-rated place to stay near the park.
  • Hotel Moab Downtown – Located in the heart of Moab with incredible mountain scenery, this full-service hotel is surrounded by the best restaurants and shops in town. The gorgeous hotel interior doesn’t hurt either!

In Arches National Park there is only one campground and it is likely to fill up quickly due to the popularity of the national park. Be sure to book far in advance to ensure that you have a campsite:

  • Devil’s Garden Campground

Day 8: Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a captivating world of stone located in eastern Utah. As the name implies, Arches is a testament to nature’s power and creativity, hosting over 2,000 natural stone arches, the greatest concentration in the world.

These striking formations, along with an array of colossal pinnacles, balanced rocks, and expansive fins, are artfully carved from a vibrant red sandstone landscape, creating a visually stunning panorama that ignites the imagination.

Arches National Park invites visitors to delve into a world where the surreal becomes tangible.

Trails of varying lengths lead you up close to the park’s star attractions, like the Delicate Arch, one of Utah’s most famous icons, or the Landscape Arch, one of the world’s longest.

Whether bathed in the fiery glow of sunrise or sunset, shimmering under the midday sun, or glowing in the soft light of the moon, the arches offer an ever-changing, always mesmerizing spectacle.

Arches National Park is not just a place to see, but a place to savor and experience through adventures like mountain biking , backpacking, ATV driving, and more.

As a brief overview, here are the top things to see and do in Arches National Park. As with other Utah national parks, we’re not telling you where to begin or end.

And this park is PACKED year round, so you may not be able to fully enjoy every experience we have listed.

However, when deciding what to do in Arches National Park, this is our list of the absolute best things to do!

  • Delicate Arch Hike : A moderately difficult hike to the park’s most iconic and most photographed natural arch.
  • Devils Garden : A network of trails leading to several arches including the Landscape Arch, the longest natural arch in North America.
  • Fiery Furnace : A labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons requiring a permit or a ranger-led tour to explore, to ensure minimal impact on the environment.
  • Windows Section : Easy trails that lead to some of the largest arches in the park, including the North and South Window Arches and Turret Arch.
  • Park Avenue Trail : This trail provides views of towering sandstone monoliths reminiscent of skyscrapers on a big city street.
  • Balanced Rock : One of the park’s most popular features, a massive boulder balanced on a slender pedestal.
  • Courthouse Towers : A collection of tall stone columns that showcase the park’s unique geology.
  • Double Arch : Two impressive natural arches that share a common end. The trail to reach them is relatively short and easy.
  • Sunset at Delicate Arch : A popular activity is to hike to Delicate Arch at sunset to witness the stunning transformation of colors on the rock formations.
  • Stargazing : Arches National Park is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent place for stargazing due to minimal light pollution.

If you’ve budgeted some extra time for exploring Arches National Park, consider delving deeper into its off-the-beaten-path wonders.

The Fiery Furnace, a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons, offers a more challenging but rewarding experience – just remember to either join a ranger-led tour or get a permit if you plan to navigate it yourself.

If you’re up for a longer hike, the seven-mile Primitive Loop at Devil’s Garden will reward you with views of some of the park’s less-visited arches.

Consider also a visit to the petroglyphs at Wolfe Ranch to appreciate the history and culture of the park’s earlier inhabitants. Or go stand-up paddleboarding or white-water rafting on the Colorado River if you’re looking for a break from land-based activities!

Arches National Park

Day 9: Canyonlands National Park

Welcome to Canyonlands National Park, a captivating wonderland located in the heart of southeastern Utah.

Spanning over 337,000 acres, Canyonlands is a vast desert ecosystem sculpted by the Colorado River and its tributaries into a rugged panorama of mesas, canyons, and remarkable rock formations.

The park’s unique geology unfolds millions of years of Earth’s history, with layers of sedimentary rock that document time like pages in a book.

Yet, Canyonlands is more than just a geological showcase; it’s a place where the sheer scale of the landscape and the silence of the desert can create a profoundly stunning experience.

The park’s expanse is divided into four districts – Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves – each boasting its own distinctive character and array of outdoor adventures.

Whether you’re standing on the edge of a towering mesa overlooking the winding river canyons, exploring the cryptic messages left by ancient Native American civilizations, or star-gazing in the crystal-clear night skies, Canyonlands offers an exploration into a beautifully rugged and untamed corner of the world.

Canyonlands National Park is a vast wilderness of stark yet breathtaking beauty characterized by its dramatic desert landscapes.

Featuring a diverse array of towering mesas, deep canyons, and the converging Colorado and Green Rivers, the park provides an awe-inspiring panorama that reveals millions of years of geologic history.

Here are a few of the best things to see and do in Canyonlands National Park:

  • Island in the Sky : This is the easiest district of the park to access and offers breathtaking views from numerous overlooks along the paved scenic drive.
  • Mesa Arch : A short hike leads to this poetically named natural arch, a popular spot for photographers, especially at sunrise.
  • White Rim Road : A 100-mile dirt road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa, providing spectacular views for those up for a 4WD adventure.
  • The Needles : This district offers extensive hiking trails through a landscape punctuated by colorful sandstone spires.
  • Horseshoe Canyon : This detached unit of the park is home to the famous Great Gallery, one of the best examples of prehistoric pictographs (rock art) in America.
  • Upheaval Dome : Visit this unique geologic feature and decide for yourself whether it was created by a salt dome or a meteor impact.
  • Green River Overlook : A popular spot that provides panoramic views of the Green River in the Island in the Sky district.
  • Rafting on the Colorado River : Experience the thrill of rafting through the park’s spectacular canyons.
  • Elephant Hill Trail : This challenging 4WD trail in the Needles district leads to some of the most remote and beautiful places in the park.
  • Stargazing : Canyonlands National Park has been designated a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park, making it an exceptional place to stargaze and contemplate the mysteries of the universe.

With additional time at Canyonlands National Park, your adventures can extend beyond the iconic Island in the Sky district.

Consider exploring the more remote Needles district, where colorful sandstone spires tower above extensive hiking trails and large, park-like clearings.

If you’re equipped with a 4WD vehicle, a journey along the White Rim Road will present stunning, up-close views of the park’s complex geology.

Another remarkable but less-visited area is the park’s Maze district, one of the most remote areas in the United States, offering solitude and a maze-like network of canyons to explore.

If you’re keen on prehistoric culture, the Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the most significant rock art in North America, including the breathtaking Great Gallery panel. Just remember, some of these activities require permits, so plan accordingly!

There are a few RV campgrounds in Canyonlands National Park. But these will fill up quickly. So be sure to book as far in advance as possible to ensure that you have a campsite:

  • Islands In The Sky (Willow Flat) Campground
  • The Needles Campground

Canyon Lands National Park

Day 10: Return trip

On the final day of your Utah road trip, you will spend a good portion of it driving back to either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, depending on your final destination.

Both of these drives can be road trips on their own, with plenty of other stops along the way.

The drive from Moab to Salt Lake City will take approximately 4 hours. This will be mostly along backroad highways that continue to offer the kind of beauty that makes anyone want to visit utah.

Here are a few points of interest along the drive back to Salt Lake City:

  • Price Canyon Recreation Area : This is a great spot to stretch your legs and take in the stunning views of the surrounding canyons and plateaus.
  • Nine Mile Canyon : Known as the world’s longest art gallery, this canyon contains extensive petroglyphs and pictographs from ancient Native American cultures. It’s a slight detour off the main route, but well worth the extra time for history and archaeology enthusiasts.
  • Helper, Utah : This quaint mining town has a charming Main Street with historic buildings, antique shops, and the Western Mining & Railroad Museum.
  • Provo River Falls : Nestled in the Uinta National Forest, the Provo River tumbles over a series of scenic waterfalls. There are plenty of spots to picnic and trails to explore.
  • Soldier Hollow : This venue was home to cross-country skiing and biathlon events during the 2002 Winter Olympics and now offers year-round outdoor activities. Take a break here to appreciate the beautiful mountain views, and if you’re passing through in winter, enjoy some snow sports.

Driving to Las Vegas from Moab will take around 7 hours and will be primarily along the interstate. You’ll spend much of the time on Interstate 70 until it meets Interstate 15.

If you head along this route and want to split the drive into two days, here are a few points of interest along the way:

  • San Rafael Swell : Located near Green River, Utah, this is a large geologic feature known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, and expansive panoramas.
  • Fishlake National Forest : Close to Richfield, Utah, this national forest is home to the Pando, an enormous grove of quaking aspen which is considered the heaviest known living organism.
  • Cove Fort : Near Beaver, Utah, this historic site is a well-preserved pioneer-era fort. Guided tours offer insight into life in the 19th century American West.
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument : Just off Interstate 15 near Cedar City, Utah, this park offers breathtaking views of a naturally formed amphitheater canyon filled with colorful hoodoos and rock formations.
  • Valley of Fire State Park : Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, known for its vibrant red sandstone formations, petrified wood, and ancient petroglyphs. It’s about an hour off the route, but its otherworldly landscapes make it worth the detour.

