Article Summary: National Parks Near Salt Lake City
National Parks near Salt Lake City. There’s so much more to Salt Lake City than the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range.
In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible national parks that are within a day’s drive of Salt Lake City.
This bustling metropolis has access to more incredible national parks than almost any other city in America.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
Now let’s go ahead and share those 5 reasons why you’ll want to make that day’s drive from Salt Lake City to one of these amazing places.
Table Of Contents: National Parks Near Salt Lake City
National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- Best National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- More National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- Watch Our Zion National Park Film
- National Parks Near Salt Lake City FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- List Of National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Best National Parks Near Salt Lake City
1. Arches National Park
Distance from Salt Lake City: 3 hours 34 minutes
It’s 244 miles from Salt Lake City to Arches National Park down I-15 to I-70. From the Green River it’s a truly scenic trip.
Arches National Park is known for its unique geology and contains the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, with over 2,000 natural arches, fins, and spires.
The arches in the park were formed over millions of years as water, wind, and ice eroded the sandstone, creating the iconic shapes that visitors see today. In 1929, Arches National Monument was established to protect the area, and in 1971, it was officially designated as a national park.
In addition to the arches, the park is also home to other unique geological features, such as towering red rock formations, canyons, and natural bridges. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and scenic drives, as well as wildlife watching and stargazing.
Arches National Park is also rich in cultural history, with evidence of human habitation in the area dating back over 10,000 years. Visitors can learn about the Native American tribes who lived in the region, as well as the early settlers who explored and protected the area.
Highlights At Arches
Highlights Include: Delicate Arch featured on the Utah license plate and the arch everyone plans their trip around. The hike up to Delicate Arch isn’t a walk in the park as it involves a solid incline and a bit of navigating the sandstone, but is more than doable for most visitors.
Landscape Arch is the largest arch on earth spanning some 306 feet of weathered sandstone. This one is an easy 1.5 miles round trip and a must on your Arches trip.
Double O Arch featured in the image above is a very unique arch on top of an arch. This 4.1 mile out and back hike is a bit more strenuous, especially in the summer heat, so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Distance from Salt Lake City: 4 hours [via I-15 South]
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its unique geology and stunning scenery. The park is home to a series of large amphitheaters filled with thousands of red rock hoodoos, which are tall, thin spires of rock that have been carved by wind and water over millions of years.
The hoodoos in Bryce Canyon are some of the most famous and recognizable natural landmarks in the park, and visitors can enjoy exploring the amphitheaters on foot, as well as taking scenic drives and horseback rides.
In addition to the hoodoos, the park is also home to other unique geological features, such as canyons, arches, and natural bridges. Visitors to the park can also enjoy hiking, camping, wildlife watching, and stargazing.
Bryce Canyon National Park is also rich in cultural history, with evidence of human habitation in the area dating back over 10,000 years. Visitors can learn about the Native American tribes who lived in the region, as well as the early settlers who explored and protected the area.
3. Canyonlands National Park
Distance from Salt Lake City: 3 hours 47 minutes [via U.S. 6 East]
Canyonlands National Park is one of the parks that has views that one can seemingly gaze upon for days without losing interest or comprehending exactly the vastness of the landscape. Mesa Arch here represents one of the most photographed sunrises in all of the national park system and Green River overlook one of the most dazzling sunsets.
The catch? Four-wheel drive. If you’ve got it you’re set and have full access to all of the unbelievable destinations the park has to offer. Without it, your time in the park will be mostly limited to overlooks from above, which are still well worth the trip.
Highlights At Canyonlands
Highlights include: The Needles which makes up the southeastern corner of the park and is named after the multi-colored spires of sandstone that dominate the area. The Needles area offers a multitude of hiking opportunities as well as 4WD roads leading to fascinating ruins.
Mesa Arch which is the most photographed feature in the park and is where you’ll find the bulk of tourists looking to snag their very own photo of this arch with a view. Sunrise is the best time to head over and see the sun makes its way up through the arch while illuminating the vast landscape.
