Epic 7-day Teton and Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary

Combine Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks into a week-long action-packed road trip. Follow my detailed 7-day itinerary for my favorite sites, hikes, and attractions in these two incredible national parks.

Kristen Bor and her partner taking a selfie next to a blue geyser in Yellowstone's West Thumb Geyser Basin with Yellowstone Lake in the Background

Back when I was a kid, my parents rented an RV, and we took a road trip to Yellowstone. I remember being in awe of the colorful geysers, the insane amount of wildlife, and the beautiful scenery. I’ve now been back several times in my camper van, and each time has been no less exciting. As a science-nerd, I absolutely love exploring Yellowstone’s geological wonders.

Just next door to Yellowstone is Grand Teton National Park, where the scenery is completely different. You swap the easy boardwalk strolls among geysers for BIG mountains where the hiking opportunities are just endless.

The good news is you don’t have to choose between the two parks. The proximity of Yellowstone and Grand Teton makes it so easy to combine them into an incredible weeklong road trip that offers a bit of everything.

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With this 7-day Yellowstone and Teton road trip itinerary, you’ll hit up a large number of the best sites in the parks without spending too much time in the car. In this day-by-day itinerary, I share the best road trip stops, hikes, things to do, places to stay, and even some restaurant suggestions to help you plan an epic visit.

Here’s the ultimate road trip itinerary for a week well-spent in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks!

Itinerary Overview

This 7-day road trip itinerary starts with two days in Grand Teton National Park, where you’ll be hiking, enjoying Jenny Lake, and dipping in town to explore Jackson.

After that, you’ll continue north to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is absolutely massive, being the second largest National Park in the lower 48. This is why I’m devoting three full days for exploring Yellowstone. Here is a day-by-day overview of what you will see and do on your road trip.

  • Day 1: Arrive in Jackson, explore town, set up camp or check into hotel
  • Day 2: Hike Death Canyon in Grand Teton National Park
  • Day 3: Hike Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park
  • Day 4: West Thumb Geyser Basin, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Day 5: Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Osprey Falls Hike
  • Day 6: Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin, and Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Day 7: Drive back to your starting point

Here is a Google map of all of the hikes, campgrounds, and other points of interest I mention in this itinerary. Just click the arrow next to my profile pic to view the names of each place. If you want to save this map to your Google Maps account so you can refer to it on your road trip, just click the star next to the map title. The map will appear under the saved tab if you are viewing on your phone.

Closest Airports to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

There are a couple of starting points options for your Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary, depending on where you fly into. I’ll start with the major airports first since these are going to be the cheapest to fly into to and will also have the cheapest car rentals. If you want to do this road trip in a camper van, these two cities also have a number of camper van rental companies to choose from.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City is the closest major airport, about 5 hours from the southern end of Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson where the good stuff begins.

There are two different routes from SLC to Grand Teton National Park. The route pictured below is my suggested route. It provides the best scenery on the way up, and the quickest drive back to Salt Lake.

Following my suggestion, you’ll take I-80 East out of Salt Lake and then turn North at Evanston on US-89. Once you hit Alpine you’ll be driving next to the Snake River almost all the way to Jackson. This route is slightly longer than the alternate route driving through Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs (not pictured) , but it’s much prettier in my opinion. You also avoid the long boring stretch of I-15 that you will also be driving on your way back to Salt Lake after leaving West Yellowstone.

Alternate return option: If you don’t mind a longer drive on the way back to Salt Lake, you can make a full circle in Yellowstone and backtrack down through Grand Teton and Jackson. From there, you can take the same exact route back to Salt Lake, or you can drive over Teton Pass and through Victor before hopping on I-15.

Boise, Idaho

Boise is 5.5 hours from Jackson, which is about a hour longer drive than if you start in Salt Lake. I’d compare the cost of flights and car rentals to Salt Lake, and if Boise is a lot cheaper, than I’d consider flying in and out of there. Boise is also a really cool town worth exploring if you can tack on an extra day or two.

Apart from being shorter, I personally prefer the drive from Salt Lake. I think it’s prettier and the drive requires less time on big highways. However, on your route back to Boise, you do drive right by Craters of the Moon which is an interesting stop if you aren’t in a rush.

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman is actually the closest major airport to Yellowstone. It’s only 1 hour and 40 minutes from the north entrance. However, flights into Bozeman are typically a lot more expensive than Boise or Salt Lake City. Again, it’s definitely worth pricing out your options because starting in Bozeman will allow you to spend more time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton since you’ll cut out a lot of the driving time to get there.

If you start in Bozeman, you can still do all of the stops I mention in the itinerary below, but you’ll do them in a different order. Instead of starting in Grand Teton like I did, you’ll be coming from the north, starting in Yellowstone. You can do one half of Yellowstone on the way down and hit the other side on the way back up.

Jackson, Wyoming

It’s worth checking prices in Jackson since it is the most convenient airport to fly into for this Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary. The Jackson Airport is actually inside Grand Teton National Park which is pretty cool. If you choose this option, be prepared to pay a premium. Flights and car rentals in Jackson are $$$$!

Artist Paint Pots in Yellowstone

Things to Do Before you Go

Here are a few special tips for things you’ll want to do before you hit the road for Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Note: This blog contains affiliate links and references to my sponsors. As always all words and opinions are my own.

  • Check Road Closures: During winter, there is section of road that closes between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. A big chunk of Yellowstone is also inaccessible to regular cars. As you’re picking your starting point and overall route, I suggest checking to see if there are any planned road closures during your visit. For seasonal road closure information, see these pages on the official National Park Service Grand Teton and Yellowstone websites.
  • Make campsite reservations in advance: In the summer months, every single National Park campground in Yellowstone and Grand Teton requires reservations. They often book up months in advance, so if you plan to camp, you need to plan ahead. Click these links for Yellowstone camping and Grand Teton camping info and reservation instructions.
  • Download the Shaka Guide Audio Tour: If you want to learn about the history, geology, and wildlife along your road trip, I highly recommend you download the Shaka Guide Audio Tours for Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The tours sync up with the GPS on your phone so you can listen as you drive, with turn-by-turn directions, stories, and travel tips, which really cuts down on the planning you have to do ahead of time. The storytelling is really engaging, and as someone who doesn’t always stop to read the interpretive signs, I learned so much more about the Parks than I would have otherwise.
  • Grab an America the Beautiful Pass: The entrance fee for Yellowstone and Grand Teton is $35 each or $70 total. For $10 more, you can get an America the Beautiful Pass which gets you free day-access to every single National Park, National Monument, BLM site and other public land sites managed by the federal government for a whole year. You can buy the America the Beautiful Pass online or at the entrance booth.
  • Get my road trip packing checklist: Want to make sure you don’t forget anything at home? Grab a free printable copy of my Road Trip Packing List.
Your own personal tour guide

Shaka Guide Audio Tours

I first discovered Shaka Guide Audio Tours when I was driving the road to Hana in Maui and loved being able to learn more about the area. Now when I’m planning a road trip, I always check to see if there is a Shaka Guide tour for my destination.

Shaka Guide has over 50+ audio tours for National Parks, state parks, and other scenic drives, including Yellowstone/Grand Teton, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Lake Tahoe and more.

