If you’re looking for the best day trips from Salt Lake City, here’s our list of the 21 best Salt Lake City day trips!
Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is a vibrant metropolis framed by the towering peaks of the Wasatch Range. Full of fun things to do, Salt Lake City can entertain travelers for days on end.
From religious monuments to outdoor adventures, to cultural events and a delicious food scene, Salt Lake City has a diverse range of attractions.
When you’re ready to get out of Salt Lake City, here are some amazing day trips to get you going! With mountains, lakes, canyons, hot springs, and more, the landscapes around Salt Lake City are filled with cool things to see.
There are so many unique and entertaining day trips from Salt Lake City. Whether you want to drive for a few hours and explore some remote national park, or you want to stick close to the city, there is so much nature and culture to explore.
Take on some iconic ski slopes in Park City or check out the otherworldly landscapes of the Bonneville Salt Flats. See ancient fossils at Dinosaur National Monument, or journey out to one of the famous Utah national parks.
Be sure to check out these top things to do in Salt Lake City before you head out of the city!
Table of Contents
- 21 Epic Day Trips From Salt Lake City, Utah
- 1. Park City
- 2. Goblin Valley State Park
- 3. Natural History Museum of Utah
- 4. Antelope Island State Park
- 5. Bonneville Salt Flats
- 6. Crystal Hot Springs
- 7. Dinosaur National Monument
- 8. Capitol Reef National Park
- 9. Big Cottonwood Canyon
- 10. Mirror Lake
- 11. Utah Olympic Park
- 12. Provo
- 13. Arches National Park
- 14. Cedar City
- 15. Zion National Park
- 16. Fishlake National Forest
- 17. Cove Fort
- 18. Sundance Mountain Resort
- 19. Bear Lake State Park
- 20. Lava Hot Springs
- 21. Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve
21 Epic Day Trips From Salt Lake City, Utah
From having an epic ski weekend at Park City Mountain Resort to searching for Hidden Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, to relaxing on the shores of Bear Lake, here are some of the best day trips from Salt Lake City!
Guided tours are few and far between, so it’s recommended to have a rental car for these day trips. Driving is also the best way to admire the stunning scenery of Salt Lake City and Utah.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
1. Park City
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 31 miles
- Driving time: 38 minutes
One of the most popular day trips from Salt Lake City is Park City, a charming mountain town renowned for its stunning alpine beauty, world-class skiing, and vibrant cultural scene.
Originally a silver mining town, Park City transformed itself into a premier winter sports destination and gained international recognition when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. The town’s historic Main Street is a delightful blend of Victorian architecture and modern amenities, lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.
Visitors can explore the rich mining history at the Park City Museum or take a stroll through the lively streets, where the vibrant atmosphere is equally enticing during both the snow-covered winter months and the sunny summer days.
Park City’s reputation as a winter sports haven is well-deserved, with its three world-class ski resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and Canyons Village. The ski slopes in Park City offer a diverse range of terrain suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to expert skiers and snowboarders.
Beyond winter activities, Park City transitions seamlessly into a summer playground, offering hiking and mountain biking trails, scenic hot air balloon rides, and a plethora of outdoor festivals.
With its perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cultural richness, Park City stands as a year-round destination that captures the hearts of visitors seeking a quintessential mountain experience.
2. Goblin Valley State Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 224 miles
- Driving time: 3.5 hours
Nestled in the otherworldly landscape of southern Utah, Goblin Valley State Park is a geological wonder that makes an epic day trip from Salt Lake City. It’s a bit of a drive, but so worth it.
The park’s unique terrain is characterized by thousands of mushroom-shaped rock formations, also known as hoodoos or goblins, which stand in clusters across the valley floor. These fascinating sandstone sculptures were carved by wind and water erosion over millions of years, creating a fantastical and almost alien-like landscape.
Day trip visitors to Goblin Valley State Park can wander through the maze-like formations, letting their imaginations run wild as they explore the labyrinth of intricate rock structures. The park’s remoteness and lack of light pollution make it an excellent spot for stargazing, offering breathtaking views of the night sky in this otherworldly setting.
Goblin Valley State Park also provides opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking and photography. The Valley of the Goblins trail allows visitors to meander through the heart of the park, providing up-close encounters with the whimsical rock formations.
The park also offers camping facilities for those looking to extend their day trip. Goblin Valley State Park is not only a geological marvel but also a testament to the diverse and captivating landscapes that make Utah a haven for those seeking both natural beauty and outdoor adventure.
