Denver to Yellowstone Road Trip
Explore the Rocky Mountains on this loop from Colorado to Wyoming and dipping into the corner of Utah
Stretching from the high deserts of New Mexico across 3,000 miles into Canada, the Rocky Mountains are North America’s biggest range. This road trip traces a small section of these iconic peaks from the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, to the Wyoming-Montana border before looping back south through the canyons of Utah and western Colorado.
Touch the clouds as you drive Rocky Mountain National Park’s 12,183-foot-high Trail Ridge Road. Then, cross into Wyoming and visit a bison ranch or watch a rodeo in the state’s capital, Cheyenne. Drive through some of the prettiest scenery in the West on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway and get out on the water at beautiful lakes near towns like Wheatland and Casper. You can learn about the history of the West from ranching to the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans to the iconic Buffalo Bill Cody as you make your way through Buffalo, Powell and Cody. Two national parks await, both filled with wildlife like grizzly bears, bison and wolves.
After visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton, loop south through Wyoming towns like Kemmerer, along with Vernal, Utah and Craig, Colorado, where you’ll discover a region full of history and fossils.
As you take in the views of snow-capped peaks, herds of mighty bison and rivers cutting their way through striking cliffs, take a deep breath and soak it all in. You just might feel the Rocky Mountain High that John Denver sang about in 1972. It’s a feeling you can still capture today, if you slow down and enjoy the journey.
Road Trip Map
Start: Denver, Colorado
A Denver Local’s Perfect Day in the Mile High City
Here are the top places to see, do and eat.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Two Perfect Days in Rocky Mountain National Park
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by following our itinerary covering both sides of the park.
It is impossible to stare at the skyline of Rocky Mountain National Park and not be compelled to at least wonder what it would be like to climb Longs Peak. Dominating the park’s peaks and topping out at 14,259 feet, Longs is the ultimate adventure for experienced hikers.
A New West in Cheyenne
As you drive to Wyoming’s capital from Denver, Colo., you’ll pass herds of bison at the Terry Bison Ranch where you can go on a trail ride or train ride to see these iconic creatures up close. Each July, you can visit Cheyenne Frontier Days, a world-renowned festival full of pro-rodeo, country music and Western heritage. If you’re not visiting in July, the Hell on Wheels Rodeo Series on select Friday nights throughout the summer, complete with a Chuck Wagon Dinner, will give you a taste of cowboy culture. The Old West traditions are still a vital part of Cheyenne’s culture, but there’s so much more to this city than cowboy charm.
Laramie’s Top 6
Escape the crowds by taking the scenic route to Yellowstone. Located on the edge of the Snowy Mountain Range, Laramie has a ton of outdoor and cultural attractions for travelers from great microbrews to uncrowded alpine hikes. Here are the top things to do.
Small Wyoming Towns and Open Spaces in Carbon County
In southern Wyoming, you’ll discover a string of towns woven together by hot springs, ranching, coal, oil and a growing wind turbine industry. Break up your drive to Yellowstone by stopping at some of these attractions.
Connect with Nature at a Dude Ranch
Experience cowboy life firsthand. Make reservations at one of the the West’s top dude ranches and guest ranches. You’ll find four ranches in the Laramie-Carbon County area, one in Lander and a dozen near Jackson along this road trip route.
Go Off the Radar on the Oregon Trail in Platte County
Get off the highway and explore the authentic southern Wyoming towns that stretch from Chugwater to Glendo for sparkling lakes and history galore tucked into the plains.
Come for Fort Laramie, Stay for Wyoming Charm
Explore Fort Laramie National Historic Site and the surrounding towns in Goshen County on your way to Yellowstone.
Casper’s Top 7
As the heart of the Wild West in the 1880s Casper sat at the intersection of the Mormon, California, Oregon and Pony Express Trails. Today, it still serves as a crossroads for travelers. Stop in Casper on your way to Yellowstone National Park to relive the history of the West with trail landmarks, wagon rides and cowboy boots. Or get a taste of Casper’s unexpected culture with its 100-year-old art scene, festivals and craft distilling.
6 Ways to Experience the West
Stop in the towns of Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyo., for a dose of Western culture including going on a trail ride, visiting a saloon and learning about Wyoming’s history. Nearby, stay at Paradise Guest Ranch to see how a week with family at a 100-year-old dude ranch will create memories for a lifetime.
Prohibition and Planes in Greybull
Back in the day, bootleggers stashed liquor in tunnels they built underneath the heart of Greybull’s downtown, or so the legend goes. Today, you can visit the Historic Hotel Greybull and see the renovated speakeasy.
Heartbreak at Heart Mountain
During World War II, more than 14,000 Japanese Americans ended up behind barbed wire at Heart Mountain Relocation Center. Discover what life was like for them at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Powell, Wyo.
Find the Wild West in Buffalo Bill’s Cody
When Buffalo Bill Cody helped found the town that bears his name, the year was 1895. One hundred and 25 years later, Cody, Wyoming, offers travelers to and from Yellowstone the best of the Old and New West. Plan your multi-day adventure with these must-sees.
Old West Experiences at Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Watch your dinner get prepared at a chuckwagon at the Cowboy Chuckwagon Experience at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. It’s one of many experiences you can have at this Smithsonian-affiliated complex that’s home to world-class art, remarkable Indian artifacts and cultural exhibits.
