Your best bet to get here by air is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada, or Salt Lake City, Utah. Moab has a direct service from Denver.
Airports & Airlines
Canyonlands Field Airport (www.moabairport.com) Commercial service had just begun when we passed through, with new direct services to Denver.
Denver International Airport (www.flydenver.com) Denver is 5½ hours from both Arches and Canyonlands.
Grand Junction Regional Airport (www.gjairport.com) Small regional airport in western Colorado. Two hours from Arches and Canyonlands.
McCarran International Airport (www.mccarran.com) Las Vegas' airport is three hours from Zion and 4½ hours from Bryce.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (https://skyharbor.com) Six to seven hours from Zion.
Salt Lake City International Airport (www.slcairport.com) Three to four hours from all of Utah's main parks.
St George Municipal Airport (www.flysgu.com) Small airport one hour from Zion. Closer than the main hubs, but less likely to have good airfare deals.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
Most people get here by automobile, either in a rental or their own. There are a few long-haul bus companies, but getting to and around the parks is hard without your own wheels. There are no checks to cross state borders.
- Long-distance buses can get you to major points within the region, but you'll still need to rent a car to get around as public transportation to the parks is nonexistent.
- Greyhound runs buses throughout Utah. There is service to St George and Cedar City for access to Bryce and Zion parks, with routes connecting to Las Vegas, Denver and Salt Lake, to continue on to most major US cities. Note that tickets are not sold at the St George bus stop, you'll need to buy them online.
- Private shuttles sometimes connect parks with nearby towns, such as Green River to Moab or St George to Zion.
- To save money, plan seven days in advance, buy tickets online, travel on weekdays and travel with a companion.
- You can take bus tours of the park, a good alternative if you don't have a car.
Discounts are available – on unrestricted fares only – for seniors over 62 (5% discount), students (20%) with a Student Advantage Card and children aged two to 11 (25%). Children under two years old ride free, but only if they don’t require their own seat.
You may save a few dollars by purchasing round-trip tickets and traveling between Monday and Thursday. Check the Greyhound website (www.greyhound.com) for more promotional deals, including companion fares (50% off), although these special fares may also come with restrictions or blackout periods.
|Denver, CO||Green River, UT||$62-94||7½hr|
|Grand Junction, CO||Green River, UT||$25-39||1¾hr|
|Las Vegas, NV||St George, UT||$18-27||2¼hr|
|Las Vegas, NV||Green River, UT||$59-89||7¼hr|
|Salt Lake City, UT||St George, UT||$40-57||5½hr|
|Salt Lake City, UT||Green River, UT||$31-48||3¾hr|
It’s easy to buy Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) tickets online with a credit card, then pick them up (bring photo ID) at the terminal. Or buy tickets over the phone or in person from an agent.
The majority of Greyhound boarding is done on a first-come, first-served basis. Even buying tickets in advance does not guarantee you a seat on any particular bus. For that, you must also purchase priority boarding ($5). Otherwise, arrive at least one hour prior to the scheduled departure time (earlier on weekends and around holidays) to get a seat. The best seats are near the front, away from the bathroom.
Buses can accommodate mobility-impaired travelers if you call 800-752-4841 at least 48 hours in advance.
Car, Motorcycle & RV
While the quickest way to get to Utah is by plane, the best way to get around is with your own private vehicle. Most destinations cannot be reached with public transportation.
For 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, free maps and travel discounts on lodging, attractions, car rentals and more:
American Automobile Association Has a walk-in office in the town of Washington (just on the east side of the greater St George area), and reciprocal agreements with some international auto clubs (eg Canada’s CAA). Bring your membership card from home.
Better World Club (www.betterworldclub.com) Eco-friendly alternative auto club that supports environmental causes and offers optional emergency roadside assistance for cyclists. Annual membership (from $60) gets you two 24-hour emergency roadside pickups and transport within a 5-mile radius.
Good Sam RV Club (www.goodsamclub.com) Emergency roadside assistance and towing services for RVs, online route planner and 10% discounts at participating campgrounds.
- Visitors may legally drive a car in Utah for up to 12 months with their home driver’s license.
- If you’re from overseas, an International Driving Permit (IDP) will have more credibility with police and simplify the car-rental process, especially if your license doesn’t have a photo or isn’t written in English.
- To legally ride a motorcycle, you’ll need a valid US state motorcycle license or a specially endorsed IDP.
For rentals, always first check your auto-insurance policy or credit card from home to see if you’re already covered.
- Utah law requires all drivers to carry proof of liability insurance, which covers damage to any property or people you might hit.
- Insurance against damage to the car itself, called collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW), costs another $30 or so per day; it may also require that you pay the first $100 to $500 for any repairs. Some credit cards offer reimbursement for collision damage if you pay for the entire rental with that card. There may be exceptions for rentals longer than 15 days, exotic models or 4WD vehicles.
- Many rental companies stipulate that any damage a car sustains while being driven on unpaved roads is not covered by the insurance they offer. A few companies prohibit driving off paved roads entirely, even when renting a 4WD vehicle. Clarify this ahead of time if you plan on doing any off-road driving.
- To rent your own wheels, you’ll need to be at least 25 years old, hold a valid driver’s license and have a major credit card, not a check or debit card. A few companies may rent to drivers between 21 and 25 years of age for a surcharge (about $25 per day).
