17 Must-See Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

Seattle to Yellowstone road trip sunset
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Seattle is the perfect starting point for many road trips, but nothing is more exciting than going on a Seattle to Yellowstone road trip. This may be the most iconic national park in the United States, so most people want to visit it at least once.

Several years ago, I had a summer wedding in South Dakota and decided to make a road trip across the country to get there. I had never driven east of Idaho before, so I couldn’t wait to start creating my itinerary. While I was excited to spend one day in the Badlands, my main excitement was the Seattle to Yellowstone drive, as I couldn’t wait to see this beautiful area.

I spent weeks planning my road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone and finding all the best places to stop. It was one of my favorite road trips from Seattle, so I wrote down all the details to share with you. Here are the places you’ll want to check out and a sample Seattle to Yellowstone road trip itinerary you can follow.

This post was first written in 2018 and was last updated in February 2023.

This post promotes travel to a national park in the traditional lands of the Eastern Shoshone, Cheyenne, and Apsaalooké (Crow) people. I make a formal land acknowledgment showing my respect and appreciation to the people of these lands. You can learn more about this on Native Land.

Tips for a Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

seattle to yellowstone road trip car

Here are some tips to help make your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip more manageable.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone

You can visit Yellowstone National Park any time throughout the year, but you should note the park does get snow in the winter. That means some roads will be closed, so you’ll want to check the official site before you plan your trip.

Summer brings beautiful weather and plenty of wildlife, but the crowds are also massive. I did go to Yellowstone in July and could still see the sites I had on my list, but I also had to wait in traffic during peak hours. You’ll also need to book your accommodation months in advance (as in the winter before).

That said, spring or fall are the best times to visit Yellowstone National Park. Accommodations will be cheaper, there won’t be as many people, and you’ll still have great weather. You can check out everything you need to know before visiting Yellowstone to help you plan.

How Long is the Drive From Seattle to Yellowstone National Park?

If you drive straight, the Seattle to Yellowstone National Park drive time will take you about 12 hours. Some people may decide to make this a long weekend getaway from Seattle, which is possible.

However, you’ll likely want to stop along the way to get food and rest. There are also plenty of fun places to see on your Seattle to Yellowstone drive, so I recommend taking about a week total for your trip.

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What is the Distance From Seattle to Yellowstone?

One of the most common questions you probably have about this trip is how far Yellowstone is from Seattle. The distance from Seattle to Yellowstone is approximately 750 miles one way. Again, that doesn’t account for any stops you make on your Seattle to Yellowstone national park road trip, which will increase your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park distance.

How Many Days Do You Need To Visit Yellowstone National Park?

Seattle to Yellowstone Travel Tips

How many days you visit depends on how much extra time you have on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip. If you only have one day, you can see a portion of the park, but keep in mind that Yellowstone is huge.

It’s not possible to see all of it in only a few days, and I would say spending 4-5 full days at the park will really let you explore all the areas. Figuring out how much time you have is probably the most important step when planning a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park.

However, I know you might not have this much time, so my advice is to pick one or two areas of the park to explore for each day you have. That way, you can focus on those spots and not get stressed about trying to drive around to see everything.

What to Pack for a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

I have a complete road trip packing list to refer to, but here are some of the most essential items you’ll want to bring for your Seattle to Yellowstone drive.

  • Emergency roadside kit – Throw this in the back just in case you need it.
  • Water bottle – It’s easy to get dehydrated on a long drive, so always ensure you have this full.
  • Polarized sunglasses – Some parts of your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip will be bright, so invest in a quality pair of sunglasses.
  • Hand sanitizer – Yellowstone can get dusty depending on when you go and how dry it is.
  • Blanket – Having a blanket is nice if you want to stop for an impromptu picnic.
  • America the Beautiful pass – This pass covers the entrance fee for any US national park, pays for itself in just three visits, and you can visit any national park during the year.

My adventure lover’s gift guide can give you more ideas of essentials to bring.

Need help planning out your road trip? I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to see exactly how long it’ll take from one point to the next and find new places to add to my itinerary!

