How to Enjoy the Drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone?

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Salt Lake City…The gateway to so much natural beauty in and around the state of Utah. If you love the outdoors and you are looking at the map of USA, throw a pin directly at Salt Lake City and book a flight there because you won’t be disappointed. From the Mighty 5 National Parks that cover much of Utah to the breathtaking drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone that we are going to cover in this post, this city is the perfect spot for a getaway (and that’s not even considering the beauty that lies within the city itself!)

There are a number of alternative routes you can take from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and depending on exactly what you want to see in between and how much time you have will determine the optimal route for you.

While the focus of this post is highlighting what we consider to be the optimal route to experience the inherent natural beauty of the locations you will pass through on this journey, Salt Lake City is undoubtedly a great hub to explore a myriad of national parks and areas of the US that you will quickly fall in love with.

drive from salt lake city to yellowstone

We contemplated a couple of different routes which we will share with you later, but ultimately the stunning landscapes on offer albeit on one of the slowest routes was the deciding factor. As you will see, I think we made the right decision!

If you have more time to experience each of the various towns and attractions along this route, we also have a few recommendations on the best places to stay in each location.

Salt Lake City – Gateway to Natural Beauty

Before we look at the scenic drive we encountered between Salt Lake City and Yellowstone, let’s take a look at some of the alternative aforementioned routes you could take to support choosing Salt Lake City as the perfect hub for a fun-filled outdoors, adventure getaway.

Convinced yet that Salt Lake City is the perfect spot? Ok, well let’s head in a different direction and find out what we did during our drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. Needless to say, you have no need to head outside of Utah for natural beauty, but given that we had already experienced 3 of Utah’s national parks we decided it was time to head north!

We arrived in Salt Lake City late in the evening and opted to stay at a hotel near the airport before waking up early and hitting the road. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which is affordable and offers a shuttle service to and from the airport. Check out the latest prices and availability here.

Drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone

If you plan on making the drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, you first need to determine which route you want to take. The most direct route is to take I-15 North via Idaho Falls and at just over 320 miles will likely take anywhere from 4 1/4 to 5 hours depending on traffic.

The more ambitious and adventurous travelers (of course we would fall into that category!) will opt for a route that takes you through Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Here are a couple of benefits of taking this route:

  • If you have the annual National Park pass and want an impromptu visit to Grand Teton National Park, this is the perfect route.
  • If you want gorgeous scenery along the journey, this is the perfect route.
  • If you don’t mind making several stops throughout the trip (trust us, after making this trip you cannot help yourself!), this is the perfect route.

The main drawback of this route is that it is extremely time-consuming. I would also add that on a couple of occasions I was surprised by how poor some of the road conditions were, especially between Bear Lake and Montpelier. The below route on Google Maps is calculated at 326 miles with a time of just under 6 1/2 hours.

salt lake city to yellowstone scenic route

We left Salt Lake City International Airport at 7:30 AM and arrived at Yellowstone around 4:30PM…so work that one out for yourselves but we wouldn’t do it any differently if we could reenact this trip given the beauty we saw along the way. We want to share some of the key spots along this route that are worth taking some time to visit.

Bear Lake

Stereotypically known as ‘home of the raspberry shake’, Bear Lake is a great spot to take a relaxing break a couple of hours into your drive. Unfortunately, we arrived at Bear Lake a little too early as all of the restaurants and spots where you can purchase a raspberry shake were closed!

drive from salt lake city to yellowstone

Don’t worry though, even if you experience Bear Lake and fail to sample the infamous shake, the views across the lake are stunning enough to warrant spending some time here. The town is relatively small but I could image grabbing a shake and taking in the gorgeous scenery with the lake and mountains in the background.

bear lake utah

As you approach Bear Lake from the south, there is an overlook which provides a view over the town and lake before you take the winding road and drop into the town center. Again, we were not very well prepared as we drove right past this hoping for another overlook.

bear lake utah

So be warned that when you see signs for the Bear Lake Rest Area and Overlook make sure you follow them! We even captured a pretty memorable moment when we spotted a hawk taking home its prey for lunch…it’s not every day you have experiences like this, but that’s Bear Lake, Utah for you.

bear lake utah


One of the great benefits of taking a scenic road trip is that you pass through small towns that you otherwise would probably never visit. This can be said with our experience passing through Afton, Wyoming.

drive from salt lake city to yellowstone

At first, this may seem like any other small town with a population just under 2,000 but as you approach the heart of the town you will notice the real highlight here.

worlds largest elkhorn arch afton wyoming

Home of the world’s largest arch made of elk antlers, yes that’s right they are woven together and create an archway that covers the entire road and is an iconic attraction that you just have to stop for!

Hotel Recommendation

If you are considering staying overnight in the vicinity of Afton, we can highly recommend Cabin Creek Inn in nearby Thayne, Wyoming (about 15 miles north). Check out the latest prices and availability here.