- With advance reservations, you should be able to get an economy-size vehicle for around $30 per day, excluding insurance, taxes and fees. Some major car-rental companies, including Avis, Budget and Hertz, now offer ‘green’ fleets of hybrid rental cars; expect to pay significantly more for these models.
- Renting a 4WD vehicle such as a Jeep costs more (from $45 per day). The cheapest places to rent 4WD vehicles are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, but then you’ll be stuck with a higher-priced, fuel-inefficient vehicle for your entire trip. Renting a 4WD locally in southern Utah is more expensive on a daily basis (easily over $100), but may work out cheaper overall if you only need a 4WD for a couple of days.
- Car-rental rates usually include unlimited mileage, but hefty surcharges apply for additional drivers and one-way rentals. Child or infant safety seats are required by law (reserve when booking), renting from $10/50 per day/week.
- Most companies have rental desks at Salt Lake City, McCarran (Las Vegas) and Denver international airports and Grand Junction regional airport. St George, Cedar City and Moab also have rental locations.
Motorcycle rentals and insurance are not cheap, especially if you have your eye on a Harley-Davidson. Depending on the model, it costs $100 to $250 per day plus taxes. Rental rates usually include helmets, unlimited miles and liability insurance, but collision insurance (CDW) costs extra.
RVs remain a popular way to travel around southern Utah. Although the larger models can be cumbersome to navigate and guzzle gas at an alarming rate, they solve transportation, accommodation and cooking needs in one fell swoop.
- After the size of the vehicle, consider the impact of gas prices, gas mileage, additional mileage costs, insurance and refundable deposits; these can add up quickly. It pays to shop around and read the fine print.
- Rental rates vary by size, model and mileage. The base rate for a four-person vehicle can be anywhere from $420 to $1800 weekly in summer, plus 34¢ for each additional mile not included in your package. Get out a good map and calculator to determine if it's practical.
- Before heading out, consult http://gorving.com or www.rvtravel.com for tips galore.
- Visit Woodall's (www.woodalls.com) for a thorough RV campground guide.
- Some roads in southern Utah are not appropriate for RVs, and a few roads expressly forbid travel by RVs (or sometimes only for models over a certain length). For further details, consult seasonal park newspapers or ask the staff at visitor centers.
- RV dump stations and electrical hookups are found at private campgrounds outside the parks. Inside the parks, dump stations may only be available seasonally (if at all) and generator use is usually restricted to certain hours at NPS (National Parks Service) campgrounds, which may not have pull-through sites and may restrict RV camping to vehicles of a certain length only.
- Be aware that if you’re planning on driving an RV or other oversized vehicle through the Mt Carmel–Zion Tunnel inside Zion National Park, you’ll need to pay an escort fee and time your trip during specific hours.
- For rentals try Outdoorsy (www.outdoorsy.com), like VRBO (Vehicle Rentals by Owner), but for campers and RVs.
- Drive on the right-hand side of the road. The use of seat belts is required for drivers, front-seat passengers and anyone under age 20. Children under eight years old are required to sit in a car seat or booster, unless they are taller than 57in (145cm). Motorcycle helmets are not required for adults over age 18.
- The maximum speed limit on major Utah highways is 80mph, but it can be much lower on back roads.
- You may make a right turn on a red light after first coming to a full stop, unless signs say otherwise. U-turn laws vary by city; look for posted signs.
- It is permissible to talk on your cell phone while driving, but illegal to 'manipulate' your phone (ie dial or text). Get a hands-free setup if you don't already have one.
- Strict penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Utah include steep fines and jail time. Police can give roadside sobriety checks to assess if you’ve been drinking or using drugs. You’ll fail if your blood alcohol is over the legal limit (0.08%). Refusing to be tested can result in immediate suspension of your driver’s license. It is illegal to carry open containers of alcohol inside a vehicle, even when they’re empty; store them in the trunk instead.
- Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) operates two major routes through the area. Use them to reach the region, but not for touring.
- The California Zephyr runs between the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago with stops at Green River (50 miles northwest of Moab, no car rental), Grand Junction (western Colorado, with car rental) and Salt Lake City.
- The Southwest Chief runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, with stops at Albuquerque in New Mexico, and Flagstaff in Arizona.
Fares depend on the day of travel, the type of seating etc. Round-trip fares cost the same as two one-way tickets.
AAA (American Automobile Association) members can save 10%. Seniors over 62 and students with an International Student Identity Card or Student Advantage Card receive a 15% discount, while up to two children (aged two to 15) get 50% off when accompanied by an adult. Children under two years old ride free, but only if they don’t require their own seat. Check the Amtrak website for special promotions or ask about all available discount fares when making reservations.
You can buy tickets at Amtrak stations, by phone or online. Reservations can be made up to 11 months prior to departure. During summer and around holidays, trains sell out quickly, so buy tickets as early as possible, especially for sleeping-car accommodations (hefty surcharge applies).
|Chicago, IL||Green River, UT||$129||29hr|
|Denver, CO||Grand Junction, CO||$46||8hr|
|Emeryville, CA||Green River, UT||$98||22hr|
|Reno, NV||Green River, UT||$86||15hr|
|Salt Lake City, UT||Green River, UT||$32||4½hr|
|Salt Lake City, UT||Grand Junction, CO||$43||7hr|
It is not possible to travel here by sea.