Discover how close Salt Lake City is to Arches and Canyonlands national parks in this three-day weekend filled with adventure options.
Exhilaration is that moment you remember Moab is roughly four hours from the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Visitors to Salt Lake, take note: Utah’s red rock mecca is a quick addition to any visit to the region, or a destination unto itself.
Leave at breakfast and be ready for lunch in Moab, Utah, where two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands), an eye-popping state park (Dead Horse Point) and infinite wild places — including the famous Slickrock mountain biking trail (see “Off the Beaten Path”) — await your next move.
This three-day itinerary gives you the option to devote your whole weekend to one extended adventure like the White Rim Trail of Canyonlands National Park or to take in the best hikes of the two parks. Even if the White Rim isn’t for you, consider bringing along or renting a mountain bike for the trails and views of Dead Horse Point State Park or other area trails.
No matter how much slickrock ground you cover, save some time for Moab’s best dining and culture. See the Planning Tools at the bottom for some of our favorite options.
Salt Lake City to Arches National Park
Linger for breakfast or brunch in Utah's vibrant capital city or get right to this adventure through The Mighty 5® national parks. 300 million years of erosion carved unbelievably dramatic landscapes that look like they were sculpted by giant mythological beings rather than the processes of time. Arches contains about 2,000 windowed arches, towering spires, harrowing hoodoos, and precarious pinnacles on display, including Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah's most iconic feature, which is a must-hike destination in the park. A paved 36-mile scenic drive from the park entrance provides numerous parking areas for trail access and scenic overlooks. Overnight in Devils Garden Campground or Moab. (Read: "How to Visit Arches")
Slickrock and Singletrack
This day is about options — options to continue your tour of this incredible area at a more leisurely pace, or pick up the pace. Depending on what time you arrived yesterday, a return trip to Arches National Park offers more angles of this iconic landscape. There are gentle hikes like Park Avenue and the Windows Section or day hikes into remote places like Devil's Garden Primitive Loop. For mountain bikers, your adventure starts right here. Why? One word: slickrock. Test your skills on the Practice Loop at the Sand Flats Recreation Area's famous Slickrock area, where the full loop is also available for advanced riders. For mountain bikers looking for a near rite of passage, the The White Rim in Island in the Sky is a 100-mile trail that you can sample in segments, or work with park service to get permits and plan a multiday trip with a "sag wagon" support vehicle. Finally, Dead Horse Point State Park's rolling singletrack is a great introduction to the area's legendary mountain biking.
Canyonlands National Park
Imagine wave after wave of deep canyons, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers, divided with towering mesas, pinnacles, cliffs and spires, and spread out over tens of thousands of acres of some of the world's most breathtaking red rock country. Though Canyonlands National Park is made up of three distinct land districts, today focuses on the photogenic Island in the Sky. Stick to the overlooks along the 20+-mile scenic drive and short hike to Mesa Arch, or plan time for a longer hike. There are several day hikes off the mesa, but one of the most interesting is the Gooseberry Trail, whose steep switchbacks down the face of the mesa offer continuous views and a continuous workout. From here, it's about four hours back to Salt Lake. It goes quickly while you mentally plan your next visit.
5 Utah Music Festivals Adding a Soundtrack to Your Road Trip
Music is deeply entrenched in Utah's cultural lifestyle. For example, read about Utah's capital, Salt Lake City, and you'll soon discover it's one of a handful of cities its size that is home to a professional ballet, symphony and opera, alongside multiple theater companies, dance companies, America's choir and so much more. Music is as much a part of Utah's landscape as our iconic mountains and arches. Discover some of Utah's music festivals here.
6 Steps to a Family MTB Trip on Canyonlands' White Rim
Want to take the family mountain biking on the White Rim Trail? Tackle 100 miles of biking and three days of backcountry camping in Canyonlands with the kids.
A Van Lifer’s Guide to Responsible Travel in Southern Utah
When Utah’s dirt roads are calling you, it’s time to plan your van life road trip. Here’s what you need to know to travel safely, protect Utah’s rural communities, and help preserve sensitive desert landscapes.