Where to Stay Between Cody and Yellowstone
Buffalo Bill [Cabin] Village at Buffalo Bill Village Resort
Holiday Inn Buffalo Bill Village Resort
Comfort Inn at Buffalo Bill Village Resort
Lodges of East Yellowstone
Elephant Head Lodge
Pahaska Tepee Resort
Yellowstone National Park
Enter the east entrance.
2 Days in Yellowstone
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by visiting some of our favorite spots in the park including wildlife watching, dining at historic lodges and see geysers erupt.
Top 5 Vistas in Yellowstone National Park
If you want to feel on top of the world, here are 5 views you must see including Artist Point, Lamar Valley, and the Yellowstone River cutting thru lava spires.
Fun on the Water in Yellowstone National Park
Leave dry land behind to explore the rivers and lakes of Yellowstone. Go paddling, fishing, boating, or take a boat cruise tour in the national park.
Make Memories Last
Commemorate your favorite national park vacation with beautiful hand-illustrated maps of locations like Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton.
Exit the south entrance.
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone’s Sister Park, Grand Teton
Located at the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Rockefeller Parkway connects Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone.
2-Days in Grand Teton National Park
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Grand Teton from amazing hiking trails to scenic boat rides and the best huckleberry milkshake ever.
3 Roadside Stops in Grand Teton National Park
From historic homesteads to breathtaking river valleys, here are our top stops for a fantastic scenic drive plus road-trip advice from Nokian Tyres.
8 Best Places to Eat and Sleep in Grand Teton National Park
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. Want to stay between Yellowstone and Grand Teton? Flagg Ranch Headwaters Lodge and Cabins puts you close to both parks.
A Level Up with Great Western Expeditions
Tour Yellowstone and Grand Teton with Great Western Expeditions for a touch of luxury. It’s not just another Jackson, Wyo., tour company. Family-owned and operated, the staff has taken national park touring to the next level.
GuideAlong’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton Tour App
Download the Yellowstone narrated driving tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. The GuideAlong app automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.
3-Day Eco-Friendly Vacation Itinerary for Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Want tips on how to be a sustainable traveler? We’ve put together ideas for a three-day vacation.
Saddle Up in Jackson
Just 15 minutes from Grand Teton National Park and two hours from Yellowstone, Jackson is a great stop if you’re looking for an old West town with a touch of class and a lot of fun.
Fun on the Snake River and Grand Teton Lakes
With temperatures reaching new highs, figuring out how to stay cool is key to enjoying your summer. Enjoy adventures in Jackson and nearby Grand Teton National Park.
Barker Ewing by Jackson Hole Whitewater
Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips
Mad River Boat Trips
Solitude Float Trips
Grand Teton Lodge Company
6 Big Adventures at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Right next to Grand Teton National Park, spend a day on the new Via Ferrata assisted climbing course, riding the gondola, tackling the ropes course or biking and hiking downhill.
Head to Snow King Mountain Resort for Family Fun
Jackson, Wyo.’s best-kept secret offers a ton of activities for all ages, plus bike and SUP rentals.
Town Square Inns of Jackson Hole
With four Jackson locations and over 400 rooms and cabins, the Town Square Inns have more options to meet your style and budget than any other area hotelier.
Elk Country Inn
Cowboy Village Cabins and Lodge
49er Inn and Suites
Wyoming’s Fossil Basin
Explore a 52-million-year-old graveyard that preserves an ancient underwater world of fish, turtles, crocodiles, insects, mammals, birds, and leaves. Visit a private fossil quarry to hunt for your own fossils.
Flaming Gorge, Utah
Flaming Gorge Country’s Desert Oasis
Take a break from the desert heat by jumping in the sparkling water at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and spend several days exploring this 91-mile-long reservoir.
Dinosaur National Monument, Utah/Colorado
The dinosaur bones at this park straddling northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah would be reason enough to stop here. The quarry displays the remains of Allosaurus, Diplodocus and Stegasaurus, among other dinosaurs. But the monument also has excellent river rafting, hiking and ancient rock art panels. Two visitor centers, one in Colorado and one in Utah, each have interactive displays. See the wall of bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall and raft the Yampa River past the iconic formations such as Steamboat Rock.
10 Best Things to Do at Dinosaur National Monument
Seeing dinosaur bones, going rafting and more of our favorite things to do.
Vernal’s Hidden Gems
Looking to avoid the crowds and see one of the country’s most spectacular national monuments? You’ll dig ancient animal history in Vernal, Utah, located close to Dinosaur National Monument
A Jurassic Journey through Moffat County
See wild horses, hundreds of elk and the eastern side of Dinosaur National Monument near Craig, Colo., on the way back to Denver.
The Grand Side of Rocky Mountain National Park
Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountains Resort
Just 20 minutes from the park’s West Entrance, which sits in Grand Lake, Colo., lies Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountains Resort, a new 200-acre resort with unparalleled amenities for the area. Bring your RV or tent, or stay in a vacation home, Airstream or Conestoga wagon. There’s actually so much to do on property that it may be hard to leave it. Learn more on MyColoradoParks.com