The Best 8-Day Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Road Trip

Road turns around a rock face overlooking a forest in Yellowstone

Are you looking for your next epic national park road trip? Look no further than Yellowstone and Grand Teton!

Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton are tucked away in the northwest corner of Wyoming, less than five hours from Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the scenic landscapes of northern Utah to the majestic Teton Range to the exotic features of Yellowstone, there’s no shortage of incredible sights on this once-in-a-lifetime road trip.

In this guide, I’m sharing the best road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, including:

  • Why Salt Lake City is the best place to start a Yellowstone road trip
  • Tips on where to stay, what to pack, and the best time to visit
  • The best route and recommended road trip itinerary
  • Plus, the best things to do in Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and everywhere in between!

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton? Don’t miss these posts!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Yellowstone National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer is a great time to visit thanks to warm weather and all park amenities being open, but it is also the most crowded time of year. Avoid crowds by visiting in September or early October.
  • Where to Stay: Yellowstone has eight lodges inside the park, plus several campgrounds. The Old Faithful Inn and Canyon Lodge are my favorites, both close to all the most popular places to see in the park. Outside the park, look for hotels in West Yellowstone, Montana.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is in West Yellowstone (WYS), serviced by both United and Delta Airlines. Other major airports in the region include Jackson Hole (JAC), Bozeman (BZN), and Salt Lake (SLC). Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Yellowstone is by car. Use Rentalcars.com to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy.
  • Best Self-Guided Tour: My favorite way to learn more about the park is with GyPSy Guides, a narrated self-guided tour perfect for road trips and scenic drives. The Yellowstone Guide and the Yellowstone/Grand Teton Bundle both provide incredible commentary and detail about the history and geology of Yellowstone.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including both Yellowstone and Grand Teton!).

Why Start a Road Trip to Yellowstone in Salt Lake City?

While Salt Lake City is located a 4+ hour drive from Yellowstone and Grand Teton, it makes a great place to start your road trip. The whole point of a road trip is the scenic drive along the way, right? The road from Salt Lake to Yellowstone has no shortage of beauty!

There are several benefits of starting your Yellowstone and Grand Teton road trip in Salt Lake City, including:

  • Salt Lake City has a major international airport. If you’re looking for a wide selection of direct flights, your best bet is flying into Salt Lake City. Read more about all the locations with flights to Salt Lake here.
  • You’ll save money by flying into Salt Lake City. Flights to the small regional airports, like West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, are infrequent, costly, and require connecting through major hubs (often Salt Lake City or Denver). So by flying directly into Salt Lake City, you’ll save a significant amount of money.
  • The drive through Utah and Wyoming is beautiful. Therefore, if you’re looking to slow down and take the scenic route, I highly recommend flying into Salt Lake City. You’ll get the whole experience of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but also see some incredible destinations along the way like Bear Lake and Antelope Island State Park.
  • Salt Lake City is a gateway for adventure. If you want the ultimate 2-week national park adventure, Salt Lake City is the perfect starting point for both a Yellowstone and Grand Teton road trip and a Utah “Mighty 5” national park road trip. First, I recommend exploring the Wyoming parks and then the Utah parks for a week.

All that said, if you’re looking to minimize your driving time, flying into Salt Lake City isn’t the best option for you. Instead, I’d recommend flying into West Yellowstone or Jackson Hole Airport.

I like to use Skyscanner to compare flight prices to multiple airports and find the best price. Once you find the perfect flight itinerary for you, Skyscanner redirects you to book with the airline directly, so you don’t miss out on any frequent flyer points! Search flights on Skyscanner now.

You’ll also need a rental car to get to and around the park if you’re flying. I like to use to Rentalcars.com find the best deals on rental cars. It allows you to search across multiple rental companies to find the lowest price. You’ll find all the major retailers like Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise, plus budget companies like Budget, Sixt, Dollar, Thrifty, and more. Search rental car prices with Rentalcars.com now.

Routes and Distance from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

While there are several routes from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park, these are the two I would recommend:

  • Scenic Route: Salt Lake City to Garden City to Afton to Jackson (via Highway 89). This route is 394 miles and 8 hours, one way.
  • Fastest Route: Salt Lake City to Pocatello to Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone (via I-15). This route is 321 miles and 4 hours 45 minutes, one way.

I recommend completing the trip as a loop for this road trip, starting with the scenic route, stopping at Grand Teton first, and then heading to Yellowstone. Then, on the return trip to Salt Lake City, take the fastest way back through Idaho Falls.

