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Utah Road Trip: Arches National Park to Zion National Park

What to Expect on Your Utah Road Trip

People embark on road trips to explore hidden gems along the road, travel on their own schedule, develop special bonding with family members, and meet different types of people.

There are over a hundred popular road trips you can explore in the United States. One of them is our Utah road trip, which covers seven tourist destinations, such as Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon National Park, Kolob Canyons, and Zion National Park.

The distance between Arches National Park and Zion National Park is approximately 310 miles. Though it is a five-hour drive strip, you may need to allocate at least a week to explore all the seven destinations.  

This article provides an overview of the seven tourist destinations you may want to explore as part of the Utah Road Trip.

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Your Road Trip from Arches National Park to Zion National Park

Here is the list of attractions you shouldn’t miss during your Utah Road Trip (the list is in order from Arches National Park to Zion National Park):

  1. Arches National Park

  2. Canyonlands National Park

  3. Capitol Reef National Park

  4. Monument Valley

  5. Bryce Canyon National Park

  6. Kolob Canyons

  7. Zion National Park.

If you follow the map below, you’re sure to hit all the attractions! 

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1. Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah, the United States. With over 2,000 natural standalone arches, including Delicate Arch, this park provides an opportunity to experience majestic natural settings. The major recreational activities at this park are auto touring, bicycling, hiking, rock climbing, and camping at the Devils Garden campground.

Auto touring involves traveling by vehicle on paved roads to enjoy the scenic beauty of the park; the 18-mile distance may take anywhere between 1.5 and 4 hours depending on the amount of time you spend at each viewpoint.

The best time to visit the Arches National Park is April through June and September through December.

Major attractions at Arches National Park are:

  • Delicate Arch

  • Wolfe Ranch

  • The Windows Section

  • Devils Garden

  • Balanced Rock

2. Canyonlands National Park

Located in Southeastern Utah, Canyonlands National Park offers a breathtaking view of the desert landscape carved by the Colorado River and Green River.  

The park is segmented into four districts. They are:

  1. The Island in the Sky

  2. The Needles

  3. The Maze

  4. The Rivers

The major recreational activities at this national park are hiking, mountain biking, and backpacking. You should not miss traveling by the 100-mile White Rim Road that offers spectacular views of surrounding areas and natural beauties.

The drive may take about two to three days whereas the mountain bike trips typically take three to four days. Travelers may need to obtain day-use permits for one-day trips and overnight permits for all overnight trips on Whiterim.

Other notable attractions at Canyonlands National Park are:

  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

  • Horseshoe Canyon Unit

  • Cataract Canyon 

  • Backcountry

  • Mesa Arch

3. Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is located in South Central Utah. This Utah national park is also known for recreational activities such as auto touring, hiking, backpacking, camping, and canyoneering. A few of the popular hiking trails at this national park are Cassidy Arch Trail, Hick Bridge Trail, Frying Pan Trail, And Halls Creek Narrows. Visitors love to hike the Halls Creek Narrows as it has several side canyons and creeks.

The best time to visit the Capitol Reef is May through September. Never miss camping at Fruita Campground when you visit Capitol Reef. This campground has over 71 campsites with amenities like picnic areas and restrooms.

Other notable attractions at the Capitol Reef National Park are:

  • Chimney Rock Pillar

  • The Hickman Bridge Arch

  • Capitol Dome

  • Cathedral Valley

4. Monument Valley 

Monument Valley is a census-designated place located in San Juan County, Utah, United States. A must-see attraction at Monument Valley is the Navajo Tribal Park, which is located on the border of Arizona and Utah. Spread across 30,000 acres, this park is open to the public throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the Monument Valley is the spring and autumn months.

With landscapes ranging from sandy deserts to deep canyons, Monument Valley offers a scintillating experience to hiking lovers. A few of the popular hiking trails at Monument Valley are Grand Clutch, Mule Canyon Ruins, Butler Wash Ruins, Natural Bridges Kachina Trial, and Hovenweep Square Tower Ruins.

