Utah is an outdoor-adventure paradise: It’s got alpine forests to deserts and dinosaurs, all inside a five-hour box (St. George to Logan: 5:11; Wendover to Moab: 4:59). With endless potential for different activities, you could spend a lifetime exploring and barely scratch the surface — and most of us don’t even have that kind of time.
An efficiently epic road trip will have to do the trick, so rally the crew, throw the essentials in the trunk and hit up these 12 must-do adventures on your road trip through Utah.
Photo: Eric Bennett
No matter where you’re going, Salt Lake City is probably on your way. Make it more than a pit stop with an easy day hike to incredible views of the valley below and a beautiful waterfall. Learn more.
Photo: Prajit Ravindran
The combination of free, dispersed camping, the otherworldly salt flats of the Great Salt Lake and the world’s preeminent work of land sculpture make this camping spot inimitable. Learn more.
Photo: Lindsay Daniels
Mt. Timpanogos is one of the most iconic peaks in the Wasatch Front. Get into the Utah backcountry for an up close view. Learn more.
Photo: Jacob Moon
Nothing cures sore road trip butts like soaking in some hot springs. Take a hike, pick your pool, sit back and relax. Learn more.
Photo: Derrick Lytle
Head into Zion National Park and tackle some of the hikes that have put Utah on the map for adventurers around the world. Angels Landing is an exhilarating hike along a notoriously narrow ridge. If you have time, check out Zion’s Narrows as well. Learn more.
Photo: Andy Earl
Goblin Valley, with topography straight out of a science fiction movie, is the weirdest-best. Hoodoo? You should. Learn more.
Photo: Nick Oman
Hiking through slot canyons is incredible, unless you’re claustrophobic or boring. But please be careful. Learn more.
Photo: Kiki Lamm
Six miles and four or five hours round trip. A full moon will let you take amazing photos, so plan your road trip with the tides. Learn more.
Photo: Jason Shepherd
The colors and sandstone formations of Bryce Canyon National Park are unbelievable and you’ll see a lot more if you go further the big, obvious viewpoints.Learn more.
Photo: Dustin Landon
Lake Powell is a great summer camping spot that also flies under the radar for most people outside of Utah. Daytime is hot, but the water is refreshing and you can find some incredible, secluded fingers in the canyon-turned-lake. Learn more.
Photo: Lee Cuellar
Stop in Arches National Park and do your best to grasp the scale of the massive sandstone cliffs and plateaus on this popular hike. Learn more.
Photo: Colton Marsala
This beautiful backpacking route has options for a one- or two-night adventure. Make it a quick stop or explore for a few days. Learn more.
Don’t see your favorite Utah adventures on The Outbound? Show us by creating an adventure!
Cover photo: Nick Oman
For more info on renting a Sportsmobile 4×4 Camper Van for your next adventure, Check out our site at Into The Wild Rentals or give us a ring at 720-515-2762
Looking for the ultimate powder chasing machine or an escape to a desert oasis!? Now is the time to book. All nightly rates are discounted and extended rentals are reduced even further!
3 Night Package –
7 Night Package –
Last but not least we are giving away a free night on all 3 Night Packages. Book a 3 night rental and receive a 4th night free!
Into The Wild wasn’t able to make the East Expo but looks like it was a pretty awesome time (even with a hurricane). Outside Magazine made the trip so check out their report below! Be prepared to drool!
Each fall, adventure-travel enthusiasts gather on a ranch in Asheville, North Carolina, to check out hundreds of tricked-out adventure cars and trucks and to learn the ins and outs of overlanding. The event’s called Overland Expo, and it’s basically a dream come true for the editors at Outside. If you want to drool over the most badass, go-anywhere jeeps, trucks, vans, and bikes in the world, this is the spot. Hurricane Joaquin dumped buckets of rain on this year’s event, but we still spent a couple days walking around the venue rounding up our favorite rigs.