Detailed Yellowstone Grand Teton Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Jackson, Explore Town

Morning – Arrive, Eat Lunch

In the morning on Day 1, get an early start and travel to Jackson, Wyoming. Once you arrive, grab some lunch and poke around town. It’s a tourist town but has a unique tempo to it and lots of individual mom-and-pop stores. Some yummy spots in town are Figs (Lebanese), Hand-Fired Pizza, and Healthy Being Cafe and Juicery. Also, Persephone Bakery (not vegan-friendly) is insanely popular.

Afternoon – Set up Camp

If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s best to stay somewhere right in Jackson or north of town rather than out near Jackson Hole (the ski area). Staying in town or even north of town will put you closer to the things you are going to do in Grand Teton National Park. Note that hotels in Jackson (like the flights) are expensive, and you should be prepared to spend at least $200 a night for a 3-star hotel.

Personally, if you enjoy car camping, I think that’s the way to go (if you’re new to car camping, check out my Car Camping 101 Guide). While the Grand Teton National Park campgrounds are some of the most expensive I’ve ever seen (more than $55+/night), you’ll still save a ton of money, and the locations of the campgrounds are a lot more convenient for exploring the National Park. In addition, there aren’t many restaurants along this itinerary, so having your camp cooking gear will allow you to prepare your meals as you go. Here are the Grand Teton campgrounds that work best for this itinerary.

  • Jenny Lake: This is for you tent campers. It’s a small campground that is really quiet thanks to the fact that camper vans, RVs, trailers or pop-ups are not allowed. This is the closest campground to the trails you’ll be hiking, so if you’re in a tent, stay here!
  • Signal Mountain: This campground is on the shores of Jackson Lake where you’ll find gorgeous views. It’s the second most convenient to the trailheads. There is a lodge here with a restaurant and a bar, as well as hotel rooms.
  • Gros Ventre: The Gros Ventre campground is located outside of the South Park entrance on the other side of the highway. I stayed here during a photography workshop and loved the proximity to the Gros Ventre River.
  • Colter Bay: This is a massive campground, the biggest in Grand Teton National Park. There’s an entire village with a grocery store, restaurant, showers, and more. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to Jackson Lake. It’s the least convenient as far as the hikes I suggest, but being the furthest north of these four, it will shorten your drive when it’s time to move on to Yellowstone.
The group site I camped at in Gros Ventre Campground

Even though it may result in a bit more driving, I’d stay at the same campground for all three nights that you’re in Grand Teton so you don’t have to set up and take down your camping gear more than once. However if you want to move sites to minimize driving, you should stay at Gros Ventre or Jenny Lake on night 1 and Jenny Lake or Signal Mountain on night 2 and 3.

Before you drive to the campsite, stop at the Grand Teton Visitor Center near the South Entrance. It’s a great place to grab a map, and I also purchased bear spray there, which you will 1000% want for this trip. You should have your bear spray easily accessible on all hikes and at your campsites.

Day 2: Hike Death Canyon

Morning – Go Hiking

Today you’re going to hike from the Death Canyon Trailhead which is located off Moose Wilson Road by the South Entrance. There are a few different options depending on what kind of challenge you are looking for. If you choose a longer hike, you should pack a lunch since there aren’t any nearby dining options.

  • Phelps Lake Overlook: From the Death Canyon Trailhead, you’ll hike just over a mile to a gorgeous overlook that peers down 700 feet into Phelps Lake. If you’re looking for something short and sweet, you can turn around here (2.0 miles, 416 feet of elevation gain, easy/moderate due to uphill stretch, trail map).
  • Death Canyon to Patrol Cabin: This starts as the same trailhead as the Phelps Lake Overlook. If you want to cover more ground, continue past the overlook, down the switchbacks, and straight at the next junction. That will that drop you into the entrance of Death Canyon. After 4.5 miles, you reach an old Patrol Cabin that was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Core. On the way, you’ll pass some nice spots along the river that make for an ideal lunch/break spot. The hike out can be hot, so make sure you bring plenty of water and some sun protection (9.0 miles, 2,097 feet of elevation gain, moderate/challenging due to distance and elevation gain, trail map).
  • Phelps Lake via Valley Canyon Trail: If you don’t want to climb up into Death Canyon, you can hike down and relax on the shore of Phelps Lake (4.4 miles, 994 feet of elevation gain, moderate due to hike back up from the lakeshore, trail map). You can extend this to 7 miles by walking around the lake.

Bears frequent this area. You’ll want have your bear spray handy and brush up on your bear safety so you know what to do if you encounter one.

Phelps Lake Overlook

Afternoon – Relax

Post-hike head back to camp or your hotel and relax. Tomorrow you’ll be doing one of the most epic hikes in the Park, so you’ll want to rest up.

If you’re staying at Gros Ventre or a hotel in town, you can grab a bite to eat in Jackson. The Kitchen is my favorite place for dinner.

If you’re camping further from town, set up your camp chair, read a book, cook dinner, or wander around to check out your surroundings. You can also cruise up to Jenny Lake. You’ll be back there tomorrow, but you really can’t get tired of these views.

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park on a sunny day
Jenny Lake (Photo credit: Kim Vawter)

Day 3: Hike to Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon and Stop at Signal Mountain Lodge

Morning – Hike Cascade Canyon

On Day 3 of your road trip, you are going to hike up Cascade Canyon. This is one of the most stunning (and popular) trails in the Grand Teton National Park. You’ll want to wak up early and drive to Jenny Lake. Then in order to save yourself 2 miles each way, I suggest getting on one of the first boat shuttles across Jenny Lake to the trailheads on the other side of the lake. This will give you a chance to enjoy the trail in peace before all of the crowds show up. Shuttles run non-stop throughout the day, and you don’t need a reservation.

Once you’re on the other side, the trail to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon leave right from the boat dock. Like yesterday, you have multiple options depending on how far you want to hike.

  • Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point Loop: An easier, shorter hike than the Cascade Canyon Trail hike listed next (1.8 miles, 419 feet of elevation gain, moderate due to rocky steps, see trail map). This family-friendly trail can get very busy, but it offers fantastic views of Jenny Lake and a decent sized waterfall.
  • Cascade Canyon Trail: Continuing past Hidden Falls, this trail travels through a beautiful mountain gorge with meandering streams perfect for soaking your feet while you eat a PB&J (9.1 miles, 1,102 feet of elevation gain, moderate/challenging due to distance, see trail map). Wildlife sightings here are super common . There is no destination or final climax on this hike, just pretty views the entire way. If you get tired, you can turn around early without missing too much.
  • Lake Solitude via Cascade Canyon Trail: If you really want to escape the crowds, hike to the end of Cascade Canyon and hang a right and eventually you’ll reach Lake Solitude. From the boat landing, Lake Solitude is around 14 miles round trip with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. It makes for a big day, but the scenery is unbelievably pretty. If you pack a suit you can also take a refreshing (aka very cold) dip in the lake. Just make sure to get an early start and bring a headlamp just in case. (14.7 miles, 2,395 feet of elevation gain, challenging due to distance and elevation, see trail map).

One more thing to keep in mind is that moose and bears frequent this area, so you might get to see one (or more). If you encounter wildlife, give them space. Don’t get all up in their business trying to take photos.

