Salt Lake City to Rocky Mountain National Park Road Trip

Explore some of the country's most amazing red-rock landscapes and hidden hot springs on this 1,365-mile dinosaur and desert loop.
By Staff,
Panorama of Colorado National Monument in western Colorado

Road Trip Overview

Some of the least-crowded and most beautiful red-rock canyons, rivers and recreational opportunities await you on this fantastic road trip. Start in Salt Lake City where a thriving performing arts scene and records detailing your family tree await. Then, leave the city behind as you head east to Vernal, Utah. Discover dinosaur bones and tracks, along with fantastic water recreational opportunities. A highlight is floating on the crystal clear Green River just below the Flaming Gorge Dam in your own raft.

Farther east lies Dinosaur National Monument. Stop in Craig, Colo., and explore the area and the monument. In Steamboat Springs, stroll the downtown of this ski town that has churned out a record 80-plus Winter Olympic athletes since 1932. Then head to Kremmling and Hot Sulphur Springs, home to hot springs pools, en route to the breathtaking historical town of Grand Lake just a five-minute drive from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Afterwards, raft the Colorado River near Kremmling, visit Frisco and explore the stunning desert landscapes in Colorado National Monument and Arches National Park.

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Road Trip Itinerary

Start: Salt Lake City, Utah

Aerial view of Salt Lake City. Courtesy photo

From a thriving performing arts scene to the world’s largest collection of genealogy records, here are 12 things to do in Salt Lake City before you start your Rocky Mountain adventure.
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Stop 1: Ancient History in Vernal, Utah’s Dinosaurland

A dinosaur track at Red Fleet State Park. Photo by Kim Barton courtesy of Uintah County Travel & Tourism

Locals like to brag the town was established 150,000,000 years ago, and there are plenty of former ancient residents lying around to prove it. See the giants surround the Utah Field House and the Wall of Bones at Dinosaur National Monument.
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Stop 2: Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

A bicycle rider at an overlook of the Flaming Gorge's Red Canyon. Courtesy photo

Take a break from the desert heat by jumping in the sparkling water at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Spend several days exploring this 91-mile-long reservoir to check off our top-six-things-to-do list.
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Stop 3: Take a Jurassic Journey through Moffat County, Colorado

The sun sets over Echo Park's Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Rugged and wild, Moffat County is Colorado’s Last Frontier where wide open spaces hold treasures too rare to be missed. Raft the Yampa past Steamboat Rock or watch wild horses in Deerlodge Park.
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Stop 4: Go on a Grand Adventure in Grand County, Colorado

The alpine slide at Winter Park. Photo courtesy of Grand County Tourism Board

Leaning up against the national park’s west side, Grand County offers unparalleled outdoor opportunities without the crowds most ski towns have. Here are our nine favorites adventures to tackle before heading into the national park.
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Stop 5: Rocky Mountain National Park

Moose in Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of the park. 

Enter the park at the Grand Lake Entrance and stop by the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. Here are some ideas for things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Stop 6: Go from Paddle to Saddle in Kremmling, Colorado

Rafting the Colorado River with MAD Adventures. Photo courtesy Kremmling, Colo.

Kremmling is a quaint, unspoiled cowboy town that is surrounded by the Rockies and the confluence of three rivers. Go on a cattle drive followed by whitewater rafting.
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Stop 7: Hit the Frisco Adventure Park

Mountain biking on the Frisco Peninsula. Photo by Todd Powell courtesy of Frisco

Go disc golfing, skateboard or bike at the Frisco Adventure Park just off of I-70, on the shores of the Dillon Reservoir. Or learn how to sail or kayak in this laid-back mountain town.
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Find Hidden Gems on Delta's Fruit Growers Trail

Mount Lamborn in the West Elk Wilderness. Photo by Ben Lehman courtesy Delta County

Visit western Colorado at the base of Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain. Come enjoy the wine, fruit, cranes and Black Canyon National Park.
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Stop 9: Follow Time to Grand Junction's Wine Country

Biking in wine country near the Grand Mesa in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau

How has it gone from a western backwater to the heart of Colorado’s outdoor recreation and wine country? See our Grand Timeline.
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Stop 10: Do Childish Things in Moab, Utah

A young boy frolics in Arches National Park with a view of Delicate Arch in the background. Photo by Bret Edge courtesy Discover Moab

From a walk past life-sized dinosaurs to rafting the Colorado River, your family trip to Canyonlands and Arches national parks will be full of adventure with this list of the top seven things to do with kids in Moab.
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End: Salt Lake City