Other popular attractions at monument Valley are:

  •  Wildcat Trail

  • Goulding’s Trading Post Museum

  •  Monument Valley – Highway 163 Scenic Drive

5. Bryce Canyon National Park 

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in Southwestern Utah. The park is known for orange, white, and red rock formations that provide spectacular views for visitors. Tourists love to take a scenic drive around this park as it gives access to 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters. Another popular activity at this park is hiking. There are over eight hiking trails in the park. If you are a hiker, you may like to take Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop, the most strenuous hiking trails in the park.

Camping is also a popular activity at Bryce Canyon.  If you plan an overnight trip, you can camp at Loop A of the North Campground which is open throughout the year. Sunset Campground, another well-known campground at the park, is open only from late spring to early autumn.

Other notable attractions at the Bryce Canyon National Park are:

  • Sunset Point

  • Inspiration Point

  • Bryce Point

  • Sunrise Point

6. Kolob Canyons

Kolob Canyons is located 40 miles north of Zion Canyon and 17 miles south of Cedar City. You should take Exit 40 on Internet 15 to reach this place.

Kolob Canyon provides a five-mile spectacular scenic drive that enables visitors to view crimson canyons and several scenic spots. The major attraction of Kolob Canyon is the 2,000 feet cliff located exactly at the northeast corner of the park, where canyons are cut into the western edge of the Colorado Plateau. With over 17 campsites, Kolob Canyons offers the best camping experience for people who seek an overnight stay.

The Canyon road might be closed during winter due to excessive snowfall. So, the best time to visit Kolob Canyon is March through November.

Notable attractions at the Kolob Canyon are:

  • The Taylor Creek Trail

  • Beartrap Canyon Falls

  • La Verkin Creek

  • Beatty Spring

7. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah. Spread across 220-square-mile, this national park is distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs. It is home to numerous plant species, birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Some of the popular activities at the Zion National Park are horseback riding trips, nature walks, hiking, and evening programs. Rangers and travel guides are available at the visitor center to help visitors plan their trip and stay. The park has seven trails with round-trip times of around 30 minutes to eight hours. Taylor Creek and Kolob Arch are two popular trails as they take you through creeks and the best scenic spots.

Rock climbing is also very popular at the park. Walls such as Spaceshot, Moonlight Buttress, Prodigal Son, Ashtar Command, and Touchstone provide the thrilling experience of rock climbing.

The park has three campsites. They are South, Watchman, and Lava Point. Watchman campground is open throughout the year, whereas the South and Lava Point are closed during the winter.

Notable attractions at the Zion National Park are:

  •  Weeping Rock

  • Riverside Walk

  • Lower Emerald Pools

  • The Narrows

  • Slot Canyon

  • Angels Landing

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Rent the Perfect Utah Road Trip Vehicle with AVR

The Utah road trip will provide an exhilarating experience if you make sure to stop by all the destinations mentioned in this article. This road trip is all about visiting national parks, camping, hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, nature walks, photography, and canyoneering.

Many of these tourist destinations are also a part of Mighty 5. Utah also offers numerous stargazing opportunities across its national parks, state parks, hoodoos, natural arches, rock spires, fiery furnaces, and national monuments managed by National Park Service (NPS). If you have time, you can also explore towns such as Torrey, Springdale, Moab, St. George, and Salt Lake City during this road trip.

When you are embarking on a road trip that involves national parks, forests, and hiking trails, you may need a vehicle with off-road capabilities. The most suitable car models for this kind of road trip are Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner, or similar.

Airport Van Rental (AVR) is an American car rental company that offers a premium fleet of vehicles, including sedans, convertibles, SUVs, minivans, and passenger vans. With over 12 years of experience in the car renting business, AVR understands your travel needs better than any other rental company in the country. 

With a convenient pick-up and drop-off facility, the lowest rental prices, premier customer support, and flexible payment methods, AVR can be the perfect travel partner for your road trip. Book a rental car with off-road capabilities with AVR for your Utah Road Trip!