Shafer Trail which is perhaps the pinnacle of 4WD trails in the United States. Here you can put your high clearance four-wheel-drive SUV through the wringer on this challenging, unpaved, and downright scary road.
4. Capitol Reef National Park
Distance from Salt Lake City: 3 hours 25 minutes [via I-15 S & UT 24E]
Probably the least known Utah national park, and yet it’s easily one of the best. No crowds, abundant scenery, and there’s even a small town (Torrey) nestled up against the park that has restaurants and conveniences that will surprise you. Lots of great day-hikes and truly out of this world stargazing opportunities (pun intended).
Overlooks that look out on vast and lonely landscapes shaped by geological activity over millennia, uncrowded trails through ancient petroglyphs, natural arches, and beautiful red rock scenery, and historic structures preserving early pioneer life. What’s not to like about this often-overlooked Utah gem?
Capitol Reef Highlights
Hickman Bridge is an easy 2 mile trail (1 mile each way) taking you to a spectacular sandstone arch. The trail also takes you by early Fremont ruins and a smaller arch.
Grand Wash is an spectacular gorge that cuts through the Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold geological formation. The trail follows a flat wash for just over 6 miles, but most visitors prefer to explore the half mile narrows (featured in the image above) before simply turning back.
Stargazing Capitol Reef was designated an International Dark Sky Park back in 2015 and for very good reason. The night skies over Capitol Reef provide some of the best stargazing opportunities in the United States.
More National Parks Near Salt Lake City
5. Zion National Park
Distance from Salt Lake City: 4 hours 26 minutes [via I-15 S]
Exquisitely carved by the Virgin River over millions of years, Zion Canyon is one of the most stunning places on earth. But don’t stop there!
This park has so much more to offer outside of the main canyon. Golden meadows, sweeping vistas, red rock mountains, towering white temples, and powerful ancient rivers comprise this incredible treasure.
RELATED: 16 EPIC Hikes In ZION NATIONAL PARK
Best Things to Do in Zion National Park
The Narrows is one of the absolute coolest hikes and things to do in Zion National Park and the entire national park system for that matter. Hikers hike, walk, and wade through a narrow canyon of massive red rock canyon walls where the Virgin River has been at work for millions of years.
Angel’s Landing is the most popular, well-known hike in Zion National Park leading to one of the most iconic views in all the National Park system. The Angel’s Landing trail is a steep 5 miles with about 1,500ft of elevation gain.
Canyon Overlook is one of the most spectacular and relatively easy to access overlooks in all of Zion National Park. Located on the Zion Mt. Carmel (East) side of the park, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a popular one.
Watch Our Zion National Park Film
ZION is the culmination of nearly a month spent by the Pattiz Brothers exploring Zion National Park during peak fall color. Exquisitely carved by the Virgin River over millions of years, Zion Canyon is one of the most stunning places on earth.
But don’t stop there! This park has so much more to offer outside of the main canyon. Golden meadows, sweeping vistas, red rock mountains, towering white temples, and powerful ancient rivers comprise this incredible treasure. This was filmed primarily in stunning UHD 8K.
The Pattiz Brothers chose to capture this film in Autumn to showcase the stunning and little known fall color of Zion National Park. Fall is also a time when visitation dies down from peak summer months and one can find more solace in the park.
National Parks Near Salt Lake City FAQ
Zion National Park is located 300 miles (4.5-hour-drive) from Salt Lake City. Most of the drive is along Interstate 15, which has some beautiful sights and attractions along the way.
The direct drive from Moab to Salt Lake City is 234 mi (376 km), and should have a drive time of 4 hrs 17 mins in normal traffic.
Why Listen to Us About Salt Lake City’s National Parks?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Parks Near Salt Lake City
List Of National Parks Near Salt Lake City
- Arches National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Zion National Park
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!
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