However, if you’re short on time or plan on skipping Grand Teton National Park, you can take the ‘Fastest Route’ above both ways.

Hot springs scattered across West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone

Tips for Travel from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

Before planning your trip to Salt Lake City road trip, there are a few things you should know.

  • Get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. The pass covers your admission to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton for an entire year. If you don’t go with the national park pass, you’ll need to pay admission at each park totaling $70. If you plan to visit any other national park, historic site, or monument in the 12 months, it’s worth the investment. Get your national park pass here.
  • Weekends are busier than weekdays, particularly in Yellowstone National Park. So if you want to avoid peak crowds and traffic, consider visiting on a weekday if possible. A great way to do this would be to plan your trip from Saturday to Saturday so your weekends are spent driving and weekdays are spent exploring the national parks.
  • Visit in the early summer or fall to avoid crowds. Shoulder months in Yellowstone and Grand Teton provide a break from summer crowds with milder weather. To avoid crowds, visit in June, September, or early October. But be warned, the weather will be colder, often in the 60s during the day and freezing overnight. Read more about the best time to visit Yellowstone here.
  • Start your day early to avoid crowds. By 10 AM, parking lots are full, and trails are crowded. Avoid crowds by getting an early start around sunrise. I think the early morning light on the geysers and steaming pools are stunning. After 4 PM, crowds tend to clear out, so early evening until sunset is also a great time to explore!
  • Book your accommodations early. National Park lodging, primarily at Yellowstone, books up months in advance. If you want to stay inside Yellowstone, book your lodging one year in advance. If you’re camping, book your campgrounds six to twelve months out. If you’re staying outside the park, plan to book three to six months out. Read more about where to stay in Yellowstone, best campgrounds in Yellowstone, best Airbnbs near Yellowstone, where to stay in Grand Teton, and best campgrounds in Grand Teton.
  • Always check the national park website for the latest updates. The national park website is your best source for up-to-date information, from road and trail closures to current conditions. I recommend checking the Yellowstone National Park website and the Grand Teton National Park website just before your trip to know what to expect.
  • Pack plenty of layers. Temperatures in Yellowstone and Grand Teton change dramatically from day to night. Even in the summer, overnight temperatures are often near freezing. Therefore, dressing in layers is critical. I recommend packing fleeces and down layers, plus a warm hat and gloves even when visiting in the summer!
  • Keep your distance from wildlife. While incredible to see, be sure to keep a safe distance and give all wild animals plenty of room. Stay 25 yards away from bison, female elk, deer, and moose. You should stay 100 yards away from more aggressive animals like bears, wolves, and bull elk during rutting season.
  • Cell phone service in Yellowstone and Grand Teton is limited. Be sure to download all reservations, confirmations, and maps offline before entering the park. I like to save all information in an offline Dropbox or Google Drive folder and take a screenshot.
  • Keep an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle. At a minimum, this should include a first aid kit, an essential tool kit, blankets, a flashlight, and jumper cables. Of course, you should always keep extra water in your car too.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your road trip? Check out my guides on the ultimate road trip packing list and the best road trip planning tools for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

Day 1: Explore Salt Lake City

The main reason for starting and ending your Yellowstone road trip in Salt Lake City is the large airport located here, but it’s an incredible place to visit too!

Salt Lake City is the largest city and capital of Utah. From anywhere in the city, you’re surrounded by towering mountain views. This adventure hub is only minutes from incredible hiking, driving, and skiing (you’ve heard of Park City, right?).

This town merges the mountain experience with a booming metropolitan area, with plenty of incredible dining options and breweries. 

With one day in Salt Lake City, you can see the highlights, like Temple Square and the Natural History Museum. The downtown is compact and walkable, perfect for a quick day exploring. 