If you want to take a more scenic route, you can head south out of Moab and follow highway 191 in Utah through Monument Valley and into northern Arizona. This will lead you to Page, Arizona where you can take a detour to visit Grand Canyon National Park, which is worth the detour in our opinion!

From Page you can also see famous landmarks and national monuments such as Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

Carry on toward Kanab and take a little detour to hiks some great slot canyons or connect back to Zion National Park for a second visit before returning to Interstate 15 for the short drive back to Las Vegas.

Plan to explore more of Arizona? Check out our list of the best things to do in Tucscon !

If you are continuing on your road trip from Moab, you can easily cross into Colorado and enjoy all that the Centennial State has to offer.

A short 2 hour drive east along Interstate 70 will take you to Grand Junction, where you can decide which direction you want to go to enjoy the beauty of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Of course, road trips in Colorado are a whole other opportunity and the state is well worth exploring over the course of several weeks.

And although not as close as Colorado, you could continue your Utah road trip north and enter remote areas of Wyoming where you’ll come across vast stretches of land that seem to stretch on forever.

This route will put you in Rock Springs, Wyoming and in a direct route toward Grand Teton National Park and the adjoining Yellowstone National Park.

Other Utah Road Trip Destinations

Visiting Utah national parks is a bucket list item of its own. However, if you feel like tacking on a few extra days (or weeks!) on your Utah road trip, then there are some other great destinations nearby that offer great alternatives to Utah’s parks.

Two regions that deserve your attention and do not require too much deviation from this core Utah national parks road trip are in southern utah and northeastern Utah.

If you aren’t in a rush and/or are making your way back to Las Vegas along the scenic Southern Utah route, consider spending a few extra days taking in all of the beauty of this region. Here are a few top places to stop along the way:

  • Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park : This iconic landscape, featuring stunning red sandstone buttes, is located within the Navajo Nation on the border of Utah and Arizona.
  • Antelope Canyon : Near Page, Arizona, this mesmerizing slot canyon is renowned for its swirling sandstone walls and ethereal light beams.
  • Lake Powell : A reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, this is a prime spot for boating, fishing, and exploring numerous sandstone canyons.
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area : Encompassing over 1.25 million acres from Arizona to southern Utah, this area offers opportunities for water-based and backcountry activities.
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park : Located in Utah, this park features a stunning expanse of reddish-pink sand dunes that you can explore on foot or with off-road vehicles.
  • Horseshoe Bend : Just outside Page, Arizona, this iconic bend in the Colorado River is famous for its dramatic views from the cliff edge.
  • Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim : While most visitors head to the South Rim, the North Rim offers a quieter and equally stunning view of this iconic landscape in Arizona.
  • Vermilion Cliffs National Monument : Located in Arizona, this area is known for its colorful, undulating rock formations, including the renowned Wave formation in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Remember, visiting The Wave requires a permit obtained through a lottery system.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Phoenix, Arizona

If your Utah road trip continues north from Moab there are some great places that will seem even more remote than any you have seen amonth the Utah national parks itinerary.

Here are a few of those places that can extend your utah road trip a few extra days:

  • Dinosaur National Monument : While technically designated a national monument, this area in northeastern Utah is famous for its wealth of dinosaur fossils. The quarry exhibits a wall with over 1,500 dinosaur bones still encased in rock.
  • Goblin Valley State Park: Renowned for its thousands of whimsical and eerie sandstone formations, often referred to as goblins, which create a surreal, Goblin Valley State Park offers Mars-like landscape that’s perfect for hiking and exploration.
  • Little Wild Horse Canyon: Located near Goblin Valley State Park in Utah, the area is a popular non-technical slot canyon that offers a stunning, family-friendly hike through sculpted sandstone walls where you can day hike or continue on multi-day treks.
  • Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area : This beautiful area, featuring a massive dam and reservoir, offers boating, fishing, camping, and plenty of trails with panoramic vistas.
  • Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest : The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway runs through this forest, offering stunning views, hiking trails, fishing spots, and campgrounds.
  • Steinaker State Park : Located near Vernal, this state park has a reservoir for boating and fishing, along with camping facilities and picnicking spots.
  • Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum : Also located in Vernal, this museum offers exhibits about the area’s geology and prehistory, including dinosaur fossils.
  • Red Fleet State Park : This park offers a reservoir for water activities, hiking trails with dinosaur tracks, and camping facilities.
  • Fantasy Canyon : This unique area features one-of-a-kind, small-scale sandstone formations that have been eroded into fantastical shapes, creating an almost otherworldly landscape. It’s off the beaten path but well worth the visit for photography or geology enthusiasts.

Wrapping up our expansive Utah road trip, it’s clear to see why this state’s stunning landscapes have captivated the hearts of travelers worldwide.

From the grandeur of the Mighty 5 national parks, each with their unique charm and attractions, to the countless additional points of interest along our journey – including state parks, monuments, and charming towns – Utah offers an abundance of natural beauty and history that makes it a premier destination for road trippers.

Whether you’re an adventurer seeking the thrill of hiking rugged terrains, a history enthusiast keen on immersing yourself in cultural and geological tales from millennia past, or simply a nature lover wanting to bask in some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on earth, Utah’s diverse terrain has something for everyone.

Remember, this itinerary is just a guide – take your time, explore off the beaten path, and make your own discoveries. After all, that’s the beauty of a road trip: the journey is just as important as the destination. Safe travels, and enjoy your Utah exploration!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

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Los Angeles to Zion National Park Road Trip

This 455 mile driving itinerary starts in los angeles, california and makes its way through las vegas on the way to zion national park..

Start: Los Angeles

City of Angels, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Disneyland and highways. One of those highways, I-15 to be exact, can transport you from the teeming multitudes of L.A., via the wide-open spaces of the Mohave Desert, to Las Vegas, Nevada.


Beyond San Bernadino’s historic Arrowhead Springs Hotel and Spa lies Victorville, where the first two drafts of “Citizen Kane” were written. Movie buffs may recognize scenes around town from “Lethal Weapon,” “Face/Off” and “Kill Bill, Vol. II.”

Just up the road is Barstow, home of the Casa Del Desierto (an old Harvey House hotel) which now houses the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. The local Chamber sponsors an annual sandcastle contest in the dry riverbed across from the Harvey House.

Just east of Barstow is the old silver mining town of Calico. About a third of Calico’s original buildings still stand; the remaining structures have been carefully reconstructed to capture the Old West spirit.

Ghost town Calico, California

Mojave National Preserve

Beyond the Cady and Bristol mountains lies the Mojave National Preserve, featuring sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers. At 1.6 million acres, it is the third-largest administrative unit in the National Park Service, with opportunities to hike, backpack, camp, horseback ride and four-wheel.

Six miles southwest of Baker, Calif. on I-15, you can visit Zzyzx, home to the California State University Desert Studies Center. Three of the four major North American deserts are found at Mojave National Preserve: the Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran.

Next stop is Las Vegas, billed as “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” known for gambling, shopping and fine dining. The most famous hotel casinos are located on Las Vegas Boulevard, otherwise known as “The Las Vegas Strip” – a part of Las Vegas inspired by world-famous casinos in Italy .

Las Vegas has a bunch of museums, including two dedicated to “the Mob” gangsters that launched gambling in the city. There are also museums dedicated to the fine arts, automobiles, magic, the Air Force Thunderbirds, erotica, natural history, mining, African-Americans, neon signs, aviation, archeology, jewelry, Liberace, the Anasazi, Guinness Book of Records, outdoor sculpture, Native American artists, Hoover Dam, the atom bomb, and that doesn’t even count the galleries and antique shops. Whew!

Springs Preserve in Las Vegas

Check out the Springs Preserve, where you’ll learn about desert ecology and wildlife, flash floods and the history of Las Vegas in this living museum. Now you can venture into Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area or Valley of Fire State Park — spectacular rock formations and many miles of trails to explore. You’re within striking distance of such attractions as Death Valley National Park, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Just before you leave Nevada while east-bound on I-15, is the resort of Mesquite, offering championship golf, mountain biking, hiking and ATV fun.

Statue in downtown St. George Utah

Cutting across the northwest corner of Arizona, I-15 brings travelers to St. George, Utah’s “Dixie” known for a mild climate and 10 golf courses. From here it is a short drive to Springdale and the southern entrance to Zion National Park and the spectacular Zion Valley.