This off-road tricycle from Outrider USA turned plenty of heads at the expo. It’s one of the coolest e-bike concepts we’ve seen. A different take on the company’s popular Alpha model, the Horizon uses mountain bike components and a carbon-belt electric drivetrain with a high and low range to power riders down trails or gravel roads. It’ll do 25 miles per hour and has a base range of 30 to 50 miles per charge. Opt for additional batteries to go farther and power your base camp at night.
Everyone loves a Vanagon, and the nicest one we saw belonged to Yves Rodrigue. He and his dog, Boogaloo, made the trip to North Carolina from Quebec, Canada, in this extremely rare ’89 Syncro 16—basically a heavy-duty, limited-run version of the original Syncro—with a diesel engine from a Volkswagen Jetta. Rodrigue started a Facebook page called Maximum 100 km/h to document his travels.
The folks at Overland Journal and Hema Maps brought their incredibly rare Toyota BJ74 Land Cruiser to the show, and we couldn’t stop staring. These 70 Series Land Cruisers have a well-earned reputation as the best overland expedition vehicles ever made, due to their simple, reliable, rugged nature. Production started in 1984, but they were never sold in the United States. Nowadays, they’re relatively easy to get, thanks to an NHSTA rule that makes it legal to import vehicles from another country if they’re more than 25 years old. This particular vehicle came from Landcruisers Direct, a company that specializes in importing iconic vehicles from Japan.
For the uninitiated, EarthCruiser makes some of the most incredible, expensive adventure rigs on the market—they run upwards of $175,000. Designed and tested in Australia but now built in Bend, Oregon, EarthCruisers are based on a 4WD Mitsubishi Fuso platform and designed to be the go-anywhere, self-sufficient base camp of your dreams. These things get about 15 miles per gallon and can take you completely off the grid for months at a time, thanks to diesel- and solar-power systems and 80-gallon water tanks.
TAV Expedition Outfitters is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has one of the nicest FJ40s we’ve ever laid eyes on. The company specializes in designing purpose-built off-road machines. The custom paint job and well-organized interior storage system made this one stand out.
We’re excited about diesel engines making their way into lighter-duty American pickups, including the Ram 1500, the upcoming Chevy Colorado Duramax, and the new Cummins-powered Nissan Titan XD. The new Titan will feature a Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel that puts out 310 horsepower and a staggering 555 lb-ft of torque.
The guys at U-Joint Offroad have taken #VanLife to the extreme. Specializing in 4×4 van conversions, they brought several of their recent projects to Overland Expo, including this 2005 Ford E350 V10 Chateau, named V7. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more capable van, thanks to the six-inch front/four-inch rear lift, 35-inch tires, and custom roof rack.
Land Rover had a major presence at this year’s event, and it’s easy to understand why given its storied history in overland travel. This Defender 90 was absolutely flawless and was seen pulling out many other vehicles that got stuck in the hurricane-caused mud.
Not all adventure vehicles have four wheels, and bikes like the BMW F 800 GS Adventure were quite popular at this year’s expo. It’s a more minimalist approach to overlanding but great for dirt roads and tight spaces. When loaded with a rack and panniers, you can cover a lot of ground plenty quick.
Towables of all shapes and sizes made an appearance at the Expo, including this one from Anvil Adventure Trailers. A custom-built removable topper sits on a military trailer chassis, and has all the bells and whistles of the big adventure vehicles (think solar panels and camp showers), without the weight and large footprint. Most important, there’s enough room inside to sleep two adults and a dog.
Michael Ladden from Drive the Globe Overland Adventures was on hand in his bright-orange Mercedes Unimog, which attracts loads of attention anywhere it goes. Originally produced for use on farms, Unimogs are some of the biggest, baddest vehicles ever built, thanks to their massive ground clearance and workhorse design. Full-time AWD means they manage to get most places pretty easily—if they fit.
Much to our chagrin, Honda discontinued the Element in 2011. While it might not be the coolest-looking vehicle we saw, it’s flat rubber floor, removable rear seats, and massive amount of cargo space make for one incredible camping platform.
