If you enjoy long scenic trips that include both mountainous and wooded areas, consider a trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park. Because there is so much to see and do along the way, you will come back to this incredible momentum for years to come.

The journey from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park takes 11 hours and 30 minutes. Along the way you can explore Mount Rainier National Park and the craters of the moon, stop off in Portland, Missoula or Idaho Falls and visit Grand Teton National Park.

If you like the adventure of epic proportions, read on and discover what makes this one of the most picturesque records in North America.

How far is Yellowstone National Park from Seattle and how long is the journey?

The journey from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park will be about 740 miles long and will take just over 11 hours, excluding fuel and food breaks. This means that you have to split your trip for at least two days, but the longer it takes, the better.

On this road the woods await you, and there are many along the route through Washington, Idaho and Montana. The road gets a bit bumpy when you arrive in Montana, thanks to the Rocky Mountains, but it usually crosses the Idaho highlands and cuts through the thin northern strip of the state.

Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park at sunrise, surrounded by mountains and forests.
Consider a slow detour on the North Cascades Highway, which passes through some of the most beautiful spots in Northwest America, including Lake Diablo (picture).

Checubus/Shutterstock.com

There is also another route, southbound, which takes about 14.5 hours and passes through Portland and the southern state of Idaho, passing Montana all the way to the end.

In addition to its own beautiful forests, this U-road offers curves around the Boise Mountains and the Biergarten ridge, which offer you a beautiful mountain landscape, but also an extension of your journey by almost 250 miles.

While this is an excellent route, another factor to consider is the traffic – part of Seattle Portland is likely crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, which is another reason why the northern route is probably easier to drive.

Best route on the Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Highway

There is no particularly optimal route between Seattle and Yellowstone National Park, especially if you’re not worried about time. If you want to get to Yellowstone quickly, the I-90 North Road is probably the best option.

If you really want to see everything you can see, the best solution is to take one on the road to Yellowstone and the other on the way back. It will probably extend your trip by a few weeks or more, but it is one of the most picturesque CDs you can make in the United States.

Route Distance Driving time
Route du nord
(via I-90)
790 miles 12 hours 30 minutes
Route du sud
(via I-84)
1,040 miles 5:00 p.m.

Route du Nord (I-90)

Drive east of Seattle between Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park.

Drive through Columbia National Wildlife Reserve and Turnbull National Wildlife and see nearby Riverside and Mt Spokane National Parks or head north to Colville National Forest.

Drive past Lolo National Forest and the Missoula River and consider a trip around Nez Perce or Flathead Lake.

When you’re done, take Motana Highway 359 through Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, then Motana Highway 287 along the Rocky Mountains, past Hebgen Lake and into Yellowstone National Park.

Southern route (I-84)

From Seattle, take the I-5 south through Tacoma and Lakewood, then through the Capitol State Forest, St. John’s National Volcanic Monument, and on to the Capitol State Forest. St. Helens and the Clatsop State Forest to Portland. From here take the I-84 eastbound between Gifford Pinchot and Mount Hood National Forest.

Embrace Washington-Oregon state on the Columbia River border and stay on the Interstate Line or detour to Umatilla and Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge. Further south, after the Umatilla National Forest and the crossing of the Snake River to Idaho.

Behind Boise, enter the Saw National Forest and jump on the I-86 when the two nations after Berly split up. Pass Lake Wolcott and from Pocatello take the I-15 to the north, straight to Pocatello.

Continue north through Idaho Falls (which is an excellent turning point for Grand Theton National Park if you’re interested) and past the Caribou-Targhee National Forest before entering Yellowstone.

Best stops between Seattle and Yellowstone National Park

A stopover of at least one night is essential for the journey from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, regardless of the route taken. There are a number of interesting hotels that deserve attention, and these are among the best :

Relaxing under the stars in Portland, Oregon

If you want to make a stopover in the big city on your way to Yellowstone, it won’t be bigger than Portland. Although there are many great hotels here, the best one should be the Duniway Portland.

From elegant and spacious rooms with stunning city views to incredible bars and lobbies, every part of this hotel is beautiful. Once settled you can enjoy delicious meals and cocktails in the local restaurant, swim in the pool or work out at the gym.

The highlight of the hotel should be the room on the roof terrace, because that’s where all the magic happens – relaxing under the night sky with live music, wine tasting and much more.

This hotel is located in the centre of Portland and is the perfect choice for you if you want to stay in the centre of Portland. In addition to its convenient location in Oregon’s largest city, the price is reasonable given the quality of the experience.

A tram runs through the streets of Central Portland, Oregon.
A short stay in Portland can help you cross the endless mountains, forests and rivers you’ll see for the rest of your journey.

Robert Crum/Shutterstock.de

Enjoy the ski season in Jackson

Although it’s much closer to Grand Theton National Park than Yellowstone, Jackson makes an interesting stop because it’s surrounded on all sides by incredible views. There are some very nice resorts in town, but the Snow King is one of them, if not the best.