Fountain and buildings surrounding Temple Square in Salt Lake City
Temple Square in Salt Lake City

Things to Do in Salt Lake City

  • Temple Square is one of the top attractions in Salt Lake City. It’s the headquarters of The Latter-day Saints and contains attractions dedicated to Mormon heritage and beliefs. Beyond that, it’s a beautiful area with incredible gardens, art, and architecture.
  • The Natural History Museum of Utah is more than just a museum. The grounds also provide some of the best views of Salt Lake City and access to plenty of scenic hiking trails. Inside the museum, you’ll find galleries and exhibits dedicated to the science and history of Utah’s native cultures and landscapes.
  • Red Butte Garden is located next to the Natural History Museum and is home to a botanical garden and nature trails. Maintained by the University of Utah, if you enjoy nature strolls and outdoor gardens, this is a must-visit attraction!
  • Eat at Red Iguana, a famous Mexican food spot in Salt Lake City. This family-run restaurant is popular, located just northwest of downtown. Do yourself a favor and order their signature mole.
Sunny afternoon view of the Tabernacle in Temple Square in Salt Lake City
Temple Square in Salt Lake City

Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

Day 2: Scenic Drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole

After spending a day exploring Salt Lake City, you’ll head towards Grand Teton National Park, the first destination on your road trip!

But before reaching the Grand Tetons, there are so many incredible destinations to see. Northern Utah and southern Wyoming have so much to offer, from scenic state parks to quaint small towns.

As you head out of Salt Lake City, stop at Antelope Island State Park. This small island within the Great Salt Lake provides incredible views of Utah’s famous lake and the free-roaming herds of bison and antelope found here.

The Logan Canyon Scenic Byway connects Logan, a sizable town outside of Salt Lake City, and Garden City along the shores of Bear Lake. The scenic drive cuts through jagged limestone rock formations along the Logan River as you pass through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

This route is filled with beautiful gold, red, and yellow foliage in the fall. It’s truly a sight to see!

Bear Lake from an overlook in Utah
Bear Lake Overlook

As you come out of the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, be prepared for incredible views at the Bear Lake Overlook. This viewpoint overlooks Bear Lake, the second-largest natural freshwater lake in Utah. The shore of this brilliant blue lake is an excellent spot for a picnic lunch. 

As you continue along Highway 89 towards Jackson Hole, you’ll pass through Afton, Wyoming, and Alpine, Wyoming. The road begins to follow the Snake River as you head towards Jackson.

This stretch of road is truly breathtaking, so be prepared to stop to take in the natural Wyoming landscapes.

Best Places to See Between Salt Lake City and Grand Teton National Park

  • Visit Antelope Island State Park for views of the Great Salt Lake. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, don’t miss the 1-mile Buffalo Point trail.
  • Drive the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. This beautiful drive from Logan to Garden City is incredible, particularly in the fall!
  • Stop at Bear Lake Overlook. It provides impressive views of Bear Lake below. After the quick stop, head to the lakeshore or stop in Garden City for a raspberry shake.
  • See the Elk Antler Arch in Afton, WY. This impressive arch stretches all four lanes of Highway 89 as you pass through town. You literally can’t miss it!
  • Take in the views along the Snake River. The views along the drive from Alpine to Jackson, Wyoming, are incredible and the perfect introduction to your time in Grand Teton National Park.
Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island State Park in Utah
Antelope Island State Park

Things to Do in Jackson, Wyoming

You’ll end your driving day in Jackson, Wyoming. This town is a home base for Grand Teton National Park. So whether you choose to stay in Jackson or stay inside Grand Teton National Park, it’s worth spending an evening or morning strolling around downtown Jackson.

Jackson Hole is a world-famous ski town and the gateway to Grand Teton National Park. While you may hear the terms used interchangeably, the region is Jackson Hole, and the city is simply named Jackson. 

Jackson’s ski town atmosphere is replaced by a quiet wild west town from spring to fall. You’ll find plenty of saloons, outdoor outfitters, and delicious restaurants here. Like Afton, Jackson has its elk antler arches surrounding the town square.

Old western style building in downtown Jackson Wyoming
Shops in Jackson, Wyoming

While there are infinite things to do in this touristy town, don’t miss:

  • See the Antler Arches in Jackson Town Square. These massive arches weigh over 10,000 pounds and are made up entirely of antlers naturally shed by local elk at the National Elk Refuge.
  • Try some of Jackson’s local spots. For a delicious breakfast, visit Persephone Bakery. Then, catch live music at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
  • Visit the Jackson Hole Farmers Market. This impressive market offers plenty of local produce, unique snacks, products, and crafts by local Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana vendors.

Where to Stay in Jackson, Wyoming

Read More: Best Hotels Near Grand Teton and Best Campgrounds in Grand Teton

Days 3 and 4: Visit Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is easily one of the most impressive and scenic national parks in the United States. This park belongs on your bucket list, from the jagged Teton peaks visible throughout the park to the wildlife spotting to the incredible hikes.

While many visitors choose to drive directly from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park, I argue that Grand Teton is a must-do stop on your road trip.