3. Natural History Museum of Utah
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 5 miles
- Driving time: 15 minutes
Though the Natural History Museum of Utah is technically in Salt Lake City, it’s on the outskirts of the city and is such an entertaining place that you could spend a whole day here!
Perched on the foothills of the Wasatch Range overlooking Salt Lake City, the Natural History Museum of Utah stands as a captivating hub of scientific discovery and education. Designed to mirror the surrounding natural landscape, the museum’s architectural marvel is a fitting prelude to the wonders within.
The exhibits within the museum cover a diverse array of topics, including paleontology, anthropology, botany, and geology. Visitors can embark on a journey through Utah’s ancient past, marvel at fossils, and explore interactive displays that delve into the region’s rich biodiversity and cultural history.
One of the museum’s notable features is the Past Worlds Gallery, which showcases an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and traces Utah’s evolution from ancient seas to its current desert landscapes.
The Natural History Museum of Utah is not only a repository of scientific knowledge but also an engaging space for hands-on learning and community engagement. The museum’s innovative architecture incorporates sustainable design principles, reflecting its commitment to environmental responsibility.
Interactive exhibits and educational programs cater to visitors of all ages, making it an enriching destination for families, students, and science enthusiasts alike.
With its panoramic views of Salt Lake City and the surrounding mountains, the Natural History Museum of Utah provides a unique blend of education, exploration, and inspiration within a setting that seamlessly connects the museum to the natural wonders it seeks to showcase.
Extend your exploration of Utah with a road trip to all the best national parks!
4. Antelope Island State Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 43 miles
- Driving time: 56 minutes
You can’t visit Salt Lake City without taking some time to explore the Great Salt Lake! Antelope Island State Park is the best place to do so.
Situated in the midst of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Antelope Island State Park is a unique and captivating natural wonder. Accessible by a causeway, the park is renowned for its rugged beauty, diverse wildlife, and expansive saltwater lake views.
The island, the largest in the Great Salt Lake, is home to a thriving population of American Bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and a variety of bird species, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
Visitors can explore the island’s numerous hiking and biking trails, immersing themselves in the vast, unspoiled landscapes that range from rocky hillsides to sandy beaches.
Antelope Island State Park also offers recreational activities such as bird watching, camping, and sailing. Bridger Bay Beach is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking, providing a relaxing escape with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
The park hosts events and educational programs throughout the year, allowing visitors to deepen their understanding of the island’s ecosystem and cultural history.
Antelope Island State Park is the perfect place for a day trip on the Great Salt Lake. Book it as a guided day tour from Salt Lake City if you want the added bonus of a knowledgeable local guide!
5. Bonneville Salt Flats
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 124 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
The Bonneville Salt Flats, located in northwestern Utah, is an otherworldly expanse of vast, white salt crusts that stretch across nearly 30,000 acres. This unique landscape is the remnants of an ancient lake that once covered much of western Utah.
The perfectly flat, barren terrain provides an ideal setting for high-speed racing, drawing motorsports enthusiasts and thrill-seekers from around the world. The Bonneville Salt Flats are particularly famous for the Bonneville Speedway, a legendary racing venue where numerous land speed records have been set.
The area’s stark, surreal beauty, with the distant mountain ranges mirroring the salt surface, adds to the allure of this extraordinary destination.
Visitors to the Bonneville Salt Flats can experience the unique environment by taking a stroll onto the flat expanse during dry periods when the salt crust is solid. The reflective surface of the salt flats, especially during sunset, creates a mesmerizing visual spectacle.
The area is also a popular spot for photography, offering a blank canvas against which the play of light and shadow transforms the landscape into an ever-changing panorama.
The Bonneville Salt Flats stand as a testament to the dynamic geological history of the region and continue to captivate those seeking both the thrill of speed and the serenity of an ancient, surreal landscape. It’s definitely one of the most captivating day trips from Salt Lake City!
6. Crystal Hot Springs
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 69 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour
Situated in the picturesque surroundings of Honeyville, Utah, Crystal Hot Springs is a natural geothermal hot spring destination that has been providing relaxation and rejuvenation for over a century.
The hot springs boast a unique combination of minerals, resulting in therapeutic and soothing waters that draw visitors seeking a peaceful escape. Crystal Hot Springs features two large mineral pools—one for swimming and another for soaking—both naturally fed by underground springs, with temperatures ranging from 120 to 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
The calming ambiance and scenic views of the surrounding mountains create a tranquil atmosphere, making Crystal Hot Springs a popular year-round retreat.