Hidden Falls // 7 Day Road Trip Itinerary through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.
Hidden Falls (Photo credit: Kim Vawter)
Cascade Canyon // The ultimate road trip itinerary through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
Cascade Canyon (Photo credit: Kim Vawter)
Lake Solitude // Follow this detailed 7-day Teton and Yellowstone road trip itinerary to travel to the best sites, hikes, and attractions in these two incredible national parks.
Lake Solitude (Photo credit: Kim Vawter)

Afternoon – Post-hike treats at Signal Mountain Lodge

When you return from your hike, head up to Signal Mountain Lodge for a post-hike treat. While I don’t drink anymore, and I’m plant-based, I hear the huckleberry margaritas (for passengers) and nachos are a local favorite among the park staff. Afterwards, drive up the Signal Mountain Road for an impressive aerial view.

After that, head back to your campsite. Try to get all of your gear organized because tomorrow you’re packing up and heading up to Yellowstone for the next leg of this itinerary.

Day 4: Arrive in Yellowstone, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Morning – Drive to Yellowstone, West Thumb Geyser Basin

It’s Yellowstone or bust! The Grand Teton portion of this itinerary is wrapping up as you pack up your car and road trip up to Yellowstone. Be prepared to see a whole new world in a very short distance on your Yellowstone trip. Ryan referred to Yellowstone as “extraterrestrial” or “something from another planet.” And, it’s true, it really has that feel.

Depending on where you camped it could take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to reach the Yellowstone south entrance. The drive is beautiful, hugging Jackson Lake with views of Mt. Moran. I made Ryan stop several times for photos. You also cross the Continental Divide.

On your way into the park, swing by the Grant Village Visitors Center to see the video about the famous 1988 Yellowstone fire that burned a third of Yellowstone— it helps you grasp the level of devastation Yellowstone faced, and why some areas look the way they do.

About 20 minutes after entering Yellowstone National Park and just a few minutes up from the Visitor’s Center, your first stop is going to be the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Personally, this is one of my favorite geyser basins in the Park due to the fact that it sits on the edge of Yellowstone Lake. That backdrop is something you won’t see anywhere else in Yellowstone. It’s also less crowded than some of the other geyser basins. It takes about 45 minutes to walk around here.

Abyss Pool at West Thumb Geyser Basin

From West Thumb, you are going to head northeast, driving the big loop around Yellowstone in a counter-clockwise direction. Your next major stop is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On the way, you can stop at Gull Point for another perspective of Yellowstone Lake, as well as Sulphur Cauldron and Mud Volcano. These are the park’s most acidic hot springs and are worth a quick stop along the way.

Finally, you’re probably going to want to stop and eat some lunch before the afternoon’s activities. There are several pretty places to pull off along the Yellowstone River.

Afternoon – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone is carved by the Yellowstone River and is where you’ll find Yellowstone’s Upper and Lower Falls. At 308 feet tall, I found the Lower Falls to be more impressive, but you should have time to check out both.

First you should drive down the South Rim. You can check out the Upper Falls Viewpoints before going to Artist Point. This is the furthest viewpoint of the Lower Falls, but being zoomed out lets you see the entire canyon and the river flowing through it below.

Artist Point

Next get back in your car, drive to the North Rim and park. Take the Rim Trail out to Lookout point where you can get a closer view of the Lower Falls and really see it’s magnitude.

Your last viewpoint I checked out was the Brink of the Lower Falls. This is a short steep set of switchbacks that drops 600 feet over 3/8 of a mile that is a bit of a doozy on the way back up. I brought my trekking poles to make the hike up a bit easier. The end point of this trail puts you right at the top of the Lower Falls where you can experience how powerful the falls really are. It’s misty and wet, and you can see right over the edge where the Falls go tumbling down. I thought it was worth the effort, but if you don’t like steep climbs, you should skip this.

Evening – Camp at Canyon Village

Your first campground for the Yellowstone portion of this road trip itinerary is Canyon Campground. Just like all of the campsites, you have to make reservations far in advance. If they don’t have any availability, you could also stay at Tower Fall (closed in 2024) or Slough Creek (a quieter experience). You should plan to stay at whatever campsite you get for 1 night since you’ll be moving again tomorrow.

Day 5: Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, Optional Hike to Osprey Falls

Morning – Lamar Valley

Early bird catches the worm when it comes to seeing wildlife in Lamar Valley and also avoiding the traffic that builds up on the road. While this means you’ll have to pack up your campsite early (like 5am or 6am early), I promise you’ll have a way better experience than if you roll in Lamar Valley at 10.

I once visited Lamar Valley in the afternoon, and traffic was crazy. Of course part of this that the bison walk in the road, and everyone has to stop their vehicles to avoid them, but you have a lot more ability to maneuver before there are cars everywhere.

Kristen Bor in the drivers seat of a Sprinter Van driving through Lamar Valley with bison out the window
Bison in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone

Lamar Valley is THE place to see wildlife in Yellowstone. We literally saw hundreds (maybe thousands) of bison. We also saw elk and pronghorn. If you’re really lucky, you may also see bears and even wolves. We heard the best chance of seeing wolves was along Slough Creek, so we cruised up there, but didn’t have any luck.

Man standing on a rock rock overlooking a river in Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park
Two people sitting on a rock overlooking a river in Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park
Hanging out at Slough Creek waiting for the wolves to appear

After you’re done hanging with the animals, you’ll make the twisty drive over to Mammoth Hot Springs. There is food available there, as well as some picnic tables if you’re ready for lunch.

Afternoon – Hike to Osprey Falls

If you feel like you need to stretch your legs after spending all morning in the car, I really enjoyed the hike to Osprey Falls. It’s one of the lesser known trails in Yellowstone, located near Mammoth Hot Springs. I think we saw less than 6 people the entire hike.

It’s 7.3 miles roundtrip with 1,243 feet of elevation gain, making it a moderate to challenging hike. The first part travels through a flat grassy area. I will say I was a bit nervous here, as I read grizzly bears are common in this area. I had my bear spray on my hip ready to deploy if needed.

After 1.5 miles, the trail starts to gradually climb, gaining about 1,000 feet over 2 miles until you reach the base of the falls. At one section you hug the rim of a canyon, resulting in some pretty vast views. Plus, the waterfall was actually quite impressive, and we had it all to ourselves.

If you aren’t into big hikes or you are short on time, this is something you could skip.

Osprey Falls Trail

Evening – Mammoth Hot Springs and Camp

After you wrap up your hike, the last adventure of the day is exploring Mammoth Hot Springs, one of the more unique geysers in Yellowstone. The water that pours over the hot springs has been in the ground for over 1,000 years and is responsible for all of the formations in the area as it cascades down. We went right before the sun went down and found the lighting to be very nice, and all of the people were gone for the day. It only takes about 30-45 minutes walk around here.

Mammoth Hot Springs

The most convenient place to camp tonight is going to be the Mammoth Campground or Indian Creek, which is where we stayed. If you are really feeling like you could use a shower and a bed, you could also book a room at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or head into West Yellowstone where there are lots of inexpensive motels.

Day 6: Old Faithful and Geysers Galore!

Morning – Norris Basin, Lower Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring

By the end of today, I promise you are going to be totally geyser’ed out. There is of course more that you can see, but I’m going suggest what I consider to be the coolest geysers in Yellowstone. Most of these require a little bit of walking on a boardwalk, but none of it is too intense. Be patient when parking. These spots are popular and the parking lots can be a bit hectic.

First stop is Norris Basin, home to the hottest, oldest geysers in Yellowstone. There were some really pretty milky blue and emerald colored pools here. We spent about 1.5 hours walking around the two loops.