While located a short drive from Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park has an entirely different (and perhaps more impressive landscape). The Teton Range is distinct and recognizable with its sharp, arrowhead-like peaks.

With a week-long drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park, I recommend spending two days in Grand Teton National Park.

With two days in the park, you’re able to see the highlights and explore the most iconic views of the Tetons.

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

Old wooden barn at Mormon Row in front of the Teton Mountain Range
Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park

Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park

  • Drive 42 Mile Scenic Loop. This incredibly scenic drive starts on Highway 191 and finishes on Teton Park Road. I recommend driving in a clockwise direction around sunrise or sunset for the best views!
  • Explore Jenny Lake. This pristine lake is at the heart of Grand Teton National Park, nestled just below the mountains. Whether you choose to kayak on the lake or do the short Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, it’s worth taking in the views from the shore of the lake. In addition, those looking to hike can enjoy many of the hiking trails that surround Jenny Lake.
  • See sunrise at Mormon Row. This area is home to a series of barns previously owned by the homesteader family, the Moultons. Today the Moulton Barns are a popular spot for sunrise. As the early morning light hits the Tetons, you’ll capture an excellent photo of the barns in the foreground and the jagged mountains glowing in the background.
  • See sunrise at Schwabacher Landing. This sunrise spot is a favorite among photographers. Drive to the end of Schwabacher’s Landing Road (it’s bumpy and unpaved, so AWD or a high-clearance vehicle at a minimum is recommended). While the view from the parking lot is spectacular, walk to the end of the trail for an incredible sunrise view of the Grand Tetons reflected in the Snake River.
  • See wildlife at Oxbow Bend. This small turnout along Highway 191 overlooks a bend in the Snake River known for wildlife activity. Oxbow Bend is best visited in the early morning, just after sunrise. Keep your eyes peeled for moose and other animals! If you want to escape the crowds here, head to Cattleman’s Bridge Site nearby.
  • Visit the Snake River Overlook. Famous photographer Ansel Adams popularized this scenic viewpoint. Take in sunset views of the Tetons from this overlook off Highway 191.
  • Hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. One of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park, this hike is a must! First, take the boat across Jenny Lake to shorten your walk. Then, hike the 2-mile round trip path to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point from the dock. Finally, if you have extra energy, continue hiking through Cascade Canyon.
  • Hike to Taggart Lake. Another popular hike is the roughly 4-mile easy trail to Taggart Lake. This trail provides excellent views of the Tetons. If you’re up for it, add the entire loop to Taggart and Bradley Lakes (an additional 2 miles)

Read More: 25 Best Things to Do in Grand Teton

Tetons glow at sunrise reflected in the Snake River at Schwabacher Landing
Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park

Where to Stay in Grand Teton National Park

  • Jackson Lake Lodge is one of the most spectacular national park lodges with jaw-dropping views of the Tetons, an excellent cocktail bar, and several restaurants.
  • Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch, a rustic mountain lodge with a restaurant located in the far northern part of Grand Teton along John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway. Headwaters Lodge is the perfect place to stay between Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
  • Colter Bay Village, a community with budget-friendly log cabins and several restaurants, perfect for families exploring Grand Teton
  • Jenny Lake Lodge is a small, luxury lodge on the shores of Jenny Lake featuring private cabins and gourmet breakfast and dinner.

If you want to learn more about Grand Teton National Park, check out these posts!

– Where to Stay: 35 Best Places to Stay in Grand Teton
– Camping: 7 Best Campgrounds in Grand Teton
– Things to Do: 25 Best Things to Do in Grand Teton
– Hikes:
18 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
– Add Yellowstone: 7 Days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone

Days 5, 6, and 7: Visit Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is America’s oldest national park and the 2nd largest park in the Lower 48. And on this road trip from Salt Lake City, Yellowstone is the crown jewel. It’s the reason for your entire trip!

You’ll arrive in Yellowstone National Park via the South Entrance along John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway. The South Entrance gives you excellent access to the southern part of the park before continuing along Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road throughout your visit.

This massive national park requires at least three days to see the highlights and experience the park’s immense wildlife, features, and views.

Many visitors only see the top attractions, like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. But Yellowstone has so much more to offer! Don’t miss the incredible waterfalls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the unique terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs, and the wildlife in Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley.

