scenic drives in utah new 01

17 Best Scenic Drives in Utah That Are Truly Majestic

If you’re looking to explore the best scenic drives in Utah, this post will share 17 of them with you that are both popular and in some cases unknown to most people who visit this state.

I’ve driven through this state many times, and each time I think I have seen all the best scenic drives in Utah and explore a new area of the state, I quickly discover that there is another scenic drive just around the corner and after checking it out, I am stunned at how beautiful it is (and this happens constantly). But enough about that, let’s actually address what these places are:

Here are 17 scenic drives in Utah with the best scenery:

  1. Arches scenic drive road
  2. Dead Horse Point State Park (road 313)
  3. Island in The Sky Road (Canyonlands National Park)
  4. Road 12 Utah
  5. Hole in The Rock Road (Escalante)
  6. Bryce Canyon National Park scenic drive (road 63)
  7. Zion Canyon and road 9 scenic drive
  8. I 15 from Las Vegas to Zion National Park (Gorge of Virgin River)
  9. Factory Butte scenic drive
  10. White Rim Trail (Canyonlands)
  11. Valley of The Gods (Monument Valley)
  12. Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway
  13. Big Cottonwood Canyon scenic drive
  14. Road 89 from Kanab to Page AZ
  15. Burr Trail road
  16. Cotton Canyon Drive
  17. Onion Creek Trail

I will be detailing the length of each scenic drive and just as importantly if you need to drive with an all wheel drive vehicle (or 4×4).

Arches National Park scenic drive road:

arches national park road scenic drive utah new 02

  • Location: Arches National Park Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: 20 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Arches National Park is a phenomenal national park I recommend everyone check out and one of it’s main attractions is it’s scenic drive that goes through the whole area.

It takes about an hour to finish this drive (one end of it), but as you enter it and begin the drive through the park, you are probably going to have a hard time focusing on the road because of the things you’ll see.

In my opinion, the best spots of the drive in this park are actually closer to it’s entrance. As you get deeper into the park, you will see more flat lands and less canyon walls like the image to the right shows. But on the flip side, as the landscape changes in Arches the deeper you drive into it, so do the opportunities to see the many beautiful arches there, and you will have plenty to check out the deeper you go. 

Dead Horse State Park scenic drive (road 313):

dead horse state park scenic drive utah

  • Location: Dead Horse State Park Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: About 10 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Dead Horse State Park is nested deep in Utah and there is a beautiful road that leads into it. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore it during my 2 trips to Utah, but the research has been done so you can see a preview of how beautiful it is to drive there (as is the park itself):

This park bears a lot of resemblance to Canyonlands National Park with how the landscape looks (because it’s literally next door to it). But you’ll probably find less people in this region because of the lack of advertising this area gets.

And that’s mainly because it’s surrounded by the Mighty 5 National Parks of Utah which take all that attention away. Never the less, give this scenic drive a shot and of course, explore the park itself because the scenic drive isn’t going to be enough to truly appreciate how beautiful this place is! And just as well, Dead Horse State Park is in my opinion one of the best state parks in Utah to explore.

Island in The Sky Road (Canyonlands National Park scenic drive):

island in the sky canyonlands national park scenic drive utah

  • Location: Canyonlands National Park
  • Length: 10 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Canyonlands National Park is an incredible park I was fortunate enough to fit in as my last stop before finishing my road trip in Utah and the main road that goes through parts of the park there is known as Island in The Sky. It is a road that takes you over the top of the park and allows you to access most of the fun hikes this park has to offer from the top of it, negating the need to climb up. In fact, the 4 hikes I did in this park rarely involved much uphill climbing.

But back to the scenic drive itself:

This road has a lot to see as you drive through it, including what looks like barren planets that used to have oceans roaring through them, but that are now gone. The landscape here is just something else and this drive through the park will help you see that, but you will have to turn to the sides to really get that good view of it (just don’t drive off the road). There is also one more scenic drive I’ll be including on this list at the end, which will take you to the bottom of this park.

