Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, has plenty to offer its residents and visitors. However, Day Trips from Salt lake City will take your to plenty of great destinations that are a short drive away from SLC, when you need to get out of town.
Here are the 10 best day trips from Salt Lake City plus 5 we must recommend and if you have not explored the city yet, check out our 15 list of best things to do in Salt Lake City.
1. Antelope Island
Surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, around 60 miles away, Antelope Island State Park is one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City to enjoy the outdoors and to spot wildlife.
Visitors here can spot the namesake antelope, free roaming bison, bighorn sheep, mule deers and plenty of birds while appreciating the rugged backcountry scenery around the island. There’s an extensive network of hiking and biking trails for the more active outdoor enthusiasts.
Those looking to enjoy the island in a more leisurely manner can relax on a white sandy beach and float in the salty lake water. Horseback riding is another option. The sunsets here are often spectacular and worth sticking around for.
For a hassle-free experience, opt for a private tour that includes round-trip transportation from Salt Lake City.
2. Ogden, Utah
Located around 35 miles north of Salt Lake City, Ogden is a charming historic town surrounded by mountains. Many visitors come to Ogden for its proximity to three ski resorts, Powder Mountain, Snow Basin and Nordic Valley, and a ski bus to the first two is available from downtown Ogden.
At other times of the year, enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing. Spend some time walking the historic 25th Street, full of shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Don’t miss historic Union Station, which is now a museum complex and home to the Utah State Railroad Museum, the John M. Browning Firearms Museum and the Utah State Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
To get in touch with nature and see animals in their natural habitat, check out the Ogden Nature Center
3. Park City, Utah
Located around 30 miles to the east, Park City is one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City. Park City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and also hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival. Considered one of the prettiest towns in the country, Park City has a lively downtown area, full of wonderful restaurants, shops and galleries.
A free trolley system makes it easy to get around without a car. Explore the historic buildings along Main Street, some of which date back to the 19th century, then spend some time at the Park City Museum.
Afterwards, catch a show at the famous Egyptian Theatre. And for outdoor enthusiasts, Park Deer Valley ski resort and Park City mountain, the largest resort in the country, are both nearby. At other times of the year, enjoy hiking, biking, fly-fishing and whitewater rafting.
4. Crystal Hot Springs, Utah
Located in the town of Honeyville, around 65 miles away, Crystal Hot Springs is one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City for those looking to relax and to rejuvenate.
Home to the world’s largest natural hot springs, and several cold springs, Crystal Hot Springs is a large complex that lets you spend the whole day enjoying the rejuvenating mineral waters.
There are three hot tubs, a soaking pool, an Olympic-size swimming pool with fresh water, a pool for swimming laps and two recreational water slides. There are also sand volleyball courts and places to go hiking and fishing nearby.
5. Midway, Utah
Located around 45 miles away from Salt Lake City, Midway is home to some incredible natural landscapes.
Situated in the heart of the Heber Valley, Midway provides easy access to the Wasatch Mountain State Park, which offers outdoor activities year-round, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, golfing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
Nearby Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir offers great fishing, paddleboarding and kayaking. Midway is also home to the Homestead Crater, a dramatic opening in the ground with a swimming hole underneath, which you can access from the Homestead Resort.
In the winter, be sure to see the elaborate ice castle sculptures that are built each year.
6. Bonneville Salt Flats
Located around 110 miles west of Salt Lake City is one of the most surreal and most visited natural wonders in Utah, the Bonneville Salt Flats. When the ancient Lake Bonneville evaporated, it left behind the vast salt flats, an otherworldly white landscape.
The best spot to view the Bonneville Salt Flats is from an overlook on I-80, 10 miles east of Wendover. You can also explore the salt flats on foot. But care needs to be taken given the sensitive natural conditions.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are also known as the “Bonneville Speedway” as a result of its popularity as a motorcar racing site. Several major racing events are held here during the year, including the Bonneville Speed Week in August. Don’t forget your camera if you plan to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats
7. Provo, Utah
Located around 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, on the shores of Utah Lake, the city of Provo is known for being the home of Brigham Young University.
The university offers several interesting attractions for visitors, including the BYU Museum of Paleontology, the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures and the BYU Museum of Art, while the Covey Center for the Performing Arts hosts live theater and dance performances throughout the year.
Aside from BYU, Provo is also an outdoors playground, with an extensive hiking and mountain biking trail network, great rock climbing and several lakes and rivers that offer wonderful fishing opportunities. And for some family water fun, spend some time at the Seven Peaks Waterpark.
8. Great Salt Lake
Salt Lake City is named after the Great Salt Lake, the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. There’s plenty to do here, making it one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City.
