The Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip during one summer gifted me days when I escaped to the extraordinary. On this road trip – history, art, and culture, the charm of old and small towns, grand sceneries and lush greeneries, wilderness and vastness, wildlife, and geographical wonders greeted me with open arms wherever I went. The long road morphed into a storybook studded with stirring panoramas, horizons that instill wanderlust and moments of inspiration. The Salt Lake City Temple Square, Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Bear Lake, Grand Teton National Park, John D Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway, Yellowstone National Park, and Mesa Falls were some of the exuberant highlights of this super scenic road trip. The speed, the sun, the wind, the fantasy of never looking back, and the sheer diversity of vistas – these are some of the memories forever etched in my mind from the trip. Read along and let me inspire you to hit the road through this road trip guide. I hope you will love it as much as I did!Salt Lake City to Yellowstone – A road trip guide! #RoadTrip Click To Tweet
Map of Salt Lake City to Yellowstone – A road trip guide!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.The Salt Lake City Temple Square, Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Bear Lake, Grand Teton National Park, John D Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway, Yellowstone National Park, and Mesa Falls were some of the exuberant highlights of this super… Click To Tweet
Salt Lake Temple – First stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
My trip started after landing at Salt Lake City airport. I, along with my family, flew from San Francisco and all of us were excited about this summer trip. As soon as we left the airport premises, the snow-crowned Wasatch mountains sparkling in sunlight greeted us from afar; a beautiful view to start with! I pulled over near a Starbucks for a quick breakfast and coffee and off we went to Salt Lake Temple City Square, our first stop on this trip. The temple square blooming with beautiful flowers instantly took away all the tiredness of an early morning flight. Inside the north visitors’ center of temple square, I loved standing beneath the star-studded dome and pondering the invitation of the open arms of a magnificent 11-foot statue of Jesus Christ, a replica of Christus by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Christus is a remarkable 19th-century Carrara marble statue of the resurrected Jesus in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Logan – Second stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip and our stay here
After spending a couple of hours in the temple square, we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch with kebabs from a small Afghan restaurant and started again for Logan, our stop for the night. After almost 2 hours of driving, we finally reached our hotel at Logan, a nice and quiet town in between majestic mountains. A night in a cozy hotel in Logan gave us much-needed comfort and rest for the next day’s adventures. The next morning, We were all set for the picturesque long drive through the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway.
Where to stay in Logan – Best Western Plus Weston Inn, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Logan, an IHG hotel
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
Spoiler alert : You have to stop several times along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway to take in the amazing views and scenery.We were all set for the picturesque long drive through the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. #RoadTrip Click To Tweet
We started off early around 8:30 am after breakfast and started our drive through the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. Deeply cut and almost vertical limestone walls and rock formations laden with fossils greet travelers entering the canyon. Everywhere I turned I saw Instagrammable moments, as the pointed peaks assemble themselves in countless permutations of perfect.Everywhere I turned I saw Instagrammable moments, as the pointed peaks assemble themselves in countless permutations of perfect. #Roadtrip Click To Tweet
Every corner was lush green and picturesque along the way. We stopped at several spots to take in the view. Often the road was close enough to the river to hear the water rushing over the rocks and down the canyon.
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway Trails
Around noon, we pulled over and sat by the river and ate some fruits and bread. While sipping a cup of to-go coffee, we watched our daughter play. No latte foam art in the cup though but everywhere else around us. A child playing in nature is no less than an art. Heart healing, eye-soothing moments by the Logan river. Whenever I travel with my little daughter, I have an enviable clarity of purpose. My goal is to let her spend time in nature, the beloved nurturer.
Travel Tips: If you want to go for a hike, consider these scenic trails.
1. River side Nature Trail – This trail follows the Logan River.
2. Wind Caves – It takes hikers to the roof of a natural arch with a gaping cavern they can climb into for shaded picnicking and a beautiful window view of the cliffs on the opposite side of the canyon.
3. Jardine Juniper Trail – This trail takes you to the oldest Rocky Mountain Juniper Tree in the World.
Travel Tips: A guide to road trip packing list
Ricks Spring – A nice stop on the way to Bear Lake. DO NOT drink the water!
Ricks Spring is one of the unique sights in this canyon. After parking the car, I walked along the boardwalk and saw a small cave and the spring.
A slice of history: For many years, Ricks Spring was believed to be pure mountain water. Visitors drank from the spring and filled jugs with water to take home – that is until they became sick. In 1972, an ice jam on Logan River provided the answer to the origins of Ricks Spring. Scientists placed green dye in Logan River and the dye appeared in Ricks Spring – indicating that they are directly connected by an underground fracture in the rock.
