Road Trip from Denver to Salt Lake City - LazyTrips (2023)

Whether you want to see the sights of the Mormon capital or just want to drive through some amazing scenery in Colorado and Utah, driving from Denver to Salt Lake City is an epic adventure.

The 525-mile road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City will take about 8 hours to drive along scenic I-70 through snow-capped mountains, lush forests and arid deserts. There are endless options to stop along the way to break up the journey.

Keep reading to find the best places to stop, amazing sights to see along the way, and tips on the best hotels for the night.

How far is Salt Lake City from Denver and how long will the trip take?

There is relatively little difference in terms of the time or distance you will need to travel, regardless of which of the 3 different routes you take for the trip from Denver to Salt Lake City.

The quickest route via I-80 through Wyoming will barely save you 15 minutes on Rocky Mountain Scenic Drive along I-70, unless you really don't care about the views and your only goal is to get there ASAP. You'll want to follow I-70.

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If you want to come back a different way, US-40 is a good alternative and passes through some interesting places so you can enjoy both the return trip and the trip to Salt Lake City.

rotaDistancedriving time
fastest route
(via I-80)
520 miles7 hours 45 minutes
shortest route
(via US-40)
490 miles8 hours 30 minutes
scenic route
(via I-70)
525 miles8 hours

Best Travel Route from Denver to Salt Lake City

The best travel route from Denver to Salt Lake City is the scenic drive along I-70 over the Rocky Mountains before US-191 and US-6 north.

This route has stunning scenery all the way and amazing places to explore along the way, which is perfect if you want to take your time and spend time in nature and on the road.

The Scenic Drive from Denver to Salt Lake City

The best route from Denver to Salt Lake City is to take I-70 west of Denver. Follow the road up into the Rocky Mountains and enjoy the view. Aparaho and Roosevelt National Forest will be on your right as you approach the famous resort of Vail and White River National Forest will open immediately after.

Just before reaching Glenwood Springs, famous for its naturally fed hot pools, you will pass beautiful Hanging Lake on your right (a relatively easy walk).

From there, I-70 descends into the Palisade Vineyards, passing through Grand Junction and into Utah. Continue to follow the road until you cross the Green River, at which point US-191 on your right will take you north.

Shortly after Helper, take US-6 at the intersection that will eventually merge with I-15, which will take you to Salt Lake City.

Road Trip from Denver to Salt Lake City - LazyTrips (1)

Best Places to Stop Between Denver and Salt Lake City

To avoid spending all day on the road, you might want to split your trip into two or three parts. With the amount of incredible nature on display, you really want to spend as much time on the trip as you do in Salt Lake City, so plan accordingly.

Here are some of the best places to spend the night, depending on what you're looking for.

Explore Utah's National Parks from Moab

A little more than halfway from Denver to Salt Lake City and just beyond the crossing from Colorado to Utah is the small town of Moab. It's the perfect place to stop and split the long journey into two shorter ones.

Moab is the gateway to not one, but two stunning national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. If you only stop for the night, you can spend the morning exploring Arches National Park before heading to Salt Lake City, but you really can and should stay longer and see the best views of both.

The best place to stay in Moab if you like great views and a lovely relaxed atmosphere is Red Cliffs Lodge.. It's on the Colorado River, 25 minutes north of Moab, and while the rooms are a little more expensive than regular chain options in Moab, you get a lot more for your money.

There is aeven more upscale option just minutes upriver at the luxurious Sorrel River Ranch, but the prices there are much more expensive, so even if the views are amazing and the room decor is top notch, it might not be worth the high price.

Road Trip from Denver to Salt Lake City - LazyTrips (2)

Overnight in Vail, Colorado

Vail isn't good at splitting the trip evenly - it's only 2 hours from Denver, so you'll either have to drive 6 hours past the layover or add another stop.

But if you want to breathe in the fresh mountain air, explore activities ranging from skiing in the winter to mountain biking in the summer, Vail is well on your way through the Rocky Mountains.

Consider adding Vail to your itinerary if you want to relocate a bit after work to cut down on the amount of driving you'll have to do the next day, or if you want to make the most of your return trip from Salt Lake City in one go, but don't 't I don't want to stretch to do everything in one day.

While Vail hotels can be quite expensive, you can opt for theRustic, family-run Sonnenalp, right in the heart of Vail, is the perfect place to unwindOn your way. You have all the resort amenities within walking distance and can dip into the pool and spa after a long day of walking.

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Things to See on a Road Trip from Denver to Salt Lake City

What's amazing about this tour is that it has countless places to stop along the way to explore nature, relax in the thermal pools or hike through the desert.

Here is a list of some of the best places to stop on your way from Denver to Salt Lake City:

  1. Vail, Colorado: One of the most famous ski resorts in the United States is equally amazing as a summer destination
  2. aspen, colorado: Another top-notch ski resort and a place to explore the Rocky Mountains a little off the beaten path.
  3. White River National Park: Discover hiking trails in summer and ski slopes in winter. Experience the best of nature in the forested virgin mountains
  4. lake suspense: Untouched lake with a beautiful waterfall and a forest that requires a short walk to reach. Check in advance if you need to park in Glenwood Springs and take the bus.
  5. glenwood springs: Famous for its natural hot springs with the largest spring-fed pool in the world, the water must cool to 104°F (40°C) before you can swim in it!
  6. big table: The breathtaking view of the largest flat mountain in the world and many other perfect spots along the way
  7. Wineries in Palisade: Perhaps the best US wine country you've never heard of - Taste some Colorado specialties at Palisade
  8. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks: Unique red rock formations, canyons and stunning hiking trails near Moab, Utah
  9. canyon of provo: Provo to Salt Lake City is a beautiful drive against the backdrop of mountains and waterfalls
  10. Wasatch mountain range: Beautiful mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, offering breathtaking views of the lake and beyond
  11. Steamboat Springs e Fish Creek Falls: If you're coming back on US-40, this is a great place to relax.
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Best time to take a road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City

You can take the road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City all year round. Both Denver and Salt Lake have hot and cold seasons, so be sure to be adequately prepared, but even in the dead of winter, I-70 over the Rocky Mountains tends to be clear and easy to drive.

If you plan to go in the winter, check ahead of your trip, as heavy snowfall can cause closures from time to time, and some roads are permanently closed during the winter (for example, the fastest route to Aspen). You'll also need snow tires at a minimum, and while they're not mandatory, snow chains are a good idea.

For most of the way, summer and fall are great seasons to travel: the weather is perfect, the trails are amazing, and the various creeks and rivers aren't as crowded as they are in spring.

If you plan to stop in Moab and explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, try to avoid the summer peak: average daily highs of 97°F (36°C). This isn't as hot as places like Death Valley or other parts of the Mojave, but it can still be uncomfortable to walk around.

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