Finish: Zion National Park

Waterfalls at Zion National Park's Emerald Pools

Some of the top things to do in Zion are to wade the Virgin River through the Narrows , see the Emerald Pools , and, if you aren’t afraid of heights, hike up to Angel’s Landing .

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Road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

If you can hear the shores of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, some of the world's most well-known beaches and amazing theme parks call your name, then this jam-packed road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is the adventure you are looking for.

The 800-mile road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles will take about 13 hours to drive. The highlights are Provo, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes.

Few drives will be as full of adventure, natural wonder, and excitement. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, places to stay, top highlights, and best seasons to make the drive.

How far is Los Angeles from Salt Lake City, and how long will the road trip take?

The Las Vegas Route brings you through a diverse set of landscapes and charming towns, covering a total distance of around 800 miles, which you can complete in about 13 hours with no detours.

The alternative Yosemite National Park Route brings you into the great outdoors, spanning 910 miles and taking roughly 14 hours and 30 minutes.

While you can do the drive in a day or two, we recommend taking at least 4-5 days to appreciate the sights and experiences along the way fully.

Los Angeles beach San Diego Independence Day Celebration.

Best road trip route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

While both routes from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles feature natural wonders and urban fun, their overall scenery and experiences will be quite different.

The Las Vegas Route showcases the brilliant colors of Utah's iconic landscapes at Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and the Dixie National Forest.

On top of this, you'll also get to see Las Vegas, the "entertainment capital of the world.” This iconic city has an eclectic mix of culture, architecture, and, of course, the world-renowned casinos.

On the way from Las Vegas, you'll get to stop in the historic Provo Pioneer Village and the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site. From here, get ready to experience the open desert highway.

The alternative Yosemite National Park Route is a journey through a panorama of diverse landscapes, ranging from the Bonneville Salt Flats to the breathtaking views of the Inyo National Forest.

A highlight of this route is the remarkable Yosemite National Park, where you can see waterfalls, imposing cliff formations, and an array of wildlife. You'll also experience historic highlights like Ely Renaissance Village and the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah.

While this route doesn't have an equivalent to the vibrant nightlife of Las Vegas, it trades it for limitless natural wonders and outdoor activities.

How to drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

The Las Vegas Route

From Salt Lake City, head south on Interstate 15 (I-15) along Utah Lake to Provo. Continue south through the beautiful Utah desert landscapes.

Soon, you'll reach the striking town of Salina. From here, get back on route and drive to Panguitch, a gateway to Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon National Park. After enjoying the natural wonders, continue on route and head to Zion National Park.

From here, drive southwest into Arizona and then into California. Continue to Moapa Valley and to Lake Mead, where you can visit the engineering marvel that is the Hoover Dam. After your visit, the neon lights of Las Vegas await you.

From here, hop back on I-15. Continue past Mojave National Preserve and through the San Bernardino Mountains and into beautiful Los Angeles.

Wild West-style street on a sunny day with bright blue sky

The Yosemite National Park Route

Begin your journey from Salt Lake City by heading west on I-80. Continue traveling through the desert into Nevada. Drive further, dipping southwest into the historic town of Ely. From here, make your way southwest into the town of Tonopah.

Head west towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Soon, you'll arrive at the incredible Yosemite National Park. From here, you can drive south through the Inyo National Forest to Mammoth Lakes. After soaking in the natural surroundings, head back on route and drive south.

Soon you'll reach the town of Lone Pine, the gateway to Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48. Continue south on the route to the city of Mojave. Here, you'll be surrounded by the famous Mojave Desert.

After soaking in the desert vibes, continue on route to the historic city of Santa Clarita. From here, continue south to the world-famous city of Los Angeles.

Stock Photo ID: 56441893  Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, on a sunny day.

Best places to stop between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles

On your way from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, you'll experience an almost endless amount of gorgeous highlights and exciting stopovers. Below, we've chosen our favorite places to stop, so you can take in everything this beautiful road trip offers.

Admire some of Utah's most beloved sights in Virgin

Virgin is a picturesque stop to reenergize on the Las Vegas Route, found approximately 5 hours and 20 minutes into your journey. This serene location serves as a spectacular gateway to Dixie National Forest, Zion National Park, and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

The major attraction of this route is the awe-inspiring Zion National Park, easily accessible from Virgin. The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is also a short distance away from Virgin, renowned for its beautiful landscape nestled amongst majestic red cliffs.

Trading sign in Virgin during overcast weather

You are spoilt for scenery during your stay here, because the Dixie National Forest is another nearby natural wonder you can visit. It's a paradise for explorers, offering a rich playground to reconnect with nature through a network of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

To top off your experience in Virgin, we suggest booking your stay at the wonderful Under Canvas Zion , true to the theme of outdoor living. This unique stay blends perfectly with the natural surroundings, surrounded by the famous red rocks of the Zion landscape.

The camp has direct access to the wonders of Zion National Park, with access to adventures like canyoning, hiking, and even hot air ballooning. The site also offers yoga sessions and a choice of American or vegetarian breakfast to start your day.

Other amenities include comfortable bedding, free parking, and beautiful lounge areas where you can watch the stars and the desert landscape in total comfort.

Take in the unforgettable scenery of Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is the perfect stopover for the Yosemite National Park Route, after your journey of 9 hours and 20 minutes by car. This lively town provides a perfect base to explore Yosemite National Park and the pristine wilderness of Inyo National Forest.

One of the major highlights is the Devils Postpile National Monument, a unique geological formation of columnar basalt. A bit farther, you'll find the stunning Rainbow Falls, a site that lives up to its name, painting the sky with vibrant hues as the water cascades down.

Mammoth Lakes surrounded by a pine forest with mountains in the background.

When in Mammoth Lakes, we recommend pampering yourself with a luxurious stay at The Westin Monache Resort . Located close to the ski lifts, this stylish resort features modern rooms with beautiful views.

Its central location is a massive hit with guests, offering the perfect start to both short and long hikes. Here, amenities like a gourmet restaurant, a fireplace to warm up to, and an outdoor heated pool coupled with hot tubs will give you plenty of relaxation.

Make sure to carve out time for a trip to the Mammoth Museum at the Hayden Cabin, merely two miles from the hotel, offering a deep dive into the rich history of the region.

If skiing is on your agenda, the Mammoth Mountain ski area awaits you just a few hundred yards from the hotel. For an exhilarating start to your skiing adventure, hop onto the Village Gondola, the start of which is conveniently located just 100 yards away from the hotel.

Where to stay when you reach Los Angeles

Los Angeles is renowned globally as the epicenter of the entertainment industry, home to Hollywood and celebrities. Yet, it is also a haven of arts and culture, with stunning galleries and cultural centers that sit alongside picturesque beaches.

The iconic Hollywood Sign stands as a sentinel in this city, a beacon of dreams and opportunities while Griffith Park offers an oasis of nature, a green space where you can enjoy open spaces and star-gazing at the famous observatory.

A very late pink sunset photo of Griffith Observatory with all the lights of the building turned on

Once you reach LA, we recommend staying at the beautiful and highly rated Hotel Per La, Autograph Collection . Located in a historic building in the city's heart, it's now a modern, chic hotel that keeps its classic charm, offering a blend of history and contemporary elegance.

The rooms are a haven of comfort, impressively designed to welcome a flood of natural light while showcasing the hotel's architecture and style. There is a lovely café and an upscale restaurant on-site that serves delicious meals.

The crown jewel of the hotel is its rooftop pool and bar, a place where you can immerse yourself in the fabulous panoramas over the city. As day turns into a star-studded night, you'll get to experience LA in complete luxury.

Things to see on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

There's so much to see and experience on your epic drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. To help make your planning easier, we've included our top highlights below.