One of my favorite ways to see the national parks is with GyPSy Guide. It’s a self-guided audio tour that shares stories, local tips & directions. It’s great for national park trips because it works on GPS, not cell phone signals. And it plays automatically based on your location. It’s like having a tour guide, with the hassle of being on a group tour. Learn more about GyPSy Guide here.

Yellow and green hot spring, Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone
Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin

Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park

  • Visit Old Faithful Geyser. Arguably the most famous attraction in Yellowstone, this geyser erupts on a frequent, predictable schedule and is easily accessible. The best place to watch the eruption is from the viewing platform, only steps from the Old Faithful Inn. An Old Faithful eruption typically lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 5 minutes, shooting up to 8,000 gallons of boiling water 100+ feet into the air.
  • Explore the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin. The Upper Geyser Basin is home to Old Faithful and other geothermal features. It has the highest density of geysers in the world! Walk the entire 3-mile loop, stopping to see Heart Hot Spring, Beauty Pool, Chromatic Pool, Riverside Geyser, and Morning Glory Pool.
  • See Grand Prismatic Spring. Located in the Midway Geyser Basin, this is one of the most iconic landmarks in Yellowstone. This rainbow-colored hot spring is the third largest hot spring globally and is a must-see geothermal feature. While you can see the spring from up the boardwalks in the Midway Geyser Basin, it’s best seen from above on a short hike to the Grand Prismatic Overlook via the Fairy Falls Trail.
  • Explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This iconic canyon was carved by the Yellowstone River, featuring dramatic rock colors and distinctive geology. The best way to see the canyon is to take a scenic drive of the North Rim and South Rim, stopping to see the incredible viewpoints and hiking the short trails. Don’t miss Upper Falls Viewpoint, Artist Point, and Lookout Point.
  • See wildlife in Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley. Yellowstone National Park is renowned for its wildlife, home to large bison herds, elk, moose, grizzly and black bears, wolves, and more. Hayden Valley stretches from Canyon Village to Mud Volcano and is best for spotting bison, elk, bears, and bald eagles. Lamar Valley is great for spotting bison, bears, coyotes, and wolves in the northeast part of the park. The best times to see wildlife are after sunrise or before sunset.
  • See the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. The unique travertine terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs were formed by dissolving calcium carbonate. The best way to see Mammoth Hot Springs is on a short walk through the Lower Terraces. Don’t miss Palette Spring, Minerva Terrace, and Mound and Jupiter Terraces! 
  • Visit Norris Geyser Basin. This area comprises two adjacent geyser basins – the Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. From the Museum, you can complete a 0.8-mile loop through the Porcelain Basin and a 1.7-mile loop through the Back Basin. Don’t miss Constant Geyser, Crackling Lake, and Steamboat Geyser (if it’s predicted to erupt).
  • Explore West Thumb Geyser Basin. This lakefront geyser basin provides both incredible views and unique geothermal activity. Located near the South Entrance, this is the perfect introduction to your time in Yellowstone. Don’t miss the Abyss Pool, Black Pool, and Lakeshore Geyser.
  • Walk the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. This short trail features several hydrothermal features, the most notable of which are the mud pots. These are brownish-gray pools resembling boiling clay or mud. The mud pots are a unique feature to see in Yellowstone and belong on your to-do list.

Read More: 15 Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Bison in a field in Yellowstone National Park

Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park

  • Old Faithful Inn, a luxury hotel walking distance to Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin
  • Old Faithful Lodge & Cabins, a more budget-friendly lodge walking distance to Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin and open year-round
  • Canyon Lodge & Cabins, a community of hotels and small cabins a short drive from Hayden Valley and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, a quaint hotel in the picturesque town of Mammoth, walking distance to Mammoth Hot Springs

If you want to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out these posts!

– Itinerary:
How to Spend 1 to 5 Days In Yellowstone
– Things to Do: 22 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone
– Hikes: 15 Best Hikes in Yellowstone
– Getting There: 8 Best Airports Near Yellowstone
– When to Visit: The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
– Where to Stay: Where to Stay in Yellowstone
– Airbnbs Nearby: 25 Best Airbnbs Near Yellowstone

Day 8: Return from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City

After three days in Yellowstone, it’s time to head back from Yellowstone National Park to Salt Lake City. As you return to your starting point, I recommend taking the faster route back via I-15.

While it is less scenic than the route from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City, the faster, direct route saves time and allows you to see new places.

If you haven’t gotten your fill of wildlife yet, visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone before starting your road trip back to Salt Lake City.