Road 12 in Utah:

road 12 scenic drive in utah state 01

  • Location: From Red Canyon Utah to Torrey Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: 100 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Out of all the roads on this list, Utah’s Road 12 might be the most popular and longest and that’s because it stretches from Zion National Park all the way up to Capital Reef National Park. And this is the main road which take you through most of the main national parks in Utah.

I honestly thought the only main scenic drives in Utah were centered inside the national parks, but I was very wrong as I drove through pretty much all of Road 12. This road will take you to the top of mountains on narrow drives and into deep canyons and turns that will distract you a lot, I promise, so be prepared to drive extra carefully.

Just a warning about this area: There’s cows that roam freely in this region (and state) and I had never seen anything like that in any other state I’ve crossed. This whole state has open ranges for them and while seeing them is pretty rare, I had a few such occasions, especially at night, so be careful.

Hole in The Rock Road:

grand staircase escalante scenic drive utah new 02

  • Location: Escalante Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: About 50 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Yes

I didn’t think I would be putting this road up because it’s not really as scenic as any of the other roads on this list. But what does make it worth of it is 2 things:

  1. It leads people to Coyote Gulch.
  2. It also leads to Reflection Canyon.
  3. It’s actually a very adventurous drive and it is challenging.
  4. There’s a bunch of places to see along this road for adventurous hikes. In fact, here’s a list of the best hikes in Utah, 2 of which are in this region of the state.

So Hole in The Rock Road is actually connected to Road 12 but steers away from it and into many areas of the Grand Staircase Escalante Region. If you drive on it, the major destination you’ll want to explore is Coyote Gulch and that drive itself will take you about an hour or longer to reach. Along the way you’ll find very bumpy areas and a scenic mountain range to your right, with a pretty barren dessert to the left, but that’s where many of the of the exotic areas are hidden. I enjoyed this drive when I did it and knowing the amazing places there are to see there is what adds to it’s beauty.

Road 63 near Bryce Canyon National Park:

bryce canyon national park scenic drive in utah

  • Location: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Length of scenic drive: Only about 20 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Many people ask if there is a scenic drive in Bryce Canyon National Park and there is! It starts about 1-2 miles after you officially enter it and it is on road 63. This road goes on for about 10 miles before ending, but through that drive you will see views of the park that you wouldn’t be able to elsewhere, including from the hikes you can do there.

There are stunning overlooks, places to hike from and overall it is a very simple, and yet one of the best scenic drives in Utah you absolutely have to do if you’re exploring Bryce and considering that it’s not even that long, it’s a great way to see more of this park and get even more different kinds of views from your drives in Utah. The image I added here was actually a mistake as it’s in Red Canyon, a place outside Bryce Canyon and it’s actually off road 12 which you will see if you start it from the western end, but for Bryce, the views are just as good and may be even better!

Zion National Park (road 9 and the Zion canyon scenic drive):

zion national park scenic drive in utah 09

  • Location: Zion National Park Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: About 30 miles total
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Both these roads are located inside Zion National Park and they are the initial 2 places I explored when I first began checking out Utah State. It was really the roads here that really aroused my curiosity to explore more of Utah State.

To be honest, after I drove through this park and was amazed by the beauty of it and the scenic drive there, I didn’t think I needed to explore anything else, as Zion had pretty much done it for me. And you might feel that too if this is the first scenic drive you do in Utah, but I want to recommend you avoid that because Utah has so much more to offer in terms of everything!

If the other scenic drives on this list are any indication (and they are), Utah will have many more places for you to drive through that are equally as good and if you have done scenic drives through this state, I’d love to know which one stood out the most for you below.

Interstate 15:

interstate 15 scenic drive in utah

  • Location: From Salt Lake City to Las Vegas
  • Length of scenic drive: 200 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

This was the first real scenic drive I did in Utah when I began exploring this state and I’ll never forget some of the most memorable spots on Interstate 15 that I saw, including a very beautiful gorge area around the Virgin River Gorge as well as arid and beautiful mountain ranges that are fully red at sunrise.