Las Vegas Route

  • Provo Pioneer Village - This living history museum in Provo, Utah, transports visitors back to the earliest days of Mormon settlement, showcasing pioneer buildings and artifacts that detail the lifestyle and craftsmanship of the 19th century.
  • Mystic Hot Springs, Monroe - A unique haven nestled in Monroe, Utah, offering geothermal hot springs with rustic soaking tubs and hippy vibes, surrounded by a rugged yet beautiful landscape that promotes relaxation and healing.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Located in Utah, this national park is renowned for its crimson-colored spire-shaped rock formations, offering breathtaking views and excellent hiking opportunities through its otherworldly landscapes.
  • Dixie National Forest - Spanning almost two million acres in Utah, this national forest offers a diverse landscape with red sandstone cliffs, canyons, and a rich variety of plant and animal life.
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument - This national monument showcases a naturally formed amphitheater, home to a wealth of unique geological formations, vibrant wildflowers, and clear starry nights.
  • Zion National Park - Also in Utah, this iconic park offers dramatic landscapes with towering cliffs, narrow canyons, and a rich diversity of plants and wildlife, creating a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
  • Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah - A protective habitat located in southern Utah, preserving a remarkable range of ecosystems and offering miles of hiking trails through striking red cliffs and archaeological sites.
  • St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site - An incredible site in Utah where you can view well-preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils, unveiling a prehistoric world within a contemporary indoor setting.
  • Lost City Museum, Nevada - Situated in Overton, Nevada, this museum showcases artifacts and recreations of Ancestral Puebloan structures, offering insights into the life and culture of ancient Native American societies that once thrived in the region.
  • Valley of Fire State Park - Nevada's oldest and largest state park, famed for its vibrant red sandstone formations created from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago, offering visitors hiking, picnicking, and camping opportunities amidst a fiery landscape.
  • Lake Mead, Nevada - America's first national recreation area, surrounding the largest reservoir in the US, and offering a range of water-based recreational activities alongside picturesque canyons and rugged mountains.
  • Hoover Dam - An engineering marvel straddling the Arizona-Nevada state line, the Hoover Dam offers guided tours that delve into the history and operations of this iconic dam that tamed the Colorado River.
  • Las Vegas Strip - An exciting stretch lined with luxury hotels, casinos, and entertainment venues; a hub of nightlife and entertainment showcasing dazzling neon lights and a high-energy atmosphere.
  • Calico Ghost Town - Located in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California, Calico is a historic silver mining town that has been restored as a county park, offering tours and reenactments that bring the Wild West era to life.
  • California Route 66 Museum - Situated in Victorville, this museum celebrates the historical significance and cultural impact of the iconic Route 66, housing a collection of memorabilia and artifacts from the road's golden days.

Red rock formations in the distance on a sunny day

Yosemite National Park Route

  • Tree of Utah - An 87-foot-tall sculpture standing in the desolate Bonneville Salt Flats, created by Swedish artist Karl Momen as a tribute to the endurance and beauty of life in the stark Utah desert landscape.
  • Bonneville Salt Flats - A stunningly vast expanse of hard, white salt crust located in northwestern Utah, known for land speed racing and its ethereal, moon-like landscape that offers incredible photographic opportunities.
  • Ely Renaissance Village - Situated in Ely, Nevada, it is a collection of historic houses turned into a village of artisan shops, galleries, and studios, reflecting the area's rich mining history.
  • Central Nevada Museum, Tonopah - Nestled in Tonopah, this museum documents the rich mining and cultural history of central Nevada through a range of indoor exhibits and an impressive outdoor display of historical machinery.
  • Yosemite National Park - A famed national park in California known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoias, and abundant wildlife, offering unparalleled hiking and outdoor exploration opportunities.
  • Inyo National Forest - Spanning parts of California and Nevada, this national forest is home to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous US, and offers spectacular landscapes including mountains, forests, and lakes.
  • Mammoth Mountain Ski Area - A prominent ski area in California offering an array of winter sports opportunities, from skiing to snowboarding amidst stunning alpine scenery.
  • Convict Lake - A picturesque lake in California surrounded by mountains and trails offering fishing, hiking, and opportunities for photography, named after an incident involving escaped convicts in 1871.
  • Manzanar National Historic Site - This site serves as a reminder of the Japanese American internment during World War II, featuring a museum showcasing the internees' hardships and daily life.
  • Museum of Western Film History, Lone Pine - Located in Lone Pine, California, this museum celebrates the rich history of western movies, housing an extensive collection of memorabilia and offering insights into the production of many iconic films.
  • Trona Pinnacles - An eerie and otherworldly collection of more than 500 tufa spires, rising from the Searles Lake basin in California, a popular filming location and a haven for photography enthusiasts.
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park - Situated in California, this park is known for its vivid red rock formations and cliffs, providing hiking trails that lead visitors through dramatic landscapes populated with Joshua trees.
  • Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park - This park features striking rock formations created from rapid erosion, a hotspot for hiking, and has served as a picturesque backdrop for many movies and TV shows.
  • Angeles National Forest - Nestled in Southern California, this national forest offers rugged mountains, rolling hills, and ample recreational opportunities, acting as a green oasis for the densely populated region.
  • Mission San Fernando Rey de España - A historic Spanish mission founded in 1797 in California, showcasing beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and a museum that explores the rich history of California's mission era.

A person walks across the white expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA

Best time to go on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a delightful destination year-round, boasting so many things to do regardless of the season.

If you opt for the Las Vegas Route, the stunning backdrops of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Dixie National Forest, and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area are open year-round.

However, to avoid the summer rush at Zion, consider planning your road trip in a different season. In contrast, the Yosemite National Park Route through the Tioga Pass usually closes from November to May due to snow, so summer through early fall would be ideal.

Los Angeles welcomes you with temperatures fluctuating around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, providing a perfect backdrop for the LA Pride in June or the NoHo Theater and Arts Festival in May.

In fall, temperatures mellow out and nights become cool and pleasant. During this time, you can enjoy the Life is Beautiful Festival in September or the California Dark Sky Festival in October if you travel on the Yosemite National Park Route.

Winter, although cooler with highs hovering around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, rarely sees freezing temperatures. Wintertime is perfect for experiencing the Jubilee of Trees in St George in November or the famous New Year celebrations of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Regardless of the season you choose, Los Angeles is the ultimate destination for nature and big-city excitement. On the way, you'll experience an almost endless amount of fun that will make this one of the best road trips you can do.

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Merced river running through Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California

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The Perfect 7-Day Southwest Road Trip Itinerary

From Los Angeles, a National Park Tour of the American Southwest is one of the most incredible road trips you can do. My 7 Day Itinerary gives you the best of the best, on a quick timeline, without too much driving time - AND with all of the most scenic photography opportunities. Drive through Arizona, Utah, and Nevada see some of the greatest sites on the USA's map - from deserts to canyons to mountains.

This itinerary is a photographer's dream, designed to give you two chances to experience every park at it's best - both in late afternoon and sunset, and early morning, when the crowds are the lowest and the light and temperatures are at their best. Enjoy your mornings, spend the hottest, harshest mid-day hours driving to the next destination and arrive at the ideal times.

Itinerary at a Glance:

Day 1 : Los Angeles to Palm Springs Day 2 : Joshua Tree to Sedona Day 3 : Sedona to The Grand Canyon South Rim Day 4 : Grand Canyon to Monument Valley Add a Day : Page, Arizona and Antelope Canyon Day 5 : Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon Day 6 : Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park Day 7 : Zion to Valley of Fire

los angeles to utah road trip time

What to Pack for a Southwest Road Trip:

  • A Camping Blanket - we threw ours in the car at the last minute and ended up being so happy we did. As a wrap for cold mountain mornings, a quick beach blanket at Lake Powell, and a place to sit for an impromptu picnic, this was one surprising item we used over and over again.
  • A good cooler - Crucial for keeping healthy snacks (we packed baby carrots, cherry tomoatos, mandarins, and salami and cheese to snack on so we wouldn't only eat chips & burgers) and drinks cold - everyone knows that for a road trip, a cooler's place is right behind the center consel for the easiest access. Or splurge and get yourself the best of the best with a small Yeti .
  • A warm jacket - The Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon at sunrise and sunset were much colder than I thought they would be in July! Even in the height of summer, make sure to bring a good jacket.
  • Hiking shoes - I usually just wear my running shoes when I go hiking, but the added grip of switching to proper hiking shoes has been a huge change. A lot of the trails we went on had a lot of loose dirt and gravel, and the extra support is key.
  • A telephoto lens - We don't usually use our longer lenses much, but this trip we found our 85mm lens to be one of the most important ones! To compress backgrounds and make mountains and scenery look as dramatic as possible, a telephoto is key! Here's a link to the Sony 70-200mm as well. I am going to be buying one of these for our next National Parks trip!
  • A good hiking backpack - I brought a cute little daypack for hiking, but when loaded with water bottles, the straps were too thin and unsupportive. Using our padded camera backpack made a huge different in trekking up and down all of the trails. 

Day 1: LA to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree

Start your Journey from Los Angeles with a stop in the California desert. Explore the beauty of Palm Springs and make your first National Park stop at Joshua Tree National Park.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 3 Hours

What to Do:

Morning: Are you excited to get started! In the morning and drive 2-2.5 hours from Los Angeles to the desert and stop in Palm Springs for lunch. If it is your first time in Palm Springs, spend a couple of hours exploring downtown and the iconic architecture. Visit the Moorton botanical garden and walk through the cactatorium or take a short hike to Taquitz Canyon and a dip in the waterfall here. 

