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.
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Mitten Park Fault on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument

Rafting past the Mitten Park Fault on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument


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., 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. 


Start: Salt Lake City

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. 

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

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

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

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 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.

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.

Steamboat Springs

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

Soak in Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Soak It In
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 Rocky Mountain National Park. 

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.

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.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Devils Garden in Arches National Park

Devils Garden in Arches National Park

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. Plus, get your car ready for a road trip with tips from Nokian Tyres.

Moab's Top 7
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.

End: Salt Lake City


National Park Trips author Mikaela Ruland taking in the view of Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Best of Colorado Road Trip Featuring 6 National Park Sites

Natural hot springs, high peaks and national park sites dominate this 1,296-mile tour through Colorado starting and ending in Denver.

Downtown Santa Fe

New Mexico and Colorado National Parks Road Trip

Stunning landscapes, culture and adobe villages await on this 2,121-mile trip starting in El Paso, Texas. See multiple national parks in both Colorado and New Mexico.

Elk lounging on a clear spring day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone Road Trip

Hot springs, bison and bears await on this 1,763-mile adventure through cowboy towns and three national parks.

Sunset at Yavapai Point in the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Grand Canyon to Rocky Mountain National Park Road Trip

See the Grand Canyon and Great Sand Dunes in one unforgettable trip and end in Estes Park outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Chasm Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park and sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Win a Colorado Road Trip Vacation

Go from guided hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park to sandboarding the drifts in Great Sand Dunes National Park, with stops for hot springs, lakes and river rafting.

2020 Colorado Journal featured image

Buy the Colorado National Parks Magazine

Get the magazine that's all about Colorado's national parks and journeys to the them. Filled with tips on where to stay, hike, and where to stop on the way.

Sunrise reflection at Grand Lake, Colo.

Grand Lake at the West Entrance Town to Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Lake, Colo. is located just one mile from the West Entrance of the park and is home to the largest and deepest natural alpine lake in the state.

Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

Visit Colorado’s National Parks Virtually

You don’t have to visit Colorado’s national parks in person to experience their spectacular views and trails.

Downtown Trinidad

Enjoy the Ride in Trinidad, Colorado

Scenic drives, stunning landscapes and strolls through a historic downtown await in Trinidad, Colo.