Crystal Hot Springs offers a range of amenities, including private tubs, water slides, and a camping area for those looking to extend their stay. The historic significance of the site, coupled with its modern facilities, makes it an appealing day trip destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
Whether visitors are seeking the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters or simply a relaxing day in a beautiful natural setting, Crystal Hot Springs provides a unique and rejuvenating experience in the heart of Utah.
7. Dinosaur National Monument
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 187 miles
- Driving time: 3.5 hours
One of the most fascinating day trips from Salt Lake City is Dinosaur National Monument. It’s a long drive from the city, but it can be done on a day trip and it’s a worthwhile destination.
Spanning the border between Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument is a prehistoric treasure trove that showcases an extraordinary collection of dinosaur fossils and stunning landscapes along the Green and Yampa Rivers.
The national monument is renowned for its famous Quarry Exhibit Hall, where visitors can witness an extensive wall embedded with over 1,500 dinosaur bones, representing numerous species that lived in the region approximately 150 million years ago.
The fossilized remains, including those of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus, provide an immersive glimpse into the ancient ecosystems that once thrived in this area, making it a captivating destination for paleontologists and curious visitors alike.
Beyond the fossil exhibits, Dinosaur National Monument offers a diverse array of outdoor activities. Scenic drives, such as the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive, provide breathtaking views of the river canyons and the surrounding high desert landscape.
Hiking trails like the Sound of Silence and the Deluge Shelter Trails allow visitors to explore the rugged beauty of the national monument, revealing petroglyphs, scenic overlooks, and diverse plant and animal life.
The convergence of geological wonders, paleontological discoveries, and outdoor recreational opportunities makes Dinosaur National Monument a fascinating and multifaceted destination for those with an appreciation for the Earth’s ancient past.
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8. Capitol Reef National Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 218 miles
- Driving time: 3.5 hours
This incredible destination is also a bit of a far drive from Salt Lake City and is better suited to a weekend trip. But if you only have time for a day trip, still consider a visit to Capitol Reef National Park!
Situated in south-central Utah, this national park is a geological wonder that boasts a mesmerizing landscape defined by its unique rock formations, deep canyons, and orchards that thrive in the fertile valleys.
The park derives its name from the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile-long warp in the Earth’s crust that creates a stunning array of cliffs, domes, bridges, and canyons. Visitors to Capitol Reef can explore the scenic drive through the heart of the park, providing access to panoramic viewpoints and trailheads.
The iconic Hickman Bridge Trail and the Capitol Gorge Trail lead hikers through narrow canyons, revealing ancient petroglyphs and offering a close-up view of the park’s intricate rock formations.
Capitol Reef National Park also holds historical significance, with remnants of early Mormon pioneer settlements and orchards that still produce fruit today.
The Fruita Historic District is a highlight, where visitors can stroll through the orchards, pick fresh fruit in season, and explore the preserved structures that tell the story of the area’s agricultural past.
Whether hiking among the towering red rock cliffs, stargazing in the dark night sky, or discovering the rich cultural history, Capitol Reef National Park provides a captivating experience for those seeking to immerse themselves in the wonders of Utah’s desert landscapes.
9. Big Cottonwood Canyon
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 16 miles
- Driving time: 20 minutes
Big Cottonwood Canyon, located in the Wasatch Mountains just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a breathtaking alpine canyon renowned for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities.
The canyon is a year-round day trip destination, drawing visitors with its towering granite cliffs, dense pine forests, and pristine mountain lakes.
In the winter, Big Cottonwood Canyon becomes a haven for skiers and snowboarders, offering access to two world-class ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude. The powder-covered slopes and challenging terrain attract winter sports enthusiasts from near and far, creating a vibrant winter sports community.
During the warmer months, Big Cottonwood Canyon transforms into a paradise for hiking and mountain biking. Numerous trails wind through the canyon, providing opportunities to explore the diverse ecosystems and witness breathtaking vistas.
The canyon is home to iconic landmarks like the picturesque Silver Lake, a popular destination for hiking and fishing, and Hidden Falls. Accessible via a short, fun hike, Hidden Falls is a beautiful waterfall hidden in the canyon.
With its proximity to Salt Lake City, Big Cottonwood Canyon serves as an accessible escape into the serenity of the mountains, offering a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and scenic beauty throughout the changing seasons.