Norris Basin

Next you’ll stop at the Lower Geyser Basin. My favorite hot spring here was Silex Spring. The color was an unbelievable shade of turquoise, and it was less than 100 yards from the parking lot.

Blue geyser called Silex Spring at Lower geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park
Silex Spring

Your final stop before lunch is Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the most beautiful geysers in the Park. For an even better view, take the Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail up 200 feet where you can peer down and really see the contrast in the colors. Parking for the Overlook Trail is a couple minutes drive away at the Fairy Falls parking lot.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Afternoon – Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful

The last major stop on your road trip is the Famous Old Faithful. The first thing you should do when you arrive is check the schedule. The geyser erupts about every 65-90 minutes. There are signs everywhere in the area informing you of the next eruption. The viewing area is big, but it does get super crowded. So, I suggest arriving at least 15 minutes before the eruption to secure a good viewing spot and earlier if you want to sit down.

Old Faithful

If you have some time to kill, you can grab some food from the cafeteria, the bakeshop, or the dining area. There is also a picnic area near the East lot if you packed your own lunch.

Once you’ve seen Old Faithful erupt, follow the boardwalk around to explore the Upper Geyser Basin, which has the largest concentration of colorful hot pools in the world.

Upper Geyser Basin

As the sun sets, for the final night of your Yellowstone Grand Teton road trip, head on over to the small town of West Yellowstone for a night at a local motel. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from as well.

Day 7: Drive back to your starting point

Today your goal is to drive back to your starting point. I recommend booking a late flight so you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and have plenty of time to drive to the airport without feeling stressed.

Have extra time?

If you have a couple extra days for your Grand Teton Yellowstone itinerary, here are some additional things to do:

  • Hike to Taggert and Bradley Lake in Grand Teton National Park
  • Go on a scenic float trip on the Snake River in Grand Teton
  • Hike Mount Washburn in Yellowstone, a peak with 360 degree views of the Park
  • Visit the Artist Paint Pots in Yellowstone
  • Take a dip at the Firehole Swimming Area in Yellowstone where the river temps reach a comfy 86 degrees (this is usually closed until at least mid-summer due to water levels)
  • Hike to Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, a challenging unmaintained trail that leads to a gorgeous glacial lake. I found the hike to be pretty rugged with all of the boulders and scree but worth it!
  • Visit Jackson Hole Ski Resort and ride the tram to the top
The summit of Mount Washburn has a staffed fire lookout that you can go inside
Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Short on Time?

If you don’t have a full week for your Yellowstone Grand Teton itinerary, here is what I would cut out:

  • Skip hiking to Osprey Falls in Yellowstone
  • Skip Norris Basin and the lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone
  • Skip the Death Canyon hike in Grand Teton

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks?

Early summer through mid-fall is the best time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Many of the roads close in winter making the sites inaccessible. The road between Grand Teton and Yellowstone also closes and doesn’t usually open until mid-May. September is my favorite month to visit. The Parks are way less crowded, you can usually snag a campsite, and the temperatures are still comfortable for camping.

October is also beautiful with the fall colors, but the evening lows can be pretty chilly for camping, and the Jenny Lake boat shuttle usually stops operating at the end of September. That means if you want to hike Cascade Canyon, you’ll have to walk around Jenny Lake adding 4 miles to your hike.

The most popular time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton is July and August. If you visit during these months, be prepared for crowded trails, full parking lots, and lines to get in and out of the Parks.

Can I bring my dog to Yellowstone and Grand Teton?

Unfortunately, Yellowstone and Grand Teton are not dog-friendly. In both Parks you can have your dog on a leash in the campground, but dogs are not allowed on any trails, boardwalks or beaches. Bringing your dog means you’re going to miss out on 98% of the activities in this road trip itinerary.

How many days do I need to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks?

I created this 7-day Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary because I think that’s the amount of time that’s needed to experience the best things to do in both Parks. Doing it in less time than that means you’ll have to skip some of the major highlights.

If you have fewer than 4-5 days total for your road trip including your drive to and from the Parks, I’d suggest choosing one Park to visit, rather than doing both. With that little time, you’d barely be scratching the surface trying to cram both Parks in. Pick one and come back another time for the other. If you have more than 7 days, you’ll still have plenty to do, allowing you to hike and explore some of the lesser known regions of the Parks.

Should I spend more time in Grand Teton or in Yellowstone?

Yellowstone is a much bigger park than Grand Teton, and driving through the Park takes significantly more time. My suggested week-long itinerary that combines the two Parks has you spending two full days in Grand Teton and three full days in Yellowstone.

Do I need a reservation to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton?

No, you do not need reservations to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton. There is also no timed entry system so you can enter and leave the Parks as you please. You do however need a reservation for the campgrounds or backcountry camping.

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Are you planning a Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park road trip or have you been? Share your comments, questions, and experiences below.

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138 Comments

  1. Great itinerary! I do want to point out that for the Lake Solitude hike, it will likely be at least 15 miles like the external link says (it was 20 miles roundtrip for us without using the boat). There is a multi-year trail maintenance project in progress for the trail system at Jenny lake, and the detours may extend the route. I just thought I’d mention it because 10 is quite a bit less than 15-20 when it comes to hiking and it’s always good to be prepared. It’s definitely worth seeing though!

  2. I lived in the area near Jackson for 2 years and had some of my most memorable fishing moments there! This place is worth visiting, great itinerary.

    1. I was just up there last week and got to spend some time on the Snake and Gros Ventre Rivers. Sooooo pretty! Jealous you got to live up there. Seems like a super fun place to spend some time in.

  3. Could someone please let me know when the best time to visit the above parks would be? Would love to visit in 2016!! Great itinerary!!

  4. I worked at Signal Mountain Lodge for 8 years and served many a plate of nachos so it was fun to see you mention it. This is a great itinerary. I would just add white water rafting in Jackson as a don’t miss.

  5. Planning a trip there now! Your post was so very helpful! I cannot wait to get there! Hope you get to the Great Smoky Mountains- awesome hiking there too!

  6. Hey Kristin and Kim! Thanks so much for this awesome itinerary. Currently using it as inspiration for planning my own week-long adventure!

  7. Great info. I pinned it. We are planing on going to Yelowstone, Teton, and Glacier. Is May to early to visit? Will it be cold?

  8. Hey Kristen! This is super helpful in trying to plan an upcoming trip sometime in July, so thank you. Can I ask what your thoughts are on solo hiking and travel through Grand Teton/Yellowstone?

  9. Kristen. Great info. – we are going late August into the beginning of September but we are staying in Jackson Hole and Bozeman not camping any suggestions?