Snake River

After leaving Afton and driving north to Alpine, you will take US-26 through a mountain pass that winds parallel to the Snake River. This stretch of road really is breathtaking and on numerous occasions, we pulled over on the side of the road to take in the scenery.

drive from salt lake city to yellowstone

Whitewater rafting excursions are available along the Snake River for the really adventurous, but we enjoyed simply watching the rafters and kayakers making their way down the river.

snake river rafting

Trailheads along the Alpine/Snake River Canyons are also available for those who wish to spend more time here before arriving at Jackson Hole (prior to entering Grand Teton country!)

from salt lake city to yellowstone

It is difficult to put into words the beauty throughout the section between Alpine and Hoback Junction. Hopefully the pictures do this justice because I cannot emphasize enough how happy we were with our decision to take this route after passing through this alpine route.

snake river wyoming

Jackson Hole

Approaching the Jackson Hole valley, we were excited to see what the bustling town of Jackson had to offer. To avoid any confusion over the difference between Jackson and Jackson Hole, the valley itself is what is referred to as Jackson Hole and comprises of a number of smaller towns including Jackson, Moose, Hoback and Teton Village.

jackson hole wyoming

In many ways Jackson reminded me of Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Ripley’s Museums and a number of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops scattered along the heart of the town center.

Continuing the Wyoming tradition of elk antler arches, Jackson has a number of iconic arches that guard the corners of George Washington Memorial Park. The story behind these arches relates to the National Elk Refuge that is located in Jackson Hole. Every year when the elk antlers shed, groups of boy scouts collect these from the refuge and some of these are used to construct the arches.

Hotel Recommendation

Jackson Hole is a popular spot for visitors to stay, and if you want our recommendation we can highly recommend The Lodge at Jackson Hole. Check out the latest prices and availability here.

Grand Teton National Park

Our final adventure before arriving at Yellowstone was passing through Grand Teton National Park. You can read all about our experiences in the Grand Tetons but this is yet another great example of an American national park that oozes natural beauty.

grand teton national park

The Teton Range with Grand Teton and Mount Moran among others are a stunningly beautiful sight as you drive through the park.

grand teton national park

Just like any other national park, you could easily spend several days inside Grand Teton exploring and hiking the various trails that are available. Whether you want to take a stroll through the lowlands or perhaps head into the mountains, there is something for everyone here.

Frequently left in the shadow of the more infamous Yellowstone National Park to the north, Grand Teton offers an abundance of natural beauty that you will want to explore. The drive to Yellowstone through this part is the perfect tonic for what you will likely consider to be the pièce de résistance of this trip – arriving at the entrance of Yellowstone!

Hotel Recommendation

Ready to stay a little closer to Grand Teton National Park? There are limited options including camping inside the park while another alternative in nearby Jackson, Wyoming that we can recommend is Spring Creek Ranch. Check out the latest prices and availability here.


Salt Lake City is undoubtedly a great hub for visiting a myriad of locations both around Utah and surrounding states. We had an awesome experience driving from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone with so many cool towns and landscapes to explore along the route. Regardless of the road trip you are taking, you can always stumble across some hidden gems and this is exactly what we encountered en route to Yellowstone.

drive from salt lake city to yellowstone

We have highlighted just a small selection of what you can see on this drive but these are certainly locations that you cannot afford to miss. Have you taken a road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone?

DISCLAIMER – This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to make a purchase via one of our links, we may receive a small commission. This income helps A Brit & A Southerner continue to explore and share inspiring stories. Also note that although we have not personally stayed at all of the hotels included in this post, we used the recommendations of friends and family as well as detailed research to bring you the very best options possible. 

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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]


  1. Very cool! We drove from Denver to Yellowstone but we had the choice of Salt Lake City as well (we needed an international airport to fly into from London). Looking at these photos I wish we had taken the longer route and flown into Salt Lake City. Next time!

  2. I loved Bear Lake! But we had a huckleberry shake there – not raspberry! Didn’t know that raspberry shakes were a thing there – we were told it was huckleberry. Funny!

  3. We are two seniors flying into Denver. We will spend a week driving to Rapid City, SD then back to Denver. To avoid the drive from rapid city to w yellowstone fear of heights will fly from Denver to salt lake city then take a car and spend a week in Yellowstone and Teton. Your itinerary sounds great.

    How is the driving from salt lake city the way you went? Again heights being my problem.

    • The drive is gorgeous!! For the most part the drive is along interstate or highways at pretty low elevation. Of course, as you approach Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, you start to climb a little but I honestly think the scenery is so spectacular that you will be fine. It’s an unbelievably picturesque journey and one that I would highly recommend!

      • Hi there! Thinking about flying from Long Beach ca to Salt Lake City Utah in late oct to make the drive to Yellowstone. I think I read you made the drive in dec… did you encounter any ice roads?

        • We actually took this drive over the Labor Day weekend at the beginning of September. As you can see, the roads were perfect and I’m sure it will be fine in October also! You will have an awesome time!!

        • Hi Janet, I think this would be the PERFECT time of the year to take this route! Seriously, this would be ideal because it’s before it gets too hot to enjoy getting out and hiking/exploring if you wish. The roads will be fine so you won’t have to worry about snow and you can just take a step back and appreciate the breathtaking landscapes that will surround you. This is definitely our favorite time of the year to visit this part of the States.

          Let me know if you have any other questions regarding this route.