It should come as no surprise that one of the most common vehicles in attendance was the Toyota Tacoma. It’s tested, reliable platform makes it one of the most popular overland vehicles on the market. It doesn’t hurt that they run approximately forever. We loved this Gen 1 Tacoma, which featured heavy-duty front and rear bumpers and a bed-mounted rooftop tent.
Bryan Dorr of Exploring Elements turned a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 into what he calls the EEXP. It was one of the most popular vehicles at the show, thanks to its custom XPCamper shell and plethora of adventure gear stashed on top.
Whether you just want to get away and need mobile sleeping quarters to add some awesome sauce to your trip or you want to make a few bucks on the RV, travel trailer or camper van you already have, you have to check out Trailermade, a peer-to-peer rental company for the original adventuremobiles.The Airbnb for the Airstream set was started by two cousins who were tired of rising housing prices, said sayonara to their corporate gigs and started this company. Their corporate HQ? An Airstream.
Recently launched, Trailermade had just over 300 users at the time of this writing and about 60 listings, mainly in California and Colorado, including a rad Sportmobile. According to Toedt, the community’s numbers are growing daily. And they’ve already secured partnerships with big-time outdoor players like Patagonia, Tern Bicycles and Snow Peak.
Renters can rent a vehicle and take it on the road or keep it where they found it. Early adopters include a lot of surfers, cyclists and photographers — many of whom already know and love the chase-the-stoke camping lifestyle.
If you’re like me you’ve started counting down the days to ski season. To help scratch that itch Bent Gate in Golden, CO is throwing a ski season kick off party on September 24th!! I will be bringing Thor the Sportsmobile and displaying it at the party. Swing by and check out your very own 4×4 ski chalet!! mountaineering
Into The Wild is also running a special for the party! Swing by the van to pick a coupon for a free night of rental with a 3 night package!
A Sportsmobile, the only true Ski in/Ski out lodging in the world!!
Check out the event details below
6th Annual Ski Season Kickoff Party
A benefit for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center,
American Mountaineering Museum and Friends of Berthoud Pass
Free Ski Expo | Backcountry Games | Giveaways | Silent Auction | Ski Movies | Live Music | Mountain Toad Brewing | Food Trucks
Thursday, September 24th
5pm – 10pm
at the American Mountaineering Center
710 10th Street
Golden, CO 80401
Free entry to Ski Expo 5pm – 8pm:
Come check out this seasons best new gear
and buy your season tickets to:
Echo Mountain is Back!
$25 at the door
Purchasing a ticket gets you:
1 Beer Ticket, 3 Backcountry Games Tickets,
1 Movie Admission and a chance to win Prizes!
(movie will be announced soon)
Visit Bentgate.com/2015sskp for more details and tickets
Recently Into The Wild Expedition was asked to list the Sportsmobile on a new and upcoming website called Trailermade.co. This site offers rentals from tiny homes to a fully restored airstream. Their business concept sits well outside the box of your typical “1-800-Cruise-America” RV rental. I’m looking forward to working with this unique community site! Swing by Trailermade.co and check out our listing!
A little about the owners
“Two cousins tired of rising house prices ditch their corporate life to live out of an airstream and start Trailermade, a peer to peer trailer rental company empowering others to rent their trailers out to make extra money and become part of the new mobile community.
Trailermade brings you adventure by renting an RV, Travel Trailer, Camper Van, or Destination Spot through community. You can stay in a stay(ionary) location, play tow/drive to the destination of your choice, or Park-It, park on a campsite, land, or driveway.”
Recently Into The Wild Expedition Rentals and Nomad Inc have come together, bringing expertise from both the adventure travel and the adventure sport worlds.
Nomad Inc. is an adventure travel and photography company, specializing in custom skiing/snowboarding, surfing, and mountain biking trips. Their philosophy is to start with a desired destination and activity, understand your goals, then artfully craft an authentic trip itinerary to bring your inspired adventure to life. With all of their trips, you are accompanied by a Nomad Ambassador who is also an experienced photographer to document your unique journey with professional images.
