Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip Best 9 Tips

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip spans approximately 320 miles. Travel time by car usually takes around 4.5 to 5 hours.

Embarking on a journey from the urban landscape of Salt Lake City, Utah, to the natural wonder that Yellowstone National Park promises an adventure steeped in breathtaking scenery and rugged charm. This popular route leads travelers through picturesque mountain ranges, idyllic small towns, and into the heart of one of America’s most iconic national parks.

The drive itself becomes an unforgettable part of the experience, with opportunities to witness diverse wildlife and partake in outdoor recreational activities along the way. Ideal for road trippers and nature enthusiasts alike, this expedition offers a formidable blend of cultural and natural attractions, ensuring a treasure trove of memories. Whether venturing into the wilderness for the first time or revisiting beloved landscapes, this road trip encapsulates the essence of the great American outdoors.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park road trip Itinerary

A road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park offers an exciting journey through scenic landscapes and diverse attractions. Here’s a detailed itinerary for the trip:

Day 1: Salt Lake City to Jackson, Wyoming

  • Depart from Salt Lake City in the morning and head northeast on I-15 towards Idaho.
  • Make a stop in Idaho Falls for lunch and to stretch your legs. Visit the Idaho Falls River Walk or the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park.
  • Continue driving towards Jackson, Wyoming, passing through the picturesque Teton Valley.
  • Arrive in Jackson in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Check into your accommodation and explore the charming town square, known for its iconic elk antler arches.
  • Enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants in Jackson.

Day 2: Grand Teton National Park

  • Wake up early and drive north to Grand Teton National Park, located just north of Jackson.
  • Spend the day exploring Grand Teton’s stunning landscapes, including iconic spots like Jenny Lake, Snake River Overlook, and Mormon Row.
  • Take a scenic hike along one of the park’s many trails, such as the Taggart Lake Trail or the Hidden Falls Trail.
  • In the afternoon, consider taking a scenic float trip down the Snake River or visiting the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
  • Return to Jackson in the evening and relax with dinner at a local eatery.

Day 3: Jackson to Yellowstone National Park

  • Check out of your accommodation in Jackson and drive north towards Yellowstone National Park.
  • Enter Yellowstone through the South Entrance and stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin to marvel at the colorful geothermal features along Yellowstone Lake.
  • Continue north along the Grand Loop Road, stopping at attractions such as Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and Fountain Paint Pot.
  • Take a break for lunch at one of the park’s designated picnic areas or grab a bite to eat at one of the park lodges.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring more of Yellowstone’s iconic sights, including the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs.
  • Check into your accommodation inside the park or in one of the nearby gateway towns, such as West Yellowstone or Gardiner.
  • Enjoy dinner and relax after a day of adventure in Yellowstone.

Day 4: Yellowstone National Park

  • Spend the day exploring additional attractions in Yellowstone, such as the Lamar Valley for wildlife viewing, Norris Geyser Basin, and the Upper Geyser Basin.
  • Consider taking a ranger-led hike or attending a ranger program to learn more about the park’s geology, history, and wildlife.
  • Have lunch at one of the park’s dining options or pack a picnic to enjoy in a scenic spot.
  • Take time to relax and soak in the natural beauty of Yellowstone, keeping an eye out for wildlife such as bison, elk, and bears.
  • In the evening, enjoy a sunset stroll or attend a ranger-led evening program before heading back to your accommodation for the night.

Day 5: Yellowstone National Park to Salt Lake City

  • Check out of your accommodation in Yellowstone and begin the journey back to Salt Lake City.
  • Take one last drive through the park, stopping at any missed attractions or scenic viewpoints along the way.
  • Exit Yellowstone through the South Entrance and begin the drive back towards Salt Lake City.
  • Break up the drive with stops in scenic towns like Jackson or Idaho Falls for lunch and to stretch your legs.
  • Arrive back in Salt Lake City in the evening, concluding your memorable road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

This itinerary provides a detailed outline for a road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park, highlighting key attractions and activities along the way. Adjustments can be made based on your interests, available time, and desired pace of travel.

salt lake city to yellowstone national park road trip

Is the drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone pretty?