10. Mirror Lake
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 75 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Mirror Lake, nestled in the High Uintas Wilderness of northeastern Utah, is a pristine alpine lake surrounded by dense forests and towering mountain peaks. Accessible via the scenic Mirror Lake Highway (State Route 150), this idyllic destination is like heaven for nature lovers.
The Mirror Lake Scenic Highway winds through breathtaking landscapes, providing travelers with panoramic views of the Uinta Mountains, diverse ecosystems, and vibrant wildflower meadows.
The highway is particularly renowned for its reflective lakes, including the aptly named Mirror Lake, where the surrounding mountains and lush greenery create a stunning mirror-like reflection on the tranquil waters.
Mirror Lake itself is a popular destination for a variety of recreational activities. The lake offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and paddleboarding, and the surrounding trails provide excellent hiking and camping options.
The picturesque setting and the cool mountain air make Mirror Lake a refreshing escape, especially during the warmer months.
Whether driving along the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway to revel in the breathtaking views or exploring the peaceful shores of Mirror Lake itself, this area exemplifies the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that define the scenic wonders of the Uinta Mountains.
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11. Utah Olympic Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 27 miles
- Driving time: 32 minutes
Utah Olympic Park is another one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City that is just a short drive away. This premier sports facility played a pivotal role in hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Surrounded by the picturesque mountains of Utah, the park serves as a year-round destination for visitors seeking a taste of Olympic history and world-class adventure. The legacy of the Winter Games is vividly preserved in the park’s architecture and exhibits, allowing guests to explore the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame to learn about the athletes and events that graced the region.
The highlight of the park is the bobsled and skeleton track, where thrill-seekers can experience the heart-pounding rush of a real Olympic-level bobsled ride, reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
Beyond its Olympic heritage, Utah Olympic Park offers a range of outdoor activities for all ages and interests. In the summer, the park transforms into an adventure playground, featuring activities like zip-lining, alpine slides, and a challenging ropes course.
The expansive Nordic ski jumps provide a unique opportunity for visitors to test their bravery by taking a ride down the K120 Olympic freestyle jump into a massive pool. Utah Olympic Park continues to captivate day trip visitors and offers an immersive experience that goes beyond the thrill of the Games.
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 44 miles
- Driving time: 42 minutes
Located at the foot of the majestic Wasatch Range, Provo, Utah, is a vibrant and picturesque city that is one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City. Home to Brigham Young University, Provo exudes a dynamic and youthful energy with a thriving academic community.
The city’s downtown area is a charming mix of historic buildings, boutique shops, and eclectic eateries. Visitors and locals alike can explore the vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and music venues contributing to a lively cultural atmosphere.
A popular attraction in the area is the Provo Utah Temple, a striking symbol of Latter-day Saint architecture. The temple stands with its six spires amidst beautifully landscaped grounds, serving as a sacred place of worship and spiritual significance for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Provo area.
The stunning Provo River winds through the city, providing a scenic backdrop for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and scenic walks along the riverbanks.
Provo is surrounded by natural wonders, including the scenic Provo Canyon, which offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and access to the stunning Bridal Veil Falls.
With its combination of outdoor beauty, cultural richness, and a strong sense of community, Provo stands as a delightful destination in the heart of Utah, appealing to a diverse range of interests and lifestyles.
13. Arches National Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 230 miles
- Driving time: 3 hours and 40 minutes
Arches National Park, located in southeastern Utah, is a mesmerizing landscape of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, towering spires, balanced rocks, and other unique geological formations. It’s one of the absolute best things to see in Utah, and though it’s almost a 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City, it still makes a great day trip if you hit the road early enough.
However, the park spans over 76,000 acres, so having more than a day to explore is ideal! Arches National Park is renowned for its red-rock scenery, shaped by millions of years of erosion and weathering.
The iconic Delicate Arch, standing alone against the backdrop of the La Sal Mountains, is perhaps the most famous and widely recognized natural arch in the world.
Visitors to Arches National Park can explore a network of hiking trails that lead to some of the most breathtaking and iconic formations, including the Windows Section, Landscape Arch, and the fiery-hued Fiery Furnace.
The park also offers a captivating nighttime experience as one of the certified International Dark Sky Parks. The absence of light pollution provides unparalleled views of the star-studded sky, making it an ideal location for stargazing and astrophotography.
From the otherworldly rock formations to the celestial beauty overhead, Arches National Park stands as a testament to the power of nature’s forces and offers a surreal and enchanting experience for all who venture into its unique and captivating terrain.
14. Cedar City
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 252 miles
- Driving time: 3 hours and 20 minutes
Cedar City, located in the heart of southwestern Utah, is a vibrant community surrounded by stunning landscapes and rich cultural offerings.