  10. I visited Teton / Yellowstone from Aug 13 to 20th with my family and followed this itinerary with little alteration. For instance, as we were not camping, we just stayed in hotels along the way.
    As we moved through itinerary, it became obvious that we should not alter our path much from what was suggested as most of it seemed to have purpose. For instance, being able to compare Death Canyon with Cascade Canyon or visiting Signal Mountain Lodge (we stayed there) for awesome views, nachos and blackberry margaritas (no huckleberry while we were there).
    In Yellowstone, besides the great sight recommendations, we also stuck with the little things such as Woodside bakery stop, Park Ranger Museum and map room in Mammoth. These were the type of things that were off the beaten path but well worth it. The suggestion to hike the Wapiti trailhead to see the Yellowstone Grand Canyon from the south side was also spectacular as was the suggestion to visit Lake Butte lookout (we almost didn’t do it, but reminded ourselves that Kim had not steered us wrong to this point).
    Here is the only minor alterations we made:
    – We added a trip to Jackson to look around and go white water rafting down the Snake River between day 1 and 2 instead of waiting until day 6
    – We detoured in Mammoth to visit the boiling river which was a hoot (total time about 2 hours)
    All in all, this is one of the best itineraries I found anywhere and it was a huge help in planning our trip. Many thanks to Kristen for posting and Kim for writing.

  11. This looks great! I know this is an old post, but if you see this – I’m trying to put together an itinerary for a large family trip to Jackson and Yellowstone. Not everyone in our party will be up for a 15 mile hike(small children and grandparents). Any thoughts on what we could cut out and what stays?

    1. Bourbon thanks so much for your message! There are some great short paths that are excellent for children and grandparents alike, especially in Yellowstone! A majority of the major sights in Yellowstone are under 0.5 mile paths. There is a Jackson Hole Children’s Museum so make sure to check that out for the kiddos!

  12. My husband and I are interested in a one week vacation from 5/27 to 6/3/17. We are in mid-50s and fairly active. We would be flying into Bozeman MT and check out a bit of Montana, we well as visit Yellowstone np and Grand Tetons. Can this be done in this short timeframe? Your recommendations for how to approach trip? We live on the east coast, so checking out the beauty and the uniqueness of the west is our goal.

    1. Hey Barbara – If you are flying into Bozeman, I think your best bet would be to drive down through Big Sky and enter through West Yellowstone. Then go south on the loop once you reach Yellowstone and then exit back to Bozeman at the north end of the lake. You might be pressed to also visit Teton National Park too, but it depends how much hiking and exploring you want to do vs driving.

  13. Hi Kristen, this is the best itenerary I’ve seen for the area, thanks for sharing! Would love your thoughts on how to approach if we are driving in from the east (coming from Wi). Trying to decide if we should start south in grand Tetons, or come in from the north and work our way down. But how to do the loop then? We would also like to add in rafting in Jackson (or elsewhere?) and possibly the rodeo in Cody? We can do 9 days, but just lost on how best to route everything out. Would love to hear your thoughts!!

    1. Hi Stacie! Thanks for your support. I was super excited to share my itinerary for the Tetons & Yellowstone on Bearfoot Theory! That is so awesome to hear you are road tripping out west from Wisconsin. Are you visiting both the Tetons & Yellowstone? If so, I would do the Cody rodeo on your way in then do Yellowstone first, starting North at Mammoth Hot Springs and drive down to Old Faithful Inn then around to Canyon Village and then back down towards the Tetons and Jackson. You could also maybe make a game time decision based on the best weather for whitewater rafting! Feel free to drop me a person email if you want to discuss more options or even hop on the phone and discuss what you potentially could drop off the trip. The best part of your adventure though is then your drive back home from the Tetons will be a little bit different to stop! Sounds great! Can’t wait to hear about it!

    2. Would love to hear how this goes- I am looking to plan a road trip from MN- with kids ranging in age from 4-16.

  14. Just one tiny correction. The river that flows over the 2 falls and forms the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (I like it better than the other Grand Canyon), that river is the Yellowstone, The Snake is further south in Grand Teton. Really enjoyed the itinerary. Have been to Yellowstone and the Tetons multiple times, but discovered a new trail that we will try in October.
    Thanks

  15. Hi! Thanks so much for all the great info! I have been attempting to plan this trip forever, but have been overwhelmed with too many options! Ha! One question, how limited would we be if we had our dog with us? We really want to bring her, but know it can limit what you can do. Thanks!!!

    1. Hey, Natalie! Great question–Kristen actually just hit Yellowstone for 5 days in her Sprinter with her dog, Charlie, so it is definitely possible! We are working on a post right now about traveling with your dog so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you know when the post is live. Pets are not allowed on boardwalks, trails, or in the backcountry so it definitely does limit your experience in the park. There are numerous boarding and doggy day care places though in the small towns surrounding the park. Lots of options to consider to make the most of your trip for you AND your four-legged friend.

  16. Hiya!
    We are doing a LONG road trip next month: Glacier (Sunday-Tuesday)–> Yellowstone (Chico HS: Tuesday-Friday) –>Teton –> Jackson–> SLC (fly out Monday)
    Do you have suggestions for coming “down” from Yellowstone and making our way to SLC? We don’t have anything nailed down once we leave Chico on Friday…
    Thanks in Advance!
    Lindsay

    1. Hello Lindsay, thanks for reaching out. Not sure if you are speaking in terms of things to do or places to stay. In terms of things to do honestly, if you are leaving Yellowstone on Friday and heading through the Tetons & Jackson Hole to be in Salt Lake City by Monday you’ll be totally fine. You can easily spend a full day in the Tetons and another full day in Jackson Hole. Once in Salt Lake City if you have any extra time there are great hikes near Alta or you can also check out Park City, Utah. In terms of places to stay, I don’t have any stand out favorites but there are tons of options along that route. You could even look into a cute AirBnB.

  17. Thank you so much for great info. Esp. like the idea of coming thru Victor Idaho, then returning difft route to SLC, where we would first arrive. Not BIG hikers, but my husband and i certainly could do the short route on Death Canyon Trailhead. You do not mention how to get back UP if we decide to go down to Lake. UT OH.Might catch us by surprise, and we cannot do an extensive trek.
    Good to know where to get margueritas, plus great view at Signal Mt. Lodge.
    Just starting to plan for trip in 2018. Thanks again for good details.

    1. Hi Melanie, this is Kim and I took the I80/89 route in 2015 when I visited the parks for the first time. I loved it.

  18. Great itinerary! I’d add a soak in the Boiling River when you are at Mammoth. It’s the only hot spring in the front country where you are allowed to soak. You can also get into the Firehole River in one spot, but it’s bathtub temperature not hot :).
    As an FYI, it’s the Yellowstone River that flows through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, not the Snake River. That’s down in GTNP.
    I agree that the Fishing Bridge store is the best one in the park!

    1. Thanks, Mel! We love these soaking spot recommendations! Will definitely check them out on our next trip through the park.