You can hike or bike around the edges of the lake. To enjoy activities on the lake itself, head to the Great Salt Lake Marina, where you can launch a kayak, canoe or boat, or go on a sunset cruise.
The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, which is part of the wetlands of the lake, is a great spot for birdwatching, as many migratory birds stop here on their journey.
Several boardwalks allow visitors to get close to the birds. And at the northwest end of the lake, don’t miss the land art installation “The Spiral Jetty” by artist Robert Smithson.
9. Sandy, Utah
Located just 17 miles south of Salt Lake City, Sandy is situated at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and next to Little Cottonwood Canyon, making it a great destination for outdoor recreation.
There are more than 30 parks in Sandy, including popular Dimple Dell Regional Nature Park and Flat Iron Mesa Park. Littlewood Canyon also offers plenty of great hiking trails, with the hike up Bell Canyon one of the most popular.
Families with kids should definitely plan to visit the Living Planet Aquarium or the Cowabunga Bay Water Park.
Before leaving Sandy, indulge in some retail therapy at the Shops at South Town, where you will find a great mix of big brands and small boutiques.
10. Eden, Utah
Located around 50 miles north of Salt Lake City, the town of Eden may be small, but it offers plenty for visitors. Known as the access point to Powder Mountain in the winter, Nordic Valley and Snow Basin Eden are also close by.
During the rest of the year, fun activities include hiking, mountain biking, paddleboard yoga and more. Don’t miss Eden’s historic downtown, home to several beautiful buildings that were constructed by the original settlers of the town back in the 19th century.
Shop for handmade soaps and other beauty items at Simply Eden, and sample craft spirits at the New World Distillery. If you’re looking for a little pampering, be sure to book a session at the Free Spirit Holistic Mountain Spa & Yoga.
11. Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Located east of Salt Lake City, the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway is a great day trip for those who enjoy scenic drives and the great outdoors. The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway stretches for 42 miles along State Route 150.
Along the way, you will climb into the Uinta Mountains and pass by numerous small lakes, including the namesake Mirror Lake. There are numerous great spots to pull over, take in the scenery of mountains, waterfalls and forests, enjoy a picnic, or go on short hikes or bike rides.
At the Bear River Ranger Station, explore a historic railroad tie cabin. The lakes offer great opportunities for water play, whether you prefer to canoe, kayak or fish. The area is also stunning with wildflowers in the summertime. Tours are also available if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else.
12. Mount Timpanogos, Utah
Utah is full of mountains, and Mount Timpanogos is one of the most popular mountains to hike. Located around 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, Timp, as the mountain is affectionately known by, is the second highest mountain in the Wasatch Range.
It’s about a 15 miles round trip and a gain of 4,500 feet to the summit of Timp, which is doable in one long day if you are extremely fit and you start early in the day. But it’s also possible to enjoy a number of easier hikes without having to go all the way to the summit.
Enjoy a leisurely hike up to the Timpooneke Trailhead. Those with more energy can push on further up to the Timp Saddle. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy the fresh mountain air and stunning views along the way.
13. Heber Valley Railroad
For railroad fans and families with kids, a trip on the Heber Valley Railroad is one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City.
The heritage train runs between Heber City and Vivian Park. During the 90 to 180-minute long journey, enjoy spectacular views of the Wasatch Mountains, Provo Canyon, Heber Valley farmland and Deer Creek Reservoir, as well as plentiful wildlife such as birds, deer and elk.
Seasonal events are available and allow you to add on extra activities such as snow tubing, whitewater rafting or ziplining. In Heber City, enjoy other outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, golfing and off-roading. Guided tours are available that combine several points of interest in Heber Valley, including the railroad.
14. Moab, Utah
Located around 195 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Moab is a wonderful outdoor destination and the gateway to several parks with stunning rock formations and views, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.
You can spend all day exploring these fascinating parks, and a guided tour makes it a hassle-free experience. Moab is also a world-class destination of mountain biking, with miles of trails suitable for all different abilities.
Other outdoor activities include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding, ziplining and off-road adventures.
Moab is also a great place to go hunting for Native American rock art, or dinosaur tracks at sites such as Bull Canyon Overlook, Copper Ridge and Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail.
15. Goblin Valley State Park
Located around 220 miles southeast, Goblin Valley State Park makes for a long day trip from Salt Lake City, but it’s totally worth it for the unique landscape. It’s named for the thousands of hoodoo rock formations in the park.
These are tall spire-like rock formations that were formed when the soft sandstone eroded, and are said to resemble goblins. Explore the park’s surreal landscape on a hike – the Carmel Canyon Loop is a popular one.
Families with kids often like to play hide and go seek among the hoodoos here. Biking trails are also available. Just don’t forget your camera and be aware that it can get incredibly hot in the summer and incredibly cold in the winter, so dress accordingly.