DO NOT drink the water : Like most water in the western United States, Ricks Spring carries giardia, a microorganism that causes severe intestinal discomfort.
What I wore during the long road trip along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
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Bear Lake overlook – Fifth stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
A mountain valley with a big blue lake and the warmth of the shining sun on the shoulders felt delicious. The refreshing air, picturesque view all around, blooming wildflowers after the long drive were just perfect. I took my own sweet time to unwind. No wonder, Bear Lake is called the ‘Caribbean of the Rockies‘ because of its intense and beautiful turquoise blue water. If you want to stretch and go hiking, then the area also features many excellent hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty.
I loved reading the poem “Above Bear Lake” by one of America’s most celebrated poets, May Swenson displayed in the area. It inspired me to take the pen and my diary (my treasured travel companion) and write down my thoughts – an activity that gives my better self room to grow.
Garden City – Sixth stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
Next, we drove to Garden City and enjoyed the spectacular views on the way. We pulled over near the Garden City Park, with playgrounds and swings. On the far end of the park, there is a boardwalk that leads to a beach.
From the soothing shores, we saw the beautiful turquoise Bear lake. Just looking out at the lake was instantly relaxing. “WATER IS GOD’S TRANQUILIZER,” Diana Vreeland, the legendary editor of Vogue magazine, once said. The lake, walled by mountains, thick with greenery, was glittering under an afternoon sun. The beautiful little beach is a perfect place to just sit and relax. My daughter loved looking for pebbles and throwing them back to the water.
Water is God’s tranquilizer. To be in it, to drink it, to look at itDiana Vreeland
A quick snack and coffee break at Crepes and Coffee
After spending some time on the beach, I wanted to drink coffee while my daughter and Siddhartha were hungry. We went to a cute little coffee shop, named Crepes and Coffee. We ordered a raspberry crepe and coffee. We all enjoyed our time there and I was delighted to get a few compliments from a kind lady, who was enjoying her crepe with the family. Beautiful moments like these never leave a traveler and a storyteller. If you too want to enjoy a small break with some snacks when visiting Garden City, visit here and enjoy their delicious raspberry crepe!
Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle in Paris, Idaho – Eighth stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
After our snack break, we started again and enjoyed the views of vast open lands and the sparkling Bear Lake, visible at times. While driving we came across Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle, a Romanesque red sandstone meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although the church was closed, I enjoyed a short walk and the surrounding.
Montpelier Canyon Road – A little break in Idaho’s vast outdoor spaces
After seeing Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle, our car started rolling again. From the drumbeat of civilization we entered to nearly noiseless realms. I wanted to see the beauty in stillness and feel the harmony of nature in silence. We pulled over and I stepped out of the car. As soon as I came out of the car, a summertime breeze washed over me. I felt a surge of joy as I wandered around amidst the vast green valley. No wonder, I have fallen in love with long car journeys across North America’s wild frontiers, through tiny historic towns, storied cities, and spectacular landscapes!
As soon as we entered the state of Wyoming, sprawling meadows and farms greeted us. My little daughter’s excitement knew no bounds when she saw hundreds of sheep grazing in the vast green fields. She requested us to open the car-window and started drawing the scene on her white board. It’s fun to remember things from a road trip you think you’ve forgotten!
Travel tips: If you are travelling with your child, then consider giving them a whiteboard and a set of sketch pens. Be amazed by the ideas they share on their whiteboard.
The beauty of the plains is not just in themselves but in the sky, in what you think when you look at them.Ian Frazier
Afton – A quick stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
When we reached Afton, the city was slowly descending into darkness for a night of silent rest. Afton greets its visitors with the world’s largest Elkhorn arch! We pulled over, stretched ourselves a bit, grabbed some food for dinner and headed towards Jackson, where our hotel was booked for the night. I wish I had more time to explore this cozy little city!
Jackson Hole – Ninth stop and our stay here
Finally, we reached our destination and saw Jackson Hole’s Elk Antler Arch. Although I wanted to explore the town square, tiredness won and all of us headed straight to our hotel. I remember wrapping myself up like a burrito in a duvet and slept for straight eight hours, a deep, dreamless, stress-free sleep!
National Museum of Wildlife Art – Tenth stop on the Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip
National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole is a must-visit if you love exploring unique museums which stimulate the mind. In this museum, you can see more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world, and especially the United States. Enjoy seeing some of the world’s finest wildlife art! The collection chronicles the history of wildlife in art, from 2500 B.C. to the present. This museum is only two-and-a-half miles north of Jackson Town Square, and two miles from the gateway of Grand Teton National Park. I absolutely enjoyed my visit to this place and I highly recommend it. All the outside sculptures were beautiful too.