  19. I live about an hour away from Yellowstone and go as often as possible! This was a great post and I would suggest this 7 day trip to anyone going to the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone! I will say this – There are still so many things that you should see if you have the time! For example, when exploring mammoth hot springs, take a short drive north to the Gardiner Entrance where you will get to see the Roosevelt Arch! It is really cool and you can get some iconic family pictures! Here is a article I wrote about the arch I think you will find it interesting!
    Article: https://outdoorsconnected.com/blog/john-f-yanceys-death-and-the-roosevelt-arch-/

  20. Help! I am trying to plan a great trip for my family the summer of 2018. Having never done this I am a little overwhelmed by all of the options to chose from. Including what to see, where to stay and what activities to try. My plan is to fly into Rapid City SD. Spend one night and see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Custer park. The next day travel to Devils Tower and then on into Red Lodge MT. (any advice on where we should stay (reasonably priced) and anything else we should see or do I would love to hear!) I want to take the north entrance into Yellow Stone from Red Lodge. From here I am at a loss!? Where should we stay, and how long? From YS I want to head down to GTNP and Jackson Hole. Again where to stay, see and do? I have 3 adult kids, and we would like some adventure. Any place we stay has to accommodate 5 people at a reasonable price. The plan is a 9-10 trip. Not trying to sound cheap but everything must be reasonably priced! I would love some advice 🙂

    1. Hi Diane, have you checked out our lodging guide to Yellowstone? Here is the link: https://bearfoottheory.com/yellowstone-campgrounds-lodging/ Are you considering camping or potentially renting an RV? That would be the most reasonable option and there are some great options. When I plan long lengthy trips for a group I generally only pick 1-2 things at max to do/see a day, I find this makes it easier on me and allows time for things to be added to the list that we might discover. I haven’t been to Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, etc. so I can’t talk a lot about that area. I would plan to only do Badlands and Mt. Rushmore in one day, especially if you want to hike and explore Badlands–that is easily a full-day trip. Maybe you could do Devil’s Tower and arrive late to Red Lodge then head into the park the next morning. If you take the North entrance into Yellowstone, I’d stay near Canyon Village and spend one day doing the North Loop (we list plenty in this area to do for a full day in our itinerary) and then spend 1-2 nights in Grant Village before heading on to the Grand Tetons. Sounds like an incredible trip! Our itinerary has some great items for you to do and see. Feel free to email us @ contact@bearfoottheory.com, if you have more questions or need support!

    2. Hi Diane, It sounds like you will have a blast this coming summer! I have to agree with Kim with the places to stay- That article is well written and informative! When we take our kids to Yellowstone they love to go to Mammoth Hot Springs! There are a lot of fun things to do and see while you are there! Check out this article I wrote about the place: https://outdoorsconnected.com/blog/10-things-to-experience-during-your-next-trip-to-mammoth-hot-springs-in-yellowstone/
      Have fun next summer!

  21. We are planning a trip out in September. We have a 37 foot Class A. Would we have any troubles sticking to your itinerary using our camper? I am worried about narrow roads and dropoffs. Also, would you recommend towing a vehicle or are there car rental places in the area?

    1. Hi Kristie, you’ll be fine on the roads in the park with a trailer that large. There are no car rental locations in the park but there are options in most major cities outside the park. I would consider towing a car.

  22. Hi Kristen,
    Your itinerary and blog are great! What a resource!
    I’m starting my early planning for an early summer trip with my daughter (her first trip camping) where we will be flying from Hong Kong to either LA or SF and then likely up to Jackson. As time is limited can you advise:
    1 . How many days do we need for Yellowstone and can we just drive through GTNP on way to Yellowstone (From JH) and if so how many days and where can we make first night camp. Eg our day 1 is your day 3?
    2. Any recommended outdoor / camping stores in Jackson Hole as need to get (again) all my gears . Rentals possible?
    3. Any recommendation where my wife might stay in hotel and we camp near by. She isn’t a camper but the little one wants to try out camping.

        1. Hi Jennifer! We did rent a car for this itinerary (from the Salt Lake City Airport) but we just flew with our camping gear, we didn’t rent any camping gear.

  23. Hello, We are 2-3 families planning to visit Grand Teton and YSNP July 2018, coming from East coast, 7/8 nights, starting/finishing ,Jackson/SLC,,
    Could you please suggest Lodges and number of nights to book(DAY 1 to7)
    thank
    Anil

      1. This is the best itinerary I have read and I have read a lot ! Hubby and I are in our 60’s will be flying into Jackson in September. We have reservations at Lake Yellowstone and Canyon then on to the Tetons for two nights. Our first trip so I really appreciate all of the information. We will be coming in the South entrance , is there a link to which way we should start out ? Thank you for all of the info.

        1. Hi Linda, so awesome to hear you are heading to Jackson this Fall. You’re going to love it. I started at the South entrance as well. You can take either route to loop all the way up and around.

  24. I’ve convinced my husband to make this our one year anniversary trip in June. Unfortunately due to his work schedule we will be flying in on a Wednesday and Flying out on a Sunday. Anyone have recommendations for being able to stick to this itinerary best we can with a shorter stay? This is, by far, my favorite I’ve found thus far.

  25. Great suggestions! We’re going this summer with our 3 kids, ages 3, 7 and 10. I saw the one suggestion about the Jackson Hole children’s museum – any other fun kid ideas? They’ll hike 1-2 miles, but there’s only so much hiking we can do… We’re staying in Colter Bay 2-3 days and are flying in and out of Idaho Falls. Looking for where else we should stay. Thanks!

    1. Hey Katie! That is awesome to hear you are taking your kids to the Tetons! Check in with the National Parks regarding talks & programs geared towards kids for the time you are there. Every Wednesday & Saturday there is a rodeo in town–might be a fun night out! If you’re traveling in July there is also the County Fair to visit. Good luck with your trip!

  26. Hi – We are from the East Coast and hoping to go to Yellowstone/Jackson Hole this August. Original thought was to fly into Billings or Bozeman and checking out Beartooth pass on the way into the park. Also looking to do some fly fishing. Any thoughts on how to adapt your itinerary by coming in from the North? Also on my initial list was Lamar Valley with hopes to see some wildlife at dawn. Is that something that should be reserved for another visit perhaps when the wildlife is more active in the spring? Thanks for any thoughts.

    1. Hi Ted, thanks for a great question! For coming in by the North you can easily adapt the itinerary. Day 4 on our itinerary, visiting Mammoth Hot Springs, would be your first day and then I would head to Yellowstone’s Canyon & Lake the next day (Day 5 on our itinerary). You could then circle back to do the Grant Village area the following day before heading to the Tetons where you’d just do our itinerary in reverse. Lamar Valley is 100% worth seeing, even if you don’t catch a glimpse of any wildlife it’s a beautiful area worth including.

    2. I have spent some summers in both parks. I like the itinerary you have for the week stay. If you ever get back you need to stop at Leeks Marina and go to Leeks Pizza a mile north of Colter Bay . Really, really good pizza with a great selection of toppings. Very good pasta also, you will love it. A great beer selection and a porch view of Jackson Lake and the Tetons. Did all the hikes you had listed. So much to see, you have picked some good ones.

  27. what suggestions do u have for camping… are there places there to rent equipment or do people bring their own stuff on the airplane, we plan to stay at an airbnb for a few nights when we r outside the park but wanted the experience of camping for a night or 2 inside the park , any suggestions would be appreciated we are flying in salt lake city. plan on going to Grand Tetons for a day or two… then do Yellowstone for 3 or 4 and head back to SLC Thank you!!!!

    1. Hi Jackie, I recommend packing your own gear for camping in the pack. Just pack the bare minimum that you’ll need to be comfortable. We are actually working on a gear rental blog piece so stay tuned! So great to hear you are heading to the parks!

  28. I was wondering for Day 1 when you mentioned “Grand Teton Visitor Center near the South Entrance,” exactly which visitor center you’re referring to? I am planning my trip and want to follow your plan as closely as possible!

    1. Hi Farheen, we are referring to the first Visitor Center when you enter. It is located at 1 Teton Park Rd, Moose, WY 83012 and is formally called the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.

      1. Can you tell me how many miles this trip is. I’m renting a camper van and need to know if we should purchase additional miles. Do you have any recommendations on where to rent a Camper Van?

