National parks are a compilation of the different aspects of nature around us. They are established to preserve and enhance the natural beauty and promote the enjoyment of the scenery by the public.
It allows open-air recreation at the most affordable costs, and you can enjoy it, even around places near the state capital of the U.S. state of Utah.
But if you are under time constraints, you need to look for the nearest opportunities, and that is how you have stumbled upon the 13 closest national parks to Salt Lake City.
The city of Salt Lake has much more than the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range. The city of Salt Lake, the most populous city of Utah and the religious center of the Mormons, serves as a tremendous hop-off point to cruise towards many of these National Reserves.
Most of the incredible national parks around the city of Salt Lake are not so much than a 5-hour drive, with the closest national park to the city of Salt Lake being the Capitol Reef and the Arches National Park. The city of Salt lake is the gateway to Southwestern America.
Although these public lands boast the wonders of geological wonderlands and the scenic drive, they provide but are a devil’s garden in the scorching summer heat. Still, they become a balanced rock since they are specific elevation gains with every new Park.
Closest National Park to Salt Lake City
Here is a compiled list of the most magnificent and nearest national parks to the city of Salt Lake, arranged in ascending order of approximate time taken to reach the designated spot, along with the price of the entrance passes required to step into the territory of any of the following parks.
1. Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is approximately 200 miles and a 3 hour 30 minutes drive towards South Central Utah, in the heart of Red Rock Country, and is the closest national park to Salt Lake City.
Hosting around a million visitors each year and introducing them to the 100-mile Geological wrinkle on Earth’s crust, more commonly known as the Waterpocket Fold, is 65 million years old.
Through the more popular Waterpocket, the fold is another spectacular gorge called Grand Wash, followed by a trail of flat wash for 6 miles.
The entry fee for Capitol Reef National Park starts at a generous $10, valid for up to 7 days for you to witness the deep narrow canyons and fascinating rock formations without any time crunch.
Capitol reef national Park is among the best national parks to visit if you are looking for a park around the city of Salt Lake. It provides scenic beauty with plenty of easy hiking trails, making it a fun family experience.
It although is less known than the other Utah national parks, it is still among the best national parks close to the city of salt lake.
2. Arches National Park
At a distance of 230 miles and an approximate drive of 3 hours and 45 minutes north of Moab, lies the terrific natural creations formed from erosion, resulting in Mammoth Rocks and Arches.
It is also one of the nearest national parks to the city of salt lake. The lengthy natural stone arch in the USA, The Landscape Arch can be witnessed here.
It has a footfall of around a million visitors a year and an entrée fee of $15 for the pass, also valid for seven days. The main highlight of this park is the Delicate Arch which is the reason for the visit of most visitors.
This arch is also embedded on the condition license plates and is the most sought-after hike in the recreation ground.
Some of the other trails include the Devil’s Playground, Fiery Furnace, and the Towering Cliffs on Park driveway. The attractions- the Windows, the Great Wall, the Balanced Rock, the Courthouse towers, and Park Avenue are accessible via brief walks after the park entrance.
This park has also been a victim of two significant collapses, the first for the Wall Arch in 2008 and the second for the Rainbow Arch in 2018. Hence, these are not ever-lasting structures; if one wants to witness these, the sooner one plans a trip, the better.
3. Great or Magnificent Basin National Park
Great or Magnificent Basin National Park is located around five miles west of the town of Baker, in east-central Nevada. It is also another closest national park to salt lake city.
At a distance of 235 miles and an approximate drive of 3 hours and 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, it is a habitat of some of the historic living trees on the planet, the aged bristle cone pine trees.
There is no entrance fee for the park, but there is a per-person fee charged for all visitors for cave tours. This park has several developed campsites along with backcountry camping opportunities.
Even though the Park is miscellaneous with a combination of alpine lakes and limestone caverns, it has a lower footfall of around 100,000 visitors a year, making it the least visited National Park in the U.S.
The Great or Magnificent Basin National Park has also made up a name for itself in name of its magnificent dark skies.
Trekking through this park gives you the necessary solitude that one needs to experience nature. The visitor center for the park is situated on Nevada State Route 487 in the town of Baker, inside the park boundary.
Park wildlife, including the Bighorn sheep, and sightings of Mountain Lions have also been reported.
4. Canyonlands National Park
Located in South-Eastern Utah, near the town of Moab, it is enormous Utah’s National Park – Canyonlands National Park. Being the closest national park to salt lake city.
A drive of around 3 hours and 50 minutes for a distance of about 240 miles is required to witness the Mesa Arch, the profound, picturesque arch in Utah.
The Mesa Arch has located just a 10-minute walk from the neighboring parking lot. With a yearly footfall of around 500,000 visitors for its four different districts, namely Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers.
The two major rivers of Canyonlands are Colorado and the green rivers. Both are fantastic overlooks. There is also a facility for the interested ones if they would like a trip that would lead deep into the Canyon on ATVs.
This southwest-facing viewpoint captures the fantastic view of the Green River overlooks, one of the best spots in the park to witness the sunset.