Known as the “Festival City,” Cedar City hosts the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, attracting theater enthusiasts from around the country. The festival, held at Southern Utah University, features world-class performances of Shakespearean plays, classic dramas, and contemporary works.
Beyond the stage, Cedar City is a gateway to outdoor adventures, with access to nearby national parks, including Zion and Bryce Canyon, offering hiking, mountain biking, and awe-inspiring red rock vistas.
The city itself boasts a charming and historic downtown, with tree-lined streets, art galleries, and a welcoming small-town atmosphere.
Cedar City’s Main Street is home to a variety of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, offering a delightful blend of local flavors and unique finds.
With its combination of cultural richness, outdoor recreation, and a strong sense of community, Cedar City stands as a welcoming destination for day trips that balance the arts, natural beauty, and the warmth of small-town living.
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15. Zion National Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 269 miles
- Driving time: 3 hours and 40 minutes
Zion National Park is a breathtaking masterpiece of towering sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and diverse ecosystems. This is another place to is more suited to weekend trips rather than day trips because there is so much to see and do! But you can tackle some of the park on a day trip from Salt Lake City if that’s your only chance to visit.
Renowned for its dramatic red rock formations and lush vegetation, the park’s centerpiece is the Zion Canyon, carved over millions of years by the Virgin River. Towering monoliths like the iconic Angel’s Landing and the soaring cliffs of the Great White Throne provide awe-inspiring vistas.
The Narrows, a unique and narrow gorge, offers a distinctive hiking experience as visitors wade through the cool waters flanked by towering canyon walls. The park’s scenic drive, known as the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, winds through the breathtaking landscapes, offering viewpoints like the famous Canyon Overlook and the thrilling switchbacks of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.
Zion National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with an extensive network of hiking trails catering to various skill levels. From the family-friendly Emerald Pools to the challenging and iconic Angel’s Landing, visitors can explore the park’s wonders on foot.
The park also offers opportunities for canyoneering, rock climbing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching, with mule deer, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles among the diverse fauna.
As one of Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks, Zion’s striking beauty, diverse activities, and spiritual energy draw millions of visitors each year, making it a must-see destination for those seeking an immersive experience in the natural wonders of the American Southwest.
16. Fishlake National Forest
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 168 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Another one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City is Fishlake National Forest. Situated in central Utah, the forest is a vast and diverse expanse of public land known for its stunning landscapes, high mountain ranges, and pristine alpine lakes.
Encompassing over 1.4 million acres, the forest is named after Fish Lake, a scenic mountain lake renowned for its recreational opportunities and excellent fishing. The forest’s diverse ecosystems range from lush aspen groves and meadows to dense pine and spruce forests, creating a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Numerous hiking trails wind through the forest, offering access to breathtaking viewpoints, secluded lakes, and a chance to encounter a variety of flora and fauna.
One of the highlights of Fishlake National Forest is the Pando, often referred to as the “trembling giant.” Pando is a massive grove of quaking aspen trees, considered one of the oldest and largest living organisms on Earth.
The interconnected root system makes Pando a unique and awe-inspiring natural wonder. Beyond its scenic beauty, Fishlake National Forest provides opportunities for camping, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, and off-road adventures.
The forest’s diverse recreational offerings and its commitment to conservation make it a cherished destination for those seeking both tranquility and adventure in the heart of Utah’s high country.
17. Cove Fort
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 176 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Cove Fort, located in central Utah, is a historic site and a testament to the resilience of early pioneers. Built in 1867 by Mormon settlers under the direction of Brigham Young, Cove Fort served as a vital waystation for travelers on the Mormon Pioneer and California National Historic Trails.
The fort was strategically positioned along the path of these trails to provide a place of rest, shelter, and replenishment for weary travelers crossing the challenging terrains of the American West.
The unique, lava rock structure of Cove Fort features a central courtyard surrounded by rooms that serve various purposes, including living quarters, a blacksmith shop, a telegraph office, and a small school.
Today, Cove Fort stands as a well-preserved historic site and museum, allowing visitors to step back in time and gain insight into the hardships and ingenuity of the early pioneers. The fort has been meticulously restored, and guided tours offer a glimpse into the daily life of those who sought refuge within its walls.
The site also includes beautiful gardens, a visitor center, and picnic areas, making Cove Fort a fascinating and educational stop for history enthusiasts and road-trippers exploring Utah’s heritage along Interstate 15.