  4. This is so helpful thank you! My husband and I will be taking your route recommendation up to Jackson Hole and then Yellowstone this July. – Two New Yorkers

    • You are very welcome Renee!! Thanks so much for your kind comments. We hope that you enjoy your journey as much as we did. Take your time and you will be able to appreciate all the beauty along this awesome route.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions or need suggestions on things to do in and around Yellowstone.

      • Hi Chris,
        My friends are planning drive from Vegas to slat lake city, then Yellowstone, the to denver. They can leave vegas on 6/3, then wish to arrive denver by 6/7. What is best route for them/? They have short time.

  5. Hi Chris, thanks a ton for this post and the blog in general! We are on our way to Yellowstone after landing at SLC, and guess what we did take this route, in fact I am writing this comment from a Burger King just past Afton. 🙂 The route has been amazing and the views spectacular. We hope to continue to discover these little, hidden gems across these wonderful states!

  6. Would you suggest this route during December? Planning a family trip to Jackdon Hole and its waaaaaay cheaper to fly into Salt Lake but it’s about five hours away… Not sure what the roads would be like during winter months …

    • I’m sure the majority of the roads would be fine Samantha but as you start climbing into the mountains they may be closed. It’s really going to depend on what the weather is like so if you can be flexible and wait to see what the forecast is, that is what I would recommend. The beauty of this trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone is that there are various routes. Definitely agree that Salt Lake is the route to go though to save money plus you get the experience of everything in between! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your extensive description. We’ll be on a 24 day roadtrip (loop) Vegas to Veags at the end of this summer hitting over a dozen National parks and eventually hiking downand up the Grand Canyon. We always look for the best roadtrips and this is a great road to follow from Utah to Yellowstone. Thanks a a lot.

    • Thanks for your kind comments! We always love to hear when folks are inspired to follow our recommendations. Of course, there are always multiple routes that one can take but for us this was an awesome experience and we are convinced that others who choose to adopt this route will enjoy it as much as we did.

      Over a dozen national parks??? That’s AWESOME! We are envious! Hope you are purchasing the National Park Annual Pass right for $80? 🙂 It’s an awesome deal and a great way to inspire you to explore more national parks in the 12 months that it is valid (not that we need any more inspiration to explore those natural wonders).

  8. Hi this is so helpful I am going on a trip to Yellowstone with my husband and my 18 years old son. I have changed my rout so many times, but finally we decided to fly to Salt Lake City from Florida on July 21, I was able to get only 2 nights stay inside the park on July 26, and 27, so I have several day to get to Yellowstone. Then maybe go to rapid city for few days I would so appropriate any help suggestion etc. hotels are pretty expensive this time so any help in where to stay while driving there will be great. My husband doesn’t like driving to much in a day so we will be stoping quite a lot. Thanks so much

    • Thanks so much Yardena!! So glad to hear that this is beneficial for you. You are picking a great time of the year to visit Yellowstone and the surrounding area.

      I can also strongly recommend heading over to Rapid City and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota if you have time. The Presidential walking tour downtown Rapid City is really cool. If you have time, check out Badlands National Park which is just a short drive from Rapid City. But honestly nothing in South Dakota will compare to Yellowstone… It’s by far our favorite national park. Take some time to explore the beauty in Grand Tetons National Park if you follow the route we suggested.

      Let me know if you need any more tips on any of the spots in and around Yellowstone.

  9. Chris. My family and I are making this trip July 14th. There are 6 of us. We definitely want the scenic route. So thus route takes you into Jackson hole then Tetons? After Tetons where do you go from there. We want to visit 1/2 Yellowstone Saturday spend night Roosevelt and come down other side Sunday. We were wondering where we should stay Friday night before reaching Yellowstone via this route. Should we just stay in Teton area or drive a little further toward Yellowstone?

    • Kay, I would definitely recommend spending quite some time in the Grand Tetons. You could spend a night in Jackson Hole (only about 10-15 mins to the Grand Teton Park entrance) and explore the Tetons (or alternatively camp inside the park, depends on the types of accommodations you are looking for). The great thing about taking this route is that when you have taken the scenic drive through the Tetons, you immediately go into Yellowstone. So essentially, you can buy a pass that gives you access to both parks ($50 I believe for both parks, but I STRONGLY encourage you to consider the annual pass for $80 which gives you a full years access to ALL national parks across the United States).

      Alternatively, you could go through the Tetons and then try to find accommodation inside of Yellowstone but I am not sure what may be available at this time. We actually arrived at Yellowstone around 5PM and explored for a few hours (saw Old Faithful erupt), before heading out of the West entrance and spending the night just north of West Yellowstone which is another option for you.

      I hope this helps but let me know if you need any other information! Most importantly, have an AMAZING trip and enjoy!! You will have a great time.

  10. Hi Chris, We fly into Salt Lake City for our trip to yellowstone. Before we follow your awesome itineraries we want to stock up at a local grocery store on veggies and snacks. Can you recommend the best grocery stores to hit in Salt Lake? We live in SC where Harris Tetter and Public are the big names and I don’t recognize any I see using googles – Smiths, Vinegars? Thanks. Atkinson’s

    • Hi Natalie,
      In terms of local grocery stores in Salt Lake City, I am not sure honestly! That is not something that we researched. However, we did visit a Whole Foods Market and Walmart to grab some snacks before heading on to our road trip. I am sure there are plenty of local alternatives though. In addition, a popular attraction in SLC is the Downtown Farmer’s Market which is held every Saturday, so if you are arriving on the weekend, that may be a good option before heading to Yellowstone. Thanks for your kind comments about our itinerary by the way 🙂 We hope you have as much fun as we did!