      2. Hey Kim,
        We are planning a trip out West this September leaving AL. on the 15th going to stop at MT. Rushmore 16th and then go to Yellowstone the 17th we’re staying there til the 19th then we thought about going to Teton and Jackson Hole then make our way to Cal. to Sequoia Nat. Park maybe stay there 2 days then thought about going to Las Vegas for the night then going to the Grand Canyon for 2 days then maybe Texas for 1 day then back to AL. Do you have any suggestions? We like seeing Wildlife. And is September a good time to come?

        1. Hi Suzie, September is a great time for Yellowstone as long as snow doesn’t come too early! I would 100% allow time for Tetons; wildlife is abundant and it is breathtaking. Have you visited Yosemite before? Is there a reason you are leaving it out? Grand Canyon sounds amazing as well. Have you checked out our Ultimate Utah roadtrip itinerary of the National Parks? You might want to consider visiting one or two of those parks if it works within your schedule. https://bearfoottheory.com/utah-national-parks/ Zion generally has pretty good wildlife.

  29. Thank you for this wonderful and detailed itinerary! My partner and I have been planning to drive and hike around Yellowstone in June, but unfortunately I broke my ankle last week skiing 🙁 I should be out of the cast by June but likely not much of a hiker still. We are now trying to revise the plan to be primarily a driving trip with only light hiking/walking. Will you have a sense of which of the must-sees along the Yellowstone route will not be accessible without a substantial hike? We gotta return to Bozeman at the end of the trip, so we’ll likely be starting from there as well to make it a loop. Thank you for your insights – and thanks again for this travel guide which is obviously a labour of love!

    1. Hi Mariya, this itinerary is still absolutely breathtaking without taking any of the dayhikes. Especially in Yellowstone there are numerous small paths that you can enjoy to really get a sense of the park. You can definitely see both parks without long day hikes/backpacking.

  30. When we booked our trip to Grant Tetons/Yellowstone, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of things we wanted to see in our short 6 day trip, until I found this! AMAZING! I have a few questions… we will be coming from Salt Lake, stopping in Jackson for a day then heading into the parks. We will have 4 nights and 4.5 days to spend in the parks. How would you recommend shortening the trip a little? We were thinking 2 nights in the Grand Tetons, and 2.5 days spent hiking the Tetons. Then travel to Yellowstone midday our 3rd day, hit Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin, and pitch camp at Canyon campground. Spend the most of the next day doing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Our last day in the park, going up to Mammoth Hot Springs before heading back to Salt Lake since we fly out very early the next morning (about an 8 hour drive). Do you think that sounds reasonable? Thanks in advance for your input!

    1. Hey Frankie, you have done your research! Your trip sounds AMAZING! Honestly, I wouldn’t really change anything. I’d try on your first day to get there as early as possible to the Tetons to explore and honestly you might only need 2 days to explore the Tetons and then head on up to Yellowstone that way you’ll be building in some extra time in case you need it in Yellowstone or in case on your way back to SLC you decide to stop to see anything missed in the Tetons.

  31. Hi all,
    We have booked our trip! Flying into Jackson Hole 7/31 and then flying out of Jackson on 8/8
    We plan to follow the itinerary as closely as possible. The question i have is regarding the camping gear.
    would it be best to rent camping equipment from someplace local? Anyone with experience doing this?
    Thank you.
    Ted

  32. This is Exactly what I Have been looking for quite some time. We plan on going to the Yellow stone National Park in the end of may this year. I have made my own itinerary covering Yellow Stone, Bad Lands and Mt Rushmore in 4 days. But, this coming from a person who has already been there should certainly help us. Thanks.

  33. I am trying to plan my days for Yellowstone/Tetons. My wife and I will be with three of our children 12-14-16. We will be staying 3 nights in West Yellowstone and 5 nights in Jackson Hole. I am trying to figure out a plan to get the most out of our days with our launching points. Also we are interested in a good float for the family,more sight seeing than adventure but my 16yr old and I also want to do white water one day. Any advice would be appreciated!!

    1. Hi Craig, sounds like you’re going to have a great time–those are awesome launching points and you’re set up for a good number of nights! I didn’t raft when I was there so I, unfortunately, can’t recommend a good vendor for rafting trips but personally, I utilize TripAdvisor and you might want to start there.

  34. Thank you so much for this amazing, detailed, thorough itinerary! It is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Do you mind providing a list of what you guys packed? As far as camping/hiking gear etc? We are currently trying to decide on whether we want to do camping vs hotels/lodging due to the baggage fees on airplanes. If we do hotels/lodging, we could easily pack one carry on each which would save us $.

    1. You bring up a really great point! I think if you did a cost comparison you’d find that camping is still less expensive even if you have to pay for 1 additional bag. We flew Southwest so we could each fly with 2 bags for free so we weren’t concerned about baggage fees. I think you’d be able to fit all your camping gear in one bag (I love the Patagonia Black Hole duffels and they work well for this situation). You really only need your tent, 2 sleeping pads & 2 sleeping bags. Those items for me all fit easily in a backpack and I traveled with my backpack and then put clothing in a rolling suitcase (carry-on size). I carried my trekking poles on the plane as well & we wore our hiking boots on the plane with flip-flops in our bag. Hotels are really expensive in the area so again I think you’d save more on camping. All of my camping gear is also lightweight & built for backpacking so it really depends on the quality/level of gear you have. We ate out so we didn’t pack any camping kitchen items. The only additional items we packed were headlamps.

  35. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing, really helpful. We are planning to visit this August. We have made bookings and will stay first in Mammoth Frontier Cabin for 2 nights, then Canyon Lodge Western Cabin for 2 nights and in the end 3 nights in OF Inn Old House.
    Would you suggest how should be plan our visit as per the bookings we have made. Thanks !

    1. Hi Ram! Nice job getting all those reservations; you’re going to have an incredible time. When you stay at Old Faithful that will be the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park (Day 1 & 2); that also is the best location for Day 3 on our itinerary. When you’re at the Mammoth Frontier Cabin you’ll want to focus on that area which is Day 4 on our itinerary. Day 5 will be best to accomplish when you are at the Canyon Lodge. If you’re wanting to visit Jackson at all you’ll also want to do that when staying at Old Faithful (but it is still a bit of a drive).

      1. Hi Kim,
        We’re planning our first trip to Yellowstone, but will barely have 7 days to do it all. Plus, we’re not campers, so we’re looking at staying at the lodges in the park. Is your itinerary doable in 6 days? By the way, the header for your “Day 5” is missing above. Where does your “Day 5” begin?
        This page is great and full of great ideas. We plan on following it as best we can in the time we have.

  36. Kristen and crew – I’ve been following your blog and instagram as I research camper van options. Love your posts!!
    I’m renting a sprinter from Venture Vans in May for a Yellowstone/Grand Teton 6 night trip. They want $100/day (not including camp fees) to assist. $600-700 seems like a lot for the itinerary, but I have not been before. I understand late-May weather can be iffy. Do you think I can follow this itinerary with a 4×4 144″WB that time of year? Camping where you suggest?
    Thanks so much! I appreciate any insights:)
    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa- It looks like no one here got back to you, but I think you will be fine in Late May. There has been a ton of snow, so you won’t necessarily be able to do all the hikes, and some of the campgrounds in Yellowstone might not be open yet, but the one near Mammoth should be great (It’s my favorite and we usually spend mother’s day weekend there). May is great for seeing baby Bison, and it shouldn’t be too crowded. 🙂 If you are headed to Jackson, check out this post too: myoffpistelife.com/tips-for-exploring-jackson-hole-and-grand-teton-national-park/

  37. Great article, enjoyed reading it, especially the way you divided your trip day by day made it a much more interesting and easier read.

