Salt Lake City is a convenient location to many attractions, National Parks and hikes in Utah and outside of Utah. Here are some of my favorite day trips you can take out of Salt Lake and the surrounding area! Many of these are under 4 hour popular day trips you can take or even make them a short weekend getaway!
1. The Salt Flats/Bonneville Speedway
About an hour and 45 minutes from Downtown Salt Lake there is a rest area you can pull off on right before Wendover and the actual speedway where you can drive and walk on the flats! Depending on the weather, be very careful as vehicles get stuck very easily when it’s wet.
About 3 hours and 45 minutes from Downtown Salt Lake is one of my favorite National Parks! It’s right outside of Moab which is a really fun town to explore as well. In the summer the temperatures reach well over 100 with not much shade so please be cautious!
4 hours from Downtown Salt Lake is Bryce and its neighbor Zion (see below). Just like Arches it can get very hot in the summer so please be cautious.
A little over 4 hours from Downtown Salt Lake is the most famous National Park in Utah. Its probably one of the most popular day trips you can take out of Salt Lake City and what we are best known for. In Covid times it’s harder to visit than normal, you need to buy a shuttle pass a few weeks in advance to get to the popular hikes- angels landing, narrows etc. It will be very busy and no parking inside the park so come prepared!
About 4 hours from Downtown Salt Lake is a lesser known National Park but very expansive and has a lot to do!
In my opinion one of the most underrated parks in Utah, 3 hours and 30 minutes from Downtown Salt Lake. There are a ton of places to go off the beaten path here if you have a four wheel drive vehicle, which you usually need to get to the well known “Garden of the Gods”.
7. Park City
Only 35 minutes from Downtown Salt Lake this is one of the most popular day trips. In the summer there is mountain biking, quite a few lakes to go boating/swimming/paddle boarding, the Olympic Park, Downtown with all of its art galleries and restaurants, horseback riding, and concerts. In the winter there are plenty of ski resorts and beautiful snow canyon drives.
About 50 minutes from Downtown Salt Lake, a little farther than Park City is Midway and Heber. These little towns are quickly becoming popular with hiking trails, beautiful views, scuba diving in the crater and a few lakes and rivers popular for fishing.
9. Hot Springs
There are quite a few different hot springs pretty close to Downtown Salt Lake, I’ll write another article about all of them in detail but the most popular ones are Crystal Hot Springs and Fifth Water Hot Springs.
10. Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
One of the most popular scenic mountain drives in the state! The lake is beautiful to stop at and enjoy and there are many pullover spots on the drive itself. The lake is about an hour and a half from Downtown Salt Lake.
11. Guardsman’s Pass
My favorite canyon drive! This pass is in Big Cottonwood Canyon and connects the Salt lake valley side to Park City and Midway. It is only open Memorial Day- October usually depending on snowfall. There are many amazing hikes and a lake at the top, and also just a beautiful drive during the green of the summer and the fall colors.
12. Antelope Island
About 1 hour and 30 min from Downtown Salt Lake, there are plenty of hiking trails along the lake and lots of viewpoints to see the Bison! Very popular for photos but beware the bugs in the summer!!
3 hours and 40 minutes from downtown Salt Lake is this smaller but just as amazing park. It’s great for families in my opinion as most hikes are shorter and you can see the “main attractions” very easily from the parking area.
1 hour and 50 minutes from downtown Salt Lake is a collection of huge sand dunes where you can drive your 4 wheel drive vehicle on them or rent an ATV, Side by Side etc and ride around! I personally haven’t been but I’ve heard great things about it.
15. Bear Lake
Known as the “Caribbean of the North” the blue water of this lake will blow you away! Only a 2 hour and 20 min drive from Downtown Salt Lake, it’s the perfect summer escape for swimming, boating, paddleboards or just relaxing on the shore. Make sure to check out LaBeaus Restaurant for their famous Raspberry shakes!
You might know this name from the famous Sundance Film Festival which the public is allowed to attend. It is also a great ski resort only about an hour from Downtown Salt Lake.
Also, if you’re getting hungry while you are on one of these popular day trips make sure to check out my guide of “Where to eat in SLC”!