North America > United States > Salt Lake City
See: Why rent a car in Salt Lake City ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments
(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)
Your key questions for any destination:
Do I need a car in Salt Lake City?
Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.
That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!
- The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
- How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
- Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
- Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?
Is it worth hiring a car in Salt Lake City?
This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Salt Lake City car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.
How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Salt Lake City with other destinations locally and around the world.
This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.
Should I rent a car in Salt Lake City?
This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Salt Lake City, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.
Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season.
We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.
Salt Lake City is in car rental price band: 6/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)
General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Salt Lake City?
Sometimes. Car rental is slightly more expensive than global averages.
Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Salt Lake City between the peak and the off peak season?
5/10 (0 = stable prices)
Driving score: 4/10
Non car score:8/10
(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)
General comment -
[james]Although I visited Salt Lake City way back in 1996, it was only a brief stop late at night when travelling by Amtrak train from Denver, before heading later that evening down to the sin city of Las Vegas, a passenger service that is sadly no longer operating.
Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of the latter-day Sts, and this makes it a pilgrimage destination for Mormons, who come to visit the vast imposing Mormon Tabernacle that is situated right in the city centre.
Given that Salt Lake City is situated in the generally sparsely populated state of Utah, which has traditionally been very conservative in its politics, this is the sort of destination where it will be natural to expect that the only way to really get anywhere would be to do so using a rental car, taking advantage of whatever vast multilane freeways the city offered.
Now it’s perfectly true to say that if you are just looking for Salt Lake City car hire deals, and you aren’t really even thinking about whether or not there’s any point in getting a rental car, then Salt Lake City is absolutely the sort of destination where you have no problem at all driving. However, the idea of giving a Carornocar.com each city is to look at how easy it is to get around without a hire car, and also at the sort of activities and places to visit which can all be enjoyed without renting a car, and even at routes to take where the car free options are considerably better than what can be seen by driving alone.
As our summary below shows, Salt Lake City is clearly a very evenly balanced destination, and it’s also the sort of place where I think it’s best to either get a car for the full period or to take advantage of the numerous different options forgetting around without one, and especially to then look at ways to head onwards by train either in the direction of San Francisco to the west or Denver through the Rockies to the east. We don’t think there’s much point in looking at Salt Lake City car hire deals which just involve renting a car for part of your holiday/vacation, unless you’re planning is to stay in a city centre hotel in Salt Lake City where substantial parking charges are made in addition to the room price.
Why? Visiting Salt Lake City using a hire car
Why do you need a car in Salt Lake City ?
- Freedom and flexibility – good standard of driving roads in and around Salt Lake City.
- Many suburban hotels are not near public transport stops – hotels geared around guests arriving in their own car or in a rental car.
- Most suburban hotels will provide free parking (please check with destination).
- Access to stunning natural scenery at your own pace – Kodachrome, Zion et cetera, although many of these points in southern Utah are easier to reach from Las Vegas.
- Possible starting point for a road trip encompassing Monument Valley – perhaps a one-way rental ending in either Las Vegas or Phoenix.
- Potential one-way rentals returning at various different drop-off points in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado et cetera.
- Yellowstone National Park is an easy drive from Salt Lake City – and it’s much easier to visit with a rental car.
- Suggested one-way rental Salt Lake City – Salt Lake City to Zion to Kodachrome to Monument Valley to Grand Canyon to Sedona to Phoenix.
- Suggested driving loops from Salt Lake City – Salt Lake City designed to Kodachrome to Monument Valley to Grand Canyon to lake of our Sioux City to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City.
Why not? Visiting Salt Lake City without a car
Why don't you need a car in Salt Lake City ?
- Salt Lake City Valley local public transport – light rail-based, reasonable standards. Generally, public transport around Salt Lake City is far better, both when compared with most people’s expectations, or with other similar sized cities in the USA.
- The Great Salt Lake – travel across it by Amtrak (need to continue towards San Francisco).
- Amtrak across the Rockies to Denver – one of the worlds great scenic rail journeys.
- Snowbird is a year round resort, which is easy enough to reach by bus transfers from the valley. Allow around 90 minutes for a light rail – bus transfer. It’s quicker by car (around 45 minutes), but there’s no need to get a car just to get here. From here you can easily arrange any kind of outdoor activity from skiing in winter to hiking and biking in the summer. You can also take the year round cable car service to reach higher altitudes.
- Mountain biking (e.g. Slickrock Trail) – but you will need an organised trip or rental vehicle to get to start of trail.
- Kodachrome basin, Zion and other state and national parks by guided tour bus.
- Mormon Tabernacle – walking distance from city centre.
- Regular airport transfers from Salt Lake City International airport by bus.
- Various ride van and other shuttle services to Salt Lake City International airport.
- Yellowstone National Park – transfer bus services.
- Yellowstone National Park transfer by air (various options at destination).
Ratings: How does Salt Lake City compare?
Is it worth hiring a car in Salt Lake City? TBC
This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Salt Lake City, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.
How does this compare if:
You are travelling:
Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc
Does car rental make sense on different budgets?
Do you need to hire a car in Salt Lake City? TBC
This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Salt Lake City (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".
Should you rent a car in Salt Lake City? TBC
This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good.
See global comparisons
Hiring | Driving | Parking
Trains | Buses | Local travel
Car hire basics:
Public transportation basics:
Regular bus services: YES
Coach (inter-city): YES
High Speed Rail:
Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):
As you start ....
Does Salt Lake City airport have a direct rail link?
(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No
Has our advice for Salt Lake City car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?
2017 - 4
2019 - 3
2021 - 6
Average score - 5
Salt Lake City car hire verdict. Do you need to rent a car in Salt Lake City? This is a lot more evenly balanced a destination than visitors might expect, and the very best things to do here really don’t actually involve getting a rental car, so we think is well worth having another rethink before getting one.
Do you need a car in Salt Lake City? Verdict – no (evenly balanced).
Do you or don't you need a car in Salt Lake City ?