Day: In the afternoon, drive on to Joshua Tree National Park, there are great sites at either the North or South entrance, so either is great! If you're taking this trip in the spring, you might encounter some gorgeous Superblooms on this route. When you reach Joshua Tree National Park, don't pay the regular entrance fee. Buy an annual, unlimited National Parks pass for $80 - you're going to use it a lot on this trip! You can buy this right at the entrance gate. Depending on how much time you have when you arrive, check out some of the hiking trails, or just take a scenic drive and walk around through whatever looks interesting. One of the great things about Joshua Tree is that there are areas to park all over the park where you can pull in and just walk around - no predetermined trail required. 

Sunset: The sunsets within Joshua Tree park are legendary - but make sure you have a jacket, even in the height of summer, because as soon as the sun goes down the temperatures drop dramatically. Find a nice rock to climb and watch the sunset in the park, then head to dinner (Pappy and Harriett's!) and your hotel.

Where to Stay:

The 29 Palms Area of Joshua Tree has some very affordable motel accommodations.

  • Americas Best Value Inn Twentynine Palms - This hotel is WILD! Seriously look through the photos to check out the themed suites - there's a jungle set, a cave interior, and one that has the bed inside a 1950's car. Plus every room has in-room hot tubs. Brandon and I have a deep love for America's Best Value Inns after staying in one at Newark Airport way back in 2014. From $60/night
  • Motel 6 Twentynine Palms - A simple, but well-rated Motel with a pool and a hot tub for $50/night . If you're looking for more adventure and care less about the aesthetics of your hotel, this is a great option to save on accommodation costs.

OR Palm Springs has some of our favorite hotels anywhere.

  • The Ace Hotel & Swim Club - A Palm Springs icon with famous pool parties, this hotel is design-focused and is always a good time! From $160/Night .
  • Korakina Pensione - A little-known boutique property that is BEAUTIFUL. I am dying to stay here myself! From $179/Night.

Where to Eat:

  • Pappy and Harriet's - This is one of my all-time favorite spots in the area. Pappy and Harriet's is a legendary showspace and bar that gets surprisingly large acts for being way out in the desert (Paul McCartney played a surprise show here a few years ago!), and is always packed with people. It also has AMAZING food - and some of the best ribs anywhere. Seriously if you like ribs, get a rack of ribs here. They are divine.
  • Natural Sisters Cafe - A Joshua Tree classic with lots of vegan and healthy options for breakfast and lunch.
  • Joshua Tree Coffee Company - Our AirBnB stocked coffee beans from here and they were GOOD, so we stopped by as we drove through town. Great coffee with a nice outdoor patio to hang out or work on a laptop on.
  • Joshua Tree Saloon - About 10 years ago, on my first trip down to Joshua Tree, we stopped in to the Saloon here for burgers after hiking around the park all day, and ended up getting up and singing because it was karaoke night. Great food and always an entertaining spot to try. 
  • Rio Azul Mexican - One of our favorite Mexican spots in downtown Palm Springs. Make sure to get the Salsa Negra here, it's an extra spicy oil-based sauce that is one of my favorite salsas in the world.
  • The Sandwich Spot - A great grab-and-go spot for lunch right in downtown in Palm Springs. Their dutch crunch bread is heavenly.

Travel Tips:

  • Check out my full Joshua Tree travel guide here !
  • If you have more time and want to take a more leisurely trip, spend a few days out in Palm Springs! You will not run out of things to see and do. We go to Palm Springs at least a couple of times a year, you can see more of our experiences in the desert here and here .

Day 2: Joshua Tree to Sedona

Head out on the earlier side for the 5-hour drive to Sedona - drive straight to the Devil's Bridge trail, then head into town for dinner and a rest.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 5 Hours

Morning: If you didn't get enough of Joshua Tree on Day 1, head back into the park in the early morning for another hike or scenic drive. 

Day: Head East into Arizona. With a 5-hour drive today, make sure to leave by around 11AM to get to Sedona with plenty of time to explore. Drive straight to the Devil's Bridge trailhead.

Sunset: In the late afternoon, take the Devil's Bridge hike to the iconic bridge seen here. The hike is 4 miles round trip (out and back) and not very strenuous - but make sure to bring lots of water because it is HOT, and the elevation has changed quite a bit from Palm Springs! Relax and stay at the bridge until the sun starts to go down, then head back down before it gets too dark. If you have more time, check out Merry Go Round rock for a great sunset viewpoint.

  • Southwest Inn at Sedona : This is where we stayed, a super-cute little lodge with a pool, hot tub, and cute room decor. From $150/Night
  • Amara Resort : One of Sedona's nicest High-end option. This hotel has a stunning infinity pool overlooking the red rock scenery of the area. From $300/Night.
  • Green Tree Inn : A simple lodge right in the center of Sedona with a large swimming pool. From $117/Night .
  • Camping : The easiest way to cut down on costs on this road trip is to cut hotels and spend some or all of your nights camping. Sedona has a few campgrounds, check availability and more details here .
  • Natural Sisters Cafe - Stop here for breakfast before you head out, it's a Joshua Tree classic with lots of vegan and healthy options for breakfast and lunch.
  • Fiesta Mexicana : A colorful, festive, really fun Mexican restaurant with great food! We picked up a massive tray of fajitas here as well as a couple of to-go margaritas, and enjoyed them at the hot tub of our Inn! It made for a really great, casual night in Sedona.
  • The Hudson : A New American eatery with a killer view from the outdoor terrace.
  • Stop at one of the big grocery stores here to reload your snacks for the next couple of days - there aren't as many near the Grand Canyon and along Monument Valley
  • Heading straight to the Devil's Bridge trail instead of going to town and checking into our motel first was a HUGE timer, and after the drive, it's so good to get out and immediately start exploring!
  • Sedona is known for its energy vortex areas . If you're into energy, crystals, etc, the exact spots might be really cool to check out. Some people swear by it!

Day 3: Sedona to The Grand Canyon South Rim

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 2 Hours

Morning: Drive up to the Sedona Airport for a stunning lookout point - and a hiking trail if you want to get in a morning hike. We found out that the airport trail here is one of the Sedona Vortex energy spots. I didn't feel any energy particularly, but it was very windy.

Day: In the summer, check out Slide Rock State Park or Oak Creak Canyon for red rock natural swimming pools and a great place for photos or to take a dip on a hot day. These areas get very busy on weekend days, so get here early if it's a weekend. These are both on the way to the Grand Canyon from the main town of Sedona.

Sunset: Drive up to the Grand Canyon South Rim, and first stop at the Visitor's center for the first viewpoint. Even from the railing, the views into the canyon are truly breathtaking. The perfect afternoon hike into the Grand Canyon is the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point - a 6 mile round trip trek. You can actually follow this trail all the way to the Colorado River at the very bottom of the canyon (it's around 18 miles and a massive elevation change to do the entire round trip trail, it's recommended not to do it all in one day unless you are in peak physical shape.) but you don't need to do the entire trek to enjoy! The best views are on the first couple of miles (the above photos are from this trail.) Make sure to have 3 full hours before sunset to make the trail - the uphill second half is quite steep, and you'll want to take a lot of photo stops. Make it back to the top of the Canyon and watch the sunset from the Canyon ridge.

  • Maswik Lodge : One of the more affordable options within the park, this is where we chose to stay! The entire lodge feels a bit like a summer camp, and has a central cafeteria off the lobby with a few different food options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From $159/Night.
  • Yavapai Lodge : Another option inside the park with a more modern feel than Maswik. From $120/Night.
  • Bright Angel Lodge : Also within the park, this lodge has lower priced standard rooms as well as Historic Cabins for a more private feel. From $120/Night .
  • Camping : When I first visited the Grand Canyon a number of years ago, we camped inside the park for a night. If you're looking to cut costs and really experience the nature of the park, check out the park campgrounds here !
  • Casa Sedona Restaurant : The #1 spot in Sedona for an amazing breakfast. The french toast here looks unbeatable! Get a solid breakfast here before heading North to the Canyon.
  • Big E's Steakhouse and Saloon : A fun spot for dinner! The dining room is outfitted like an old timey saloon (complete with themed storefronts and a saloon bar) and they often have live music on the stage. We had some good burgers and local brewed beers here after our Canyon hike!
  • Bright Angel Restaurant, Fountain & Bar : dfA classic American diner located within the park - good for a quick bite
  • El Tovar Lodge Dining Room : A more upscale sit down dinner spot within Grand Canyon Park  
  • Canyon hikes are different from most hikes because you're climbing down instead of up - so the most difficult part of the hike is the second half. Make sure to bring even more water than you think you need, the Grand Canyon is one place you do not want to run out of water!
  • Staying at one of the lodges within the park is ideal and puts you in the best spot for early mornings, but the town is only about a 10 minute drive (and is where you might have to go for dinner in summer hours with later sunsets) so no worries if that's what available!
  • If you want to stay or camp within the park, you might need to make a reservation quite a bit in advance, as they  tend to book up. However traveling in July 2020, we were able to book a hotel inside the park same day. 