Yes, the drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park is exceptionally scenic, offering travelers a diverse array of landscapes and natural beauty to enjoy along the way. Here are some highlights of the drive:

Wasatch Mountain Range: As you leave Salt Lake City, you’ll pass through the picturesque Wasatch Mountain Range, known for its rugged peaks, alpine forests, and stunning vistas. The drive through this mountainous region offers breathtaking views and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Bear Lake: Located along the Utah-Idaho border, Bear Lake is a stunning turquoise-blue lake surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests. The drive along the shores of Bear Lake provides panoramic views of the sparkling waters and scenic landscapes.

Teton Range: As you approach Yellowstone from the south, you’ll have the opportunity to drive through the iconic Teton Range in neighboring Grand Teton National Park. Towering granite peaks rise dramatically above pristine lakes and lush valleys, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your journey.

Snake River Canyon: The drive along the Snake River Canyon offers stunning views of the meandering river, towering cliffs, and rugged terrain. Be sure to stop at Snake River Overlook for panoramic views of the canyon and the Teton Range in the distance.

Bridger-Teton National Forest: En route to Yellowstone, you’ll pass through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, a vast wilderness area known for its dense forests, alpine meadows, and abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for opportunities to spot elk, moose, and other wildlife along the way.

Overall, the drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park is incredibly scenic, offering travelers a chance to experience the natural beauty of the American West. Whether you’re driving through mountain ranges, alongside pristine lakes, or through lush forests, you’re sure to be impressed by the stunning landscapes that unfold before you on this unforgettable journey.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Road Trip Checklist

An epic road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone awaits. The route promises breathtaking landscapes, towering mountains, and serene lakes. This journey isn’t just travel; it’s an adventure through the heart of nature. Let’s dive into how to make this scenic expedition an unforgettable one!

Preparation Checklist

To ensure a smooth trip, a well-planned checklist is key. Consider the essentials:

  • Vehicle check: Make sure your vehicle can handle long distances.
  • Packing essentials: Include plenty of water, snacks, and a first-aid kit.
  • Accommodation bookings: Plan where you will stay each night.
  • Map out stops: Identify must-see attractions along the way.
  • Carry cash: Not every spot may accept cards.
  • Bring warm clothes: Even summer nights can be chilly.
  • Check park entry: Confirm Yellowstone’s entry requirements.


Best Time To Travel

Season Scenery Activity
Spring Emerging wildlife Hiking
Summer Lush landscapes Fishing & Boating
Fall Vibrant foliage Photography
Winter Snowy sights Snowmobiling

The peak season: July and August. For fewer people, aim for May, June, September, or October. Each season offers a unique beauty and set of activities in the Yellowstone area. Plan accordingly for the best experience!

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip: Epic Guide


Plotting The Course

Imagine a journey that carves its way through scenic vistas, rugged landscapes, and historic landmarks. That’s the essence of a road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip. This adventure isn’t just a drive; it’s an exploration. Plotting the course for this epic road trip means creating the blueprint for an unforgettable experience. Let’s get started.

Mapping The Route

First things first, knowing the adventure path is key. The drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone covers approximately 320 miles. The route is straightforward and takes about 5 to 6 hours. Travel north on I-15, merge onto I-86, and follow until you hit I-20 which leads straight to the West Entrance of Yellowstone. Travelers can revel in the changing landscapes from urban panoramas to the wild heart of nature.

Must-see Spots Along The Way

The journey to Yellowstone is dotted with fascinating stops. Ignite your curiosity by visiting these must-see spots:

  • Bear Lake – A natural freshwater lake straddling the Utah-Idaho border, known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies.”
  • Lava Hot Springs – A small town famous for its hot springs where travelers can relax and soak.
  • The Grand Tetons – Don’t miss the majestic Grand Tetons standing proud with trails and wildlife.
  • Jackson Hole – A charming town known for beautiful archways of antler and a vibrant arts scene.
Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Diving Into Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Before embarking on the grand journey from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip, take some time to explore the hidden gems and local flavors that Salt Lake City boasts. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and make memories as you prep for the scenic drive ahead.

Key Attractions

Salt Lake City gleams with attractions that cater to every interest. Thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike find joy in the city’s backyard.

  • Temple Square – A stunning 10-acre complex that forms the heart of the city.
  • Hogle Zoo – A sanctuary for wildlife and fun for families.
  • Natural History Museum of Utah – Discover prehistoric wonders and natural sciences.
  • Red Butte Garden – Colorful blooms and peaceful strolls await.

