12 National Parks Within Driving Distance of Salt Lake City

Illustration of a map showing driving routes from salt lake city to 12 national parks. There is a text box with a list of national parks and the drive times

TripSavvy

Utah is home to five of the country's most impressive national parks and Salt Lake City is a great jumping-off point to drive to each one. In addition to the Mighty Five, the city road trip distance to iconic destinations like Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Grand Canyon National Parks. The shortest drive covers 218 miles, taking just under 3.5 hours while the longest covers almost 500 miles and takes close to eight hours. While the drives can get long, you'll be treated to views of desert, forest, and mountains on the way.

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Arches National Park

Arches National Park

National Park Service 

Distance: 230 miles

Approximate time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Arches contains some of the country’s most amazing natural wonders—mammoth rocks and arches formed from erosion. Perhaps one of the most important facts about Arches is that the park is constantly evolving. In the past 22 years, two major collapses have occurred: Wall Arch in 2008, and Rainbow Arch in 2018. Both serve as reminders that these structures will not last forever—all the more reason to visit sooner rather than later.

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Zion National Park

Zion National Park

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

Distance: 308 miles

Approximate time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Located in Utah's high plateau county, the Virgin River has carved a gorge so deep that sunlight rarely reaches the bottom! Zion Canyon is wide and completely stunning with sheer cliffs dropping some 3,000 feet. Weathered sandstone shines red and white, and creates amazing sculptured rocks, cliffs, peaks, and hanging valleys.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

USA, Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park, Elevated view of canyon rock formations in morning light

marcoisler / Getty Images

Distance: 268 miles

Approximate time: 3 hours, 58 minutes

No other national park showcases what natural erosion can build than Bryce Canyon National Park. Giant sandstone creations, known as hoodoos, attract more than 2 million visitors annually. Many take to the trails choosing hiking and horseback riding to get an up-close-and-personal look at stunning fluted walls and sculptured pinnacles.

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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Distance: 252 miles

Approximate time: 3 hours, 49 minutes

In this geological wonderland, rocks, spires, and mesas dominate the heart of the Colorado Plateau cut by canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers. Petroglyphs left by indigenous tribes hundreds of years ago are also present. The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and the study of natural and cultural history.

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Capitol Reef National Park

Low angle view of red mountain with sparse green trees in the foreground, photographed at dusk

Thomas Klinder / EyeEm / Getty Images

Distance: 218 miles

Approximate time: 3 hours, 25 minutes

The 241,904-acre park in south-central Utah draws more than a million visitors per year. It protects the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long warp in the Earth's crust, as well as the unique historical and cultural history of the area.

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Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

View down into the grand canyon from the North Rim on a sunny day

Stephen Yelverton Photography / Getty Images

Distance: 392 miles

Approximate time: 6 hours, 17 minutes

About 5 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year and it comes as no surprise why. The main attraction, Grand Canyon, is a mammoth gorge stretching 277 miles showcasing amazing depths of colorful geology. It boasts some of the nation’s cleanest air and a great deal of the park’s 1,902 square miles are maintained as wilderness. Visitors cannot help but be blown away by stunning views from almost any vantage point.

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Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Distance: 284 miles

Approximate time: 4 hours, 45 minutes

With the magnificent Teton Range as a backdrop, this park is one of the most uniquely beautiful spots in the United States. Towering more than a mile above the valley known as Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton mountain rises to 13,770 feet above sea level. Covering 96,000 acres, this national park is known for its abundant wildlife.

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Great Basin National Park

Early morning light illuminates Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park.

Rachid Dahnoun / Getty Images

Distance: 234 miles

Approximate time: 3 hours, 43 minutes

This 77,180-acre Nevada park draws only about 90,000 visitors a year, making it one of the least visited of the U.S. national parks. Among its natural features are streams, lakes, abundant wildlife, a variety of forest types including groves of ancient bristlecone pines, and numerous limestone caverns, including Lehman Caves.

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Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

darekm101 / Getty Images

Distance: 358 miles
Approximate time: 5 hours, 50 minutes

Mesa Verde National Park, Spanish for "green table," offers a unique opportunity to see and experience 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300 people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, evident from the more than 5,000 archaeological sites in the park's boundaries.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Scenic View of a stream with a snowy bank reflecting green trees and a snow capped mountain

Jeremy Janus / EyeEm / Getty Images

Distance: 498 miles
Approximate time: 7 hours, 50 minutes

Peaks towering more than 14,000 feet shadow wildlife, wildflowers, lakes, and forests in these 415 square miles of the Rockies. This park is most well known for its large animals, particularly elk and bighorn sheep, but also offers opportunities to view a variety of other wildlife as well.

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Yellowstone National Park

Hot Spring in Yellowstone

Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon / Getty Images

Distance: 321 miles
Approximate time: 4 hours, 40 minutes

Mixing geothermal activity with the natural world of the Wild West, Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park exemplifies iconic Americana. Established in 1872, it was our country's first national park and helped establish the importance of protecting the United States' natural wonders and wild places.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Bob Thomason / Getty Images

Distance: 354 miles
Approximate time: 5 hours, 40 minutes

This 30,705-acre Colorado park draws fewer than 500,000 visitors per year, making it one of the ​least-visited national parks in the U.S. national park system. No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths visible here.

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