Day 4: Grand Canyon to Monument Valley

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 4 Hours, 6 Hours if you drive to Page, Arizona

Morning: If you only get up for sunrise once, do it today! Watching the sunrise over the rim of The Grand Canyon is truly worth waking up at 4 or 5AM for. Bring your camping blanket and a jacket - it is cold in the morning! Once you're up, you could go straight for an early morning hike, or head back to your lodge for breakfast.

Day: After breakfast, drive East through the Navajo Nation to Monument Valley. As of July 2020, the more direct route here, Highway 64, is closed so this drive is around 4-4.5 hours. In better times it's only 3 hours! But the scenery is varied and beautiful. Drive, make stops, and enjoy the views! The interior roads of Monument are currently closed but we felt taht the drive is still very much worth it - the scenerry from the main roads is still stunning.When the Navajo Nation is not on lockdown, there are little shops along the highway where you can buy blankets, jewelry and handmade crafts.

Sunset: The Forrest Gump point at Sunset and later at dusk is the perfect time for photos here. We ended up getting stuck in some deep clouds and rain, but the usually clear sunset photos here look amazing! After dusk you could stay at one of the local hotels or campgrounds here (very few were currently open) OR head back West to Page, Az to set you up for the following day.

  • Goulding's Lodge & Campground : A simple lodge and campground right at the base of the iconic monuments. From $90/night with Valley View rooms from $160/night .
  • The View Hotel, Monument Valley : Simple Cabins and an RV campground with an amazing location right in the Valley. Next time we come to this area, we're definitely spending the night at one of these out here!
  • Days Inn Lake Powell : We drove to Page and stayed at this simple but very comfortable motel, and were very happy with our stay at such a low price. Big rooms and comfy beds right in the middle of Page. From $55/Night .
  • Maswik Food Court : A simple food court with a few different options for breakfast. We had some surprisingly good breakfast burritos here after our Grand Canyon Sunrise.
  • There are very, very limited options once you enter Navajo Territory, especially right now. We stopped at a Jersey Mikes on our way out and ate that for both lunch and dinner. Be prepared!
  • There are very few restaurants or services in the Monument Valley area, especially right now as the entire Navajo Nation is on lockdown. Bring food with you! The best decision we made on this trip was to get extra giant sandwiches for lunch on our way out - and save the second half in our cooler for dinner. Without these we would have been very hungry and cranky, because after 7PM here, even the gas stations were no longer open. 
  • The famous Monument Valley road (pictured above) is not within Monument Valley, it's actually a bit east of it. Put "Forrest Gump Hill" into your Google Maps to take you to the exact spot. 
  • If you have an extra day or more time, drive farther East and check out Mexican Hat, The Valley of the Gods, and Gooseneck Park. I already knew we need to go back soon and explore these areas more!
  • If you're heading farther into Utah to Moab or Arches National Park, Monument Valley can easily be a quick pass-through stop. 

Add a Day: Page, Arizona and Antelope Canyon

los angeles to utah road trip time

If you have more time to add to this itinerary, I would do it here! Page, Arizona is such a central spot with so much to do. One of the things I would have loved to do on this trip and couldn't is Antelope Canyon. As the famous canyon is on Navajo land, it was completely closed to visitors. One of my other regrets on this trip was going to Horseshoe bend in the morning and not at sunset - the view here is really made for sunset and dusk, and I felt like the site was pretty underwhelming in the bright daylight.

If we were to do this trip again (and things were open as usual), I would spend the night in Monument Valley and explore that are a bit more, then head back to Page, go to Antelope Canyon, and then finaly make it to Horseshoe bend for sunset. This will have to wait until next time!

OR another option for this day would be to spend an entire day at Lake Powell. Rent a boat or a jetski and explore the inlets of the lake - most of the best scenery is only accessible by boat and this could be really fun way to break up the trip and all of the Mountains, canyons, and hiking with a fun day out on the water.

Day 5: Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 2.5 Hours

Morning: Head to Horseshoe Bend as early as you can make it out of bed after the late night drive from Monument Valley. The walk to the main site is about 3/4 of a mile and it is very flat but sandy. I wore sandals and wished that I had regular shoes on the walk. After exploring Horseshoe Bend, stop in town for some breakfast.

Day: Stop by Lake Powell for a couple hours of relaxing in the sun and swimming. Lone Rock beach is one of the easiest spots to pull up, park, and get walk right into the lake to swim - many of the other areas are only accessible by boat. We stopped here for a couple of hours and jumping into the lake on a hot day felt amazing!

Sunset: By early afternoon, drive North to Bryce Canyon. Bryce is one of the highlights of the trip and you want to be able to explore it a bit before the sun goes down! Go to the Navajo Trail and the Wall Street path. The geology of Bryce Canyon (the bright orange columns are called Hoodoos) is incredible, and so truly breathtaking in person. This is one of the most unique places I have ever been in the world, and I absolutely loved it here. The trails are a very short walk from the parking lot and the views start as soon as you pull up. Since you don't need to hike far into the canyon for the views, this is a fun spot to where a cute outfit (if that's your kind of thing - and you know it's mine!)

  • Best Western Ruby's Inn : A surprisingly large lodge right in the mini-town adjecnt to Bryce Canyon. It seems like almost everything in this town is part of Ruby's. The rooms here are perfectly accommodating and the location can't be beat. From $140/night .
  • Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Hotel : dfOf the two Best Westerns located next door to each other here, this one is the more high-end option, with an indoor and outdoor pool and hot tub. This is about as upscale as Bryce Canyon gets! From $180/night .
  • Camping in this area is a great lower-cost option as well! Just be mindful that temperatures here vary wildly. While it was 80 to 85 degrees in the middle of the day, night temperatures dropped to 35 degrees! if you're camping, plan accordingly. 
  • Ranch House Grill : The best breakfast spot in Page! This classic American diner has a southwest twist and gigantic portions. Try the chile verde pork omelette or the chili relleño breakfast. 
  • Ebenezer's Barn and Grill : Come here for dinner and a show to get into the western spirit - this spot is famous for it's live country and western music nightly.
  • Ruby's Inn Cowboy Buffet : A cute, classic western diner that is open fairly late for the sleepy little town, with some solid food choices.
  • Stay at Bryce Canyon for a bit after the sun goes down. The dusk light over the Hoodoos is so photogenic and just magical! But bring a jacket, the temperatures here drop very quickly.
  • At Lone Rock Beach, only drive onto the sand if you know your car can handle it, has 4 wheel drive, and you're comfortable driving on sand. People get stuck here often!
  • Bryce Canyon is probably the least developed of the National Parks on this trip - the hotel and food options are good, but limited and very unfancy compared to Zion. 

Day 6: Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park

The information on Zion National Park is pretty confusing, here's the quick breakdown: the 9 Highway drives right through the park, and is a stunning drive. This main road you can drive through and park at turns outs easily. A turn off of this main road is The Scenic Drive within Zion, along which most of the major hikes and attractions are. This road doesn't allow many cars in to drive or park, and in normal times there are free shuttle buses that you can freely hop on and hop off anywhere along this route. As of summer 2020, due to Covid-19, these buses are suspended OR when brought back, have their service reduced, cost $1 a ride and need reservations in advance. The best way to get to and around the scenic route this summer is by bicycle or E-bike, and we highly recommend E-bikes! But that's not until tomorrow's itinerary.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 2.5 Hour

Morning: Start your morning at the Peek-A-Boo trailhead to see a different side of Bryce Canyon. You can take a longer loop on the trail and make it a big morning hike, or turn back earlier to make this a quick stop. 

Day: Driving into Zion from the East means that you drive 15 miles right through Zion National Park before entering the town of Springdale where all of the hotels, restaurants, and shops are. This drive is BEAUTIFUL. Pull over and park at any areas that interest you and get out of your car and explore. When you arrive in the adorable Springdale town just outside of Zion National Park, reserve an E-bike for tomorrow morning, to make sure you can get one. 

Sunset: About an hour before sunset, head to the Canyon Overlook Trail along the main road of Zion. It's a fun, 1-mile hike up to an amazing viewpoint, and one of the best places in the park to watch the sun set. We stayed until dark and still made it down after dark easily - just use your phone flashlight.