Local Eateries

Dive into the sizzling flavors of local eateries. Savor each bite and etch the tastes of Salt Lake City into your memory.

Restaurant Cuisine Specialty
Red Iguana Mexican Mole Amarillo
Pig & A Jelly Jar American / Soul Food Chicken & Waffles
Bambara New American Steak Frites
Settebello Pizzeria Italian Margherita Pizza

The Allure Of The Open Road

Imagine taking a deep breath of fresh, crisp air as you embark on a journey unlike any other. The Allure of the Open Road captivates the spirit with the promise of adventure and the freedom to explore. A road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip offers this and more, transporting you through an ever-changing landscape that’s as stunning as it is dynamic.

Scenic Byways And Vistas

Every turn on this iconic road trip brings another postcard-perfect view. Prepare to drive through scenes that look like they’ve been painted by nature’s hand.

  • Mirror Lake Scenic Byway: Catch your reflection in the tranquil waters surrounded by forest pines.
  • Logan Canyon: A winding path with limestone cliffs and a kaleidoscope of autumn colors.

Savor these vistas and let the scenic byways lead you to the heart of Yellowstone’s awe-inspiring wilderness.

Wildlife Encounters

As you near Yellowstone, the roadside becomes a front-row seat to nature’s wonders. Bison roam freely, and elk graze against the backdrop of the park. Keep your eyes peeled for these majestic beings.

Animal Best Spots
Bison Lamar Valley
Elk Mammoth Hot Springs
Bears Tower-Roosevelt

Remember, these animals are wild. View them from a safe distance and never disturb their natural behavior.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Discovering Small Town America

Pack your bags for an unforgettable journey through the heart of the US. Take the scenic road from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip and embrace the beauty of small-town America. Interesting landmarks and warm local traditions await, offering a glimpse into the country’s rich heritage.

Historic Towns To Visit

Travel back in time by stepping into towns rich with history. Each town tells a unique story of the Old West.

  • Montpelier, Idaho: Visit the Bank of Montpelier, where Butch Cassidy’s gang once pulled off a historic heist.
  • Afton, Wyoming: Marvel at the world’s largest elkhorn arch and explore the pioneer spirit of the West.
  • Jackson, Wyoming: Savor cowboy culture and stunning wooden architecture before your final stretch to Yellowstone.

Cultural Experiences

Embrace the colorful tapestry of American culture as you meet local artisans and taste homemade delicacies.

  • Local Fairs: Join the lively atmosphere of town fairs, where rodeos, live music, and craft stalls come alive.
  • Family-owned Restaurants: Enjoy fresh, hearty meals that showcase the authentic flavors of the region.
  • Artisan Shops: Find one-of-a-kind souvenirs crafted by skilled locals who share stories of their craft.

Adventure Activities En Route

The stretch of road from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park road trip brims with thrills for the adventurer at heart. The journey itself unfolds as a prelude to the epic wonders of Yellowstone, offering invigorating activities set against a backdrop of stunning landscapes. From winding trails to refreshing river exploits, each mile pulses with potential adventure.

Hiking Trails

Breathe in the crisp air as you traverse the diverse terrain. Utah and Idaho offer some of the most scenic hikes. Embark on these treks to discover hidden gems.

  • Big Cottonwood Canyon: Just a short ride from Salt Lake City, this canyon presents various trails for novice and skilled hikers alike.
  • City of Rocks National Reserve: Marvel at the intricate rock formations and enjoy trails that cater to both peaceful strolls and strenuous climbs.
  • Bear Lake Summit: Gain elevation and immerse yourself in panoramic views halfway to Yellowstone.

Water-based Adventures

Don’t miss the chance to cool off or ride the waves. Rivers and lakes dot the map, inviting every type of water enthusiast.

Location Activity Experience Level
Snake River White-water Rafting All Levels
Bear Lake Paddleboarding Beginner to Intermediate
Palisades Reservoir Kayaking Intermediate

Savoring The Local Cuisine

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip promises breathtaking scenery and thrilling adventures. Yet, it’s the local flavors that often carve the most memorable experiences into a traveler’s journey. As you wind through the rugged beauty of Utah and into the wild heart of Wyoming, the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine is an adventure in itself, turning a simple meal into an unforgettable part of your road trip.

