Getting to Utah
Although Salt Lake City is well connected with the rest of the world and has a good public transportation system, to really explore the state, a car is the most realistic choice (though a case can be made for a bike and strong legs). However, if you’re planning a winter trip with a focus on skiing the Wasatch ski areas, consider skipping the car rental and relying on shuttles or city buses.
Getting to Utah
Salt Lake City is a hub for Delta Airlines, and all other major airlines have regular flights into Salt Lake City International Airport (776 N. Terminal Dr., 801/575-2400, www.slcairport.com). The airport is an easy seven miles west of downtown, reached via I-80 or North Temple Street.
Amtrak (800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com) runs one passenger train across Utah. The California Zephyr runs between Oakland and Chicago via Salt Lake City.
Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) offers interstate service to Utah on its routes along I-15, I-70, and I-80.
Many foreign travelers enter Utah in RVs, which they rent to drive on a tour of the western national parks. It takes more planning to line up a rental RV than a car, but there are plenty of agencies in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City able to do the job. Most travel agents can help, or you can contact the local travel office in the city of your departure.
Regional airlines connect Salt Lake City with other communities in the state. Regular scheduled flights link to St. George and Cedar City. Great Lakes Airlines (800/554-5111) provides daily scheduled air service between Canyonlands Field just north of Moab and Denver and between Vernal and Denver.
Amtrak (800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com) can get you to Green River, Helper, Provo, and Salt Lake City, but that's about all. Public transportation to other points of interest, such as the national parks, is notably absent.
Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) provides bus service along Utah's interstate highways and U.S. 6 (between Green River and Provo), but these routes really don't get you close to the sorts of sights that most people come to Utah to see. The Wasatch Front area (from Provo to Ogden and from Salt Lake City out to Tooele) is served by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA, 801/287-4636, www.rideuta.com), a regional bus company with excellent service. Park City and other Salt Lake City ski areas are accessible via a number of ski-bus operations, some of which pick up at the airport.
Public transportation serves cities and some towns but very few of the scenic, historic, and recreational areas. Unless you're on a tour, you really need your own transportation. Cars are easily rented in any large town, though the Salt Lake City Airport offers by far the greatest selection: Avis Rent A Car (801/575-2847 or 800/331-1212, www.avis.com), Dollar Rent-A-Car (800/421-9849, www.dollar.com), Hertz (801/575-2683 or 800/654-3131, www.hertz.com), and National Car Rental (801/575-2277 or 800/227-7368, www.nationalcar.com). Four-wheel-drive vehicles can be rented, too, and will be very handy if you plan extensive travel on back roads.
Most tourist offices carry the Utah road map published by the Utah Department of Transportation (801/965-4000, www.udot.utah.gov); it's one of the best available and is free.
Touring on a bicycle is to be fully alive to the land, skies, sounds, plants, and birds of Utah. The experience of gliding across the desert or topping out on a mountain pass goes beyond words. Some effort, a lightweight touring or mountain bike, touring gear, and awareness of what's going on around you are all that's needed. Start with short rides if you're new to bicycle touring, then work up to longer cross-country trips. If you learn to maintain and repair your steed, you'll seldom have trouble on the road. An extra-low gear (30 inches or less) takes the strain out of long mountain grades.
Utah has almost every kind of terrain and road condition imaginable; mountain bicyclists find the Moab area in the southeast especially challenging and scenic. Note that designated wilderness areas are closed to cycling.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition