Things to do / Travel Guide
It's as much about the journey as it is the destination in the southern Utah region. Quite often you'll be tempted to pull over as you travel through the rich red rock region, full of roadside geological wonders.
Getting around the southern Utah region by car is by far the most convenient and flexible option in terms of your ability to explore. Practically every road can be considered scenic, and you'll want the flexibility to pull over or travel a less-beaten track when the surrounding natural beauty so calls you. While public transportation is available between and in the region's bigger towns like Cedar City, Moab, and St. George, other scenic, historic, or recreational areas aren't generally accessible by public transportation. Cars are the convenient and economical pick for touring the region.
Two Interstate highways, I-15 and I-70, give visitors fast and easy access to the region, passing near Arches and Zion National Parks. I-70 crosses southern Utah from east to west, and near the Colorado border it provides access to the Arches and Moab area. From Salt Lake City, I-15 cuts south through Cedar City and St. George into the Arizona Strip, and further down the road to Las Vegas.
Smaller paved highways, including U.S. Highway 191 via Moab and scenic U.S. Highway 12 near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, provide spectacular scenic views and access to the National Parks tucked deeper in the region, located off the main interstates. U.S. Highway 89, off I-70, goes south into Panguitch directly to Bryce Canyon and near Zion National Park.
Indeed, much of the driving you'll be doing in the region will not be on the Interstates, but rather on two-lane roads; the distances are great, services are sparse, but the views are priceless. These unpaved roads offer well-prepared visitors scenic drives and open road through the red rock formations of the region. High clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles are advisable for extensive travel on back roads and are available for rental at all major car rental companies in St. George, Cedar City, or outside the region in Salt Lake City.
The following are approximate distances and driving times to and from Moab and Cedar City to other destinations within the Southern Utah region:
Moab and Cedar City are about 290 miles; 4 hours and 15 minutes apart.
- Arches National Park: Cedar City - 280 miles, 4 hours; Moab - 4 miles, 7 minutes
- Canyonlands National Park: Cedar City - 290 miles, 4 hours 15 minutes; Moab - 30 miles, 30 minutes
- Grand Canyon North Rim: Cedar City - 160 miles; Moab - 400 miles, 6 hours
- Glen Canyon Recreation Area/ Lake Powell (Bullfrog): Cedar City - 310 miles, 5 hours; Moab -160 miles, 3 hours
- Zion National Park: Cedar City - 55 miles, 55 minutes; Moab - 345 miles, 5 hours
- Bryce Canyon: Cedar City - 80 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes; Moab - 275 miles, 4.5 hours
- St. George: Cedar City - 50 miles, 50 minutes; Moab - 340 miles, 5 hours
Driving around the Grand Canyon
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only open from mid-May to late-October depending on the winter weather. Sixty-one miles of dirt road (impassable when wet) take travelers to Toroweap Overlook, one of the most spectacular views of the canyon, a 141-mile, 3.5-hour drive from the Bright Angel Point area of the North Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a 215-mile drive from the south rim, even though the rims stand just 10 miles apart.
Mostly private buses, charter companies, and bus tours can transport visitors from the region's gateway towns into the National Park districts. Greyhound routes reach Green River, Utah, 50 miles from downtown Moab along I-70. There are several shuttle companies that offer shuttle bus service from Green River to downtown Moab.
In the summer months, shuttle bus systems in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks give visitors the option of parking at the entrance or visitor center and taking a bus around the park with stops every 10 to 15 minutes at all major lookout points, attractions, and trailheads.
Cedar City, St. George, and Moab all have local airports that offer departing flights to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. A few companies offer charter flights from Cedar City Airport to Bryce Canyon Airport, a few miles from the park. Scenic plane flights and helicopter tours are available from these locations as well, but all air-bound transportation options are expensive and not necessarily the most practical means of getting around.