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5 Best Road Trips

Utah and Colorado National Parks Road Trip

Explore some of the country's most amazing red-rock landscapes and soaring granite peaks on this 1,140-mile tour including 5 national park sites.

Some of the least-crowded and most beautiful red-rock canyons, rivers and recreational opportunities await on this fantastic Utah and Colorado road trip. Start in Salt Lake City and head southeast toward Vernal, Utah, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Dinosaur National Monument. Farther west is Craig, Colo., in Moffat County where two-thirds of the monument sits and where wild horses and herds of elk beckon. Then drive to Steamboat Springs, an authentic modern ski town known for its summer activities, cowboy culture and vibrant downtown. From there, it’s a gorgeous drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Take the southern route home to visit three more spectacular national park sites: Colorado National Monument and Arches and Canyonlands national parks in Moab, Utah.


Road Trip Map

Start: Salt Lake City

12 Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah
From a thriving performing arts scene to the world’s largest collection of genealogy records, it’s a fantastic place to start your Rocky Mountain adventure.

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Paddling in the calm wake-free
Paddling in the calm wake-free “trail” at the Flaming Gorge Courtesy Flaming Gorge Country

Desert Oasis
Take a break from the desert heat by jumping in the sparkling water at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Spend several days exploring this 91-mile-long reservoir to check off our top-six-things-to-do list.

Dinosaur National Monument

Echo Park's Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument
Echo Park’s Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National MonumentiStock

Wall of Dinosaur Bones on the Colorado-Utah Border
A massive piece of protected land at the northern state border of Colorado and Utah, sits one of the world’s richest dinosaur deposits.

Vernal’s Hidden Gem says, “Welcome to Dinosaurland”
Head to Vernal, Utah, to see Dinosaur National Monument, petroglyphs and dinosaurs, then get active on an ATV, mountain bike, raft or by foot.

Jurassic Journey in Moffat County
Rugged and wild, Moffat County is Colorado’s Last Frontier where wide open spaces hold treasures too rare to be missed. Raft the Yampa past Steamboat Rock or watch wild horses in Deerlodge Park.

Raft the Desert West’s Best River Stretches with OARS
Read these tips to incredible rafting trips for families, thrill seekers and those just looking for relaxation amid some of the country’s best scenery in Utah and Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Moose in Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Moose in Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Gloria Wadzinski

Grand Adventures
Leaning up against Rocky Mountain National Park’s west side, Grand County, home to Winter Park Mountain Resort and Grand Lake, offers unparalleled outdoor opportunities. See our list of thrilling, nature and water adventures.

A Camp for All Ages at YMCA of the Rockies
Choose between the Estes Park Center on the park’s east side or Snow Mountain Ranch on the west side for great activities and lodging options. Some lodging, activities and trails are pet-friendly.

Enter the Park at Grand Lake, the West Entrance

48 Hours in Rocky Mountain National Park
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by following our itinerary covering both sides of the park.

GyPSy Guide Audio Driving Tour
Download the Rocky Mountain National Park tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.

Find Your Way on Colorado Trails with COTREX
Explore Colorado’s 45,000 miles of trails and never get lost when you have the free COTREX app.

Colorado National Monument

Panorama of Colorado National Monument in western Colorado

On the central edge of Colorado sits Colorado National Monument, a spectacular, crumbling stretch of land filled with decaying red rock and deep canyons.

Singletrack, World-Famous Pizza and a Headless Chicken in Fruita
The charming city of Fruita is the place to headquarter your trip to Colorado National Monument. An outdoor adventurer’s paradise, it’s still held on to its small-town feel. And, best yet, its vibrant downtown is located just minutes from the monument’s entrance.

Arches National Park

Devils Garden in Arches National Park
Devils Garden in Arches National Park Adobe Stock

5 Stops on Arches National Park’s Scenic Drive
Don’t miss the best roadside stops inside this national park filled with natural stone arches. Here are five awe-inspiring formations that can be seen from the road or after a short stroll.

Top 4 Campgrounds in Moab
These campgrounds by Sun RV Resorts offer extraordinary amenities, including pools, dog parks, cabins and more near two of Utah’s national parks, Arches and Canyonlands. Learn more on our Utah Parks website.

End: Salt Lake City

Here’s the end of your Utah and Colorado road trip.