Journeys through Yellowstone

February 2023 – America’s oldest National Park is famous for its diverse landscapes, varied wildlife, and unique geology. It’s also just a few days from Seattle, making a great destination for your next trip!  Traveling in your RV gives you freedom to explore at your pace – remember that your kitchen, bed, and bath are onboard! 

Getting There is Half the Fun!

Yellowstone Park is immense, spanning three States and with five entrance gates, so take your pick of routes!  Your best bet is to enter the Park at one gate and depart another – that way you’ll get a chance to explore more of the surrounding area.

The most direct route from Seattle follows I-90 through Washington’s Palouse, Idaho’s forests, and Montana’s mountains (750 miles).  Another great option takes I-82 over the Columbia River to meet I-84 through Oregon and southern Idaho (875 miles). 

In any case, we strongly recommend venturing off the Interstate along the way! The highways throughout this region pass through amazing scenery, fun towns, and interesting stops that you’ll miss flying by on the Interstate.  Pickup a sturdy spiral-bound road atlas like our favorite shown here that identifies scenic routes, recreation activities, and detours worth exploring.

RV road trip atlas

Exploring Yellowstone’s Sights & Scenery

Yellowstone’s road system forms two loops – each loop traverses several regions and takes about 2.5 hours to drive (without stopping).  We’d recommend carving out 2-3 nights for the park – you’ll have time to explore multiple regions and take an extended hike, horseback, paddle, or bike ride. It’s also nice to have flexibility to adjust plans based on the weather, where the animals are, and what you feel like each morning!

bison at Yellowstone

There are many campgrounds in the Park, each with a different vibe, so choose what you like!  Book multiple nights at a centrally-located campground (Canyon or Norris), or book one night in each region as you journey through the park. To get your favorite spot you’ll want to make reservations in advance.  If you’re more spontaneous and don’t have a reservation, then keep your eyes peeled for spots opening due to cancellations, or scope out the campgrounds just beyond the park entrance gates (Tetons has some great options).

Many of the famous attractions are situated around the South Loop, so make sure to work that into your plans!  Everything is well-signed and there is typically ample parking, even when driving a larger rig.  In addition to the sites, there are also wonderful lodges and small villages, so you won’t need to look far if you need to resupply or want to grab a restaurant-cooked meal!

Extend the Adventure!

The area surrounding Yellowstone is just as amazing as the Park itself – don’t miss your opportunity to see it while you’re here!  Extending your trip by a short drive south or east allows you to easily work in several of these great stops:

Your Trip Itinerary – A Starting Point!

Need help piecing everything together into a trip? Here’s an itinerary based on favorite trips we’ve taken – use this vacation itinerary as-is, or to jump-start building your own adventure!  

yellowstone road trip map

Day 1: Travel day! Hit the road around 9am, traveling southeast via I-90/I-82/I-84 across mountains, deserts, wine country, and rivers.  Today is your longest drive – plan to arrive at Idaho’s Three Island Crossing State Park by early evening.  Play a round of free disc golf course and visit the Oregon Trail History Center.

Day 2: Ditch the Interstate and drive 100 miles along US-26 to Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Have a picnic lunch and complete the scenic loop in an hour, or take a bit more time to explore some of the hikes and caves amongst the lava fields.  Wrapping up, follow US-26 and the Snake River to Falls Campground

Day 3:  Cross the mountains into Wyoming and down to Jackson, an upscale mountain-town with numerous recreation and food options – stop for a meal!  When you’ve had your fill, head up US-191 to Grand Teton National Park – take the loop along Teton Park Road to see all the sights.  Reserve 2 nights at Signal Mountain Campground.  

Day 4: Take your pick of fun Teton Wilderness adventures!  Walk a few miles along the Park’s many hikes.  Head to Jenny Lake and rent a kayak.   Book a guided fishing trip on the Snake River.  This Park has something for everyone.

Day 5: Head up US-191 along Lake Jackson into Yellowstone National Park.  Take your time to sightsee along this route both before and after passing the Yellowstone entrance gate – the drive isn’t long and there’s plenty to check out!  Score 2 nights at Canyon Campground, which is centrally located near many activities.

Day 6: Tour along Yellowstone’s South Loop – key areas to see include Upper/Lower Geyser Basins (Old Faithful, Prismatic Springs), the Norris area (Geyser Basin, Artist Paintpot), and Hayden Valley (Mud Volcano, Bison herd).  This is also a great day for an activity like horseback riding, exploring the lodges, or hiking the Canyon.

Day 7: After packing camp, turn North toward Tower-Roosevelt, taking your pick of viewpoints and hiking opportunities along the route.  Don’t miss Mammoth Hot Springs on your way out. Exit the North gate and head up US-89 toward Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park for the night.

Day 8: Spend a few hours in the morning exploring the caverns, then hitch up with I-90 and turn west.  Cross through Montana and thread your way through the Rockies, crossing Lookout Pass into Idaho. Just north of Coeur d’Alene you’ll find your stop for the next two nights, Silverwood RV Park

Day 9: Let the kids run wild at Silverwood Theme Park!  This park has classic rides for the little ones, rollercoasters for the more adventurous, and a water park for those looking to cool off!  It’s a great add-on to any trip.

Day 10: From Idaho it’s a quick 300-mile drive home – take I-90 for the fastest route, or breakoff at Spokane to find US-2 and explore a bit more of Washington’s interior.  Visit the Grand Coulee Dam , explore Sun Lakes , or relax on the shoreline of Lake Chelan. Eastern Washington’s dry climate lets you soak up a bit of extra sunshine before returning home over the Cascades.

Try It Yourself!

Checkout availability of our modern, clean, and fully-equipped rentals! Our travel trailers and motorhomes are sized perfectly for a fun trip with family and friends. Plan your week-long trip to Yellowstone, or take a bit more time to explore the broader region! Contact us anytime by email or phone with questions – happy camping!

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