If you’re looking for a great way to explore the beauty of Utah, consider taking a scenic drive. From winding mountain roads to beautiful desert landscapes, Utah scenic drives have some of the most stunning views in the United States.
When you’re looking for places to visit in Utah, add scenic drives to your list! Whether you’re looking for a short drive or a long road trip, there’s something for everyone in Utah.
Here are some of the best scenic drives in Utah that will give you an unforgettable experience. So grab your car keys and get ready for an adventure!
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A Photo Tour of Utah National Parks
Take a visual tour through all five Utah National Parks to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!
List of the Best Utah Scenic Drives
Utah is home to some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world. From the red rocks and canyons of the scenic drives in Utah National Parks to the majestic mountains of Salt Lake City, there are plenty of routes for you to explore.
Utah National Parks Scenic Drives
Utah is home to some of the most stunning national parks in the US, and one of the best ways to experience them is through a scenic drive. Be sure to add all the scenic drives to your Utah National Park Road Trip Itinerary!
You’ll find at least one scenic drive in all five Utah National Parks:
The full 43-mile scenic drive, including the spur roads, takes 2 to 3 hours. Add more time if you plan to walk around and take Arches National Park photos or do any hiking at any of the stops.
The road is paved and offers Arches National Park photography spots from the pullouts along the road or in the parking lots. Some of the arches and landmarks can be reached by a short walk from the parking lot.
Enjoy views of hoodoos, arches and windows at various viewpoints and overlooks along this drive. We always recommend the first thing you do when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park is to drive to the end of the road at Rainbow Point then work your way back to the amphitheater.
Driving through Bryce Canyon will take you approximately three hours if you do the full scenic drive and take your time at each stop. The Bryce Canyon scenic drive includes 13 viewpoints along the 38-mile roundtrip adventure.
Stunning views is what you’ll find along the Island in the Sky scenic drive. There are 10 overlooks and viewpoints to enjoy, and photograph, the landscape at this park!
Driving through Needles Canyonlands the views will be much different. Be sure to stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty of the stone spires in this part of the park.
The scenic drive in Capitol Reef is 7.9 miles long. The paved road is suitable for passenger vehicles. Since it’s not a loop road, you’ll drive back the way you came.
There are two dirt spur roads off the scenic drive: Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. Passenger cars and RVs up to 27 feet in length are fine to drive the road.
The Scenic Drive, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge roads can be closed due to snow, ice, mud, and flash floods.
This is a stunning 58-mile scenic drive that’s located in a rugged and remote area of the park. You’ll see sandstone monoliths, vibrant Bentonite hills, and expansive desert vistas. This hidden gem appeals to those who appreciate solitude and backcountry exploration.
The loop consists of two primary roads: Hartnet Road and Cathedral Road. Starting from Highway 24, you will drive northwest on Hartnet Road, through Cathedral Valley, then return to Highway 24 via Cathedral Road. You will drive a short stretch of Highway 24 to complete the loop.
Driving the entire loop without additional stops or hikes takes 6 to 8 hours to complete. For exploring detours, visiting overlooks, or embarking on short hikes, you must allocate one full day to enjoy the whole Cathedral Valley Loop experience.
There are four scenic drives at Zion National Park:
Zion Canyon: Most of the year, the only way to access Zion Canyon is using the shuttle. You’ll find most of the hiking trails here.
Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway: This scenic road includes driving through the 1.1 mile long tunnel! The scenery along Highway 9 from Zion Canyon to the east entrance is breathtaking! Use the pullouts to stop and take photos, take a hike, and look for big horn sheep!
Kolob Terrace: We recommend this lesser-known Zion scenic drive found west of Springdale near the town of Virgin. You’ll see a different side of Zion there, AND you can escape the crowds!
Kolob Canyons: This scenic drive is 40 miles north of Zion Canyon. It’s a bit out of the way, but provides a whole different view of Zion.
Scenic Drives in Southern Utah
Enjoy even more of the stunning red rock landscape in southern Utah as you drive from one point to another!
The 34-mile round-trip drive is a terrific half-day excursion from the Moab area to see great views of the Colorado River, ancient rock art, and dinosaur tracks. Potash Road or the Lower Colorado Scenic Byway runs along the Colorado River and ends at the border of Canyonlands National Park. We recommend this drive in the late afternoon when the red rocks glow and reflect in the river!
Located near Needles Canyonlands in southeast Utah, the Needles Overlook is a stunning place to see views of the red and white sandstone spires known as “the Needles”.
Needles Overlook is off Highway 191 on County road 133 between Moab and Monticello. The 22 mile drive to the overlook is a scenic side trip and worth the time! It’s a graded dirt road suitable for any vehicle.
From Needles Overlook, continue down the road to Anticline Overlook where you’ll see a panorama of Canyonlands Island in the Sky and the La Sal Mountains.
Below is the popular Kane Creek area for 4x4s and ATVs. It’s fun to watch the vehicles traverse the trails from the overlook! On a clear day, you can see the Colorado River and Arches National Park in the distance.
With Bryce Canyon at one end, Capitol Reef at the other, Scenic Byway 12 is a stunning 124 mile drive with amazing stops to enjoy! It won’t take long to see why it’s noted as one of the most scenic highways in America.
Here are some of the places you can stop along the route:
- Red Canyon
- Kodachrome Basin State Park
- Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
- Anasazi State Park
- Lower Calf Creek Falls
On Route 163 between Mexican Hat, Utah and Monument Valley, you’ll see the popular scene from the movie Forrest Gump. Near mile marker 13 Forrest Gump stopped running and said “My momma always said you’ve gotta put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that’s what my running was all about…”
The most popular activity at Monument Valley is driving the 17-mile loop road. There is a per car fee to drive the road – save time by purchasing online! You’ll also receive a Monument Valley drive map as part of the fee.
Admittance hours for the Monument Valley scenic drive change according to the season. The road may also close due to weather, events, or filming. It’s always good to check ahead before making the drive out there!
Scenic Drives in Northern Utah
Northern Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the mountains! Due to the high elevations of these roads, they will be closed during the winter months.
This scenic drive is a terrific day trip from Salt Lake City, Park City, and Provo. The drive is 20 miles along Highway 92 from the mouth of American Fork Canyon to the connection with Highway 189 in Provo Canyon.
You’ll be treated to mountain views, lakes, a river and springs found along this road through American Fork Canyon and Provo Canyon. It’s one of the best places to go in Utah in fall to see autumn colors!
This Scenic Byway is a terrific day trip from Salt Lake City, Park City, and Provo. The drive is 56 miles from Kamas to the Wyoming state line. For a day trip, we recommend you drive as far as Mirror Lake then return back to Kamas.
The road through the Uintah Mountains has many overlooks, picnic areas, waterfalls, lakes, trails and campgrounds.
This scenic drive is paved the entire length, but closed during winter due to the elevation and heavy snow accumulation.
Best Time For Exploring Utah Scenic Drives
The best time to visit Utah in order to explore the scenic drives would be late spring through late fall.
In Northern Utah, most mountain scenic drives are open to personal vehicles from late May through October.
In Southern Utah, all scenic drives are open year round. In the winter, some roads (or parts of the road) may close for snow removal or unsafe conditions.
Utah Bucket List
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