  11. We will be seeing you on July 25! It’s my husbands 58 birthday and was hoping you could have a bottle of Moscato and fruit plate waiting on us . That would be wonderful and special to him! I’ll pay you back once are there. We will be flying SWA from Houston to Salt Lake City then driving in. I love your site! I’m sure it will be well used!
    Thanks, the Strickhausen family

  12. We jusy returned from our Yellowstone vacation. We followed your route from SLC to Yellowstone and were so glad we did. We kept stopping at all the amazing sites along the way I didn’t think we would ever make it there, ha. It was a beautiful drive making the long trip seem not so long. I unfortunately made a bit of a mistake with our first night of accommodations and we missed Bear Lake, but the other sites were amazing! Thank you for sharing, I would never have thought to go this way. I highly recommend this to anyone making the same journey from SLC to Yellowstone. We stayed just outside the north entrance so it was about an 8 1/2 hour trip without stops.

    • Kim,

      So glad to hear you enjoyed your Yellowstone vacation! We are honored that you chose to follow our recommended route and so glad that it went well for you. With so much spectacular scenery along the way, it’s difficult not to enjoy it 🙂 As you say, it’s a slightly longer route than some of the alternative options but it’s so worth it as you discovered! Bear Lake is really cool and we would have loved to visit at a different time also to experience the town that it is located by, unfortunately, everything was closed as we passed through a little too early. You will just have to make a return trip to Yellowstone and experience Bear Lake next time 🙂

      Thanks again for your kind comments and have a great weekend!

    • That’s a million dollar question 🙂 Honestly, you could spend as much time as you wanted there but would always feel like you need to return to see more! We spent a couple of days exploring, taking a scenic drive and visiting a couple of the spectacular attractions (Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls etc.) but we will reiterate that we can’t wait to go back. In all honesty, I would recommend at least 2 or 3 days minimum to spend there and that would give you enough time to see some of the main attractions plus see some of the amazing wildlife.

      Let us know if you need any further assistance! Are you planning on heading there soon?

  13. Your information is amazing and I loved it I was there and I’m planning to go again middle of this month which is August would you please explain to me and tell me more how to go from Salt Lake to Yellowstone and other way around come back to Salt Lake City and how many days is good to go thank you

    • Hi Minoo, this post details pretty much the exact route that we took from Salt Lake City International Airport to Yellowstone (via Grand Teton National Park). This is certainly not the only option as there are plenty of other alternatives that you could take that are faster but in our opinion, this is the most scenic route! With regards to time, it’s going to depend on what you want to see and explore while visiting Yellowstone and other spots along this route. You could feasibly do all of this in 3 or 4 days but realistically I would probably suggest a week so that you can fully appreciate everything! But whatever you choose, I am sure you will have an amazing time 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing. The pictures look beautiful. I am planning to visit the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national park.
    Which month would you suggest is the best to visit those?

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments Ketan! Honestly, any time of the year will offer a beautiful experience in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I personally would probably avoid the winter months simply for logistical reasons as many of the roads into and around these national parks may be closed due to the snow/ice. However, my personal favorite time of the year would be Spring or Fall/Autumn, simply because it’s a little cooler and you can head out and experience the outdoors without the searing hot temperatures of the Summer months. April/May or September may be the best times to visit but like I said, I don’t think you can go wrong at any time of the year…it’s just that spectacular as you can see 🙂

      Let us know when you decide to visit and we would love to hear about your experiences!!

  15. Hi Chris I love all your pics -look so beautiful!!! My husband and I love hiking and we are planning to fly to Utah and drive to Yellowstone- We have 8 days and we are looking our baby girl to her 1 year birythday party hiking 🙂 -I have a question I am horrible in planning- Do you think is enough time to do it? with best parks we can enjoy more with a baby

  16. So happy to have stumbled upon this! My husband and my lifetime goal is to see every National Park – we’re at 32 right now! We just got a few random days off so we are going to take full advantage and fly into SLC and take this route.


  17. Chris, enjoy reading your commentary along this route. We are visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone in early September and shall be flying into SLC from London. Your route will definitely be our preferred choice. After Yellowstone, we plan to drive west to Mt Rainier National park in Washington. Are there any suggestions regarding where to stop on route? We plan to do this drive in 2 days. Any tips from you will be much appreciated.


  18. Wow, just what I was looking for. Perfect read as we plan for Yellowstone in two weeks. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  19. Thanks for the write up Chris. I plan to use your suggestions next month! The pics are beautiful! Do you have any recommendations for the return drive from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City?

  20. We are flying into SLC next July and driving to Yellowstone. This is exactly what I was looking for and I cannot wait to take this route. Thank you so very much for your post with the wonderful detail, suggestions and the time you spend providing this information. It is truly appreciated!