Across a Snow-Covered Desert
Follow this itinerary for a week-long winter road trip across the snow-covered desert of Southeastern Utah.
Boomer Travel: 76 Hours in Moab
Moab, Utah is a prime destination for Baby Boomer travel. Check out our specially-designed itinerary and plan your visit!
Discover the Shape of Utah's Coffee Community
See coffee shops in Salt Lake City on this short video tour of some of the best coffee shops in Utah.
Dog-Friendly Utah: The Road to Mighty
Want to bring your furry friend on your next vacation? Utah is home to several great dog-friendly national parks and other fun destinations. Check it out and plan your trip!
Filmed in Utah: 7 Itineraries Through Hollywood's Most Iconic Settings
Whether hitting the Sundance Film Festival in Park City and Salt Lake City in January or visiting Utah throughout the year, you’ll find yourself near some Utah’s most iconic and most filmed places.
Find a Winter Refresh in a Utah State Park
The best Utah state parks will entice you with ice fishing, white sand and snow-dusted scenery. Take a winter break to refresh with a visit to a few of these places.
Following the Markings of Native American History
This road trip across Utah to view ancient petroglyphs and pictographs will give you an incredible window into the past.
How to Support Local On Your Utah Road Trip
Many small businesses in Utah rely on tourism for survival. These expert tips help road trippers make a real difference in communities by supporting local.
Moab Farmers' Market
Thursday evenings & Saturday mornings in summer, discover a food and community market that shares the harvest of the desert.
Moab Under Canvas: Glamping
If you’re looking for a luxurious camping experience, Moab Under Canvas is just the ticket. Book your stay in a fully-furnished canvas tent in canyon country!
Moab's Singletrack Renaissance
Moab isn’t just for burly Slickrock riders anymore. In the last few years, local groups have established dozens of miles of new mountain bike trails.
Movies Filmed in Utah: Plotting a Cinematic Drive-Through
Follow a Germany-based film enthusiast on an extended road trip to discover the rich history of Utah cinematography.
Resiliency Road Trip
The emergence of small Utah towns like Moab and Helper offer an inspiring backdrop for a road trip focused on reinvention.
See the Fall Leaves Near Utah's National Parks
Sure, any of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks are spectacular year round — covered in snow, peppered with spring wildflowers, and baked in sunshine. But find them exponentially special when the changing fall leaves are in juxtaposition to the immaculate red rock cliffs.
Seven Must-Ride Mountain Biking Trails in Utah
To help you plan a Utah mountain biking trip, we've assembled a list of seven of Utah’s best mountain biking trails followed by a roundup of Utah’s best fat-tire destinations.
Soil Sleuth: Protecting Utah's Living Landscapes
Visit Utah writer Kristen Pope met Dr. Jayne Belnap, one of the world’s top experts on biological soil crusts, to learn about the importance of biocrusts to Utah's desert landscapes, and how to protect them.
The Art of Supporting Utah Artists
Here’s a look at six local artists whose work draws upon Utah’s diverse environments as inspiration.
Traveling with Dogs: The Mighty 5 National Parks
At all of The Mighty 5® national parks, activities with pets are extremely limited, and every time your dog is out of your vehicle, it must be restrained in a crate, cage, or on a leash (of no more than 6 feet).
Walking The Line Between Risk and Responsibility
Why a Hawaii-based highliner and influencer hasn't returned to Utah — yet.
Wilson Arch is an elegant sandstone feature that sits along Highway 191 south of Moab on BLM land. The short hike is free.
Winter in Southeastern Utah: Arches and Canyonlands
Want to avoid the Utah national park crowds? Plan a winter Southeastern Utah trip. Experience more peace, quiet and solitude.
Women in the Wild: Transformation and the Outdoors
Paula Colman joins a weekend retreat for women in Moab, Utah, that has an eye-catching mission: Build your tribe. Connect with your inner spirit. Transform body, mind and spirit around the theme: “Ignite the Flame Within.” Follow along as she seeks her authentic self and learn how to find your own Tribe.