The hotel features a Jacuzzi and outdoor pool, massage and concierge services and a Haydens Point restaurant. The rooms have a beautiful view of the mountains and some have a beautiful fireplace.

In the evening, when you are hypothermic, you can sit and chat in the charming courtyard around the fireplace.

Jackson is ideal for outdoor activities, especially hiking and skiing. During your stay in Teton Village, you can easily reach the slopes – you can easily drive there or use the free ski bus service.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this hotel is quite affordable – the amount you get is amazing considering the price. So instead of waiting in Yellowstone hotels for that hard-to-reach vacation, consider making the Snow King Resort your base for exploring this corner of Wyoming.

Ski slopes above the classic Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is not only one of the best ski resorts in America, but also an excellent gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

WitGorski/Shutterstock.com

Places of interest on a trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park

The number of attractions between Seattle and Yellowstone National Park is incredible. If you have a couple of weeks, combine these two routes into a great trip you won’t forget in a hurry.

Although there are countless others, there are some places here that you should definitely check:

  1. Mount Rainier National Park – named after its colossal stratovolcano, a unique blend of forests, grasslands and hills that makes it one of the most beautiful landscapes in the region.
  2. Okanogan-Venachi National Forest – This park includes the beautiful Okanogan valley and an incredibly beautiful mountain landscape.
  3. Spokane – This city, with its beautiful waterfront and Manito Parks and its proximity to several state parks, is one of the most scenic stops you can make on your journey.
  4. Riverside and Mount Spokane State Park – The two largest parks in Washington State offer many great attractions and are ideal for recreational activities.
  5. Lolo National Forest – This 2 million hectare forest is characterized by a beautiful landscape and a variety of bird, fish and plant species.
  6. Missoula is one of the largest cities in Montana. Missoula is perhaps best known for its University of Montana and is also a meeting place for several epic mountain ranges.
  7. Flathead National Park – Situated between the Rocky Mountains, this beautiful forest with Flathead Lake is an incredibly beautiful campsite.
  8. Capitol State Forest – countless footpaths, fascinating waterfalls and Mima dikes can be found in this forest.
  9. Olympic National Park and Forest is a beautiful combination of beaches, mountains and forests, suitable for all outdoor activities under the sun.
  10. Volcanic National MonumentSt. Helena Mountain – This active stratovolcano is known for its occasional bursts of ash and is a popular place for climbing and hiking.
  11. Portland, Oregon – The largest city in Oregon has beautiful architecture, parks and nature reserves that make it one of the greenest cities in America.
  12. Umatilla National Forest – Located in the Blue Mountains of Washington, DC, epic valleys and ridges make a visit to this forest a must.
  13. Morley Nelson Snake River National Bird of Prey Reserve – Several species of mammals and birds of prey call this place home because of its rich soil.
  14. National Sawmill Forest – The dramatic changes in terrain make this mountain forest a popular place for recreation and entertainment.
  15. The craters of the Lunar National Monument and Reserve is an enormous basalt bay with enormous fractures, strange cave formations and a surface that resembles the moon in general.
  16. Idaho Falls – This city is home to beautiful parks, museums and several hiking trails along the Snake River.
  17. Grand Teton National Park – This incredible landscape park is at least equal to Yellowstone with its huge mountains and U-shaped valleys.
  18. Karibou-Targa National Forest – On the top of a beautiful flora this forest also has some beautiful limestone caves.

The mountains of Grand Teton National Park at some distance, with forest and river in the foreground.
Grand Theton National Park, located south of Yellowstone, is a worthy competitor to its famous neighbour for its panoramic views.

Knock Tr/Shutterstock.com

Best time to travel from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park

There is definitely a good and a bad time to take a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park. In addition to a long journey, the unique weather conditions in the park itself must also be taken into account.

The reserves and forests along the route can be used at any time of the year, although heavy snowfall may eventually close some areas.

The mountainous parts of the route are also worth mentioning – both routes remain largely interstate, but some parts of the route (especially Montana) can be difficult to travel in the snow, especially with a van or other slow moving vehicle.

With peaks reaching over 6,000 feet, the snow in Yellowstone never disappears, not even in June or July. In fact, most, if not all, stations in the park will be open in early spring – the temperature rarely rises above 60 degrees (and often around 30 degrees), and even if the snow melts, moving with all the mud and puddles can be uncomfortable.

Needless to say that spring and autumn, as unpredictable as they may be, pale in comparison to winter – the temperature usually drops to 0 degrees, which means you have to be prepared if you plan to come at this time.

Despite the cold nights and the snow at high altitude, summer is generally an ideal time to visit Yellowstone. Almost everything works in the park, and the daily maximum temperature is almost never higher than 80 degrees.

However, due to the excellent facilities, most hotels are pre-booked for the summer, so it may be necessary to find accommodation outside the park.

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