Categories: CampingDestinations

The Ultimate RV Road Trip Through Utah’s National Parks

Hipcamp and RV LIFE Pro have put together the perfect guide to take the leg work out of planning your Utah road trip, from the very best destinations and fuel stops to RV campsites along the way. 

With five national parks collectively boasting some of the most awe-inspiring natural features in the American West, it’s no surprise that Utah is a popular road-tripping destination. Whether you want to hike among sandstone formations, get a glimpse of history in the form of ancient rock art, or just gaze up at the brilliance of the Milky Way from the comfort of your campsite, Utah has you covered. However, the state’s splendor is no secret, so it’s critical to plan ahead to make the most of your time. Fortunately, Hipcamp and the RV LIFE Trip Wizard make every aspect of travel planning a breeze, from charting the perfect route to finding RV sites that are just right for you. 

Follow our itinerary from top to bottom, flip it in reverse, choose just one or two, or even extend your road trip by continuing on. Let’s go!

 

Pine Creek Canyon Overlook at Zion National Park // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Florez

Zion National Park

Where to camp

You can find great spots to park your RV within easy reach of Zion, from Zion Wright Family Ranch Eco-Camp—spread out over 1,200 off-grid acres—to Kolob Gate Gardens, a mere 20-minute drive from the park’s visitor center and offering a quiet, remote alternative to busier campgrounds inside the park.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Meredith Baird at Zion Wright Family Ranch Eco-Camp

Things to do

Utah’s most visited national park also has some of the state’s best hikes. The most popular options include The Narrows, which takes hikers through a narrow (and wet) segment of Zion Canyon, and the permitted 5.4-mile (round-trip) Angels Landing hike, which rewards brave hikers with panoramic views over the park. Just know that making it up to the 5,790-foot precipice takes a bit of work—be prepared to traverse narrow cliffside trails while holding on to bolted chains.

Where to stop

If you need a place to stretch your legs between Zion and Bryce, take a half-mile (round-trip) hike into the Belly of the Dragon, a man-made sandstone tunnel just outside of Mount Carmel. Alternatively, head up to Shingle Creek Rest Area north of Glendale, which offers grassy areas with a bit of pine tree shade, plus a handful of picnic tables. If you need to stop for fuel, you’ll find options in Mount Carmel, Orderville, and Alton.

 

Photo by Julian Bialowas

Bryce Canyon National Park

A roughly 90-minute drive from Zion

Where to camp

Plenty of RV campsites sit in the immediate vicinity of Bryce, including Ranchito Feliz, home to a few tent sites and a single RV site inside the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and Paria View Camp Site, situated in quiet Cannonville just 12 miles from the canyon. A bit further north, spacious Bryce Desert Camping offers a couple of sites plus a fire pit and a picnic area.

Photo by Meredith Baird at Ranchito Feliz

Things to do

Known for its massive hoodoos, or rock spires, Bryce is worth visiting for the photo opportunities alone. You’ll get the best shots if you descend into Bryce Canyon, and the 1.4-mile Navajo Loop Trail is a good, moderate option, taking hikers past some of the best-known formations in the park. Bryce is also a designated International Dark Sky Park, making it among the best places to stargaze in the area. Ranger-led astronomy programs are common.

The RV Life Trip Wizard

Where to stop

The ideal way to get from Bryce to Capitol Reef is along Highway 12—just make sure to stop to take in the views of Capitol Reef and the Henry Mountains from the Larb Hollow Overlook (southeast of Torrey) along the way. Kiva Coffeehouse in Escalante is also worth a visit for its architecture alone, designed to blend seamlessly with its rocky backdrop. There are plenty of spots to fuel up along the way, with the bulk of options in Escalante, Boulder, and Torrey.

 

Photo by Martin Podsiad at Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

About 2 hour’s drive from Bryce Canyon

Where to camp

About 15 miles from Capitol Reef, Road to the Sun Ranch has a single RV site set on a massive expanse of prairieland with water, power, sewage, and wifi. For a more developed option, Canyons of Escalante RV Park has cabins, tent sites, and RV sites for vehicles up to 45 feet in length right on Main Street Escalante.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Miles Moore at Road to the Sun Ranch

Things to do

Capitol Reef offers a wide variety of hiking options, with 15 trails in the Fruita area alone. The 1.8-mile (round-trip) Hickman Bridge Trail takes you out to a natural arched bridge, while the more challenging 5.9-mile Chimney Rock Loop offers fantastic views, particularly around sunset. Don’t leave the park before visiting one of the two fruit orchards within a mile or so of the visitor’s center—some even offer u-pick.