I did this drive on my way to Zion National Park as a day trip from Las Vegas and it spanned for over 2 hours, but it really was the first drive that introduced me to the landscape of Utah and what it had to offer. Over the years I’ve traveled to Utah, I’ve done this drive at least 4 times and while it’s not part of or connected to any major park, it still offers a ton of amazing scenery in many places and is well worth driving.

If you have the chance to drive this road, do it. One more option to consider is driving on this path from any spot in Utah to California, specifically Los Angeles and that’s because the terrain changes quickly and you can see a lot more wild changes in the views.

Factory Butte scenic drive (Road 24):

factory butte scenic drive utah 02

  • Location: Hanksville to Torrey Utah (Road 24)
  • Length of scenic drive: About 30 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Thanks to a buddy’s navigational mistake, we discovered this incredible scenic drive in Utah and it’s right outside Capitol Reef National Park. We were visiting that NP for one day and after finishing the trip, we or should I say he thought we could exit out of the park and reach our destination through the eastern end of the park.

The problem is that this drive would actually lead us to a completely different area in Utah where we weren’t planning on going and so we had to turn back. However, by the time we figured that out, we were well outside Capital Reef National Park and in what we later learned was Factory Butte. This place isn’t just one of the most amazing scenic drives I’ve ever seen in the state, but it’s also a popular destination for off road vehicles and many hikes to explore.

I actually thought this area was part of Capital Reef but it wasn’t and I begin to articulate how beautiful this scenic drive was. There is an official road you can drive through (road 24) to explore it, but there are also tons of off trail drives and hikes there to check out. This is also a great connection road to Moab and Monument Valley if you’re coming from east Utah.

The White Rim Trail:

white rim trail scenic drive in utah

  • Location: Canyonlands National Park
  • Length of scenic drive: About 100 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Recommended

I’m (yet again) embarrassed to admit that I had no clue that this trail existed until the second time I had visited Canyonlands. I saw it from the top of Island in The Sky Road, but never knew you can actually check it out. Well the second time I visited Canyonlands National Park, I later learned this was possible and perhaps when I take a third trip to this park in Utah, I’ll do it.

In any case, The White Rim Trail is all dirt road and is a little rugged in areas, but you will be able to see Canyonlands up close driving it. I personally want to do it, but think the upper area scenic drive in this park (Island in The Sky) might be better for scenery. In any case, if you have the time, put the White Rim Trail on your list of scenic drives to do in Utah!

Note: You can also bike through the White Rim Trail, but understand that it is 100 miles long (prepare accordingly).

Valley of The Gods:

valley of the gods scenic drive in utah state 01

  • Location: Near Mexican Hat Utah
  • Length: 17 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Recommended

I came upon this drive by accident (well it was more of a recommendation). Valley of The Gods is a scenic drive that is located near Monument Valley in eastern Utah and it is an absolute gem of a drive as I personally found out.

This drive is not that long, but it takes about 30 minutes to explore (if you don’t make any spots which you will be tempted to do) you through the heart of eastern Utah’s terrain and has so much to offer, including other amazing areas to explore nearby (see my article on Monument Valley I linked above). I am happy to have done a large chunk of this drive when I first saw it and I highly recommend you do too!

Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway:

nebo loop byway scenic drive utah 05

  • Location: Near Nephi Utah
  • Length of scenic drive: About 50 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

For some strange reason this specific scenic drive in Utah gets mistaken for Interstate 15 (I say that because that’s what came up in Google), but after doing more careful research, I discovered this specific drive and where it’s at, and most importantly why I highly recommend you visit it.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Nebo Loop National Scenic byway is about 40 miles long, and is located south of Salt Lake City. This drive is a great place to explore if you’re coming down from Salt Lake City into places like Arches National Park (or vice versa) and on it, you will be able to drive along Nebo Loop Road and see tons of amazing sights. I’ll be doing a specific post on this specific drive and what to see if you go on this drive on a new post soon, but add this amazing place to your list of scenic drives in Utah, you won’t regret it.

It’s not long, but there’s a lot to see while you drive on it and that makes it an incredible opportunity to explore the amazing sights in Utah, as in this case, there’s a lot of mix of desert, green and many other environments. Here is a post on the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway and what to see there.

