Updated: May 4
When most people visit Utah on a road trip, they keep to the south where the National Parks and vast desert landscapes are. Most people only visit the northern reaches of the state during the ski season, but there are amazing places to explore in the summer as well.
Mountains of Northern Utah
There are several big mountain ranges spread throughout Utah. Some are perfect for day trips from the greater SLC area, while others will be the highlight of your road trip.
The Wasatch Mountains are only a short drive from downtown Salt Lake City, with countless hikes of all skill levels. From the valley there are 3 main canyons leading into the Wasatch front: Mill Creek, and Little and Big Cottonwood. These mountains are perfect for day trips from the city.
High alpine hikes/mountaineering, as well as rock climbing, is popular in the upper reaches of the range. There are also technical hikes that those at an intermediate level can accomplish, with some scrambling over rock slabs, or along narrow ridgelines.
The tallest mountains in Utah, this range has an amazing selection of places to camp and hike. With hundreds of lakes and streams, many of which support game fishing, you can cool off in the heat of the summer when the high passes start to melt.
There are a number of long trails for backpacking, and some companies in the area do offer guided trips, or rent out pack animals, to use on your expeditions.
The weather can be unpredictable in this area, even during the summer, where thunderstorms can spring up with little warning in the afternoons.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are a sight to behold. A vast expanse of flat, white terrain that you can drive on, bordered to the west by the Silver Lake Mountains and the Nevada border. Go camping, take amazing photos, park your van right on the flats (as long as there isn’t standing water). Off in the distance you can even see the floating mountain most days, a mirage caused by heat waves.
The west desert in the north is much different than the canyon and red rock country in southern Utah. Mixed with mountains, this area is perfect for backcountry camping, hiking, and rock climbing. Another interesting feature is the Little Sahara Sand Dunes, which include a 700-foot-tall mountain of sand.
A camper van is the best way to road trip the US, especially in Utah where public land is so widely available. With a plethora of locations to visit, and more backroads than you can count, Northern Utah holds just as many hidden gems as the south does.
If you are looking to turn your visit to Utah into a road trip, check out VanBuilders rentals at Warner Vans of Utah, or consider having us design and execute a van build for you!