17 Interesting Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Stop

seattle to yellowstone road trip map

You can do a Seattle to Yellowstone drive anytime throughout the year, which is why they’re such appealing destinations for a road trip. With the warm weather during summer in Seattle, you’ll happily enjoy stopping for hikes, wandering around quaint streets, and taking early morning strolls along rivers. It also makes for one of the best scenic drives in Seattle this time of year.

During the colder season, bring along the skis, book yourself into a cozy Washington cabin, and visit all the quaint villages along the way. 

Below you’ll find the best Seattle to Yellowstone road trip stops and must-see destinations for traveling along the picturesque roads. Pack your road trip essentials and let the adventure begin!

1. Lake Easton State Park

lake road trip

Many people choose to escape the city life of Seattle and venture to Lake Easton for a day outdoors. The state park is situated between Seattle and Ellensburg, off I-90, and won’t lead you too far off your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park route.

If you’ve got the space, and time on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip, bring along some camping chairs to sit along the river, and pack your fishing rods, hiking boots, and paddleboards.

Another beautiful drive is the Seattle to Banff road trip.

2. Spokane

spokane river

One thing that you can’t miss on your road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone is Spokane Falls, which is a beautiful attraction in Spokane. Not only is it a fascinating sight, but the river holds much of the town’s history and heritage. I also love walking along the river, as there are playgrounds, people playing music, and plenty of entertainment.

If you’re feeling adventurous, a 15-minute SkyRide over the falls shows Spokane’s most scenic parts. Afterward, head into downtown Spokane and find a spot at one of the lively restaurants to fuel up during your drive from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park.

I love using Roadtrippers for all my road trips because they show you all the fun stops to make along the way. You can get $5 off if you sign up with my code BTR5QTP.

3. Missoula

missoula montana lake

Spend the entire day in Missoula when going from Seattle to Yellowstone Park, wandering through the streets and exploring the city life, or embarking on adventures found in and around the city. You can do a historical walking tour to learn what life was like in the early 1900s.

Visitors can stroll along the riverside walking trail, attend a winter market or farmers’ markets, explore the local distilleries, or grab a pizza overlooking the Clark Fork River. Another great option is to plan a trip to the local wineries and sample some exquisite wines.

Missoula is also the perfect place to take a slight detour and go on a road trip to Glacier National Park before heading down to Yellowstone.

4. Berkeley Pit

berkeley acid pit montana

Berkeley Pit is one of the more unique stops on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip. This pit is an old open-pit copper mine in Butte with water so acidic it’s the same level as Coke or lemon juice. The bright green color is eerie, but it’s fun to stop here nonetheless to learn about the history and see it in person.

Stopping here on your Yellowstone road trip from Seattle is only a slight detour, so I recommend adding it to your itinerary. Admission is only $2 to go out on the viewing platform, and you can find a fun souvenir in the gift shop while you’re there.

5. Bozeman

bozeman mt
Image via Flickr

Bozeman is known for its easy access to the beautiful outdoors, so I recommend stopping here on your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park drive. It’s the perfect destination for enjoying thrilling nature activities and world-class hiking trails. 

As well as the great outdoors, Bozeman hosts the Museum of the Rockies, which houses an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, the American Computer and Robotics Museum is a fun place to stop on your road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone.

6. Silver Gate Entrance to Yellowstone

lamar valley at yellowstone

Silver Gate is at the border of Yellowstone National Park and a dead giveaway that you’re heading in the right direction. The gate is surrounded by the Beartooth Mountain peaks, beautifully covered in alpine trees. 

The charming small town offers a good break from the drive, with outdoor recreational activities and scenic beauty. Visitors can partake in winter sports in the winter, while the summer offers incredible trout streams and mountain trails.

Make sure you have your America the Beautiful Pass! For only one price, you can visit all the national parks over and over throughout the year. I renew mine every year.

7. Yellowstone National Park

mammoth hot springs historical district

With wildlife roaming everywhere, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most iconic parts of the county. The park is well worth spending at least a day, given that there are many great things to see and do in Yellowstone. This is also the main point of your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip, so spend as much time as you can here.