  • Pioneer Lodge : We stayed at this cute little lodge and loved it! It has a cute old western style, and is in the perfect location for walking to all local restaurants the bike rental shop. From $81/Night .
  • Zion Wildflower : Want to stay in an actual 19th century covered wagon? Check out Zion wildflower! I wish we had known this place existed because it is so damn cute. From $270/Night for 4 People.
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott : Unlike the Grand Canyon and Bryce National Parks, Zion has much more high-end infrastructure in place and caters to a higher end clientelle - and has the nicer hotels to match. If you are looking for a more luxurious place to treat yourself, check out this gorgeous property - the view from the restaurant looks absolutely unbelievable!  From $300/Night .
  • Zion Lodge : This is the only actual hotel within the park, and booking a room here is about the only way to get a parking spot right in the middle of the scenic route. If you're looking to be right in the center of the most famous spots within the park, this is where you want to be! From $160/Night.
  • Zion Canyon Lodge : A more affordable, centrally located, highly rated property right on the main street of Springdale.
  • Ruby's Inn Cowboy's Buffet and Steak Room - A fun, lodge-style dinner spot in Bryce Canyon with a big salad and soup bar.
  • Oscar's Cafe : Get lunch or dinner in Springdale at Oscars. A friend who used to live in the area recommended that we eat here, and it did not disappoint. The sandwiches are gigantic!
  • Cafe Soleil : A great little cafe for lunch, coffee, and smoothies.
  • One of my regrets on this trip was not getting up early to see Bryce Canyon at sunrise. The canyon is just so gorgeous in the soft light, I really wish we would have had one more chance. 
  • The grocery store in Springdale is open late and surprisingly well-stoked with things I didn't see anywhere else after we left California - like many flavors of Kombucha. But they do not sell alcohol or wine (a Utah state law.)

Day 7: Zion to Valley of Fire

Day 7 is a long one, but one of my favorites! Rent e-bikes in the morning to explore Zion's scenic route. Explore the park for a few hours, then on the route back to Los Angeles, stop in Valley of Fire for some even more amazing scenery. For a shorter drive, spend the night in Las Vegas. But if 7 days is all you have, continue straight through back to Los Angeles!

los angeles to utah road trip time

Driving Time: 3.5 hours to Las Vegas, 7.5 Hours to Los Angeles

Morning: Rent an electric bike! This is by far the best way to see the Scenic Drive inside Zion National Park in a fast, fun, and freeing way. A four-hour rental will give you enough time to ride the entire drive, leisurely explore a few areas, and take a hike to the Emerald Pools. We got ours from Zion Guru for around $150 for 2 bikes for a half day. Check out of your hotel, grab breakfast, and load your car before getting the bikes right when they open at 9AM. That way when you return around 1pm you can head straight out on the road!

Day: Drive 2 and a half hours, cross into Nevada, and go straight to Valley of Fire State Park . Valley of Fire is SO stunning, and was one of our highlights!  There is the iconic Red Rock lined road, but beyond that there are incredible hiking trails, pastel colored painted hills, and so much more. Beware, it is HOT here - on a short, flat 2 mile hike I found myself with heat exhaustion, something that never happens to me. Bring lots of water and make sure your cooler is loaded with ice. Check out the Fire Wave hike for seriously gorgeous geology.

Sunset: This is where you have a choice: 1. stay in Valley of Fire and watch the sun set in the park. 2. Head an hour down the highway to Las Vegas and spend a night there. Or 3. start working your way back to Los Angeles. We needed to return  back home and went with option 3, which makes for a day with a lot of driving, but coming back into Los Angeles at night means that you miss most of the traffic and can cruise through very quickly. 

If you have time on your way back, on the other side of Las Vegas, stop by the art installation Seven Magic Mountains for a sunset shot.

  • Meme's Cafe : Stop here before your morning in Zion national Park for a great breakfast.
  • Deep Creek Coffee Co : Or if you need a fancier coffee spot, stop here for coffee and breakfast before you head out.
  • Valley of Fire is only about one hour outside of Las Vegas. After your time here, the highway will take you right through the center of the Vegas Strip. If you're up for a nice meal, Las Vegas has tons of amazing options! (Try Nobu Sushi or Giada if you're feeling fancy) If you would rather keep it low-key, out on the outskirts of the city are very easily accessible fast food stops and grocery stories. We were tired at the end of this day and just grabbed some Chioptle salads and coffee before our late night drive back to LA.
  • I cannot emphasize enough how hot it was in Valley of Fire. I'm pretty used to the heat and have never had heat exhaustion before, but walking 2 miles here really hit me hard. Make sure to eat well and drink lots of cold water!
  • We chose to make the drive all the way to LA since it's so much easier to do after 8PM and is usually a straight shot with no traffic, but it does make for a long drive.
  • If you haven't had enough of the Southwest parks and geology, Red Rock National Conservation Area is a great spot for more hiking and scenery just outside of Las Vegas. See photos from my trip here !

Map It: 

los angeles to utah road trip time

See our entire itinerary on Google Maps here !

los angeles to utah road trip time

Roadside stops outside of Bryce Canyon

los angeles to utah road trip time

Canyon View overlook at Zion National Park

los angeles to utah road trip time

Between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree

los angeles to utah road trip time

Sunrise at The Grand Canyon South Rim

los angeles to utah road trip time

Crossing into Utah at Monument Valley

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Los Angeles to Park City Utah drive

Los angeles to park city utah road trip planner.

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from Los Angeles to Park City Utah. If you're planning a road trip to Park City Utah, you can research locations to stop along the way. Make sure you check road conditions to double check the weather. Traveling with a dog or cat? Find pet-friendly stops . Camping along the way? Search for RV campgrounds . Find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions based on the most talked about places recommended by Trippy members.

11:00 am  start in Los Angeles drive for about 2 hours

12:53 pm   Barstow eat at Del Taco stay for about 1 hour and leave at 1:53 pm drive for about 2.5 hours

day 1 driving ≈ 4 hours find more stops

9:00 am  leave from Bellagio Hotel drive for about 1.5 hours

10:44 am   Saint George stay for about 1 hour and leave at 11:44 am drive for about 3 hours

2:38 pm   Fishlake National Forest stay for about 1 hour and leave at 3:38 pm drive for about 2 hours

5:51 pm   Provo stay for about 1 hour and leave at 6:51 pm drive for about 52 minutes

7:43 pm  arrive at Park City Utah

day 2 driving ≈ 7.5 hours find more stops

Where should I stop along the way?

Barstow   (17 answers)     restaurants around Barstow:         Del Taco     questions about Barstow:         What's the best neighborhood in Barstow for a first time visitor?         Where to sleep RV trailer Las Vegas   (379 answers)     Downtown Container Park   (15 mentions)     Fremont Street Experience   (15 mentions)     High Roller   (10 mentions)     The Mob Museum   (8 mentions)     Neon Museum   (8 mentions)     restaurants around Las Vegas:         Giada         Mon Ami Gabi         Wicked Spoon         Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino         Lotus of Siam     hotels around Las Vegas:         Bellagio Hotel         MGM Grand Las Vegas         Wynn Hotel Las Vegas         Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino         The Cosmopolitan     questions about Las Vegas:         Best new restaurants in Vegas?         What time of year is the best for scoring a cheap deals in Las Vegas         Best tips and casinos for first time gambler?         Is it better to stay on or off the Las Vegas strip?         Top things to do in Las Vegas that don't include gambling? Saint George   (10 answers)     Vermilion Cliffs National Monument   (2 mentions) Fishlake National Forest Provo   (6 answers)     questions about Provo:         Best free things to do in Provo?

What are some things to do in Park City Utah?

This section could be endless, so rather than trying to suggest every local activity or attraction, we'll leave it open-ended.

Of course, Trippy is the perfect place to ask questions because there's an entire community of travelers talking to each other and sharing tips and advice. Trippy is where you can get answers personalized for your tastes, budgets, trip dates & more!

Click the button below to explore more questions and answers related to Park City Utah.

Do I really have to go back home?

Yes, even this step is optional, because if you're on vacation who wants the trip to end? It's okay, you can start planning your next trip!

Want to plan the trip back? Get the reverse directions for a Park City Utah to Los Angeles drive , or go to the main page to plan a new road trip .

You can also compare the travel time if you're flying or driving by calculating the distance from Los Angeles to Park City Utah . Or get a full Los Angeles to Park City Utah flight plan .

Don't forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation. You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend. Maybe try typing in a faraway location like London, Hong Kong, or Sydney, and get inspired for your dream trip around the world.

And if you know Los Angeles well, please help your fellow travelers and answer their questions about Los Angeles!

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The driving time from Salt Lake City, Utah to Los Angeles, California is:

9 hours, 47 minutes.

Average driving speed: 70.4 mph Kilometers per hour: 113.2 km/h This is based on typical traffic conditions for this route.