This viewpoint also catches glimpses of the Maze district and the White Rim road. It has a decent per-person entrance fee of just $15, and it increases to $30 for a private, non-commercial vehicle.
5. Bryce Canyon National Park
To the east of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, around 270 miles from the city of Salt lake, with an approximate driving time of 4 hours, is the Bryce Canyon National Park, home to the most hoodoos on Earth. It is also the closest national park to salt lake city.
Some enthusiasts interested in making observations about these hoodoos from much closer choose horseback riding as the preferred way for their commute.
Bryce Canyon is the smallest National Park in Utah and at a higher elevation than some other nearby national parks like the Zion National Park and has a higher footfall of one and half million visitors each year.
Bryce canyon national park holds magnificent viewpoints, which include the Rainbow point, the Bryce point, the point of sunrise, and sunset, descending into Wall Street and the floor of the canyon, and then back upwards to the point of Sunset.
The drive towards this park is also one mesmerizing experience, as you will be in a treat of views of desert, forest, and mountains on the way.
The most favored trails in Bryce canyon national park are the Queens Garden series and the Navajo Loop trails, and most people prefer combining both of them, turning them into one, 1.5-hour trail.
The per-person entrance fee for Bryce canyon national park is $20 for a person with no car and $35 if you would like to admit inside a vehicle.
6. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is just a 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Bryce Canyon and around 300 miles from the city of Salt Lake, making it the closest national park to the city of salt lake, taking the driving duration to about 4.5 hours, situated in Southwestern Utah.
Due to the size of Bryan Canyon National Park, it can effortlessly be traveled in one day, and a visit to both of these is suggested to be combined. It is also home to the Virgin River, so deep that even sunlight has to struggle hard to reach the bottom.
Zion National Park is the most toured National Park near the city of Salt lake, with an average footfall of 3.5 million visitors. It houses iconic red cliffs, hikes, and a wide variety of wildlife. It is home to Zion Canyon, which is vast and has sheer cliffs dropping up to 3,000 feet.
Other best scouting points include Canyon Overlook, Riverside Walk, Observation point, Scout Lookout, and Emerald pools. Conquering the iconic Angels landing is the favorite choice of hikers, although flocking on Angel’s landing will soon be permitted.
The entrance fee for Zion National Park is similar to that of Bryce Canyon National Park, with $15 for individuals without vehicles, and $35 for non-commercial, private vehicles. This pass will be valid for 7 days from the date of purchase.
7. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a highly populated national park with a footfall of over 3 million visitors yearly, spread over 310,000 acres of lush forest, rivers, lakes, and snow-capped mountains.
Around 280 miles from Salt lake city, with a drive duration of around 4 hours and 45 minutes, includes significant peaks from the Teton Range and a part of Jackson Hole valley. It is the closest national park to salt lake city.
Spending one complete day here should give you appropriate time to go through the Scenic Loop Drive and grab amazing photographs at Mormon Row, Schwabacher Landing, and Oxbow Bend.
The crystal clear lakes of the park also offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and some watersports. It is also a popular spot for trout fishing and is among the few places where people have the chance to catch the Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout.
A visit around September would be a good decision, as you will be able to witness the first dusting of the snow on the Teton peaks and a collage of vibrant colors due to the ushering of Fall. Grand Teton National Park has various visitor centers which are run by National Park Service.
Grand Teton national park has an entrance fee of $20 for individuals without vehicles and $35 for non-commercial private vehicles. These passes are valid for up to 7 days from the date of purchase.
8. Yellowstone National Park
Situated just 30 miles North of Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone National Park, a hot springs national park. It is around 330 miles north of Salt Lake City.
The journey takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes, mainly situated in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending further into Montana and Idaho. It is another closest national park to salt lake city.
Yellowstone houses the greatest hot spring in the U.S. It hosts gushing geysers such as the Grand Prismatic Spring and the more famous historic Faithful Geyser, which flares up every hour or more. It is a recreation spot made out of a volcanic hot spot.
Yellowstone national park is the oldest National Park in the United States and also contains the colorful Morning Gloriousness. Yellowstone boasts rich wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park has an entrance fee of $20 for individuals without vehicles and $35 for non-commercial private vehicles. These passes are valid for up to 7 days from the date of purchase.
9. The Black Canyon as to Gunnison National Park
This Colorado Park, spread over 30,000 acres, is one of Utah’s least visited national parks, with a footfall of fewer than 500,000 visitors a year.
It is the closest national park to salt lake city. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is situated in Western Colorado, around 350 miles from salt lake city, and it takes about five and a half hours to cover the journey
This Canyon is a result of erosion for 1.7 million years from the Gunnison River and gives a testing hike to visitors. This park exposes you to some of North America’s steepest cliffs and oldest rocks.
The two pleasing drives while exploring the park are the North Rim and South Rim. The North rim closes in winter, while the South Rim has been made available all year round.