  21. Hi Chris! We are planning to fly into SLC from Ohio in May and then drive up to Jackson Hole, spend a couple nights and then drive to Yellowstone. Would this be worthwhile?

  22. HI Chris
    We are driving from SLC to Big Sky Montana and then down through Yellowstone to Jackson and back to SLC in January – any suggestions for an overnight stop north of SLC – after a 20hr flight we need to recharge somewhere close to SLC but enroute to Idaho Falls – are there any ranches that are open in winter?

  23. Hello Chris!
    Wow! Your pictures are breathtakingly beautiful. Hubby and I are taking a cross country trip with a 24 foot travel trailer and would LOVE to follow this amazing route you mapped out and shared from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. (Leaving SLC around May 1st, 2017) In your opinion, how are the roads and the elevation issues pulling a camper? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Guys,

      I apologize for the delay in getting back with you! The route that we took would certainly be feasible to pull a camper. There may be a couple of ‘tricky’ parts but it is nothing that you wouldn’t be able to handle and definitely other people will be doing the exact same thing. This route is actually pretty popular given the scenic beauty you can experience along the way.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments! If you would like any other tips or assistance, please feel free to reach out to us via e-mail at [email protected] and we would be delighted to help out!

      Cheers guys.

  24. Thank you for this wonderful post. What are your thought on taking the longer route while driving back from Yellowstone? I have 2 days reservation in the park in early July. I was thinking of driving there from SLC quickly using the non-scenic route and then leave there and spend the whole day just driving back, slowly, to SLC.

    • Hi Sona,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments! I think your idea is wonderful and definitely something you should consider. Just because the route we highlighted worked for us en route FROM SLC, it’s a great idea to actually flip this around and take your time on your drive back from Yellowstone/Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City. You could easily spend a full day experiencing all of the highlight towns and spots that we mentioned on the way back but at least you will have already enjoyed Yellowstone and the relaxing drive back will be a perfect way to end your trip.

  25. Thanks for the great ideas Chris! We were planning to travel to SLC end of March. Will the roads be clear enough to attempt the scenic route trip from SLC to Yellowstoe?

    • Hi Kazi, thanks for your kind comments! With regards to traveling this route in March, it’s really going to depend on the weather this year. I think you will be perfectly fine driving the route in March as long as the weather cooperates as the roads will be generally cleared even if there is any snow. I know that when you actually arrive at Yellowstone your access in March may be limited as there will likely still be snow on the roads/loop but you may want to reach out to Yellowstone National Park directly regarding that to see if there are any options to still explore (I think they may offer something like “snow coaches” so that people can still experience Yellowstone in the winter). Given that you are planning the end of March though, you may be fine!

      Let me know if you have any additional questions and good luck with your trip, it will be awesome!

  26. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the wonderful piece. I am planning to take a road trip (both back and forth) from salt lake city to Jackson hole where i would stay 3 days for yellowstone experience. However, i would be traveling alone and the time would be last week of May, 2017. I was wondering how would be the roads at that time of the year. Would there be snow or the drive would be pretty simple?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Anindya,

      Thanks for your kind comments! As I mentioned in an earlier comment, May is the PERFECT time to experience this drive! It’s before it gets really hot in the heart of summer and its past any time where you have to worry about snow. I would strongly recommend doing this in May, this is exactly the time of year when we took the drive (Memorial Day weekend). The drive will be really simple unless there are some really extreme weather conditions that are unlikely at that time of the year. Of course, we would always recommend checking the weather a week or two prior but honestly, you should be fine.

      Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns regarding this trip.


  27. Hi Chris, lovely pictures and we plan to take this route in May 2017 and cover exactly the same parts. Just want to check whether we should take the shorter route via Idaho falls on our return to save time.

    • Hi Sharmila, thanks so much for your comments about our pictures, we really appreciate it! Ultimately it’s going to be personal preference about the route you take on your return back to SLC. If you choose to follow this route on the journey up to Yellowstone then I think it’s feasible that you would want to save time on your return and via Idaho Falls along I-15 is certainly going to be much quicker.

  28. Chris – I’m a NY girl traveling this June to SLC with a handsome Brit from Blackrod (Lancashire) then following your itinerary to Bear Lake, then Great Teton, Yellowstone, and ending in Big Sky, MO to fly home to Boston. I feel so overwhelmed planning a trip in mid-America. We are so comfortable “doing” European travel year after year but the US is just so BIG – and accommodations seem very limited right now in June if budget is also limited unless camping is an option, which it is not! (Like I said, I’m a NY girl.) Any suggestions for accommodations in Jackson? Any thoughts on Big Sky, MO?
    Your post is a big help! Thanks!

    • Hi Sam, Blackrod…wow, such a small world! I’m originally from Ramsbottom, Lancashire about 10 miles from Blackrod.

      Glad to hear this post is useful and you have decided to follow this drive from SLC to Grand Teton and then Yellowstone. With regards to accommodation options, it’s tough and I’m not going to lie to you. There is such limited options around the area that you are wanting to stay and they sell out well in advance. Just keep checking sites like Expedia and Priceline for the dates you will be there. Also, if you are not too concerned about driving 30-40 miles, that may open up a few more options for you. When we stayed overnight at Yellowstone, we actually stayed outside of the park and it took us about 45 minutes to get back. It’s far from ideal but unless you book well in advance and if camping is not for you, then there may be very few alternatives left.