From here, you’ll start your journey from Yellowstone to Seattle. You can decide to extend this part as long as you want to. If you only have one day in Yellowstone, you can still see famous areas such as Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Hot Springs.

However, I recommend spending a few days here if possible since the main point of driving from Seattle to Yellowstone in Wyoming is likely to explore what the area offers. I have a full 4 day Yellowstone itinerary to give you more ideas of what to do here!

8. Cody

cody wyoming yellowstone road trip

A trip to Cody will leave you feeling as though you’ve stepped into the Wild West with awesome cultural activities and natural beauty. If you’re keen on exploring the Wild West during your Seattle to Wyoming road trip, a trip to Old Trail Town is in order. This attraction features a collection of 26 historic cabins.

Alternatively, you can get lost in time while driving from Seattle to Yellowstone to visit Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where five museums rest under one roof. 

9. Grand Teton National Park

grand teton national park lake

If you’re an outdoor lover, you must squeeze in one day in Grand Teton National Park into your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip. This is one of the most beautiful parks in the country and is just south of Yellowstone, so you might as well stop here on the way from Yellowstone to Seattle.

For a relaxing day, head to Jenny Lake and spend time doing easy Grand Teton hikes and having a picnic. There are also many challenging, longer hikes you can do if you’re up for it, such as Cascade Canyon Trail or Hidden Falls Trail.

10. Jackson

seattle to yellowstone road trip

Jackson is a delightful town in Wyoming to visit during a trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park and is made up of three ski areas and national parks. You’ll find that it’s an ideal place to spend the night, especially for those of you into skiing and adrenaline activities. In the summer, spend time exploring the town and finding local artwork like the Antler Arches of Jackson.

With endless exploration opportunities and plenty of time for play, visitors have plenty to choose from. There aren’t only sports you can enjoy, but excellent wildlife spotting opportunities.

You’ll have the chance to see the largest herd of elk and other large mammals, such as bears, moose, and bison, during this part of your Yellowstone to Seattle road trip.

11. T.A. Moulton Barn

ta moulton barn wyoming

This barn was one of my favorite stops on my Seattle to Yellowstone National Park road trip because it is so iconic. Chances are you’ve seen this picture before but didn’t know where it was from. I found out this was in the area and immediately decided to get up early to shoot sunrise photos here.

The barn is about 20 minutes north of Jackson, so get up at least an hour before sunrise to get here. You’ll likely see dozens of other photographers setting up, so make sure not to get in their way. Then all you have to do is wait to see your stunning photos!

12. Craters of the Moon

craters of the moon

Chances are, we’re not going to get the opportunity to step on the moon anytime soon. So why not head to the next best thing when headed from Yellowstone to Seattle? This is one of the best things to do on a road trip from the Pacific Northwest.

Lava was responsible for the moon-like appearance as it slowly oozed out of the volcanoes. It consists of lava beds, tree molds, spatter cones, and cinder cones.

Combine a visit with a stop at the Volcanoes and Space Research at the Visitor Center to discover the tales of the natural formations. 

This was an unexpected stop I made when going from Yellowstone National Park to Seattle, and I’m glad I made the time. It seemed like such a random thing to look at, but I couldn’t get enough of it. There is no shade, so protect yourself from the sun if you’re here on a hot day.

13. Morley Nelson Snake River National Conservation Area

Morley Nelson Snake River National Conservation Area
Image via Flickr

Composed of grand canyons and the Snake River, Morley Nelson offers a vast expanse of wildlife habitat. The area is home to 800 pairs of hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons. Each spring, these beautiful birds will spend more time here, mating and raising their young.

Use this opportunity to stretch out your legs and hopefully catch a few glimpses of these remarkable species. 

14. Boise

boise yellowstone to seattle road trip

The capital city of Idaho, Boise, shows off a variety of adventurous activities, with things to do outdoors and a vibey downtown to enjoy. Boise also has some pretty unique attractions, like the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and Old Idaho Penitentiary

Along with shopping and sightseeing, you can join wine tours, hiking trails, and guided walks around downtown. If you love French fries, you’ll need to stop at Boise Fry Company to choose from various potatoes to make your fries and numerous dipping sauces. I was obsessed with this place and can’t wait to go back on my next trip.

