The journey is the reward on the Scenic Yellowstone Loop road trip through vast, dramatic landscape with endless blue skies and towering mountain backdrops. Spend quality time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks soaking up the breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife and bubbling geysers and hot springs. Along the way, discover stunning vistas and western towns on roads less travelled as your journey winds its way through the Rocky Mountain states of Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
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Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah, located in the Salt Lake Valley. It is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake to the northwest, the Wasatch Mountain Range to the east and Oquirrh Mountains to the west.
Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by Brigham Young and is now the world headquarters of The Church. The pioneers began building, planning, and extending an extensive irrigation network which could feed the population and foster future growth. The history of the city is fascinating and unlike any other US city. Temple Square is definitely worth a stroll around during your first evening in the city.
Distance: 170 miles
Continue to nearby Heber City located in a beautiful mountain valley just a short drive from the Wasatch Mountain Range. Visit the Homestead Crater, a geothermal spring, hidden within a 55-foot tall beehive shaped limestone rock on the Homestead property. Over 10,000 years in the making, the Crater formed when melting snow on the mountains seeped deep within the earth. Two miles below the surface, the earth’s interior heated the water. As it percolated upward, it picked up minerals, which were then deposited on the surface — eventually forming the volcano-shaped limestone deposit called The Homestead Crater.The Yellowstone Scenic Loop continues on alongside the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation before arriving into Utah's Dinosaurland and the town of Vernal. View fossils dating back more than 100 million years and ancient American petroglyphs. Just twenty minutes from Vernal is Dinosaur National Monument. At the Quarry Exhibition, you can view and touch over 1,500 fossils dating back 149 million years. It’s a place of profound natural beauty and incredible intrigue - well worth a visit.
Distance: 50 miles
It's a short and incredibly scenic drive to Dutch John, on the edge of the Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area.
Covering over 200,000 acres of dramatic landscapes and vast wilderness, Flaming Gorge is a land of red canyons and arid green forests and raging rivers. The area’s most popular destination is the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. You can also experience the Green River, separated from the reservoir by the towering wall of the Flaming Gorge Dam. Both the reservoir and the river provide a plethora of water activities to choose from.
Your accommodation for the night will be log cabins at Red Lodge with fine dining on site and a variety of outdoor activities available.
Distance: 284 miles
Continue on the Yellowstone Scenic Loop into Wyoming. The 'Cowboy State' is the 10th largest by area, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. With wide-open plains and roads that never seem to end, this state was made for road-tripping and delivers some of the most jaw-dropping scenery on earth.
Make your way to Jackson via the Bridger Wilderness Area and the town of Pinedale, the gateway to the Wind River Mountains, and home of the Museum to the Mountain Man. Discover fascinating exhibits relating to the mountain men who explored the region in the early to middle part of the 19th century
Considered 'one of America's Most Beautiful Highways', it's Route 191 all the way from Pinedale into the cowboy town of Jackson, keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, moose and mule deer on the way.
The Western town of Jackson is your base to explore Grand Teton National Park and the towering Teton Mountain Range. Hike to Taggart Lake to witness the highest of these mountains, enjoy a gentle float trip on the Snake River or a boat trip across beautiful Jenny Lake. In the evening, head into town and check-out the western entertainment and cowboy hang-outs, we love Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Bin 22 and The Bird.
Distance: 125 miles
Cruise along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, a scenic road that connects Grand Teton National Park to mighty Yellowstone. You'll be travelling through the heart of the world's first national park on your way to West Yellowstone. Larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to 60% of the world's geysers. Old Faithful, arguably the most famous cone geyser in the world, erupts approximately every 90 minutes. Be sure to drive the Grand Loop - a 143 mile circuit with picturesque spots including Yellowstone Lake and Lower Falls.
Distance: 192 miles
You'll tick off your fourth state today as you cross the border into Idaho, one of western USA's most underrated destinations which is home to an astonishing 114 mountain ranges! Stop in Rexburg at Yellowstone Bear World, a vast drive-through park, where you're guaranteed to see Grizzly and Black Bears.
As you head to Lava Hot Springs, stretch the legs in quaint Pocatello and visit the quirky Museum of Clean, a museum unlike any you’ve ever seen. It’s about expanding cleanliness into homes, minds, language, community and the world.
After days of driving, It’s time to relax in the mineral pools of Lava Hot Springs. Nearly 10 million litres of sulphur-free water flow through every 24 hours. With water temperatures averaging 40C, and thankfully no rotten eggs smells, it's a fabulously soothing experience!
Distance: 132 miles
Next stop, the 'Caribbean of the Rockies', Bear Lake. Just over one hundred square miles, this unique turquoise body of fresh water straddles the Utah/Idaho border and a perfect stop for a hike with a view.
Fishing is a big deal here and the lake is known for having four species of fish — Bonneville cisco, Bonneville whitefish, Bear Lake whitefish and the Bear Lake sculpin — found nowhere else in the world.
If you fancy more driving and panoramic lake views, pick one of the area's landscape-rich drives.....the Oregon Trail-Bear Lake Scenic Byway, the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway, the Bear River Heritage Area or Bloomington Lake.
Your home for the next two nights is Conestoga Ranch which offers luxury glamping options and 19th century designed covered wagon stays on the edge of the lake, surrounded by soaring mountains and bountiful hiking trails and activities.
Distance: 159 miles
If you're a bird-watcher you're in for a treat. Where the Bear River flows into the Great Salt Lake, you'll find the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The 30,000+ hectare swath of marsh, open water, uplands and alkali mudflats is home to the largest colony of White-faced ibis in North America and plenty of other birds that migrate along the pacific and central flyways of the continent. For a comfortable view of the wildlife, take the 19-kilometre self-guided auto tour.
Near Brigham City is also the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the last spike of the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Walk or drive on the original railroad grade and get an up close view of Victorian era replica locomotives.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1969, Sundance Mountain Resort is set at the foot of
Distance: 44 miles
West of Salt Lake City are the Bonneville Salt Flats, a 30,000 acre expanse of hard, white salt crust on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake basin. Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, this area is famous for racing. Each summer, teams from around the world compete for land speed records in different vehicle classes at events like Speed Week, held each August since 1949. Don't be surprised if you have deja vu as the flats have become internationally renowned as a dramatic, lunar-like backdrop for movies, fashion shoots, and car commercials.
The Natural History Museum of Utah, an architectural marvel, is worth the drive alone just to view it. The mission of the museum is to illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it.
For a rousing end to your Scenic Yellowstone Loop road trip consider attending a performance of the world-famous Tabernacle Choir. Referred to as 'America's Choir', this 360 member chorus have performed across the globe and at inaugurations of US presidents.