      Now if you are willing to stay in Big Sky, Montana as we did, you will have a few more options…if you are lucky 🙂 We stayed at River Rock Lodge which was a quaint hotel and had a real “cabin” feel to it but definitely recommend then. We actually stayed there and then drove back 45 minutes to explore Yellowstone before taking the drive back and heading north on our way to Glacier National Park. We didn’t spend much time in Big Sky as it was pretty late when we got there but I have heard it’s a great skiing location.

      I hope this additional information helps but if you need anything else, please feel free to let us know.

  29. Chris- your pictures are awesome!!!! I would like to use these same route as yours but my final stop will be Denver, CO. Do you do how the driving be in late April/early may? I have never driven in the snow and I don’t want to. I have 7 days to explore grand Teton, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and anything from Rocky Mountain to Denver. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks so much Hannah for your kind comments! I would imagine that late April/early May would be a perfect time to experience this drive. We have suggested late May to other folks but that’s primarily because it was the time of the year that we have visited. However, I don’t think that you would have to worry too much about the snow in late April but it would probably be good to try and get a long range forecast ahead of time just to be sure that there won’t be any issues. We definitely wouldn’t want you to be driving in conditions that you are not used to.

      In terms of your actual trip, sounds exactly like something we would do! It’s ambitious because you could easily spend a week in each of the locations but it will be an AMAZING experience just capturing the highlights in each of the places. Check out our other posts on Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for more information and also we have a walking tour around Denver post that you may find beneficial. Feel free to ask any other questions, we are happy to help!

  30. Thanks million Chis for all great infos… If I don’t see your shares… I don’t know when I will visit theses areas. We planed to flight in to SLC, around May or early June 2017 and take your route to Yellowstone, then head to Mount Rushmore bf head back to SLC. Airport in 7 days(couple extra days will be ok if needed). We are over 60 yr old, like the others, we just kind worry about place to stay along the way. Are there plenty of decent Hotels/Motels bf enter parks from SLC.? Are there any accommodations inside parks? Do they have any overnight parking and will they allow you to sleep in your car? As a travel experted in the areas before, what is the safe, shortest way from Yellowstone to M. Rushmore? Like you said, not a bad idea to get an annual Park Pass. Now days, people said internet can answered any questions… but your advises will take worries out of me!!! Again, thank you so much!!!

  31. Chris
    just want to say thank you
    i was undecided between Iceland and Utah/Yellow stone
    you helped me make up my mind.
    last year my wife and i did northern California and Yosemite national park, we had an amazing time we did a 12 day road trip and it was unforgettable, truly and experience of a life time especially that it was in mid march .
    thanks again Chris

  32. Hi Chris,
    I’m planning this trip for mid-August. Do you think we need to spend any time in Salt Lake City or start our journey right away? Thinking of spending at least one night in Jackson Hole and two nights in Yellowstone before continuing on to Billings, Montana. Any suggestions on length of time to stay in each area and what is a MUST SEE in Yellowstone? Thank you!

  33. Hi there. My wife and I are planning a trip from London (UK) to visit family in Logan, Utah this September and want to include some trekking as part of our holiday. We’ll have about 5 days to play with so I think our options are either Yellowstone/Tetons or the southern Utah parks. From what I can see online, Yellowstone looks a little similar to parts of Europe, whereas the southern Utah areas look incredibly alien to us! Most travellers seem to advise Yellowstone over the Utah parks though. I’d be very interested to know your opinions on this nice conundrum 🙂

  34. I’m so glad I found your site/recommendations! My boyfriend and I just took this route from Salt Lake to Yellowstone (we stayed in Victor, ID, which was only about 30 min or so from Jackson). This was a great way to start our trip! We added a stop right outside Bear Lake – the Minnetonka cave. The cave tour itself was close to 1.5 hrs, but it was a great stop. Cell service was incredibly limited on this route though, so maps came in handy!

  35. Thank you so much for this post – it made it super easy for us to follow your exact itinerary 2 weeks ago, and see for ourselves how beautiful it is. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments! We are delighted to hear that you found this route beneficial and that you had a thoroughly enjoyable trip to the area. What an awesome part of the county it is!! Cheers guys!

  36. Hi Chris,
    Can you recommend a hotel within an hour or 30 mins to the Yellowstone national park? We are driving from Salt Lake City, UT and will follow your recommendation on the route. This is such great info!
    Thank you

    • Hi Rama, we have listed a few hotel recommendations based on our own experiences and also from some of our friends that have stayed at those places within the post. When are you actually going to be visiting? Yellowstone is always pretty busy so you are likely to better looking at staying in somewhere like West Yellowstone or Big Sky, Montana (this is about an hour outside of the park but we stayed here and it was AWESOME!). I can highly recommend River Rock Lodge which is where we stayed and it was affordable, comfortable and we loved the cabin/lodge feel to it.

      Let us know if you need any other assistance and we really appreciate your kind comments about our post! We are delighted that you found it beneficial.