Overlanding describes self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. Typically, but not exclusively, accommodated by mechanized off-highway capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping; often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and often spanning international boundaries. While expedition is defined as a journey with a purpose, overlanding sees the journey as the purpose.
Traveling in a vehicle to an established campground. If there is a picnic table there, it is probably car camping.
A one-day or multi-day off-highway trip on an adventure motorcycle or in a 4WD vehicle.
Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures.
An organized, vehicle-dependent journey with a defined purpose, often geographic or scientific in nature.
A 4WD vehicle or adventure motorcycle prepared for self-reliant travel over long distances, through unpredictable weather and over variable terrain.
Technical terrain can be encountered throughout the journey, and the travelers may even seek out the most challenging route to a destination as part of their experience, but overland travel is not the same as recreational “fourwheeling”, where the primary objective is overcoming challenging obstacles. The critical point to the term overland travel is that the purpose is to include at least two or more of the following: 1. Remote locations, 2. Cultures other than your own, 3. Under-explored or under-documented regions, 4. Self-reliance in unfamiliar territories for multiple days, weeks or months. That is to say, an overnight trip to the local mountains on a well-documented route, staying in an established campground with full-hookups, is not an overland adventure, it is a backcountry trip or at the very least, car camping.
For all your overlanding info, make sure to check out OverlandJournal.com
Trail Scout: The Utah Canyonlands and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Overland Journal has come out with their series Trail Scouts. This video is a perfect example of the beauty and utility of Overlanding, enjoy!
Routes are close to infinite in Canyon Country and we encourage you to explore within your capabilities. For this Trail Scout we will focus on a new classic that takes us through a very remote section of Canyonlands National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the San Rafael Desert. Your trip may be shorter or longer depending on how you assemble the different pieces. This will hopefully serve as inspiration to plan your own adventure in this amazing section of one of our largest national parks.
After topping up with fuel at the Hite Marina, get off the tarmac via NP633 from Highway 95, less than a quarter mile north of the airstrip and the Colorado River. The fairly fast and smooth dirt road will be punctuated by small washouts, sand patches, and sandstone slabs as it curves gently towards the northeast towards The Maze District of Canyonlands NP. The Cove turnout to the north offers the best permit-free camping; it’s approximately 15 miles from Highway 95. Anything farther north will require obtaining the proper paperwork. The trail winds around the drops of Rock Canyon and then across the Andy Miller Flats. The Orange Cliffs, Gunsight Butte, and the Chocolate Drops stand towering to the north and west. After some thirty-odd miles various junctions in the trail will head off to Sunset Pass, the Doll House, Beehive Arches and other worthwhile detours. Continuing on NP633 into the area known as Lands End will lead to the Maze Overlook junction. Back towards the southwest, the Flint Trail climbs up a tight, rocky series of steep switchbacks. Depending on the current trail conditions, this climb often presents the greatest technical challenge of the route; wet weather provides great excitement with limited traction and sheer drops around each bend. At the top of the Flint Trail we veer north through Gordon Flats to the North Point campground. The fork to the right on NP744 takes a path over a rockier trail for eight miles, ending in a “T” with Panorama Point a couple of miles to the south and Cleopatra’s Chair almost the same distance to the north. After visiting one or both, return over the North Point road to the campground and turn right to the northwest in the direction of the Hans Flats Ranger Station. A large, graded road emerges from the lonely desert outpost and cuts to the north across Robber’s Roost to Highway 24. If you follow the most direct route you will cover around 110 miles, though our experience with exploring side roads and other points of interest suggests your mileage will be closer to 250 miles over a 5-day period.
