Denver, Colorado to Yellowstone Road Trip

Rocky Mountain High Loop: Trace the spine of North America from Colorado's central Rockies to Wyoming's Wind River Range to Yellowstone National Park and back.
By Staff,
Hiker at Rock Cut looking at Longs Peak in the distance at Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Road Trip Overview

Spend your first day of this incredible 1,379-mile, round-trip route in the Mile High City, checking out the art and food scene, before heading west from Denver to Winter Park, Colo., for outdoor fun. Continue winding through a high-mountain valley to reach the charming town of Grand Lake at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park. Spend a day boating on the lake and perusing the shops that line the town's wooden boardwalks.

From there, head into the park, taking Trail Ridge Road, the country’s highest paved road over the Continental Divide. On the other side lies Estes Park, Colo., where The Stanley Hotel, made infamous in The Shining, rises up amid rocky hillsides. From there head to Laramie, Wyo., for the start of your deep dive into the Old West. Take in the views of the Snowy Range Mountains before stopping in Saratoga, Wyo., for a dip in hot springs and Rawlins for unique dining. From there, visit Lander and Riverton before reaching Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. Head north to explore Yellowstone before exiting the park's East Entrance toward Cody, Thermopolis, Casper and Cheyenne before returning to Denver.

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Road Trip Itinerary

Start: Denver, Colorado

Union Station in Denver, Colo.

Before you head to Yellowstone, check off the top six things to do in Denver, from fine art to trendy restaurants, a Rockies game, and the Denver Zoo.
Read more on our sister website.

Stop 1: Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunrise at Sprague Lake on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park

This national park is split in two all winter long and features an epic high-elevation drive from the west side to the east during summer. Explore both sides of the national park on this road trip starting with Winter Park and Grand Lake and ending in Estes Park.
Read what to expect at the different park entrances on our sister website.

Stop 2: Laramie, Wyoming’s Outlaws and Dinosaurs

Vedauwoo Recreation Area. BHP Photo courtesy of Laramie

Founded in the mid-1860s as a lawless tent city, Laramie has been home to dinosaurs, Native Americans, railroad crews, outlaws and outdoor enthusiasts.
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Stop 3: Carbon County, Wyoming's Scenic Drives and Hot Springs

Saratoga Hot Spring Resort. Photo courtesy of Carbon County

In southern Wyoming, you’ll discover a string of towns that make up Carbon County. They’re woven together by ranching, coal, oil and a growing wind turbine industry. Break up your drive by stopping at some of these small-town attractions.
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Stop 4: Wind River Country

Wind River Hotel & Casino

Pow wow on the Wind River Reservation. Photo courtesy of Wind River Hotel and Casino

From seeing Native American dances to rolling the dice, there are a number of things to do at the Wind River Hotel & Casino. Visit the largest and closest casino to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Jackson Hole.
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Wind River Native Gifts

Beaded baby moccasins. Photo courtesy of Wind River Native Gifts

Find unique and authentic gifts created on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Buy crafts, beading and fine silversmithing.
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Wind River Country's Total Eclipse of the Heartland

Starry night over petroglyphs. Photo by Scott Copeland Images courtesy of Wind River Country

Under the direct path of the solar eclipse, the towns in Wind River Country, Wyo., offer out-of-this-world opportunities to experience a historic moment. Stay the night for more celebrations under the stars.
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Wind River Country's Native Culture and Renowned Mountain Landscapes

Hiking the Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range. Photo by Justin Wilhelm

Enjoy powwows, rodeos, hiking and camping among 53 mountain peaks before heading on the easiest, most scenic route to Yellowstone and the Tetons.
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Of Mountains and Men in Riverton, Wyoming

Reenactment of Old West fur trappers

Visit the Wind River Heritage Center to learn the story of one of the greatest mountain men who made a living trapping. See a re-enactment in July.
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Stop 5: Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Have Some Fun on the Water in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole

Kayaking on Jackson Lake in Grant Teton National Park. Photo by James Kaiser courtesy of O.A.R.S.

Take a kayaking trip with O.A.R.S. or rent a canoe and go it alone. Take a scenic float trip or a thrilling whitewater rafting trip down the Snake River with Lewis & Clark Expeditions, Barker-Ewing, or Mad River Boat Trips. Or enjoy a Jackson Lake boat cruise.
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7 Reasons to Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art

Robert Bateman (Canadian, b. 1930), Chief. 1997. Acrylic on Canvas. 71 x 98 inches. Gift of Birgit and Robert Bateman, National Museum of Wildlife Art

Perched above the Elk Refuge and two miles from Grand Teton National Park, the National Museum of Wildlife Art features more than 5,000 items of animal art.
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Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Via Ferrata, Tram and Ropes Course

Jackson Hole Aerial Tram from Teton Village. Courtesy Photo

Spend a day in Teton Village climbing our new Via Ferrata experience, riding the tram or tackling our ropes course or climbing wall. It’s your ticket to fun.
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Rest Stops

Convenient lodging in Jackson, Wyoming.

Ranch Inn in downtown Jackson
It's the closest motel property to the famous Jackson Town Square giving you easy access to restaurants, museums, theaters, and nightlife. More info at 307-733-6363, www.ranchinn.com.