  37. Hi Chris,
    We are planning a Sept trip ,what is a good amount of time to allocate for this trip from SL to Yellowstone following your itinerary. Im sure we will want to take advantage of the scenery ,towns etc.
    John G

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for reaching out to us! First of all, you are going to LOVE this trip in September. This is a great time of the year to experience the scenic route from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. In terms of how much time, well it’s pretty much dependent on how much you want to accomplish. If you are the adventurous type (like we were!) and want to experience all of this in one day, that’s certainly feasible. Alternatively, you can take your time and spend more time in each of the locations such as Bear Lake, Afton and Jackson Hole and perhaps spend a night in one the places (we included a few hotel recommendations in the post) before exploring the rest the next day.

      For us, we were ready to reach Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park but that should take nothing away from the breathtaking scenery you will experience along the drive.

      I hope this additional information helps but if you have any additional questions, please let me know.



  38. I came across this & cant believe you’re local – we are just outside Rawtenstall! We are planning on flying into Salt Lake City, via Chicago from Manchester on Friday 18th August, then heading up to Jackson for a week for the eclipse. Then heading up & over towards Rapid City, picking up Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore etc. I have many guidebooks but are there any tips that I won’t find in them that you can offer?
    Thanks Steff

  39. Thank you, Chris,
    I was just wondering wether to fly to Jackson or to SLC and your post helped me to decide.
    In 2015 we visited South West parks and San Francisco in 2015.
    A highlight was the drive on Scenic Byway 12 through Capitol Reef NP.
    In June we are thinking of spending about one week on the East Coast and one in Yellowstone.area.
    We will rent a car and camping gear in SLC, take your route to the park, for at least one day.
    Then would you do a round trip from Jackson, or getting out elsewhere?
    What way do you recommend to cone back to SLC?
    Greetings from Pesaro (Italy)

    • Hi Mauro, thanks so much for your kind comments! If you are only planning on spending a day in and around Yellowstone, you would likely want to spend all of your time in the national park (along with Grand Teton NP if you plan on driving up from Jackson Hole). You could easily spend much longer there but it’s really dependent on your schedule. Honestly, if you follow our recommended route on the way from SLC to Yellowstone, I would recommend taking the shorter/quicker route back when you leave Yellowstone and hit I-15 in Idaho Falls just so that you can spend more time exploring Yellowstone. It really is a spectacular park. Check out our other posts on Yellowstone to get an idea of things you may want to experience there.

      Please feel free to ask any other questions or feel free to reach out via e-mail to [email protected] if you have any specific questions you want to ask us.

      Thanks again!

  40. I want to plan the trip in September to fly into salt lake to Yellowstone and see as many sites as possible such as Jackson hole, bear Lake and old faithful. Should I plan a rountrip back to salt lake or fly home from a different airport.

  41. Hi Chris, Great post! Thank you, I have a question – You mention that you took US-26 after crossing Alpine(for the mountain pass by Snake River). The map shows US-89 leading up to Hoback Junction. Did you take US-26 and then backtrack? I am going to be traveling this week and thats why I’m asking!!
    Thanks a ton

    • Hi Shiva, apologies for the delay! From Alpine, US 26 is actually co-signed with US-89 so we are thinking about the same road! This pass alongside the Snake River is spectacular and definitely one of the highlights of this route. Follow that route along the river before arriving in Hoback and then heading north to Jackson!!

      Hope this helps and you will have an amazing road trip! Please let me know if you need anything else.

  42. Hi Chris,

    Wen i check the fastest route from Salt lake to Yellowstone its showing 6 hours for me, can you please let me know the fastest way.

    Thanks in advance

  43. […] Most of us gathered in SLC, Airbnbed that night and started early to the park. It is a 5 hour drive so we wanted to choose a route that offered something for tourists. We were all sure with almost no research that there is a huge waterfall at Idaho Falls – boy, we were so wrong – “but it is in the name”, is how we consoled ourselves once we arrived there. I mean, yeah, there is a man-made one but it is not the one worth driving to. We were dejected because we missed the gorgeous bear lake and most importantly the infamous raspberry shake as it was too late when we stumbled upon this blog. […]

  44. Hey Chris, your trip sounds amazing, we are planning on doing it in early sept so im making notes of your ideas
    Can you advise if this plan makes sense to see what you saw in more detail
    Leave SLC early Monday morning, stay over night in perhaps Afton or nearby and then do Grand Teton Park the following day and onto West Yellowstone entrance where we may over night outside the park and then stay 2 nights in the park in Old Faithful, Id welcome your thoughts

  45. I ma glad I found this and your blog while googling “scenic drive from SLC to grand tetons” Thanks for the info and I will check out some of your other posts!

  46. I’m so glad I found this post! We’re are heading to Grand Teton (via SLC) this summer for a family reunion. We love Utah so we’re flying into SLC to visit some of our favorite places and then take the road trip to Jackson. We’ll definitely be taking the more scenic route. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much Jennifer, I am glad you found this beneficial!! You are going to have a great time on this trip and there are definitely some great spots to relax en route to Grand Teton…I frequently tell people that GT National Park is frequently left in the shadow of Yellowstone but that should take nothing away from the breathtaking beauty throughout the park. But definitely taking the scenic route is recommended and you will already be on a huge high once you arrive at the entrance to the Grand Tetons! Enjoy!!

