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3 road trips of a lifetime out of Salt Lake City

By Cara MacDonald, KSL.com | Posted - Jan 3rd, 2019 @ 11:15am



SALT LAKE CITY — Traveling to new countries is always a blast, but the western United States has a lot to offer in terms of vacation destinations as well. See some of the most beautiful destinations in the west on one of these road trips:

Salt Lake City to Vancouver, Canada

Recommended time needed: 10-12 Days.

Day 1: Salt Lake City, Utah, to Jackson, Wyoming. This four-hour drive is a great first day on your journey, concluding in Jackson, where you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening on an excursion into Grand Teton National Park. Jackson offers a few great places to spend the night, as well as restaurants and some shops to stock up on any forgotten items.

  • Some places to stay in Jackson can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 2: Jackson, Wyoming, to Bozeman, Montana. This drive is also only four hours in length, giving ample time to incorporate some side stops into your journey. Along the way, take a hiatus in West Yellowstone to enjoy some nature and then check out the resort town of Big Sky, Montana before trekking on to Bozeman.

  • Some places to stay in Bozeman can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 3: Bozeman, Montana, to Spokane, Washington. This day’s drive will be a bit longer, totaling around six hours. There should still be ample time to take the day’s journey slow and see some sights along the way. Missoula, Montana will be a pleasant lunch destination and a good place to hang out for a while. Closer to Spokane, you will drive through the beautiful Coeur D’Alene National Forest.

  • Some places to stay in Spokane can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 4: Spokane to Seattle, Washington. Take this four-hour drive all at once and spend the majority of your day exploring Seattle. This city has so much to offer in terms of things to do, places to eat, and great hotels, hostels and Airbnbs.

  • Some places to stay in Seattle can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 5: Seattle, Washington, to Vancouver, British Columbia. This three hour drive will go by quick, especially as the drive is mostly along the coastline and is drop-dead gorgeous in numerous places. Along the way, swing through the college town of Bellingham, Washington which is famous for its sailing.

  • Some places to stay in Vancouver can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 6: A full day in Vancouver.

Day 7: Another full day in Vancouver.

Day 8: Vancouver, British Columbia, to Portland, Oregon. This six-hour drive will go by fast, and if you need a break, there are a lot of great stops along the way. Swing into Seattle or Tacoma, or even into Olympic National Park if you’re looking for a longer detour. In the evening, enjoy Portland’s thriving restaurant, bar, and coffee shop scene.

  • Some places to stay in Portland can be found here or on Airbnb.

Boise, Idaho. (Photo: Charles Knowles, Shutterstock)

Day 9: Portland, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho. This seven-hour drive will surely tire you out, but Boise is a fun city with a ton of beautiful natural spaces surrounding if you have the energy to explore after you arrive. Along the way, Bend, Oregon and Mount Hood are lovely places to stop and hang out for a while.

  • Some places to stay in Boise can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 10: Boise, Idaho, to Salt Lake City. This five-hour drive won’t take long, but some people like to swing by Bear Lake along the way.

Salt Lake City to San Francisco, California.

Recommended time needed: 7-10 days

Day 1: Salt Lake City to Reno, Nevada. This drive will take you around 8 hours and will be the longest day of driving. Rest up in Reno and explore this unique city and lifestyle before heading on to your next destination.

  • Some places to stay in Reno can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 2: Reno, Nevada, to San Francisco, California. This ride will only take a few hours, so enjoy the rest of your day exploring the thriving streets of San Francisco. This city is famous for its food and music, so book yourself a concert and visit one of San Francisco’s world-class restaurants after wandering around for a few hours.

  • Some places to stay in San Francisco can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 3: San Francisco to Yosemite, California. Get up early and head to Yosemite, which will take about four hours to get to. Once you arrive, set up camp and enjoy the rest of your day rock climbing, hiking or biking and enjoying the stunning views.

  • Some places to stay in Yosemite can be found here or on Airbnb.

Yosemite National Park. (Photo: Amanda Lee Myers, AP file photo)

Day 4: Yosemite to Ventura, California. Enjoy the morning exploring Yosemite some more before heading out around noon. Make the five and a half hour drive to Ventura, California, a trendy town famous for its surfing and for hosting the original Patagonia store. Spend the evening walking along the beach and exploring the town.

  • Some places to stay in Ventura can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 5: Ventura to Joshua Tree, California. Get up early and do some surfing in Ventura before hopping in the car for an hour drive to Malibu. Hang out on the beach for a few hours, then pack up and drive another few hours out to Joshua Tree National Park where you can set up camp.

  • Some places to stay in Joshua Tree can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 6: Joshua Tree National Park to Las Vegas, Nevada. Spend the morning hiking, biking, or climbing in Joshua Tree, then drive a few hours up to Las Vegas where you can spend the rest of your evening exploring some surrounding nature or hanging out on the Strip.

  • Some places to stay in Las Vegas can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 7: Las Vegas, Nevada to Zion National Park. In the morning take the three-hour drive up to Zion, where you can set up camp and spend the rest of your day checking off some bucket list hikes like Angel’s Landing.

  • Some places to stay in Zion can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 8: Zion National Park to Salt Lake City. Pack your bags and finish up your journey with the drive back home.

Salt Lake City to Tijuana, Mexico

Recommended time needed: 6-9 days.

Day 1: Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, Nevada. Start out your trip strong with a six-hour drive and get all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada. This will knock out a long part of your trip and give you some extra time in more interesting places. Spend the rest of your evening exploring some surrounding nature or hanging out on the Vegas Strip.

  • Some places to stay in Las Vegas can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 2: Las Vegas, Nevada to Long Beach, California. Knock out the five-hour drive to Los Angeles and enjoy a day at the beach. Along the way, check out Joshua Tree National Park if you’d like a nature-filled detour.

  • Some places to stay in Los Angeles can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 3: Long Beach to Tijuana, Mexico. This drive will only take you a few hours, and you can spend the rest of your day relaxing and exploring in Tijuana.

  • Some places to stay in Tijuana can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 4: Enjoy a full day exploring Tijuana, seeing some popular sights, and meeting some locals.

Day 5: Tijuana to Tucson, Arizona. Spend the morning in Tijuana and surrounding areas, then pack up and start the six-hour trek out to Tucson, Arizona. Spend the night exploring the city and catching up on sleep so you can enjoy some of Tucson’s amazing hiking and biking in the morning.

  • Some places to stay in Tucson can be found here or on Airbnb.

Zion National Park. (Photo: Ashley Imlay, KSL)

Day 6: Tucson to Flagstaff, Arizona. Take some time to go for a bike ride or hike and enjoy the sights that Tucson has to offer until lunch time. Get a bite to eat, then pack up and drive to Flagstaff, Arizona. Enjoy some more biking and hiking at one of Arizona’s adventure hot spots.

  • Some places to stay in Flagstaff can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 7: Flagstaff, Arizona, to Zion National Park. Head up to Zion to spend the last night of your trip camping in one of Utah’s premier outdoor destinations. Hike, bike, and enjoy one of the national park’s world-famous hotspots like Angel’s Landing.

  • Some places to stay in Zion can be found here or on Airbnb.

Day 8: Pack up and enjoy the short drive back home.

Cara MacDonald

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