Town Square Inns has four locations in Jackson.
Stay at the Antler Inn, 49er Inn & Suites, Cowboy Village Resort, or Elk County Inn. More info at 800-483-8667, www.townsquareinns.com

Jackson Hole Resort Lodging
Vacation rentals including condominiums, townhomes and homes throughout Jackson Hole including Teton Village.
www.jhrl.com

Super 8 Jackson Hole
Just one mile from Jackson's town square. www.jacksonholesuper8.com

7 Best Places to Eat and Sleep in Grand Teton National Park

The window overlooking the Tetons at Jackson Lake Lodge. Photo courtesy of Grand Teton Lodge Co.

It’s easy to get distracted by the park’s world-class views, but don’t miss these places at Grand Teton Lodge and Jackson Lake to eat and sleep.
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Stay Between Two Parks at Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch

Headwaters Lodge at dusk. Photo by David Switfti courtesy of Grand Teton Lodge Co.

Located between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks (2 miles south of Yellowstone National Park), you’ll find newly remodeled cabins, RV and Tent Camping
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Stop 6: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone's most famous geyser, Old Faithful at Twilight

Enter in Yellowstone National Park's South Entrance. See our park itineraries for things to do in the park.

GyPSy Guide Yellowstone Tour App

Yellowstone GyPSy Guide App for your cell phone or tablet

Download the Yellowstone tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.
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Exit Yellowstone's East Entrance

There are many lodging places in the 50 miles between Yellowstone's east entrance and the town of Cody, Wyom. Enjoy rustic cabins, historic lodges, and dude ranches. Here are our favorites.

Elephant Head Lodge
Just short of the park's entrance, stay or eat at Elephant Head Lodge built by Buffalo Bill's family. (307-587-3980, www.elephantheadlodge.com)

Dude Rancher's Association
Experience a real Wyoming cowboy experience by staying at a dude ranch near Cody, Jackson Hole, and West Yellowstone. (866-399-2339, www.duderanch.org/wyoming-dude-ranch)

Lodges of East Yellowstone
Call Lodges of East Yellowstone to stay in a log cabin right outside the park's entrance, some with home-cooked meals. (307-587-9595, yellowstone-lodging.com)

Pahaska Tepee Resort
The closest lodging to Yellowstone's east gate with a restaurant, lounge, gift shop, gas station and trail rides. (307-527-7701, www.pahaska.com)

Buffalo Bill Village Resort
Stay in one of three distinctive hotels at the Buffalo Bill Village Resort in Cody. The Holiday Inn, the Comfort Inn and the Buffalo Bill [Cabin] Village, each are convenient base camp for families, groups and corporate retreats. (307-587-3654, www.blairhotels.com)

Super 8 Cody
Just a half mile form downtown Cody. Free SuperStart breakfast. www.codysuper8.com

Stop 7: Cody, Wyoming

8 Things to Do in Buffalo Bill's Cody/Yellowstone Country

Riding a bull at a rodeo in Cody, Wyom. Courtesy photo

Locals like to brag Cody, Wyo., and the surrounding area is the wildest way to and from Yellowstone. Enjoy cowboy music, a nightly summer rodeo, the Sleeping Giant Zipline and other wild-west entertainment in this town name for Buffalo Bill Cody.
Read more.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Smithsonian-Affiliated 5-Museum Complex

The map at the Draper Museum at Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Courtesy photo

He rode for the Pony Express, entertained Queen Victoria, called Mark Twain a friend. Learn about the legend and the world and culture Buffalo Bill loved.
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Stop 8: Thermopolis, Wyo.

Things to Do in Thermopolis

Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Stop at favorite restaurants, the hot springs park, and a museum at this small, picturesque town where the elevation is higher than the population.
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Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Dinosaur skeletons at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis. Courtesy photo

Unearth your inner paleontologist. At of the best dinosaur museums in the world, locate the prehistoric dinosaurs beneath Thermopolis on a Dig for a Day adventure.
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Stop 9: Drive the Sweet 16 to Worland and Ten Sleep Canyon

Hikers at Meadowlark Lake

Enjoy the majestic beauty of the Big Horn Mountains along US Highway 16. The best and easiest route to Yellowstone, “The Sweet 16” Highway.
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Stop 10: Happy Trails in Casper, Wyoming, the Number 1 Big Fish Destination

Boating near Casper, Wyom. Courtesy photo

World-class fly-fishing is not the only game in town. Two reservoirs provide year-round fishing opportunities for record-size walleye, trout, and carp.
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Casper is an Eclipse Hot Spot

See the numbers for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.
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Stop 11: Cheyenne, Wyoming – Old West Meets New West

The trolley and a giant boot sculpture outside of The Wrangler Store in Cheyenne, Wyo. Photo by Jade Lang

Two hours north of the Denver Airport, get a cowboy’s welcome at the place known for its rodeo, Old West museums, bison ranch train tours and huge painted boots scattered about town.
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Traveling in late July? Attend Cheyenne's Frontier Days, the world's largest outdoor rodeo on July 21-30, 2017. Besides the bucking bronco action, there's an elaborate parade, top-name concerts, an air show and chili cook-off. www.cfdrodeo.com

End: Denver