Big Cottonwood Canyon scenic drive:

big cottonwood canyon scenic drive in utah

  • Location: Near Salt Lake City Utah
  • Length: 15 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Here’s what you need to know about Big Cottonwood Canyon: It’s one of the best scenic drives near Salt Lake City. This amazing scenic drive came upon my research and I originally thought it was in Colorado because of the giant mountains, twisty roads and so forth but I was wrong.

Much to my surprise it turned out that this was actually in Utah, and even more surprisingly conveniently close to Salt Lake City (it’s located east of it, about 20-30 miles). Big Cottonwood Canyon is known for having awesome hiking trails, ski slopes and more, but for the context of this article, it also has an official scenic byway called Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic drive.

While it’s under 10 miles, if you are flying into Salt Lake City and heading south or east, definitely make a stop in this area and enjoy the sights or even do a day trip here to just check out the area!

Road 89:

kanab scenic drive in utah new 06

  • Location: Road 89 spans from Kanab Utah to Page Arizona
  • Length of drive: About 100 miles.
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? No

Road 89 is the southern most scenic drive in Utah that runs almost parallel to Arizona. It features an awesome combination of beautiful sights, towns (like Page AZ) and mountain views that you wouldn’t likely find anywhere else in this state. I’ve driven through pretty much all of it so I can tell you that it’s quite a road to drive on and some of the best spots to explore on this drive would be the following:

  • Kanab Utah (great town with many mountain views, hikes and more).
  • The mountain range of Kaibab National Forest.
  • You may even see the Grand Canyon from a distance here too.
  • The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
  • You’ll even pass by Grand Staircase Escalante but the southern part.
  • And much more.

For hikes, other than Kanab, you will find many opportunities near Kaibab National Forest and once you enter the Grand Staircase Escalante area, you have access to amazing hikes like Wire Pass and it’s also close to the Wave but it’s tough to enter there, so have a look at Wave hike alternatives instead.

Burr Trail Road Utah:

burr trail road scenic drive in utah

  • Location: Spans from Boulder Utah to Lake Powell
  • Length: 60+ miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Recommended

A year ago I had traveled on this road without even realizing that it is actually one of the most scenic drives in Utah. It begins in Boulder Utah (Escalante) and ends around the Halls Crossing Area (Near Lake Powell). This drive is over 50 miles long and is relatively easy to drive on.

During this drive you will see many places to go hiking in and when you finish this drive (south eastern end, around Lake Powell), you can actually cross by ferry to visit places like Monument Valley, or not take the ferry and head up north to Hanksville (where Factory Butte is located).

Cottonwood Canyon Road:

cottonwood canyon road scenic drive in utah 02

  • Location: From Page Arizona to Cannonville Utah
  • Length: Almost 50 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Recommended

This scenic drive is not the same as the Big Cottonwood Road mentioned earlier. This one is actually in southern Utah and located by road 89 which I also mentioned is a beautiful scenic drive too. You can drive off that road (89 that is) and get on the Cottonwood Canyon Road and take it all the way up to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Onion Creek Trail:

onion creek road scenic drive in utah 03

  • Location: Moab Utah
  • Length: About 20 miles
  • All wheel drive vehicle required? Recommended

This is an amazing scenic drive near Moab Utah and it has you cross beautiful canyons, rivers (this is where you will want to have a high clearance vehicle) and have you pass amazing hiking trails that are around the Moab area.

The road is on gravel and sand for the most part so I’m going to recommend you at least have a decent AWD vehicle if not a 4×4 (which would be the best option here).

Have questions about driving through Utah? Here are common ones you’ll see:

What is the prettiest drive in Utah?

According to popularity, Route 12 is the considered the prettiest and most popular drive in Utah.

Is Route 12 in Utah worth it?

Yes Route 12 in Utah it is worth driving through at least once. There are many other scenic drives in the state, but this is the most famous.

Is Route 15 in Utah scenic?

Route 15 is often mistaken for Interstate 15 that goes through the western side of Utah and it is a very scenic drive.

There will be more scenic drives to come soon but if you have any recommendations, feel free to mention them below!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *