Most people think of “road trip” as a trip away from home, in which you see the country’s most beautiful landscapes, meet new people, and maybe raise a few beers on your journey. But you can also make a road trip about something else entirely. Here’s our journey from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park, a journey through the last best place on Earth. (Please note: this trip is NOT for those who suffer from motion sickness (to get the most out of this one, you may want to take a few Dramamine tablets).)
You’ve heard the expression “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, but what about a journey of a thousand miles without a single step? That’s what this adventure is about. We’re taking the short drive to Las Vegas from our home in Boulder, Colorado, and then driving the next five days through Utah, Wyoming, and Montana to Yellowstone National Park.The landscapes of Las Vegas and Yellowstone couldn’t be more different, and a road trip from the desert to the lush forests and mountains is the best way to see how the views change as you head north.
Although you can fly from Las Vegas to West Yellowstone Airport in Montana or Jackson, the best way to travel the state is through one of the finest chains of attractions the United States has to offer.
The drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park takes 10 hours and 30 minutes. Along the way you can visit Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Teton National Parks, explore the Fishlake and Dixie National Forests or head to the Grand Canyon.
This route includes some of the most epic attractions in the American heartland. You won’t want to miss anything, so read on to find out what to expect.
How far is Yellowstone National Park from Las Vegas and how long is the trip?
The drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park takes 10 hours with some transfers and covers about 740 miles.
Following Highway 15 most of the way will take you along the edge of Utah’s Great Basin, through the easternmost parts of Idaho and a bit of Montana before reaching the park that separates Wyoming from the last two states.
What this means for you is that you will be driving more than halfway through some of the most beautiful scenery in Utah. Taking into account a short visit to Arizona and assuming you will visit part of the park in Montana, the trip will take you through 6 states.
At the very beginning of your journey, a special experience awaits you, if the Valley of Fire is to be believed.
Theoretically, you could make this trip in a few days, but there are many amazing places that deserve your attention. It’s best to pick a few cities and use them as stopovers for lunches and hotels, then explore the surrounding parks and forests.
Best route from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park
The best route from Las Vegas to Yellowstone follows I-15 for most of the way. In addition to incredibly beautiful parks and forests, the route passes through major cities, making the journey both scenic and urban.
Leaving Las Vegas on I-15, you will travel past Lake Mead and Grand Canyon-Parsashant National Monument, then through Littlefield, Arizona, before reaching Utah.
From St. Petersburg When in St. George, you can detour to the North Rim or continue north through the Red Cliffs National Wildlife Refuge, Zion National Park and the Dixie, Fishlake and Manti La Salle National Forests.
In northern Utah, drive through Salt Lake City, with the Great Salt Lake on your left and the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest on your right. In Idaho, drive around Twin Falls on Highways 86 and 84 or continue on to Idaho Falls.
From there, take U.S. Route 20 and follow it north through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest into Montana. Shortly after passing Henris Lake State Park, follow Highway 191 from West Yellowstone to the Wyoming portion of Yellowstone National Park.
Best places to stop between Las Vegas and Yellowstone National Park
The beauty of this route is that there are many beautiful towns and hotels along the way, one even more luxurious than the other. These are some of the best hotels where you can book a room:
Have a great holiday in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is a great place to spend the night, as there is a lot to see and it is right in the middle of your itinerary. When you’re not strolling through Liberty Park or exploring Temple Square, you can and should relax at the Grand America Hotel.
Salt Lake City’s pristine landscape is one of the city’s main attractions.
The hotel has quaint and inviting rooms that offer some of the most spectacular views in Salt Lake City. You won’t spend much time there, though: the gorgeous lobby lounge, stunning outdoor space and two pools are even more impressive.
Enjoy a meal at the Garden Café and then visit the fitness centre or relaxing spa. Before you head home, visit the Salt Lake City gift shop. This hotel has everything to offer.
The hotel is located in the heart of the city, within walking distance of all events in the city. The best part is that it offers you all these benefits and amenities at a very generous price.
Discover the Grand Tetons in Jackson
As you head north from Salt Lake City into Idaho and Wyoming, check out the town of Jackson, home to legendary ski resorts and just north of Grand Teton National Park.
It is therefore not surprising that there are many good hotels and holiday homes in this tourist destination, but none of them can match the all-inclusive service of the White Buffalo Club.
The photos hardly capture the essence of Grand Teton National Park.
In addition to an incredible on-site restaurant, the hotel offers one of the best spas in the Intermountain West, as well as a wine cellar with plenty of fine wines to flush out a long day of exploration.
The interior decoration is not to be sneezed at, as the wooden finish helps to give the place a luxurious yet eccentric look. Not to mention that the bright and spacious rooms allow you to get up early and do some sightseeing.
As great as this place is, you’ll want to take a (free!) bike to Grand Teton to see some of the sights. The hotel’s location is perhaps best suited to seeing all that western Wyoming has to offer, and it’s also reasonably priced.
What to see on a road trip from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park
It’s almost impossible to list all there is to see on a road trip from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park. So take a few weeks and explore all the places listed below as thoroughly as possible:
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area – The states largest body of water is an ideal center for water recreation, a rarity in Nevada and Arizona.
- Valley of Fire State Park – This park contains many petroglyphs and sandstone formations that seem to burn in the bright sunlight.
- Zion National Park – A spectacular park that combines forests, rivers, great hiking trails and the unforgettable Zion Canyon.
- Bryce Canyon National Park – The park’s signature reddish hoodus complex.
- Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is an extremely remote area with spectacular canyons and even fossils of dinosaurs.
- Grand Canyon National Park (via North Rim) – The fact that this park is often considered one of the natural wonders of the world says everything you need to know.
- Utah Forests is an incredibly scenic and long chain of forests, not to mention a dramatic change in tone and color from the Nevada desert region.
- Uinta-Wasatch Cache National Forest is one of the most beautiful forests in all of Utah (and that’s saying something) and is a very popular place for camping and other outdoor activities.
- Salt Lake City is a city known for its vibrancy and diversity (and who can forget that incredible mountain scenery?).
- Twin Falls is a beautiful town on the Snake River Canyon and a great vantage point for exploring Shoshone Falls Park, the Perrin Memorial Bridge and the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail.
- Craters of the Moon National Monument and Reserve – A series of volcanic eruptions has caused this unique area to resemble the surface of the moon.
- Idaho Falls – This beautiful city has many parks, museums and scenic views along the Snake River.
- Yellowstone Bear World – This beautiful hiking trail is the best place to see wildlife in all of Idaho – you can even learn to bottle a baby bear under supervision!
- Caribou-Targhee National Forest – Located where Teton and Yellowstone meet, this beautiful forest is perhaps best known for its magnificent caves.
- Grand Teton National Park – Teton Ridge, beautiful open spaces and an abundance of lakes make this park a must for anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park.
Sunset over Cape Royal, one of the most beautiful views in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Best time to drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park
It can be hard to find the perfect time for a road trip from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park. First of all, you won’t want to miss the parks and forests, but expect some areas to be closed in the winter due to snow.
The same goes for Yellowstone itself: in addition to sub-zero temperatures, many areas are inaccessible in winter. If you want to see a different part of the park, you can stop in West Yellowstone and explore it by snowmobile.
Yellowstone attracts masses of tourists every summer, making this the peak season for visitors to the park. Although the temperature is usually between 70 and 75 degrees, it’s best to stay away if you don’t like noise, as most of the 3 million annual visitors come in the summer.
With scenery like this, it’s not hard to see why tourists flock to Yellowstone.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Yellowstone is spring or fall, with fall being the safest option. Because of the altitude, you can expect wintry weather in early to mid-spring.
On the other hand, September temperatures are similar to June, and you’ll have plenty of time in the park before resorts close in mid-October.
Autumn is also an ideal time to enjoy the numerous attractions this route has to offer. For example, the temperatures in the Grand Canyon are much more bearable at this time of year and the color palette of the forests in the fall is extraordinary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I stop between Las Vegas and Yellowstone?
The best place to stop between Las Vegas and Yellowstone is in Salt Lake City, UT.
How many hours drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park?
It takes about six hours to drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park.
What is the best month to visit Yellowstone National Park?
The best month to visit Yellowstone National Park is July.
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