Roads and trials along these rims provide views of the Black Canyon’s dramatic drops and the striated Painted Wall cliff. Two thousand feet tall canyon walls surround the narrow Canyon and hence can receive only a few minutes of sunlight each day.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has an entrance fee of $15 for individuals without vehicles and $30 for non-commercial private vehicles. These passes are valid for up to 7 days from the date of purchase.
10. Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde national park is a delight for those interested in archaeology. It is one of the closest national parks to the city of salt lake. It was named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and protects thousands of archaeological sites, including hundreds of cliff dwellings.
It is at a distance of around 360 miles from the city of salt lake, taking about 5 to 6 hours of driving time. It also boasts a Balcony House of prehistoric times, a Cliff Palace with 150 rooms, etc.
Exploring this place entirely requires at least one full day along with an overnight stay for satisfactory sightseeing and hiking.
Mesa Verde national park is also home to a small population of black bears, with sightings more often seen around the summer season.
The Chapin Mesa Archaeological repository exhibits the ancient Native American culture, and quite a long Petroglyph Point Trail is also situated here.
The Mesa Verde National Park is spread across an area of 50,000 acres. This Park offers a unique opportunity to see and experience 700 years of ancient history.
Mesa Verde National park entrance fees vary from Summer to winter. The fee in summer for individuals is $15, while in winter it is $10, meanwhile fee for non-commercial private vehicle entry is $30 in summer while it is $20 in winter.
11. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park further diverges into the North and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and you can decide your visit based on what time of the year you will be planning your visit
The Grand Canyon is situated at a distance of 380 miles from salt lake city and is 6 hour’s drive by car. It is also the closest national park to salt lake city.
Taking a flight would help you save some hours- taking the total flight duration to just one and a half hours.
The South Rim is open all year long and is more prevalent among tourists due to its extensive tourist offering. The Canyon’s vastness can be felt when you cruise along Hermit Road and Desert View Drive.
The North Rim is, meanwhile, more relaxed and quiet and is open only for a particular time during the year.
The Grand Canyon National Park has a high footfall, thanks to its main attraction, i.e., the Grand Canyon, which is a stretch of 277 miles and boasts clean air and colorful geology.
Visitors will be mesmerized by stunning views from any vantage point they choose.
There are two more popular hiking opportunities, The North Kaibab Trail and The South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel. These being extremely challenging, are not opted upon by most of the visitors.
The Grand Canyon National Park has an entrance fee of $20 for individuals without vehicles and $35 for non-commercial private vehicles.
12. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a high-elevation park, with roads of the park leading up to 12,000 feet, spread across an area of 265,000 acres, and boasts 147 lakes with high peaking mountains.
It is 490 miles from Salt lake city, and a drive would cost you around 7 hours and 30 minutes of your time. It is one of the 13 closest national parks to salt lake city.
Its most popular elements of wildlife include elk and the bighorn sheep. It has a footfall of over 3 million people annually and holds 355 miles of hiking series. The Dream lake and Sprague lake here are more famous for the sunrise.
The highest roads here include the Trail Ridge Road, which ascends to over 12,000 and showcases spectacular views.
The highest peak here is Long’s peak, which extends to around 14,259 feet. Towering landscapes like these keep visitors in awe of the beautiful scenery.
Besides valid park passes, Timed Entry Permit Reservations are required to enter Rocky Mountain, National Park. One-day entrance pass for individuals without vehicles amounts to $15, and for vehicles, it is $30.
13. Death Valley National Park
Located in Eastern California is the Death valley national park, a seven-and-a-half-hour drive from salt lake city, a distance of 480 miles.
It is spread across the California-Nevada border and has boundaries with the Death Valley, Panamint Valley, Eureka Valley, and the Saline Valley, and it is the 13th closest national park to salt lake city.
Death Valley national park is also the closest national park to salt lake city which is the most low-lying in elevation, the hottest, and the driest. But Death Valley national park is a land of extremes and even has peaks frosted with winter snow.
Even though being the hottest and driest area on Earth, it is prone to summer rains and flash floods that are large enough to break weather records.
It is known for Titus Canyon, a ghost town and colorful rocks, and the Badwater Basin, the low-lying point in the region of North America at 86 meters below sea level. The park is spread across 13000 km, making it almost equivalent to Puerto Rico.
And with that, the article wraps with the 13 closest national parks to Salt Lake City, and now it is your turn to explore these closest national parks to Salt Lake City with your family and friends, grab your most challenging vehicles and hiking gear, and go explore.
1. Is Salt Lake City near Zion National Park?
Salt Lake City is 300 miles (4.5 hours) away from Zion National Park. The majority of the journey is along Expressway 15, which offers a number of stunning sights and attractions.
2. Is Salt Lake City close to Bryce Canyon?
Salt Lake City and Bryce Canyon National Park are separated by a distance of 221 miles. There are 274.3 miles on the road.
3. What makes Bryce Canyon famous?
The world’s greatest collection of hoodoos—the characteristic rock formations at Bryce—can be found in the park’s name, located in southwest Utah.