There are also plenty of weekend trips from Boise if you want to extend your time here.

15. Walla Walla

walla walla winery

Walla Walla has been gaining a lot of attention for being a fantastic holiday destination. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s the great wineries that attract people from all around the country. Some of my favorite ones include Leonetti Cellar, Valdemar Estates, and Castillo de Feliciana.

Walla Walla is also home to impressive art galleries, breweries, recreational activities, and excellent restaurants. The downtown area is a fun place to spend some time during your trip.

16. Yakima

visiting yakima vineyard

Yakima is a fruit-producing city that offers a wide variety of activities for families, nature enthusiasts, history lovers, and those looking to find some peace and quiet outdoors. I love the variety of things to do in Yakima that you’ll find, both for adults and kid-friendly.

The fruit grown here plays a significant role in the city’s livelihood and contributes mainly to the economy. Yakima Greenway, the Valley Museum, and the Yakima Area Arboretum are a few great places to include in your itinerary. 

There are also plenty of wineries and Washington breweries to check out if you have time on your Yellowstone to Seattle road trip.

17. Snoqualmie Pass

rachel lake

Sometimes I just want to return home on a road trip, but other times I feel itchy and need to stretch my legs a lot more. If that’s the case for you, stop in the Snoqualmie Pass area off I-90 to go on dozens of different hikes before you get home from your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip.

There are plenty of hikes to choose from, whether you want waterfall hikes like Twin Falls, short Washington hikes like Franklin Falls, or winter hikes like Gold Creek Pond. There are also great seasonal hikes around here, such as Snow Lake, an ideal fall hike in Washington, or even rainy day hikes in Seattle that you can do.

The Ultimate Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary

This guide will help you plan the most epic road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone through the alpine forest roads, mountainous landscapes, and spectacular national parks. Let’s explore the ultimate 5-day itinerary that you can extend to suit your liking. 

Day 1: Leave Seattle and Explore Spokane and Missoula

Spokane is a good stopping point on your Yellowstone road trip to get lunch. You can also explore the shops while you’re here or walk around to get some exercise. Check out the Riverfront Park while you’re there to get some steps in and view the beautiful river.

Missoula will be just over the halfway point of your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park drive. With an array of things to do, it’s an excellent place to spend the night. 

If you’re up for hiking, you can explore the locals’ favorite trail, Mount Sentinel “M” Trail. This hike is less than half a mile, so you’ll quickly reach the vantage point. Your reward is a view that overlooks the entire Missoula Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Come evening time, you’ll undoubtedly want the opportunity to explore the downtown area and lively city life. Check out some of the restaurants and bars in the area before turning in for the night.

Where to Stay: Hilton Garden Inn Missoula is right off the freeway, so you can quickly continue your trip (rates start at $79 on Booking.com or Hotels.com). This pet-friendly house sleeps up to six people (rates start at $150 per night).

Day 2: Overnight in Cody

One of the first things you should do in Cody on your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park roadtrip is book yourself a Cody Trolley Tour, highlighting the points of interest in the historic old town. The hour tour will take you to the Shoshone River Canyon, with experienced guides telling tales of Buffalo Bill and the Plains Indian people.

Join a Red Canyon Wild Mustang tour, where you’ll have the opportunity to see wild horses on an American-style safari. You can also include an outdoor adventure to spy on local wildlife, like bison, elk, and mountain sheep.

If you feel like getting some exercise, you can take the guided mountain bike tour in Red Rock Canyon. You’ll also want to check out Buffalo Bill’s childhood home and the Museum of the Old West while you’re in town.

Where to Stay: Cody Legacy Inn & Suites is an affordable hotel close to Yellowstone with a Western theme (rates start at $119 per night on Booking.com or Hotels.com). For a vacation rental, check out this house in Cody that has three bedrooms and is by downtown (rates start at $225 per night).

Day 3: Explore Yellowstone National Park

Driving from Seattle to Yellowstone can get tiring. Once you’ve reached Yellowstone, you can decide how many nights you’d prefer to spend here. But to make the most of your trip and see the amazing parts of the park, I’d suggest a two or three-night stay.

