With gas prices soaring and RVs not exactly getting the best miles per gallon, you’re probably looking at trips a little closer to home. And that’s great! There are so many fantastic places to visit outside of major cities. And many of them can be seen on a single tank of gas! For this installment of our One Tank Itinerary series, we’re taking a trip around Salt Lake City, Utah on one tank of gas.
There are many great places around Salt Lake City and several National Parks are with an easy drive. But for this trip we’re heading north and exploring some of the activities in northern Utah that are perfect for a one tank trip. This trip is 168 miles and takes approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes of drive time.
So leave your rig at the campground and take your tow car out for a day trip. Or if you’re heading up to Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park, use this as a slow travel day in your rig to extend the adventure and explore these stops along the way!
Salt Lake City
You could spend an entire week checking out all there is to do in Salt Lake City like the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Clark Planetarium, the Utah State Capital, Temple Square, or Red Butte Garden. But for this trip you’ll start your day by grabbing breakfast before heading north on your one tank Utah adventure.
Antelope Island State Park
For the first stop you’ll head north just a short distance from Salt Lake City to Antelope Island State Park. This state park is located (as you might guess) on Antelope Island, the biggest island in the Great Salt Lake. This island has everything – beaches, plains, and even mountains! Take a swim on the beach, visit the historic Fielding Garr Ranch, or watch for the free-ranging bison and other animals that call the island home. You can also take a guided tour either on horseback or ebike.
The state park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (it’s closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). The visitor’s center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After you explore the island hop back in the car and head north to the town of Ogden. It’s a historic town that was originally settled during the pioneer era in the mid-1800s. You could easily spend a day or two exploring Ogden, but you’ll have to narrow it down for this trip. Take your pick of activities for both kids and adults like the Egyptian Theater, the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park or the Ogden Botanical Gardens. Or check out one of the transportation based museums like the Hill Aerospace Museum which has over 90 aircrafts or the Utah State Railroad Museum which teaches about the transcontinental railroad and Utah’s railroad history.
Shop or grab lunch along the 25th Street Historic District, the original district starting at Union Station and running for 3 blocks. It’s full of restaurants and shops and makes for the perfect place to refuel after the morning’s adventures.
While Ogden is fun all year round, if you happen to be visiting in winter Ogden is located near several fantastic ski resorts such as Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, and Nordic Valley. You could easily stop here and spend the rest of the day skiing or snowboarding. But if you’re taking this trip during the warmer months, it’s time to hop back in the car and continue the journey north.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
As you head north your next destination is the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. This refuge protects the marshes at the mouth of the Bear River where it flows into the Great Salt Lake. The 74,000 acres of wetlands is one of the best bird watching destinations in the world with over 200 bird species seen in the park. And it’s also a great place to get out and stretch your legs.
If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll love the different ways the Refuge offers to catch of glimpse of the waterfowl that reside here. They offer a 12 mile car tour route where you can drive through the park and see the animals while listening to an audio guide that you can download from the Refuge’s website. Or park your car and explore the 1.5 miles of trails and the Wildlife Education Center where you can walk, run, or bike along the trail system. You can also fish in the Bear River and can find fishing permits and regulations inside the Education Center. To make it even better, leashed dogs are even allowed!
The Wildlife Education Center is open Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The auto tour route and trails are to be open sunrise to sunset.
Crystal Hot Springs
After birdwatching it’s time to head to some hot springs! A quick drive north takes you to Crystal Hot Springs, the world’s largest natural hot spring. Once you pay the entry fee you can choose from three hot tubs, an Olympic-sized freshwater swimming pool, two 360-foot water slides, a soaker pool, or a lap pool and enjoy some time soaking in the mineral waters. Crystal Hot Springs sits on both a hot and cold natural spring, meaning temperatures of the water range from 65 – 134 degrees Fahrenheit. So pick your preferred temperature and enjoy some soaking time. There’s also changing rooms and a sand volleyball court, making this another great family friendly experience. (And if you want to turn this into an overnight trip, there’s even a campground with full hook up RV sites).
Hours vary but typically range from 12 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Check their website for exact open times.
Bear Lake State Park
End your one tank road trip with an afternoon at Bear Lake State Park, Utah. Known for the gorgeous blue color from the calcium carbonates suspended in the water and the white sand beaches, it’s often called the Caribbean of the Rockies. This state park is divided into three sections, each with their own highlights.
If you want to spend the day on the water, head to Bear Lake State Park Marina near Garden City. The marina rents fishing boats, jet skis, and offers gas and supplies. If you’d rather swim in the blue waters stop by Rendezvous Beach. It’s on the southwest part of the lake near Laketown, UT and is open from late April to late October. And did you know you can scuba dive in Utah? That’s right, the Bear Lake is known for its various scuba diving locations. Experienced divers can head to Cisco Beach on the east side of the lake which has a great drop off and aquatic life. Or explore the “Car Lot” on the west side of the lake. It’s a stack of old cars from the 1930s buried in the water for divers to explore.
Want to extend your trip? You’ll have to add another tank of gas, but keep heading north on 89 and you’ll find yourself at Grand Teton National Park and eventually Yellowstone National Park. If you’re looking to start your RV trip from Salt Lake City, check out these great RV rentals at RVshare.com.