Nothing says summer adventure quite like packing up the car, rolling down the windows, and hitting the open road with your crew. A road trip to Park City is the ultimate way to beat the heat, get a little distance, and escape to a mountain adventure. Park City is nestled in the Wasatch Mountain range with a base elevation of 7,000ft, ensuring the days are comfortably warm and the night air holds the most pleasant whisper of a chill.
With endless natural wonders surrounding our picturesque mountain town, there is no better way to venture to Park City than by car. Park City Rental Properties offers a wide selection of rental homes to serve as your home base during your trip.
Whether traveling from the North, South, East, or West you will be guided into Park City along winding scenic highways that give ample opportunity to soak in the mountain vistas, awe-inspiring red rock formations, other-worldly stretches of salt flats, and lush National Forests. Here are a few ideas to get your road trip to Park City rolling in the right direction:
From the North:
If you are cruising in from the North make sure to carve out some time in your drive to visit Antelope Island State Park. This unique Utah destination offers an experience that can be found nowhere else in the state. With raw natural beauty, unreal sunsets, antelopes, buffalo, and other diverse wildlife around every turn, as well as white sandy beaches dotting the shores of the Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island is a perfect road trip stop on your way to the cool Park City mountain air.
Unique islands are nice and all, but sometimes all your soul craves is a small-town with mountain lakes brushed by forests. If that seems like more your speed you can opt for a detour to the east. Head up Ogden Canyon – which is stunning in its own right – and land in the small towns of Eden and Huntsville. Here you can find winding mountain trails to explore by foot or bike, as well as Pine View Reservoir. Take a quick looped drive around the reservoir, stop at one of the local eateries to grab lunch, then head to the shores of Pine View for a leisurely picnic at the “beach”. If time allows, we highly recommend renting kayaks or paddleboards and heading out on the beautiful emerald waters to get the most of your time in this beautiful area.
If your route into Park City finds you coming from the North East, do yourself and your crew a huge favor and take the time to drive the Flaming Gorge – Uintas Scenic Byway. This drive is known as “a drive through the ages” as it takes you winding through 1-billion-year-old geological formations, and high desert red rocks mixed with green forests creating a stunningly stark contrast. Be sure to make your way out to a highpoint overlook at Flaming Gorge – they are easy to come by – and whatever you do, do not forget your camera! Highway 191 will wind you down through the town of Vernal then continue on as a series of postcard-worthy reservoirs guide you into Park City.
From the East:
Driving in from the east will put you in a prime position to get a taste of Utah’s world-famous National Parks. As you cruise along I70 take a turn toward the city of Moab, Utah. While Moab is a worthy destination itself, the true standouts here are Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. You will want to ensure you give yourself plenty of time to explore these two parks, it is honestly worth a night of car camping or an overnight stay in a Moab hotel. Arches National Park is home to the most photographed natural sandstone arch that even graces some Utah license plates – Delicate Arch. Many of the sites worth seeing in Arches will require a bit of walking, so make sure you have your hiking shoes and plenty of water packed and at the ready. Trust us, no matter which hike you choose, it will be well worth your time and effort. If time or ability does not allow for a hike please don’t fret, there is plenty to see from the car as well! Just across the way from Arches sits the vastly different, Mars-like vistas of Canyonlands National Park. With fully paved roads in and close proximity to Arches National Park, you should point your headlights toward the Island In The Sky district of Canyonlands. While each district holds immense beauty, the Island In The Sky district offers 34 miles of paved scenic driving pleasure, making it ideal for your road trip. Wind along the roads to discover endless opportunities to stop and enjoy in the overlooks hovering 1,000 feet above the valleys below.
If you have already had the privilege of visiting Moab and its neighboring National Park wonders, or if you are looking for a lesser-known and often less crowded National Park experience, continue on past the Moab exit and follow the signs to Capitol Reef National Park. While it may be lesser-known, it is by no means lesser in beauty. Take the 7.9-mile Scenic Drive through the park and be sure to schedule ample time to make many stops along the way. This land tells quite a story if you know what to look for, we recommend a quick stop at the visitor center to get the most of your scenic drive experience.
From the South:
As you drive up along I15 from the South you will find yourself knocking on the doors of two more National Park wonders. Zion National Park is located to the east and is a Scenic Drive not to be missed. Most of the hiking, once you are inside the park, requires a shuttle ride so you will either need to schedule some time for that (please do this!) or simply take a leisurely cruise along Mount Carmel Highway through the park and spot and the many viewpoints along the way. You will not believe the beauty and sights that can be experienced while taking this drive. If you go the route of hopping on a shuttle and getting the full Zion experience, please ensure you do a little hike research before you head out. Zion is known for its not for the faint of heart, hiking experiences, and those should only be attempted by seasoned hikers. That being said, Zion does offer a little something for every age and skill level. Those looking for a thrill will undoubtedly gravitate toward the infamous Angels Landing hike, but there are also the less heart-pumping options of Pa’rus Trail, Lower Emerald Pool Trail, and the Riverside Walk.
After experiencing the grandeur of Zion National Park, you may feel as though it can’t possibly get any better. Well, we hate to say you’re wrong, so just do us a favor and keep on going once you have made your way through the winding roads that jog through Zion. Once out of the Park you will be met by Highway 89, cruise along that road until you find the signs that guide you to Bryce Canyon National Park. Then get ready to pick your jaw up off the ground yet again. With truly insane views that are like nothing you have ever seen just a short walk from the roads that wind through the park, Bryce Canyon is our pick for best National Park road trip destination. You can either sit dumbfounded and snap pictures from the top or take it to the next level by hiking down to the bottom of the canyon for a completely different experience. Just remember you will have to hike back up too.
From the West:
A drive-in from the West offers travelers one of the most unique experiences to be found in the entire state – the Bonneville Salt Flats. While you can see the salt flats from the interstate as you drive along, this does them absolutely no justice. Make your way to the north side of the interstate and take a drive on the salty side. Yes, you can literally drive straight out onto the salt, so please don’t be shy. Once you take the leap onto the salt its time for an experience that we guarantee you have never had before. Among its many claims to fame, these salty stretches of the earth have been the location world-record-setting land speed endeavors. So, while you may not hit the current record of 142.8 miles per hour, no trip to the salt flats is complete without putting the pedal to the metal and flying across the seemingly endless crust of white salt. After you have got everyone’s hearts racing to take some time to hop out of the car and stretch your legs. Once again we implore you to ensure you have a camera at the ready, these will be seriously Instagram-worthy shots! We promise that you will get endless wows and questions from your friends and family back home. If you are lucky enough to visit the flats during a time when they are covered by a thin layer of water those Insta-wows and comments will triple as you will undoubtedly be able to capture the coveted “walking on water” shot.
Book Your Perfect Park City Home Base:
Once you have reached Park City you are going to want a perfect place to call home. Park City Rental Properties offers lodging to suit every traveler and budget. From sprawling mountain mansions to cozy 1-bedroom condos and everything in between, our Park City property specialists are standing by to help you find the home base of your dreams. Contact us today then pack up and hit the road!