If you’re looking to take a relaxing break on your road trip after days of exploring in Grand Teton and Yellowstone, consider stopping at a hot spring! The best hot springs along the route include Crystal Hot Springs in Brigham City, Utah, and Lava Hot Springs in Idaho.

I recommend spending your last day leisurely driving back to Salt Lake City and spending the night near the airport. Then, book a flight out for the following day. Spending a final night in Salt Lake City allows you to have a relaxing road trip from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City.

Are you visiting multiple national parks in the next year? The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for a full 12 months!

Get your national park pass ahead of time for only $80.

Cascading waterfall in Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Best Things to Do Between Yellowstone National Park and Salt Lake City

  • Explore the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. This animal refuge in West Yellowstone, just outside the park, offers visitors up-close encounters with grizzly bears, gray wolves, and birds of prey. The discovery center is an excellent activity for kids interested in wildlife.
  • Walk the Riverwalk in downtown Idaho Falls. After lunch in Idaho Falls, follow the riverwalk along the Snake River, the perfect leg stretch, before heading back to Salt Lake City. 
  • Visit Lava Hot Springs in Idaho. This entire town is built around the natural hot springs found here. Now more developed, you can visit the warm pools for a quick soak.
  • Visit Crystal Hot Springs in Utah, the hot spring with the highest mineral content globally.  Crystal Hot Springs is a great side trip for families with kids.

Where to Stay Near the Salt Lake City International Airport

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and Grand Teton Map

I’ve put together this interactive map that allows you to scroll, zoom, and click through the destinations covered on this Salt Lake City to Grand Tetons to Yellowstone road trip.

This map is a great way to see the itinerary in action! See the road trip map here or click the image below.

Map of the best points of interest from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park
Click the map to view the interactive version!

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Road Trip Variations

If you have more or less time for your Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park road trip, here are a couple of modifications:

  • If you only have five days: Skip the first day in Salt Lake City. I recommend taking the I-15 route each way and only spending three days in Yellowstone (skipping Grand Teton entirely).
  • If you only have seven days: Skip the first day in Salt Lake City and drive directly to Jackson on your first day instead.
  • If you have more than eight days: Spend more time in Grand Teton National Park. It’s my favorite national park and deserves more than just two short days. I recommend spending at least 3 or 4 days if you have the time. Another option is visiting Park City while you’re in Salt Lake City!

Read More: 7 Days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone from Salt Lake City

What is the closest entrance to Yellowstone from Salt Lake City?

The closest Yellowstone entrance to Salt Lake City is the West Entrance, located in West Yellowstone, Montana. This entrance is located 320 miles and 5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Is Salt Lake City near Yellowstone National Park?

Salt Lake City is located 320 miles from Yellowstone National Park. This drive takes roughly 5 hours via I-15. Consider driving from Salt Lake City to Jackson, Wyoming via Highway 89 instead for a more scenic route.

Is the drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole pretty?

The drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole is beautiful. Highway 89/191 winds through northern Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. The mountain drive to Bear Lake and the Snake River scenic views are worth it!

What is the most scenic route from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole?

The most scenic route from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole is Highway 89 / Highway 191. This route takes you from Logan to Bear Lake, then follows the Snake River into Jackson, Wyoming. It’s gorgeous in the fall as the leaves change.

Where should I stay between Salt Lake City and Grand Teton?

The best cities to stay between Salt Lake City and Grand Teton are Logan, Afton, and Jackson. These towns provide hotel options along the route from Salt Lake City to Grand Teton National Park.

How far is it from the Salt Lake City Airport to Yellowstone National Park?

The distance from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park is 320 miles via I-15 N. The drive takes roughly 5 hours to reach Yellowstone from Salt Lake City International Airport.

Final Thoughts on Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Wyoming

Starting and ending in Salt Lake City is an excellent option if you’re planning a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Salt Lake City offers a budget-friendly major airport, plus an incredible opportunity for a scenic road trip.

If you have eight days, consider this breakdown for your Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park road trip:

  • Day 1: Explore Salt Lake City
  • Day 2: Scenic Drive from Salt Lake to Jackson Hole
  • Day 3: Grand Teton National Park
  • Day 4: Grand Teton National Park
  • Day 5: Yellowstone National Park
  • Day 6: Yellowstone National Park
  • Day 7: Yellowstone National Park
  • Day 8: Return to Salt Lake City

If you want to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out these posts!

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

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Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and Grand Teton Pinterest Pin
Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and Grand Teton Pinterest Pin