  47. This is amazing, thank you so much for taking the time to do the original post, and for the dozens and dozens of answers you’ve given since then.

    My 14-yr-old daughter and I are taking a trip this June. We arrive in Salt Lake City on a Saturday morning at 10:30 AM and can take off the moment we get our rental car upon arrival. We should be back in SLC that Thursday night. So basically we have about 4 1/2 days to take your route up to Yellowstone, stopping in Grand Tetons along the way. Does this sound reasonable? If you were doing this trip, and I do understand there are myriad ways it could be done, how might you do it? Stop in Teton on the way up or back? Stop at Jackson Hole or skip it?

    I’m fairly adventurous as far as driving and taking in a lot in a compressed amount of time. Last year my 15-year-old son and I did a whirlwind trip through Arches and Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion in about five days and we loved every second of it! All that to say, I know that the ideal would be having two weeks to do this itinerary, but I am cool with it being under five days if you think it’s worth it!

  48. Hi Chris, I am so happy I found your post about driving from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. We are flying from down under YES Australia and my adult dream is to visit Yellowstone and in 2020 we will be doing exactly that. We are flying into San Fran and driving to Reno, Salt Lake City and then we were going via Idaho Falls but having read this post I think we will now be going via Jackson. We will be doing this late August so I hope the weather won’t be to hot. This will be our 4th holiday to your beautiful country USA.

  49. Hi and thank you for sharing! So my significant other, my 16yr old daughter and myself are planning to fly out to SLC in June and take your route, my question is how many days should we plan to take your route as well as enjoy the Yellowstone loop and back to slc without rushing and/or missing a lot please?

  50. Tragically, we will be on business and only have 1 day to make it from Idaho Falls to Billings, MT….. we plan the scenic route thru GT, then thru Yellowstone, better than just staying on the interstate for the entire trip. I know we will see some awesome sites but don’t have long….. We will make a day of it even though we are pressed for time.

  51. I am so glad I found this site, and thank you for the great information! We are considering flying into SLC from Louisiana. Our plan is to take two weeks to explore Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. We want to make sure to have enough time to spend a couple of days in Cody, WY. We were thinking of making a big loop where we would end up back at SLC to fly home. (Trying to avoid two airports) If flying into SLC, do you suggest beginning our stay in Jackson Hole/Tetons area, driving to West entrance area, up to North entrance, over to Cody, and then back to Teton area? We were thinking of staying a few nights at each place to cut down on driving time. Or would you suggest doing it differently? We originally thought about starting at the north, but it seems flights into the Bozeman area are more expensive than SLC. Thank you so much for your help!! -Melissa

  52. Did you take ih-15 on the way back to SLC? If so did you stop anywhere? My husband and I asre flying to SLC friday. PLanning on taking IH-15 there, and thru the Grand Teton on the way back!

  53. Wonderful source of information you are. Thank you! We are doing a road trip from San Diego to Jackson Hole (via Zion) over Thanksgiving and I’m wondering if the roads you took are feasible at that time of year. It will be cold and possibly snowy. I am an adventurous mom with a 10 year old adventurous girl and we are going to wing it and see the countryside over 8 days.

  54. This is great info! My husband and I are planning this trip for Aug 2021. I’m doing my early research. We will be coming off of an Alaska cruise out of Seattle and then flying to SLC to drive to Yellowstone for a few days before heading back home to TX. This route looks amazing! I am getting so excited even though our trip is over a year away! Thanks for this entry!

  55. Thank you soo much for describe the salt lake city . we are very thankful bye follow your route.Salt Lake city is a very beautiful place.I am fascinated by the description of the natural beauty of Salt Lake City. I think Salt Lake City is the perfect place for travel and I fell in love with the beautiful place Salt Lake City.

  56. Thank you, this is very useful information for us as we family a one week trip to Yellowstone during the first week of August. We will fly into SLC from Baltimore on August 7th evening and have reservations in side the Yellowstone park from 8-13 and will leave SLC to Baltimore on 14th evening.

    We wanted to explore your route while driving from SLC to Yellowstone park and some more while returning. To gain some additional sightseeing time on 8th, we plan to drive around three hours or so from SLC on 7th evening and stay the night around Bear Lake/Afton and reach Old Faithfull Inn by late evening on 8th. For our return, we wanted to leave Yellowstone (Lake Lodge) on 13th early morning and explore Tetons during the day and stay around Jackson/Afton for the night and travel back to SLC airport by 2PM. Would you think this would work and also do you have any additional suggestions to make this trip more enjoyable. Thanks.

  57. I came across this & cant believe you’re local – we are just outside Rawtenstall! We are planning on flying into Salt Lake City, via Chicago from Manchester on Friday 18th August, then heading up to Jackson for a week for the eclipse. Then heading up & over towards Rapid City, picking up Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore etc. I have many guidebooks but are there any tips that I won’t find in them that you can offer?

  58. Hi! We will be flying into Salt Lake City and driving one day to Yellowstone! Loved your blog… do you have the exact routes you took or a map ? I would hate to get lost :/


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