Most scenic route from Salt Lake City to Denver

If you’re driving from Salt Lake City to Denver, the scenic route is the way to go. There’s no better way to experience the best of Utah and Colorado than by driving through them. These winding roads will take you through some of Utah’s most beautiful landscapes while ultimately ending in Denver, Colorado.

Time spent on the road can be unfulfilling when the experience isn’t aesthetic. Why not make an experience of it? We have come up with the most scenic route from Salt Lake City to Denver. This trip will be longer than a straight drive but packed with breathtaking thrills!

There are many alternative routes available with detours and trails to enjoy. We have selected some for you that keep you from going entirely off the road in this article. You can expect the total time for this journey to be just around 18 hours and 34 minutes, including driving for 944 miles. The route goes through via I-80 E. This trip should cost you approximately $205.82 in fuel. The journey could be shorter if there is more than one driver. 

Salt Lake City to Denver Scenic Highlights

Table Of Contents

Nebo Loop Byway

Travel Overview: 1 hour 4 minutes — 60 mi

This location offers consumers numerous amounts of campgrounds and trail systems. Many travelers use these attractions to go horseback riding and the unique scenic features of Devil’s Kitchen. This is a popular area for its beautiful geologic picnic facilities. These are covered in beautiful paved trails that you can observe in a mesmerizing red color. South of Payson, you should be able to enjoy camping and fishing. It is a well-loved byway that leads you into the Mount Nebo Wilderness Area. You should be able to handle this 60-mile byway in just over one hour. Take note this area is not open to the public in the winter.

Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway

Travel Overview: 3 hours 23 minutes — 188 mi

This byway is one of the top routes to visit on the journey. It comes with over 15 Interpretive sites and four nature trails. This magical journey is stacked with interpretive pullouts in the form of geological signs that tell the story of how the area’s geology and wildlife came to be. The views are magnificent and can be thoroughly enjoyed from Red Canyon Overlook. The High Flaming Gorge Dam comes with a guided tour for travelers looking for educational trips. You can make some lifetime memories on this 502-foot high Dam. Just make sure to bring your camera. You can reach this location using Hwy 191 out of Vernal. Budget about 3.5 hours to complete the 188-mile trail. Fortunately, this season is drivable all year round.

Red Cloud Loop Road

Travel Overview: 1 hour 2 minutes — 43 mi

You will find this challenging but satisfying 43-mi loop trail close to Vernal. It is generally one of the most extended stops in the area because it’s close to the designated rest areas on the course. It takes the average traveler around 1hour to complete. It comes with an assortment of birding, hiking, and mountain biking activities. It is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy solitude during their route. You will find this place to be famous from June to October. The trail allows for dogs that are tied to a leash.

Jones Hole Scenic Backway

Travel Overview: 29 minutes — 17 mi

This road will start you off about four miles east of Vernal. The journey will need about 30 minutes to complete as you climb around 2,600 feet. The route should take you up 17 miles to the Diamond Mountain Plateau. It is a scenic route with beautiful backway crosses, including the Mancos Shale. Here you can enjoy sagebrush flats and grassy meadows. You can take in some aspen and pine as you climb through the route. Animal lovers can look forward to mingling with herds of Mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk on this route. The road is driveable all year round and will take you to the area’s national fish hatchery. This scenic canyon is rugged and offers intriguing sunset colors off the cliff. There is no entry cost to join a hatchery tour, allowing you to enjoy the scenic archeological sites on the route freely.

Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway

Travel Overview: 27 minutes — 24 mi

This 24-mile patch of the journey offers a chance to see a few of the world’s most significant dinosaur fossil quarries. It is a traditionally historic location with museums within a stunningly beautiful landscape. It is mainly fractured earth that has significant ancient stone rises. One hundred million-year-old fossils have been found there. This route traverses high mountains and barren plateaus, allowing you the chance to rest and have a picnic at one of the two national parks. At these parks, you will have access to national monuments and the great rivers of the West. It should take you half an hour to drive through for a quick bypass, although it is recommended to stay and enjoy the area if time permits.

Colorado River Headwaters Byway

Travel Overview: 2 hours 24 minutes — 146 mi

Colorado is traditionally known to have over 26 byways. The Colorado River Headwaters Scenic byway is featured on the route because of is one of North America’s mightiest rivers. You follow this river for over 146 miles, taking you through a magical place called the yellow-hued Gore Canyon. This place offers a scenic mixture of colors perfect for sunset photos. The verdant ranchland is also quite popular with travelers because it can be seen looming over the Grand Lake. It is driveable all year round, but the best time is in winter because the snowmelt forms the Colorado River headwaters. You can budget over 2.4 hours to complete the trip.

Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway

Travel Overview: 1 hour 38 minutes — 78 mi

Travelling West, you can enjoy the nostalgia of early auto touring. Lariat Loop has a proud bypass history among travelers and allows you to discover a legacy of riches in the foothills of Denver. It is a 78-mile scenic route that will see you visiting the towns of Golden, Morrison, and Evergreen. You will see the majestic Lookout Mountain, which lasts for over five miles as you drive. It brings to life the story of engineering that began in the early 1900s. It is an excellent place for thrill-seeking drivers and bikers who enjoy space parks and museums. There are foothills and canyons along the Loop that have beautiful wildlife on display. You can enjoy art galleries, historic buildings, and settlements on this route. The Lariat Loop offers both past and present gems here to enjoy.


Best stops between salt lake city and Denver

  • Cheyenne, Wyoming.
  • Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, Wyoming.
  • Rawlins, Wyoming.
  • Seminole State Park, Wyoming

Driving from salt lake city to Denver in winter

This drive is modestly challenging and is best performed in the summer to avoid dangerous winter road conditions. 

What appears to be the shortest driving route between salt lake city

UT12, US89, UT20, and I-15 to SLC offer travelers the quickest driving route. This route should involve about 275 miles of driving. On average, lasting a total of 5 hours to complete.

Salt lake city to Denver via i-70

Driving from Salt Lake City to Denver via the I-70 to Denver will take about 8 hours, covering 525 miles.

Distance from Salt Lake to Denver

The distance between Salt Lake City and Denver is 519 miles on the I-80. A full journey time of 7.5 hours. 

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