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Driving time from Salt Lake City, UT to Los Angeles, CA

How long is the drive from Salt Lake City, UT to Los Angeles, CA? The total driving time is 9 hours, 47 minutes .

Your trip begins in Salt Lake City, Utah. It ends in Los Angeles, California.

If you're planning a road trip, you might be interested in seeing the total driving distance from Salt Lake City, UT to Los Angeles, CA .

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los angeles to utah road trip time

40 Best Stops Between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles

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How long is the drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles?

The direct drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is 688 mi (1,107 km) , and should have a drive time of 9 hrs 32 mins in normal traffic.

If you’re going on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, we did the research for you and compiled some great stops along the way — with Las Vegas , Zion National Park , Bryce Canyon National Park , Boulder City , Kanab , St. George , Cedar City , Riverside , Provo , and Henderson , as well as top places to visit like Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument, or the ever-popular Wall Street.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Top cities between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles

Bryce canyon national park.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Zion National Park

los angeles to utah road trip time

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los angeles to utah road trip time

Boulder City

los angeles to utah road trip time

Best stops along Salt Lake City to Los Angeles drive

Wall street.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Utah shakespeare festival, best friends animal sanctuary, the narrows.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Angels Landing

Coral pink sand dunes state park, zion canyon scenic dr, kolob canyons, atv & jeep adventure tours, st. george utah temple, grand canyon west skywalk, grand canyon national park (west rim), valley of fire state park.

los angeles to utah road trip time

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los angeles to utah road trip time

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Mike o'callaghan–pat tillman memorial bridge, fremont street experience.

los angeles to utah road trip time

High Roller

los angeles to utah road trip time

Las Vegas Strip

Fountains of bellagio.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Red rock canyon national conservation area.

los angeles to utah road trip time

Seven Magic Mountains

los angeles to utah road trip time

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Charleston Peak Winery

Big bear alpine zoo, desert hills premium outlets, top searches in los angeles, other popular road trips from salt lake city, explore nearby places.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can i drive from salt lake city to los angeles.

Yes! You can drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.

How far is Los Angeles from Salt Lake City by car?

The drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is 688 miles (1,107 km).

How long does it take to drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles?

Driving from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles should take you 9 hrs 32 mins in normal traffic.

How much would gas cost from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles?

Gas from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles would cost around $60 to $141 , depending on your vehicle's fuel efficiency.

Where should I stop on the way from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles?

You could check out Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument, or the always popular Wall Street!

What are the best cities to visit between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles?

People love visiting Las Vegas, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park, among others.

What's the weather like in Salt Lake City?

It depends on when you visit! We've compiled data from NASA for each month of the year: see the links below for more information.

  • Weather in Salt Lake City in January
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  • Weather in Salt Lake City in March
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What are some other road trips from Salt Lake City?

There are plenty! Below you'll find links to all the road trips we've assembled for Salt Lake City.

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  • Salt Lake City to Albuquerque drive
  • Salt Lake City to Yosemite National Park drive
  • Salt Lake City to Saint Louis drive
  • Salt Lake City to Victoria drive
  • Salt Lake City to Monterey drive

los angeles to utah road trip time

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Road Trip from Los Angeles to Utah + Arizona National Parks - Road Trips Forum

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' class=

The time of our travel will be first week of March, after reading a few forums, we are now wondering if the weather is going to be too cold/snow a problem?

What would be a reasonable itinerary to include the Grand Canyon, monument valley,

Zion national park, Bryce National Park.

Is accommodation needing to be booked in advance if we have a car or R.V? or can we just travel along and stop wherever either in RV parks or motels if we have a hire car .

14 replies to this topic

' class=

Welcome to the forum!

Please tell us how long you have for this trip. Is it just one week?

The weather at the beginning of March will likely still be cool (cold overnight) at those National Parks. Could be sunny and cool or snowy and cold, especially at the higher elevation parks (Grand Canyon and Bryce).

Here is the logical order of a loop itinerary to include the sites you listed:

You should make lodging reservations. It is usually best to stay inside the Parks (or just outside) for the best experience. If you don't make reservations, you risk possibly having to stay far away from the Parks. The land is vast and desolate in some areas, with few lodging choices.

los angeles to utah road trip time

You would need camping reservations for national parks. For instance, look at the national park sites on how to make them.

this is a bit early check on status of what it is like by looking at sites like

It would give you more time in the parks as the drive from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon National park is 500 miles. You could if you do rent an RV break it up by camping in Joshua Tree National Park on the way to Grand Canyon.

We drove there so often, always using an RV, and many times in February/March/April. There are a few downsides with RV-ing, but also a few advantages.

los angeles to utah road trip time

As well as possible issues regarding weather conditions in March, if that's your preferred or only time of year available to do such a trip, we need to know:

How many nights in USA in total?

Are you familiar with the RV lifestyle and needs?

Have you visited USA before to appreciate the size/scale (even some Aussies struggle with this)?

Do you know whether you like fast paced trips, or want to have time to enjoy your chosen stops with a bit more time there? Are you willing to drive most of a day some days to enable you to do little driving the next day, but then get sightseeing time?

Do you want any time in the big cities?

Whatever you choose, whatever you do, coming from so far, with a very expensive trip in mind, then booking absolutely everything as far ahead as possible is what you will need to do to ensure the trip you do is the trip you have in mind. Demand for the areas you will likely visit, even when weather is not ideal, is high as it's all hugely well known and popular, and accommodation or availability of places to park up an RV can be limited.

Bright Angel Lodge (cliffside) is worth staying for sunrise and sunset.

los angeles to utah road trip time

You can’t do RVing at that time of year. Zion/ Bryce/ Grand Canyon are at much higher elevations do it still gets cold.

In LA you are good RV weather but you go up to thr nearby mountains you get snow at 6000+ ft in elevation.

I did a March trip to Death Valley. The valley land at the basin on a cloudy day was still 70 outside. Whrn I drove out via California exit heading to lone pine or ridgeway thr park there was at 3000+ ft elevation snd snow was falling and accumulating on non roadway ground.

As for reservations needed— yes.

In March many schools and colleges have spring break time so you get people traveling in. For those who don’t have kids, they look at traveling in March time frame to have some work break between Xmas/ new years time and summer vacation time.

If you want to do an RV …limit yourself to Death Valley, Joshua tree, California coastal area and south/ central valley and along/south of I-10 in arizona ( Sonora desert NM, organ pipe NM, Chiricahua NM, Saguarro np)

""You can’t do RVing at that time of year.""

Dan, sorry but I politely have to disagree. We did lots of RV-trips during March. And it is possible. But you have to be prepared. Maybe the RV is "winterized", so no water on board, no shower, no toilett. And if it is not winterized, you have to look at the outside temperature, if it gets cold you'd heat the RV so properly that no pipe can freeze.

So yes, you need a bit of experience. But before we know how many days the OP has, we cannot give really good recommendation.

“You can’t do RVing at that time of year.”

WRONG. I lived and worked out of an RV all over the Rocky Mountain West for three years. Many locations were much colder than the Utah parks and Grand Canyon.

los angeles to utah road trip time

You can do RVing that time of year, BUT it is less convenient.

The big problem is that RVs rented out of Los Angeles, where we have eternal spring, are not usually winterized, which means you have to be very careful not to let water in the pipes freeze (there are various ways to avoid it, heating, or letting the water drip, etc.) in order to avoid a very expensive repair bill.

The third big problem is that there is not a lot of RV parking available in these national parks. You won't have a toad (a car that is "toad" along behind the RV), so you will have to use the RV itself to move about these giant parks, and they don't have a lot of RV parking. Zion is less of an issue because there is a shuttle, but Bryce, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Monument Valley, etc. all require you to have wheels to get around.

The other issue I don't think anyone has brought up is the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel on UT-9, which is the road that goes through Zion National Park on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park. The tunnel has a height restriction, so if you are driving an RV you may have to wait (and pay) for one-way tunnel service, where law enforcement stops traffic so you can drive the RV straight down the center dividing line. Since you won't know what the height of your specific RV is until you get the RV, that isn't ideal.

But yes, you can absolutely RV in winter (and March is very much winter in the Mountain West), just a question of how long you have and whether it's worth it. You DO need to reserve your space, even in March, you can't just turn up. And I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but don't drive between dusk and dawn unless you are on an Interstate highway such as I-40, I-15, or I-17. Most of the places you are going are open-range lands, which means livestock and wildlife may be lying on the warm(er) pavement. You won't see a black Angus steer in the road around a bend until it's too late to stop the RV, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of deer (not an exaggeration),

I personally would go the SUV-and-motel route, myself, but it's your vacation to do with as you please.

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