Farm-to-table Restaurants

Feast on the freshness of the region with a stop at any of the farm-to-table restaurants dotting the route to Yellowstone. These eateries commit to sustainability by sourcing ingredients directly from local farms and artisans.

  • The Rustic Fork: Delight in heirloom vegetables and pasture-raised meats, a testament to Utah’s rich agricultural heritage.
  • Prairie Plate: Enjoy a plate of wild trout or bison, paired with seasonal sides that spotlight Wyoming’s diverse terrain.
Restaurant Specialty Dish Location
The Harvest Haven Grilled Peach Salad Logan, UT
Mountain Bounty Elk Tenderloin Jackson, WY

Food Festivals

Your journey would be incomplete without experiencing the joy of a local food festival. These events offer a taste of regional specialties and reflect the unique culture and community spirit.

  1. Taste of Salt Lake: Sample the city’s best cuisine, from gourmet bites to classic comfort foods.
  2. Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival: A culinary delight with a side of fine art, showcasing Wyoming’s finest chefs.

Every festival serves as a melting pot of flavors, ensuring that you leave with a satisfied palate and a heart full of local love. Don’t miss these cherished gatherings where food truly brings people together.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Accommodation Options

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip isn’t just about the journey,
but also about where you rest your head at night. Explore the diverse accommodation options
that offer a perfect retreat after a day of adventure.

Camping Under The Stars

Imagine sleeping with the night sky as your ceiling. Yellowstone delights campers with its pristine sites.

  • Mammoth Hot Springs Campground: Perfect for nature lovers.
  • Madison Campground: Great for families.
  • Bridge Bay Campground: Near Yellowstone Lake.

Reservations are crucial during peak season. Don’t forget warm gear for chilly nights.

Cozy Bed And Breakfasts

Enjoy homely comforts at a local Bed and Breakfast. Each offers a unique stay.

Name Location Highlights
Inn on the Hill Salt Lake City Historic charm, city views
Yellowstone Victorian Inn Gardiner, MT Vintage decor, close to the park
The Old Faithful Inn Yellowstone National Park Iconic architecture, next to geysers

Book early to secure your spot. Local hosts provide tips for your park visit.

Discover Yellowstone National Park

Embarking on a road trip from Salt Lake City unlocks a majestic world within Yellowstone National Park. Known for its raw beauty and wilderness, Yellowstone invites adventurers to witness nature’s marvels up close.

Geothermal Wonders

Yellowstone dazzles with over 10,000 geothermal features. Here, the Earth breathes through geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles.

  • Old Faithful – The park’s icon, known for predictable eruptions.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring – Marvel at rainbow-colored waters.
  • Mud Volcano area – Where mud boils and gurgles.

Boardwalks lead to these thermal wonders. Visual treats await as steam rises into the big blue sky.

Wildlife In Yellowstone

Yellowstone’s vast landscapes are alive with diverse creatures. The park safeguards its wildlife, creating a sanctuary for many species.

Animals Best Spots
Bison Lamar Valley
Elk Mammoth Hot Springs
Wolves Hellroaring Overlook

Bring binoculars to spot bears, wolves, and bald eagles from a safe distance. Remember, patience rewards the wildlife watcher.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

Navigating Yellowstone

Navigating Yellowstone National Park marks the highlight of the road trip from Salt Lake City. This iconic park welcomes nature enthusiasts with open arms and an abundance of wildlife and geothermal wonders. As you prepare to immerse yourself in the beauty of Yellowstone, understanding the best ways to explore is crucial for a memorable adventure.

Guided Tours And Hikes

For those seeking an insightful experience, guided tours offer an enriching way to discover Yellowstone’s hidden gems.

  • Knowledgeable guides share stories about the park’s history and ecology.
  • Tours vary from half-day jaunts to full-day excursions.
  • Specialized hikes focus on geysers, wildlife, or photography.

Options include bus tours, walking tours, and even horseback rides. All tours cater to different interests and fitness levels.

Navigational Tips For Self-exploration

Self-exploration lets adventurers set their own pace and path. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Get an early start to beat the crowds and increase wildlife sighting chances.
  2. Utilize the official Yellowstone Park map for navigating the park’s vast network of roads.
  3. Download offline maps as a backup since cell service can be spotty.
  4. Plan your route around major attractions like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring.
  5. Visit lesser-known spots early or late in the day for a unique experience.
  6. Always have a backup plan in case of road closures or weather changes.

