Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton road trip itinerary
Just last week, I spent my days living as a cowgirl. Roaming among the plethora of cow herds and navigating my partner through the canyons and mountains was how I spent the past 10 days on a road trip. I also remixed many versions of “Home on the Range” for my fiance, which he greatly appreciated, ha! On our road trip we hit up Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Here’s the rundown of how our 10 days out west panned out:
Day 1 – Drove from Minnesota to Glacier, set up camp
We set off midafternoon towards the mountaneous west. Both my fiance and I always try to drive through the night to get to our destination because we are so excited and just want to get there!
We ended up stopping midway in North Dakota because there was so much wildlife crossing the road, and we were driving only 35 mph, due to fog. After an hour nap, the sun started to lighten up the sky and we finished the last leg of our journey.
Day 2 – We explored the Two Medicine Campground and made delicious campfire food
We arrive bright and early to our campground, with little to no sleep under our belt. We spent the rest of the day taking short walks through our campground to admire the scenery and to set up camp. We were excited to finally have some hot food in our bellies. Sadly, we weren’t able to start a campfire due to the high wildfire risk in Glacier National Park.
Day 3 – Drove the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier
Another bright and early morning where we tried to beat the crowds and explore the famous Going to the Sun Road. The road is 50 miles long. It was a hazy day in the park due to the wildfires, but the views were still emaculate.
Along the roadway you’ll see beautiful vistas of the mountains and even valleys filled with lush wildflowers. This is the main road of the park, so to beat crowds, we drove the entired extent of the road first and made notions on the map where we would like to pull off and take pictures. It was a perfect day!
Day 4 – West Yellowstone
To get a campsite in Yellowstone National Park, you have to be there early. (I explain the entire process in this post). We were, fortunately, able to get a campsite outside the park in West Yellowstone. After an afternoon drive through the park, we spent the evening popping into tourist shops in West Yellowstone and enjoying Huckleberry ice cream, customary for any tourist.
Day 5 – Explored the Southwest and western parts of Yellowstone
We woke up before the rooster was crowing, 4:30 a.m. to be exact to get a campsite at Norris Campground in Yellowstone National Park. After setting up camp, having our first official campfire meal, we ventured to see Yellowstone’s famous natural phenomenon — geysers.
We watched eruption after geyser eruption as we ventured the western part of the park. There’s numerous geyser basins that you can explore. We opted to venture to Black Sand Basin first because it was located next to Old Faithful, which was at the top of my fiance’s bucket list.
Ironically, turns out, my fiance wasn’t a fan of geysers and hot springs because of the sulfur smell. (To learn how to better cope with the sulfur smells, read this post.)
We roasted marshmallows late into the evenings over our roaring campfire.
If you want to see wildlife in Yellowstone, get up early! I can’t emphasize this enough. Wildlife are often active during the early morning hours and into the evening. And some of the best places to view Wildlife in Yellowstone are in the valleys.
We watched bison roam in the Lamar Valley that day. Along the way, we saw numerous osprey and even a mountain sheep! My fiance desperately wanted to see a bear, but we never did. The mountains are beautiful here and you’ll definitely want to check out Mount Washburn and pull over to snap a picture of the view.
After Lamar Valley, we ventured towards Mammoth Hot Springs in the Northwestern corner of the park. They are located near the Roosevelt Arch. This road was under construction, so instead of driving two times on the road we opted to include it with the northeastern portion of the park to prevent stress and save time.
Day 7 – Ventured to the eastern side of the park
Today we needed a break from geysers and the smell of sulfur, so we went to look at waterfalls and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. You’ll visit the famous upper and lower falls with beautiful views of the dusty, yellow-orange rock that makes up the canyon’s walls.
Later in the afternoon, we journeyed to Grand Tetons National Park. The park is relatively small compared to Yellowstone National Park, measuring 45 miles long and 26 miles wide. The park is located 45 minutes south of Canyon Village in Yellowstone. The drive is completely worth it! You’ll scoot around the edge of Lake Yellowstone, which is completely mesmerizing. Even in the rain, which is when we saw it!
In Grand Teton we spent time at Jackson Lake watching the sun slowly set in the sky.
This was probably my favorite day of our vacation.
Day 8 – Saw last minute stops in Yellowstone
We spent our last day in Yellowstone filling ourselves up with s’mores and campfire food and chatting with our neighbors. We visited a few of our favorite spots in the park, but decided to have a lazy day after all the driving. We ventured again to West Yellowstone to enjoy ice cream that evening.
Day 9-10 – Homeward bound
We slept in and packed up camp. We had seen nearly all that Yellowstone had to offer except the eastern entrance to the park. Most of the stops are viewable from your car, so we only had a few pullovers to take some last scenic shots. Then we were on our way home!
We drove through Wyoming and the Big Horn National Forest, which was beautiful! The windy road offered such beautiful views of the orange rock behemoths that shadowed us. We were even able to see wild horses, cows and a moose on the road!
We then drove past Crazy Horse Memorial and made a quick pit spot at Mount Rushmore, one of the most underrated monuments in the United States. We just scrapped into the parking lot as the sun was starting to set. It was beautiful to see the monument in last light and then in the dark illuminated by the spot lights below.