Canyonlands National Park is comprised of over 300,000 acres in southeast Utah and is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Rivers. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area follows the western edge of the park and falls under its jurisdiction. The park was established in 1964 and is visited by nearly half a million people each year. Despite its popularity, the rugged topography of the park and its large trail network provide many opportunities for remote exploration, with ever-increasing isolation the farther one travels from the developed park facilities. The area is characterized by its widely varied sandstone features such as mesas, staircases, spires, domes, and cliffs. The landscape is vegetated by junipers and piñon pines, and much of the ground is covered by cryptobiotic soil. The Green and Colorado rivers join in a confluence in the approximate center of the park and then flow together into Lake Powell to the south in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The remote Maze District only accounts for 3 percent of the 440,000 annual park visitors, approximately 14,000 persons per year.
Nomadic peoples are known to have existed in the Canyonlands area over 10,000 years ago. Later, the Ancient Pueblo peoples from the south and the Fremont from the west settled in the area more permanently. Visible traces of their communities remain today in the form of dwellings, granaries, pottery shards, pictographs and petroglyphs. In the last few thousand years the Utes, Navajos, and Paiutes hunted and gathered in the Canyonlands. Early European explorers largely circumnavigated the difficult terrain of the area, but hunters and trappers began to penetrate the area in the early 19th century. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell mapped the Green and Colorado rivers and some of the surrounding canyons as part of his famous expedition from Wyoming to Arizona. Beginning in the 1880s, ranchers grazed livestock in the Canyonlands and were responsible for creating an early network of trails. Many of the same families worked cattle and sheep on the land until the 1970s. During the more lawless period of Western expansion, Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch absconded into the maze of intricate canyons now located in the park in their efforts to elude capture. The residence of notorious outlaws such as Butch Cassidy earned the place name “Robbers Roost” that is still used today. Government incentivized mining exploration for atomic projects in the 1950s provided funding for the first network of roads that laid the groundwork for recreational visitation.
A high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for this route. Suitable off-pavement use tires and a full-size spare are advisable. Vehicle aids such as traction differentials or recovery tools may be needed depending on driver aptitude and ability. The distances covered are substantial and additional fuel supplies are a necessity for gasoline-powered vehicles. Travel time may vary from two to five days. Navigation is easily performed using paper maps. There is limited access to water in the elevations above the rivers and visitors should be self-sufficient. All backcountry considerations for health and safety should be applied as emergency resources are not close at hand.
The weather is most accommodating in spring and fall when temperatures are moderate and precipitation is limited. Visitors are also more frequent during the summer travel season. Rain in the summer monsoon season and snow in the winter will make steep sections of the trail much more challenging.
There are many miles of trails and roads within Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but the possible routes don’t immediately present a conventional loop. It’s best to approach the idea of traveling through the park with the expectation of a return visit. Don’t try to see it all in one go: Seek out the destinations that most interest you and be prepared to backtrack or overlap as necessary. Photographic opportunities abound, but the strong Utah sun will limit the quality of midday camerawork. Utilize the golden hours after dawn and before sunset, and account for them in planning when you will cross the most visually interesting portions of the park. If you travel by vehicle, don’t be afraid to visit some of it on foot when the engine isn’t running. The complicated, overlapping terrain features often obscure discoveries that are very close at hand. Hiking over a hill or climbing down into a small canyon may yield spectacular results.
All overnight trips in the backcountry of Utah’s Canyonlands require a permit. The Orange Cliffs Unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area shares Canyonlands’ western boundary and is administered under the same backcountry management plan and permit/reservation system. Permits are issued seven days a week at district visitor centers and the Hans Flat Ranger Station, and can be reserved in advance (see below). Walk-in permits are only available the day before or the day of a trip, and are issued up to one hour before the close of business each day.
Current and specific park regulations can be viewed at: nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/backcountryregulations.htm
Canyonlands shares a headquarters facility with the parks of the Southeast Utah Group
2282 SW Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532
With the Sportsmobile you will be able to find camping near the stages and beat the crowd to popular viewing areas.
Ok, that concludes my sales pitch. I personally think it would be sooo cool to follow the race in this rig. If someone doesn’t rent “Thor” I might just have to do it myself! The van is quickly booking for August but the dates for the race are still open!
Click here for more info on the race and route.