A fantastic driving tour of Utah, using Salt Lake City (in north central Utah) as your gateway would include this general routing: Go east on I-80 to Park City, then south on Hwy. 40 to Heber City and Midway. (If time is short, return to SLC from here.) If on a longer vacation, follow 40 south to Hwy. 189 south to rejoin I-15 at Provo. Stay on I-15 south to Cedar City and Cedar Breaks National Monument. Use a map to determine your best route to visit Zion and Bryce National Parks, as well as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. From Bryce, take Hwy.12 north to Hwy. 24 in Torrey. Follow Hwy. 24 northeast through Capitol Reef National Park up to I-70. Take I-70 east to Moab, home to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Return to Salt Lake via Highways 191 and 6. Without adding back roads and side trips, this itinerary is nearly 900 miles, so plan on a minimum of two weeks travel time (two months would be even better!).
When to Go
Utah is magnificent year-round. Winter is peak season in northern Utah, with a plethora of great ski areas within a short drive of Salt Lake. Summertime in the mountains is just as appealing, with room rates that drop as the temperature rises. Utah's climate varies tremendously with the altitude; over 5000 feet, daytime summer temperatures are pleasantly warm, with no humidity and cool nights. At lower altitudes, daytime summer temps routinely top 100 degrees (especially in the south), but spring and fall are lovely, and winters are very mild.
Sights & Activities
According to the Utah Travel Council the state is "a recreation paradise for outdoor enthusiasts," and unlike most tourist office hype, it's really true. From the skiing/hiking/biking in the north, to the dramatic rock formations of the National Parks in the south, Utah really has unrivalled natural beauty.
A word about wine (and other drinks): Utah's notoriously rigid liquor laws have recently been liberalized, and it's now relatively easy to enjoy wine or beer with dinner, or go out to a bar ("club") for drinks. Details here.
Salt Lake City: Temple Square is the heart and soul of Salt Lake City, both literally and figuratively. All streets are numbered/named in relation to it, and it is the world headquarters of the Mormons-the Church of Latter Day Saints. You can attend free rehearsals and concerts of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and do genealogical research at the Family History Library.
Park City/Heber Valley: A mining town turned charming tourist village, Park City offers wonderful skiing and snowboarding in the winter months, and almost every other form of outdoor sport in warm weather, including hiking, biking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, and more, plus Olympic Park. Park City is delightful for strolling, with lots of appealing shops and restaurants, and the convenient free bus system makes it easy to get around. Summertime music festivals are also a special treat. More info. Railfans will want to ride the historic Heber Valley Railroad in nearby Heber City. Wasatch Mountain State Park is home to one of Utah's finest 27-hole golf courses.
Cedar City & the National Parks: About 3-4hours south of Salt Lake, Cedar City is known for its June-October Shakespeake Festival , with plays by Shakespeare and modern writers. Four national parks are within 1-2 hours drive of Cedar City. Allow as much time as possible for exploring each of them:
B&Bs and Inns
Haxton Manor B&B, Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City: A low-rise city, Salt Lake offers many fine B&Bs in residential neighborhoods, yet close to all downtown businesses and attractions:
A half-block from the Governor's Mansion, The Anton Boxrud B&B combines historic, homey charm with all the electronic conveniences business travelers require. Relaxing backyard hot tub. Innkeeper Jane Johnson is a great source of information about what to see and how to get there.
Handsomely restored woodwork and stencils combine with antiques, florals, and whirlpool tubs to make the Armstrong Mansion a fine choice for a romantic getaway.
Haxton Manor combines the historic ambiance of a century-old mansion with genuine antique décor (some originally from the Vatican) enhanced by such modern conveniences as speaker phones with voicemail, data ports, and whirlpool tubs.
Salt Lake's first B&B, Saltair B&B is a complex of three buildings, with everything from family suites to kitchenette studios. Long-time owners Nancy & Jan can tell you anything you need to know about the area.
Park City: Summer in the mountains (where it's always 10-15 degrees cooler) is an amazing value; rates average 50% less than in winter. It's not hard to find a beautiful room, full breakfast, and afternoon refreshments for under $100, with suites at $150. Most B&Bs have ski lockers and boot warmers for winter guests.
Built in 1889, the Washington School Inn is a beautifully restored limestone building, creatively combining past and present. The luxurious guest rooms have oversized windows and a teacher's name on each door, as well wireless internet access and cable TV.
In winter, ski home to the Old Miners' Lodge; year-round, you're just steps away from Park City's restaurants and shops. Tasty breakfasts, generous snacks, comfortable rooms, and gracious long-time innkeepers keep guests returning to the OML. Great hot tub on the back porch.
Built recently as a B&B, the Woodside Inn treats guests to such luxuries as an elevator, central air-conditioning, and in-room double Jacuzzis, telephones, TV/DVD/CD players, and even table-top slate waterfalls.
Midway: Just 18 miles south of Park City is the Johnson Mill B&B, a meticulously restored 1893 historic mill, set beside a 30-foot waterfall and a lake. Private balconies, river-rock walls, dramatic décor. The only hard part is leaving.
Cedar City: The Garden Cottage B&B is a lovingly maintained home with tasteful Victorian touches, including a collection of tea cups and teapots. Steps from the Shakespeare Festival. Wonderfully delicious breakfasts.
The Stratford B&B has inviting guest rooms with such themes as the Rhapsody Room, where the headboard was made from a piano, and the bathroom sink is set in an antique radio.
For Victorian charm without the clutter, consider the 1897 Iron Gate B&B, with well-appointed rooms, extensive common areas, and an inviting wrap-around porch.
Newly refurbished, Cherished Memories B&B has gingerbread trim, and is decorated with lace and floral touches.
Visit Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah