When it comes to great American drives, the Denver to Salt Lake City road trip is among the best. The fastest trip from Denver to Salt Lake City runs north into Wyoming and west to Utah on I-80, but for a far more beautiful trip, head west on I-70. This spectacular route takes you through the Rocky Mountains and the high desert, with just a hint of Utah’s legendary red rocks thrown in for good measure. The side trips are endless—enjoy the mountains in Vail or Breckenridge, hike the red-rock buttes and go wine-tasting in Grand Junction, and lose yourself in the stunning rock formations and canyons near Utah’s Moab and the San Rafael Swell. The fun is only beginning when you arrive in Salt Lake City; spend time in the Wasatch Mountains, or paddle around the islands in the Great Salt Lake.
The Denver to Salt Lake City RV road trip passes near a few spectacular national parks. Whether you love hiking, biking, or scenic drives, it’s well worth your time to plan a few extra days to explore these world-class spots.
Arches National Park
Known for its otherworldly red-rock formations, Arches National Park is unlike anywhere else in the United States. Hike through brilliantly colored canyons and stand under the natural rock arches that have been formed over thousands of years of erosion. With more than 2,000 arches in the park, you may even have one all to yourself. The hikes here range from easy to challenging, so there’s something for everyone. Be sure to pop out of your RV after dark—Arches is known for its mind-boggling stargazing opportunities.
Canyonlands National Park
Also located near Moab, Canyonlands is a maze of rock towers, staggeringly deep canyons, and meandering rivers. This is one of the biggest parks in Utah, covering more than 330,000 acres of land. The park is split into four districts; on the road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City, the most accessible is the Island in the Sky district. Hike to Grand View Point for a heart-stopping view of the canyons as they stretch to the horizon, or take the Island in the Sky scenic drive and stop at different viewpoints along the way. Mountain biking and hiking are also popular activities in this region.
Capitol Reef National Park
See the effects of geologic change stretch out before you at Capitol Reef. Here, you can see a remarkable monocline, which looks like a rocky wrinkle on the surface of the earth. Geology buffs shouldn’t miss the many ranger-led talks; if you’re feeling active, hike the park’s fantastic 15-trail network through canyons and up to ridges with panoramic views. For a true Utah experience, hike through the slot canyons at Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash, or Sheets Gulch. Horseback riding offers a more relaxing way to see the landscape, and the park also features a network of scenic drives
Both Colorado and Utah are home to an array of fantastic state parks. As you plan your road trip itinerary for Denver to Salt Lake City, keep these spots in mind. They’re excellent options for camping along the way, and many are located close to the main route.
Rifle Falls State Park
Rifle Falls State Park is a great spot for your first night on the Denver to Salt Lake City road trip; it sits just north of I-70, about 184 miles from Denver. Be sure to hike to the triple waterfall during your visit.
Vega State Park
Located on the banks of the Vega Reservoir, Vega State Park is a lovely stop for fishing, boating, and hiking. It requires a bit of a drive off I-70, but the cool water and beautiful views are worth the excursion.
James M. Robb - Colorado River State Park
Located close to the Colorado-Utah border, this park makes a great base camp in the Grand Junction area. Fish or raft the Colorado River, hunt in the surrounding desert, or get up close and personal with the canyons on a bike, foot, or horseback. The local wine country also makes a fun stop.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park offers one of the most iconic views in Utah. From the park’s namesake point, you can look down more than 2,000 feet to a dramatic gooseneck bend in the Colorado River. Popular with hikers, bikers, and photographers, this is a must-see spot on your road trip.
Goblin Valley State Park
If you have a bit of extra time, Goblin Valley makes an exciting stop. Here, the desert is lined with bizarre red-rock formations called “hoodoos.” Hiking or biking among these strange, otherworldly rocks is an experience you won’t soon forget.
As you drive from Denver and head west to Salt Lake City, check out these exciting destinations along the way.
Covering more than 80 acres, this well-kept zoo is home to many animals including African lions, Siberian tigers, and Asian elephants. The zoo is known for its unique layout, which re-creates each animal’s natural habitat.
Located just off I-70 near Dillon, Colorado, this reservoir is a fun spot for an afternoon of boating. Visitors can enjoy a hike or drive around the water for beautiful mountain views.
As you drive through western Colorado, I-70 passes by the Dotsero Crater, which was formed by a massive volcano. Check out the lava flow as you drive through town or visit the BLM recreation site for the best view.
Grand Junction Wine Country
Stop to taste a Colorado red in the wine country near Grand Junction. The lush landscapes are fed by the Colorado River, which runs south of town.
As you leave I-70 and turn north on Highway 191 toward Salt Lake City, you’ll see the Book Cliffs running along the east side of the road. Enjoy the view as you drive or take a short side trip to East Carbon to get closer.
As you drive from Denver to Salt Lake City, you’ll pass through some exceptionally remote country. A range of smaller towns lines the route, providing plenty of opportunities for camping and locating dump stations in Colorado and Utah.
Vail is known for its world-class skiing, but there’s so much more to discover. In the summer, hike or bike high into the Rockies and enjoy the view over the peaks. Ride the ski lifts year-round; the trip is particularly beautiful in the fall when the changing leaves turn the mountainsides to brilliant colors. Check out the local golf courses, or fish in the beautiful rivers and streams. Prefer to stay in town? You’ll find plenty of boutiques and upscale restaurants. One of the most popular camping spots is Gore Creek Campground, which can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long.
As you leave the mountains behind and enter the red-rock desert near the Utah border, Grand Junction is a natural stopping point. Here, gorgeous campgrounds sit near the local rivers and vineyards, with views of the rocky cliffs. For a reliable RV park with a dump station, head to the Grand Junction KOA. Grand Junction is an adventure hot spot, with year-round opportunities for biking, hiking, off-roading, and whitewater rafting. The town also boasts a thriving art scene.
Moab is Utah’s adventure capital. From your campsite near the quaint downtown, the sky's the limit—go mountain biking across the Slickrock trails, scale sheer rock cliffs, raft the rapids of the Colorado River, or take a wild Jeep tour through the desert. For a slower-paced adventure, hike to narrow slot canyons or take a scenic drive through the local red rocks. In town, you’ll find a thriving community and plenty of restaurants to satisfy any craving. For one of the best campgrounds in the state, reserve a spot at Moab's Portal RV Resort.
The road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City crosses through some of the most diverse and thrilling landscapes in the United States. From the forested peaks of the Rockies to the wild red rocks of Utah, there’s always a spectacular sight around the corner. With an RV rental from RVshare in Denver or Salt Lake City, you can make this spectacular trip any time of the year.