Your self-guided adventure can lead to unexpected discoveries and a deep connection with the natural world of Yellowstone.

Photography And Memory Making

A journey from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip blends
scenic drives with unforgettable memory-making opportunities.
Prepare your camera for a diverse landscape, capturing
everything from urban architecture to wild natural splendor.
Carry extra batteries, and don’t miss a moment of the colorful adventure.

Capturing The Majesty

This road trip offers a canvas of ever-changing vistas.
From the rugged Great Salt Lake to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone,
each snap adds a stroke to your road trip masterpiece. Use these tips:

  • Golden Hour Glow: Shoot during the early morning or late afternoon for soft, warm lighting.
  • Rule of Thirds: Compose your shots with the horizon in the top or bottom third of the frame.
  • Wildlife Watch: Keep a respectful distance, but zoom in to detail antler tines or bison fur.
  • Dramatic Angles: Experiment with perspectives. Capture Old Faithful erupting at ground level.

Best Sunrise And Sunset Spots

Capture the sun’s fiery hues painting the sky.
The trip’s bookends, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone’s peaks serve as
stunning subjects against the horizon’s drama. Noteworthy spots include:

Location Sunrise Sunset
Antelope Island Breathtaking reflections Silhouettes against the lake
Grand Teton Viewpoint Alpenglow on peaks Pastel sky over mountains
Lamar Valley Elk herds in the morning mist Auburn light on the valley

Rise early for a sunrise photo shoot.
Stay for the evening’s display. Every shutter clicks
a timeless memory. Joy lies not only in the destination
but in the beauty captured along the way.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip: Epic Guide


Concluding An Epic Road Trip

The journey from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip is one of the memory books.
Vast landscapes, thrilling wildlife encounters, and natural wonders mark this route.
Now, as the wheels begin to slow, and you pull into your final stop, reflections on the adventures had, and the sights seen fill the mind.
A sense of accomplishment accompanies the weary traveler.

Post-trip Reflection

Reflecting on the past days’ journey, a mixture of emotions bubbles to the surface.
There’s pride in the miles covered, joy from the unexpected discoveries, and a bittersweet feeling as the trip concludes.

  • Miles Driven: Approximately 300
  • Top Sights: Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake
  • Wildlife Spotted: Bison, Elk, Eagles

Memorable meals, cozy campfires, and starlit nights all become part of your travel tapestry.
This trip not only brought a deeper connection with nature but also with fellow travel companions.

Planning Your Next Adventure

Even as you unpack and share tales of your journey, the map unfurls to reveal more potential adventures.
The quest for the next epic road trip begins.

  1. Determine destinations: Glacier National Park? Grand Canyon?
  2. Consider seasons: Summer sun? Autumn colors?
  3. List must-have experiences: Hiking? Photography?

Stay inspired by the experiences lived and anticipate those that are yet to come. Assemble your gear, invite your companions, and hit the road once more.

Frequently Asked Questions On Salt Lake City To Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

How Long Is The Drive From Salt Lake City To Yellowstone?

The drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip typically takes approximately 4. 5 to 5 hours. Covering around 320 miles, it leads through scenic landscapes and varying traffic conditions.

What Are Top Sights Along The Way To Yellowstone?

Key sights include Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, and Bear Lake. You can also explore charming towns like Jackson Hole and stop at viewpoint areas for stunning mountainous scenery.

Can You Do A Day Trip To Yellowstone From Salt Lake City?

A day trip to Yellowstone from Salt Lake City is possible but not advised. With a round trip exceeding 9 hours of driving time alone, it’s recommended to plan for an overnight stay to fully enjoy the park.

Which Entrance Is Best When Driving From Salt Lake City?

The West Entrance via West Yellowstone, Montana, is the most popular and convenient when driving from Salt Lake City. It provides direct access to many of Yellowstone’s famous geothermal features and is open from April to November.


Embarking on the journey from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Road Trip is an adventure of a lifetime. Picture-perfect scenes await around each bend, promising memories that will last forever. Remember to capture every moment, and let Yellowstone’s natural splendor awe you.

Safe travels as you set out on this iconic road trip.

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