What I wore at Grand Teton National Park
I always check the weather before I pack my suitcases for a trip. Even though it was summer, it was quite cold in both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. So, I decided to dress up in layers.
I wore a bright-colored sweater, a shawl, and comfortable black pant. Check out a bright and beautiful sweater on Amazon for the trip.
Grand Teton National Park
After my visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the first glimpse of the Grand Teton literally took my breath away. Grand Teton National Park to me is all about spectacular and jagged snowcapped peaks, their profiles reflected in fjord-like lakes and a slowly flowing river – a dramatic landscape with an array of sights, smells, and sounds. My mind connected the sight to that of the Alps I saw in Switzerland. Later on, when I saw the beautiful Jenny Lake, I remembered the fjords of Norway. Past memories and present moments intermingled and I left with indelible, romantic, and Edenic memories.
Travel Tips: Enjoy a 4-hour wildlife safari tour in Grand Teton National Park. Book your tour.
The abrupt power of the mountains shocked me, a sudden, gigantic violence of sheer rock, without any undulating cushions of foothills to soften the rupture.Kate Christensen, nytimes
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway
After exploring Grand Tetons the whole day, we started for Yellowstone National Park through the scenic John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Located at the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway connects the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. The parkway provides a natural link between the two national parks and contains features characteristic of both areas. National Parkways are scenic roadways and I love driving through them. If one is a good observer, one can feel the slow changes of the landscape while driving through a national parkway – a reward of a road trip. While driving from the Tetons to Yellowstone, I saw bears, elks, and bison and absolutely loved the snowfall amidst the oasis of green. Slowly, evening fell and the transition from day to twilight looked never so dramatic amidst the forest. Soaring pine trees soaking in the evening light looked incredible.
Finally, when we reached Yellowstone National Park, a bison greeted us! I saw a few more visitors pulled over their car and I did the same. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw not just one bison but a few of them under a dramatic evening sky and snowfall. After driving a few more miles, I saw warm mist rising from a thermal spring, illuminated by the setting sun. With contentment in heart, we finally reached our hotel and couldn’t wait to explore the unique land the next morning.
What I wore at Yellowstone National Park
A good warm jacket is an essential thing in my travel packing list. Check out some super cool jackets from Amazon.
Yellowstone National Park
Finally, the next day we started exploring the majesty of Yellowstone National Park – America’s oldest national park and a living science lesson. It is a unique and fragile terrain that is home to more than half the earth’s geothermal features, some 10,000 in all. I read about geothermal wonders in books; spouting geysers, sputtering mud pots, hissing steam vents (called fumaroles), colorful hot springs but saw them for the first time during this trip. I felt I have landed in a different world full of surreal landscapes. I realized that the real-life experience outweighs what the books entail. I am now a firm believer in Saint Augustine’s words;
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.Saint Augustine
Travel Tips: Join a local guide and tour the world’s first National Park. Includes pick up. Duration 9 hrs. Book your tour.
The earth is more alive where geysers and hot boiling water are present. Because of its geyser basins and thermal areas, Yellowstone is considered to have a lot of medicine and be a powerful spiritual place.Eastern shoshone cultural center
Return trip from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City
This unique road trip has so much to offer. We were full to the brim really. Every moment was soaked in thrill and exploration. While returning back, we took a different route and saw the wonderful Mesa Falls.
Wrapped in wilderness and calm, Mesa Falls is a must-see place. On our long drive back to Salt Lake City from West Yellowstone, I loved the short detour to Mesa Falls deep in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. I enjoyed a short hike from the Upper Mesa Falls to the Lower Mesa Falls. The droplets from the water were refreshing and instantly took away the stress of the long drive. I loved this place so much that I wrote a whole post about it. Check it out!
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The round trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park was indeed an escape to extraordinary that created memories galore along the way. The more I saw, the more I wanted to linger. Before embarking on this journey, I thought I wasn’t ready and prepared enough for this dream-like trip, but later while exploring, I realized that the world was ready to be part of my dream. Courage and curiosity are by far the two most important ingredients of any road trip. While coming back, I played a few of my favorite songs and gazed outside. The vast wide lands of Idaho during the sunset with the center pivot irrigation system looked stunning. Beauty is everywhere and it is upon us to find it. The narrative of this road trip will remain an access point to nostalgia for me and my family. If this article inspired you to build both individual and collective memories, don’t wait, hit the road! Good luck!The round trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park was indeed an escape to extraordinary that created memories galore along the way. #RoadTrip Click To Tweet The narrative of this road trip will remain an access point to nostalgia for me! #RoadTrip Click To Tweet
Road trip itinerary summary
Logan – One night . Hotels to stay – Best Western Plus Weston Inn, SpringHill Suites by Marriott Logan, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Logan, an IHG hotel
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