Where to stop

You can get gas just outside of Capitol Reef in Hanksville or drive a bit further up to Green River for a few more options. If you have a bit of time, it’s worth making a detour to Goblin Valley State Park, named for its stubby hoodoos that, with a bit of imagination, bear a resemblance to squat goblins. 

 

Arches National Park // Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Nic Castellanos

Arches National Park

A 3-hour drive from Capitol Reef

Where to camp

The area around Arches has tons of RV camping options. At an elevation of around 7,000 feet, High Sage Hogans is a great choice for hot summer months, offering a cooler alternative to some of the lower-elevation spots in the area. South-40@LaSal is another great choice, with a few tent sites and four RV sites with electric hookups, water hydrants, and wifi. 

Photo by Ali Von Lewinski at High Sage Hogans

Things to do

This national park is named for its 2,000-odd sandstone arches that are best visited on foot. Many trails are rated moderate, from the 3-mile (round-trip) Delicate Arch Trail, which gets hikers close to one of the park’s most iconic rock formations, to the 2-mile Fiery Furnace loop trail, which you can visit either by obtaining a permit or joining a ranger-led hike.

Where to stop

The town of Moab serves both Arches and nearby Canyonlands, with plenty of outdoor outfitters, gas stations, shops, and restaurants. You can find a bit of tranquility at the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve, a Nature Conservancy-managed wildlife reserve that provides a home to hundreds of bird species along with amphibians and aquatic mammals.

 

Photo by Dann Petty at Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Just 30 minutes from Arches by road

Where to camp

If visiting Arches and Canyonlands on the same trip, you probably won’t feel the need to change campgrounds, but if you’re heading south or west after Canyonlands, it may make sense to move around. Great options in the area include the Sunset Campground on Ruin Road, set within hiking distance of ancient ruins and rock formations, and the Needles Outpost Campground, which offers creature comforts such as coin-operated showers and a camp store against a desert background dotted with rock formations.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Stevi McNeill at Needles Outpost

Things to do

Canyonlands has many, many hiking trails, most of which offer visitors the chance to see ancient rock paintings. One of the easiest such hikes is the 0.6-mile (loop) Cave Spring Trail in The Needles, which takes visitors to an old cowboy camp and past ancient art—just be prepared to climb a couple of ladders along the way. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to see life-size rock art, head over to the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, accessible via a strenuous 7-mile (round-trip) hike. 

Where to stop

If you want to fill up on the short drive between Arches and Canyonlands, the best place to do so is at Little Far West, site of an oft-photographed log church. It’s right by Moab Giants, an open-air dinosaur-themed attraction featuring gargantuan reproductions of Mesozoic beasts along with a variety of kid-friendly interactive areas.

When you pair Hipcamp with the RV LIFE Trip Wizard, it’s simple to get out on the road. Where are you headed next?

Start planning with RV LIFE Pro

In order to make the most of your trip, and get there safely, lay out your entire trip, including fuel stops, rest stops, and even grocery stops before you go. RV LIFE Pro not only includes RV LIFE Trip Wizard, but an RV safe mobile GPS app for your phone. Get started with RV LIFE Pro today and create a memorable trip you’ll never forget. Remember, ALL your Hipcamp locations can be added to RV LIFE Trip Wizard as part of your trip.

More road trip inspo for you

We’ve got scenic spots and road tripping tips all over the US.

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

Recent Posts

Try These Cozy Campfire Alternatives for Fun Without the Fire

Campers often envision spending the evening around a fire pit, chatting and roasting marshmallows for s'mores. And we agree—some of…

1 week ago

100+ Best Campfire Songs, According to Spotify Users

Birdsong, flowing rivers and rustling winds.  While nature’s soundtrack is one of true harmony, listening to music while exploring the…

3 weeks ago

The 2022 State of Summer Report: US Edition

Camping has always been a favorite American pastime, but its popularity has boomed since the start of the pandemic, and…

1 month ago

The 2022 State of Summer Report: Canadian Edition

Camping has always been a favorite Canadian pastime, but its popularity has boomed since the start of the pandemic, and…

1 month ago

Can’t-Miss Outdoor Experiences in the Thompson Okanagan

We've gathered the very best things to do in the Okanagan during your next outdoor adventure. East of Vancouver and…

2 months ago

The Best Camping Cocktail Recipes for Your Next Night Under the Stars

Make-ahead or make at camp, we’ve got the best recipes for refreshing camp cocktails to enjoy under the stars. Looking…

2 months ago