As I recommended earlier, pick a few sections of the park to explore on your road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Maybe you really want to see the animals in Lamar Valley, or you just care about seeing Old Faithful. Make a list of what’s most important to see and plan accordingly.

If you want a break from driving, you can spend a whole day joining a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park. The tour includes the opportunity to see several iconic parts of the park. You’ll stop at the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and visit the Old Faithful Geyser

If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of bears, wolves, and wild eagles in the park.

Where to Stay: Sawtelle Mountain Resort is west of the park and has an indoor pool (rates start at $123 per night on Booking.com or Hotels.com). This spacious log cabin is beautifully designed and has three bedrooms and three bathrooms (rates start at $195 per night).

Day 4: Discover the Best Parts of Jackson

Jackson is a fun stopover on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip for families and adventure seekers, given that there are incredible activities all year round. Walk around town and find random art pieces or stop in a local restaurant.

If you want to have a fantastic time in Jackson, a scenic river rafting experience is unforgettable. The 13-mile cruise will take you through the Snake River Range, Gros Ventre Range, and the Tetons.

Alternatively, there is a wide range of hiking trails fit for all ages and experience levels. Lace-up your own boots and head out alone, or join a hiking trail through Grand Teton National Park.

If you’re a photographer, you’ll want to wake up early to catch the sunrise at T.A. Moulton Barn. This is probably the most photographed place in Wyoming, so it’s a must-see on your road trip to Yellowstone from Seattle.

Where to Stay: Mountain Modern Hotel is a plush place to stay in downtown Jackson (rates start at $180 per night on Booking.com or Hotels.com). This condo in downtown Jackson is a convenient place to stay during your trip (rates start at $205 per night).

Day 5: Overnight in Boise and Home to Seattle

Start the morning on the last day of your Seattle to Yellowstone itinerary by visiting the trendiest neighborhoods downtown and going on a Boise food tour. It’s your chance to indulge and sample dishes prepared by award-winning chefs while learning about the emerging culinary experiences arising in the city. 

Next, visit the Idaho Botanical Gardens and walk through the native flora while looking at their spectacular outdoor garden art when coming back from Yellowstone Park to Seattle.

Finally, spend the night comfortably in Boise before ending your Yellowstone to Seattle road trip.

Where to Stay: Modern Hotel is within walking distance of many places in downtown Boise (rates start at $107 per night on Booking.com or Hotels.com). This modern downtown loft sleeps three people and is the heart of downtown (rates start at $108 per night).

Going on a Seattle to Yellowstone road trip was one of my favorite trips I’ve ever done, and I hope you’ll feel the same after going on your drive!

15 thoughts on “17 Must-See Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

  1. Abbie DuFrayne says:

    This is a big help! We go almost every year, but always fly and have been considering driving this summer.

  2. Abbey Olivo says:

    This is a trip we have been dreaming of! We may buy an RV and give this a try soon!

  3. Tracy Romoser says:

    We took the kids and drove an RV down to Yellowstone years ago. Loved it. Your itinerary has me thinking it’s time to go back. Nicely written

  4. Jen Jen says:

    Did you stop at Shoshone Falls at all. I see that is along the way and I’m deciding on stopping or not.

  5. Marissa says:

    I didn’t, as I wanted to get to Boise for dinner after visiting Craters of the Moon, but you could make a detour south if you have time!

  6. Lesley Elcock says:

    Flying from the UK in August next year, to Seattle. I have used your advice on the route and where to stay, I have it all booked up!! soooo excited. Just wondered if you had any thoughts on where to stop on the way from Boise back to Seattle airport? its a 7 hour+ journey, it would be nice to stop for an hour or two.

  7. Marissa says:

    That will be a great trip! On the drive from Boise to Seattle, we stopped at random small towns along the way, but you could stop at Pendleton and Yakima on your way back.

  8. Frank says:

    Seems like a nice road trip, I’m flying to Seattle September 24th and wanting to drive to Yellowstone nations park then drive back to Seattle flying out September 30th. I have 5 days , so is this doable at this time of year and any other recommendations would be appreciated.

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