Utah is best known for its red-rock arches and deep canyons, but the journey across the state adds up to more than that.

One of America's most beautiful states will give you jaw-dropping views. Many of the vistas can be accessed through paved highways and scenic drives. Most of Utah's best road trips are easy to access by car, but some require high-clearance 4x4 vehicles.

Roll down the windows and hit the road to get to know this state. There are many road trips in Utah.

Scenic Byway 12 (Utah State Hwy 12) in Utah, USA
Scenic Byway 12 cuts through the Valley of the Escalante River © benemale / Shutterstock

The essential Utah road trip is Scenic Byway 12

Half a day is spent by Panguitch to Torrey.

This is the only road trip you can take in Utah. You can see a lot of what the state is famous for on this route.

Two red-rock tunnels, a summit overlook from 9000ft, and access to four of Utah's greatest natural treasures are some of the highlights.

If you stop off to explore the parks you can make a day of it.

Immerse yourself in the best experiences the world has to offer with our email newsletter delivered weekly into your inbox.

Get Jurassic on the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Hwy

The beginning and end of the journey is in Vernal.

Utah was part of a coastal floodplain that was rich in flora and fauna. Visitors can find footprints and fossils in the state's desert cliffs and rocky outcroppings.

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is the best way to view it all. The route goes through Utah and Colorado in a diamond shape and ends in the town of Vernal.

The fossil quarry at Dinosaur National Monument is one of the highlights.

A road leading to the tall plateaus of Monument Valley
Managed by the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is a familiar backdrop from Hollywood Westerns © Putt Sakdhnagool / 500px

You’ll have a Hollywood backdrop along Monument Valley Hwy 163

Half a day is spent on the Mexican hat to Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been the location of dozens of big movies. This road trip will make you feel like a character in a movie.

Take pictures of the sombrero-shaped rock and Monument Valley if you want to see more of the area.

You will want to plan extra time for side trips and connect byways if you want to complete the route in less than 2 hours.

Head over the mountains on the Mirror Lake Scenic Hwy

Half a day to the border of Wyoming.

The Mirror Lake Highway is one of the most popular mountain driving routes in Utah. The High Uinta Wilderness is one of the state's best kept secrets.

There are many overlooks, picnic areas and campsites along the way. It is the perfect place to view fall foliage.

Hit the road to hit all of Utah’s “Mighty 5”

Arches National Park to Zion National Park is a 10-day trip.

Southern Utah has the highest concentration of national parks in the country. The ultimate route will take you to them all.

The route goes east through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. It makes sense to stop at other parks along the way since there isn't a direct way to do it. You can look forward to the full scope of Utah's natural wonders regardless of how you travel.

Utah has a national park.

Cars on the switchback curves along Moki Dugway, Utah, USA
Be sure to drive with care as you navigate Moki Dugway’s switchback curves © Gordon Montgomery / Shutterstock

Expect stunning views – and white-knuckle curves – along Moki Dugway

A Mexican hat is going to the Natural Bridges National Monument.

The car ride might be one of the most dangerous in America. The graded dirt road is the best way to get to the Natural Bridges National Monument.

You can look forward to great views. Muley Point is located west of the top and overlooks the deep canyons of the San Juan River. There is an overlook of Valley of the Gods. If you don't travel to Natural Bridges, this is a great way to go out and back.

Follow the switchbacks from Potash to White Rim Rd

Half a day is spent in the Visitor's Center.

Wait until you get to drive this one, if you thought Moki was dangerous. To get around the Colorado River, Corona Arch, and nearby rock-climbing cliffs and petroglyphs, you need to drive north from Moab on Highway 191.

To get to the Island in the Sky Visitor's Center, you need to go through Dead Horse Point and then take the Shafer Trail to the top.

You will want an all-wheel-drive vehicle with higher-than-normal clearance if you want to drive this dirt drive. You can always go back the way you came if you are unsure about your vehicle's ability.

A man stands in front of the Temple of the Sun rock formation, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA
As you drive through Capitol Reef National Park, the Temple of the Sun and other rock formations will awe you © ToTheHeightsPhoto / Shutterstock

Hop in a 4x4 to take the Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway

Half a day is spent on Cathedral Road to Hartnet Road.

You need a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance to get to the better half of Capitol Reef National Park. Castle-like sandstone formations, panoramic desert views, and usually not another person in sight, are the reward.

Over the course of millions of years of erosion, the region's unique features were formed. You need a permit to camp out under the stars. You can find full route details here.

The article was first published in June of 2021.