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18. Sundance Mountain Resort
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 51 miles
- Driving time: 55 minutes
Another one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City for winter sports is Sundance Mountain Resort, a beautiful spot that seamlessly blends rustic charm with modern luxury.
Founded by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford in 1969, Sundance has evolved into a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and those seeking a retreat into nature. The resort is situated on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding alpine landscape.
Sundance Mountain Resort is not only celebrated for its world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities during the winter months but also for its commitment to environmental sustainability and the arts throughout the year.
Sundance Mountain Resort is more than just a winter sports destination; it’s a year-round retreat that embraces the beauty of each season. In the summer, the resort transforms into a haven for hiking, mountain biking, and zip-lining, with miles of trails winding through lush forests and alpine meadows.
The Sundance Film Festival, one of the largest and most prestigious independent film festivals in the world, further establishes the resort as a cultural hub.
Visitors can explore the Sundance Art Studio, showcasing local and international artists, or dine at the Tree Room, an award-winning restaurant housed in a historic cabin.
Sundance Mountain Resort is a place where nature, art, and recreation converge to create an unforgettable day trip or weekend trip destination!
19. Bear Lake State Park
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 122 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 12 minutes
Bear Lake State Park, situated on the Utah-Idaho border, is a serene and scenic destination known for its stunning turquoise-blue waters. Often referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” due to its vibrant and inviting colors, Bear Lake stretches across 20 miles in length, providing a picturesque setting for a variety of outdoor activities.
The park’s sandy beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming during the warm summer months, while the crystal-clear waters offer excellent opportunities for boating, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. Bear Lake is also renowned for its unique phenomenon called the “Bear Lake Monster,” a mythical creature that has added a touch of mystery and folklore to the region.
In the winter, Bear Lake transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting snow enthusiasts with opportunities for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The surrounding mountains provide a stunning backdrop for winter activities, creating a peaceful and snowy landscape.
The park offers a range of facilities, including campgrounds and picnic areas, making it an ideal destination for both day trips and extended stays.
Whether surrounded by the vibrant colors of summer or the pristine white snow of winter, Bear Lake State Park beckons nature lovers and adventure seekers to explore its scenic beauty and enjoy diverse recreational opportunities. It’s one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City that has fun things to do year-round!
20. Lava Hot Springs
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 149 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Lava Hot Springs is a charming resort town in the scenic mountains of southeastern Idaho. The hot springs are the main attraction, of course! Their therapeutic and soothing mineral-rich waters have been attracting visitors for centuries.
The town’s namesake is derived from the ancient lava flows that shaped the region, creating a unique geological setting. The hot springs are the focal point of the community, offering visitors a chance to unwind in a range of pools with varying temperatures.
Whether it’s soaking in the outdoor pools under the stars or enjoying a private mineral bath, Lava Hot Springs provides a rejuvenating experience surrounded by picturesque landscapes.
In addition to the hot springs, Lava Hot Springs offers a variety of recreational activities. The Portneuf River, which runs through the town, provides opportunities for tubing, kayaking, and fishing. The surrounding mountains offer hiking and mountain biking trails, and during the winter, visitors can enjoy nearby snowmobiling and skiing options.
With its combination of natural relaxation, outdoor adventures, and a welcoming community, Lava Hot Springs stands as a year-round destination, inviting those seeking both serenity and adventure to indulge in the therapeutic waters and scenic beauty of this Idaho gem.
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21. Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 28 miles
- Driving time: 33 minutes
Situated on the southeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is a vital wetland sanctuary that provides crucial habitat for diverse bird species and serves as a key stopover point for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway.
Managed by the Nature Conservancy, this expansive preserve encompasses a variety of ecosystems, including salt marshes, mudflats, and open water areas. Its unique location allows visitors to witness an impressive array of birdlife, from nesting American avocets and black-necked stilts to the iconic white pelicans that gather in large flocks.
The preserve is especially significant for birdwatchers, offering a network of trails and boardwalks that provide excellent vantage points for observing and photographing the diverse avian population.
Beyond its importance for wildlife, the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve also offers educational opportunities for visitors. Interpretive signs along the trails provide information about the ecology of the Great Salt Lake and the importance of wetland habitats.
Guided tours and educational programs led by naturalists further enhance the visitor experience, fostering an understanding of the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem. As a haven for both wildlife and those seeking a deeper connection with nature, the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve stands as a testament to the importance of preserving critical habitats in the face of environmental challenges.
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