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 6 national park sites.
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Visitors at Colorado National Monument

Visitors at Colorado National Monument

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Some of the least-crowded and most beautiful red-rock canyons, rivers and recreational opportunities await on this fantastic 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., 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.  Capitol Reef National Park finishes this road trip before heading back to Salt Lake City.

Map

Start: Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City's Snowbird Tram

Snowbird Tram

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. 

Desert Oasis at Flaming Gorge

Paddling in the calm wake-free "trail" at the Flaming Gorge

Paddling in the calm wake-free "trail" at the Flaming Gorge

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 Monument

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.

Hidden Gem in Vernal Utah
An easy drive east of Vernal is Dinosaur National Monument split between Colo. and Utah. In town, you’ll dig ancient history and see a life-sized dinosaur garden.

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.

Stop and Stay
Looking for a place to stay near Dinosaur National Monument? Choose between two reliable chain hotels on the west and east side of the monument. In Vernal, Utah, spend the night at Holiday Inn Express. Farther east on the other side of Dinosaur National Monument, you’ll find the Candlewood Suites in Craig, Colo.

Soak in Steamboat Springs

Soak in Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Soak in Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Don't miss these top sights in one of Colorado's most authentic modern cowboy towns on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are four ways to relax in Steamboat Springs: Hike to a waterfall, soak in hot springs, take an iconic selfie, and explore the riverside downtown while tubers float by.

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 the park. 

Enter the Park at Grand Lake, the West Entrance
Grand Lake is located just one mile from the West Entrance of the Park. Home to Grand Lake, the largest and deepest natural alpine lake in the state.

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..

Erik Stensland, the Light Catcher
A revolution and a refugee crisis spur on a photography career for Rocky Mountain National Park's Erik Stensland.

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.

Sipping in Grand Junction, Colorado
How has Grand Junction gone from a western backwater to the heart of Colorado’s outdoor recreation and wine country? See our Grand Timeline.

Rafting at Ruby Horsethief near Fruita

Rafting at Ruby Horsethief near Fruita

Singletrack, World Famous Pizza and a Headless Chicken in Fruita
Known as a fall and spring destination at the entrance to Colorado National Monument, Fruita's temperate weather attracts those seeking relief from the Rocky Mountain snow. But any local will tell you, Fruita is incredible in the summer too – the key is getting wet. 

Sip and Sleep Well
Few know there’s a wine scene in Grand Junction and nearby Palisade, and while there are a number of national chain hotels to choose from here, the Holiday Inn Grand Junction can arrange wine tasting opportunities provided by Two Rivers Winery.

Moab's Top Seven on the Doorstep to Arches National Park

Devils Garden in Arches National Park

Devils Garden in Arches National Park

From a walk past life-sized dinosaurs to rafting the Colorado River, your family trip to Canyonlands and Arches national parks will be full of adventure with this list of the top seven things to do in Moab.

Capitol Reef National Park

Looking down at Sulfur Creek from Panorama Point in Capitol Reef National Park

Looking down at Sulfur Creek from Panorama Point in Capitol Reef National Park

One of Utah’s best-kept secrets, this south-central park preserves unique geology (including the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, a “wrinkle” in the earth’s crust), a preserved Mormon frontier settlement, and vast wilderness ideal for multiday backpacking trips.

4 Things to See at Capitol Reef National Park
The best viewpoints, trails, and attractions in this under-the-radar park. Read more on our sister website at www.myutahparks.com/things-to-do/4-things-to-see-capitol-reef

End: Salt Lake City

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