  38. Copying the Yellowstone portion of this itinerary except in reverse! Canyon Village lodging was only available if I went their first and then to West Yellowstone and back down to Old Faithful area. Hope it still works well in reverse but I’m so excited 🙂

  39. am planning on visiting grand tetons and yellowstone later this month with a group of 11- adult children in their 20’s and their parents. Renting an airbnb just outside the parks. Do you recommend any particular books for the area with hiking trails and information? Will try to follow your itinerary somewhat but will be staying in Jackson hole for part of the week and at the west gate of Yellowstone for part of the week. Thanks. Any suggestions?
    Ruth

  40. We travel back to Texas from Alaska every summer and this year had hoped to come back for a week in Yellowstone and the Tetons in September.
    With life a bit unsettled now, we aren’t making definite plans, but if it works out we can hopefully use this plan from north to south, and find accommodations for our trailer. Last year we came back through Glacier National Park and had a magical trip.

    1. It is hard to make plans right now, hopefully things settle down by the time September comes around. This itinerary will be here when you’re able to head out there! All the best from the Bearfoot Theory team 🙂

  41. Thanks for all of these tips! We are going to be spending a month in Jackson, WY this September and can’t wait to see the Tetons and explore Yellowstone!

  42. We followed a lot of recommendations from Bearfeet Theory on our visit to Yellowstone. It was the the first tie I had been and this was helpful. I suggest that you make the trip there interesting as well with fun stops along the way and also that you create video clips and edit them together to remember the whole adventure. We came from San Diego and had so much fun. Check out my video for some ideas…
    https://youtu.be/fEEA6r7DX4s

    1. Glad you found this blog post helpful! Thanks for reading and for sharing your video. Looks like you guys had a great trip 🙂

      1. Thanks! My kids watch it over and over…we just got back from another roadtrip and I have started to put the new video together this week. Subscribe to my channel and hit the notification bell to be notified when it comes out.

  43. Headed to Jackson next week. So thankful I found your itinerary! Would this itinerary be your choice with all the smoke in the area?

    1. Glad you found it helpful! We can’t speak to the current situation out there, but I’d recommend looking up fire maps and smoke/air quality maps for the area before deciding if it’s safe to head that way. Best of luck!

  44. In visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, one os the 10 most scenic drives in the West, per National Geographic magazine was missed. That is the 255 mile loop to the west of the mountain range. It goes from Jackson Hole across scenic and beautiful Teton Pass to Victor Idaho. Then North on Hwy 33 to Tetonia, seeing the quaint western Town of Driggs and passing two breweries and Grand Teton Distillery. Stop for samples of Huckleberry bodka and award winning whiskeys. Then further north through Mesa Falls and Island Park where there is great fishing at Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. You end up at the West Hate of Yellowstone where you can enter the Park and loop around both upper and lower falls, pinic along the river and then bisit the lidge at Olf Faithful before heading south again through Grand Teton Park and exiting the South Gate back to Jackson. The Loop can be easily done in a day with lots of activities and magnificent views of both sides of the mountains all day.

  45. My son and I visited the park last August [2020) . This would have been a great itinerary but there were road closures for mud slides, an overturned tanker, fires and road construction. The road from Canyon Village to the Tower was closed foe construction and maybe again this year. Be sure to check road closures when making your plans. We had foe days in the park and saw amazing sites including a day of snow (yes in August) . Be prepared for traffic at all the major attractions and parking. And remember a bison parade can stall your plans as they have the right of way.

  46. Just planned a trip with our 4 adult children for this June. First time to JH area & very excited but feeling a bit overwhelmed with how/where best to drive vs hike vs raft, etc. Staying in Teton Village. Will be using this itinerary for many tips!! Can’t thank you enough for sharing; any other tips from anyone would help!

  47. We are planning a trip this July to Yellowstone & Grand Tetons. We will be coming from the east. Should we start in GT or Yellowstone? We also would like to know the best place to rent a VRBO? Do we rent in between the two parks? Is it doable to have an in between point or just move lodging to be closer to each park?Also, is Glacier doable if we only have about 8 days for entire time out there? Would love to do the Road to the sun road trip. I have lots of questions, this is a huge trip with so many options! Your itinerary is extremely helpful.

    1. The two parks are about three hours apart, so it’s probably best to enjoy one before heading over to the other. Which one you start with really depends on which route you coming in on from the East (rt 14 or 26). Glacier would be a lot to add to an 8-day trip, maybe keep that one for next summer!

  48. Hello we are planning a trip this June We will be flying into Vegas, hoping to visit Hoover dam, west rim of Grand Canyon, visiting Zion NP, Bryce NP. What would be best route to go to Arches, Grand Teton, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone from Bryce We will be flying back home from Salt Lake City.

    1. The fastest way from Bryce to Arches would be Rt 70, but you could also take Rt 12, which would pass by Capitol Reef National Park

  49. Thanks! Great itinerary. We are planning to visit Yellowstone and GTNP this summer coming from ND. We want to go to the rodeo in Cody also. Where would be the best place to add that stop?

    1. Since Cody is closer to Yellowstone, it probably makes sense to tack it on at the end if you plan on following this itinerary.

  50. Is it possible to make this 7 day trip yet only stay at two locations? I’m not sure I want to pack up my family of 6 every day. Are there central cities that we could find lodging that you would recommend (to eliminate as much repeat driving as possible?

    1. You could stay definitely at one place within or near each Park and explore them individually. Jackson Hole is the largest town near Grand Teton and Yellowstone has nine different lodges within the park.

  51. We are planning a 7 day trip leaving Florida on August 16th to visit both parks beginning in SLC..Both of us are looking for recommendations on economical/budget hotels during the trip as we will be enjoying the scenery from our rental car. We love to take walking trips and plan to do so when the trails are available and noted.
    Any advise would be helpful.

  52. This itinerary is awesome!! If you only had one day at Grand Teton, how would you alter the itinerary? Your help is much appreciated!!

    1. It really depends on what you’re interested in. If you want great scenery and don’t mind some crowds, the Death Canyon Trail is stunning and the Visitor Center is a great intro to the park, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to explore it. But if you prefer to get off the beaten path a bit, heading to the other side of Jenny Lake offers more hiking opportunities and more of a backcountry feel if you hike up to Lake Solitude. Both days are great, it just depends on what you’re looking for!

  53. We are planning a Yellowstone/ Grand Teton trip this fall. Fly into Cody on Sept. 25. Will spend that night in Cody and last night in Cody on Oct 3, fly out on the 4th.We were thinking 4 nights Yellowstone and three for Grand Teton but having trouble deciding which park first and how to divide our nights. Do we come in the northeast entrance and out the east entrance?
    Would two nights in west Yellowstone then two in canyon, one in Colter and two in Jackson make sense? Or one in Gardiner, one west Yellowstone, 2 Canyon? Or in east entrance and down to grand Teton first? We are so confused not knowing the area at all!

    1. Hi Christina, you could follow this 7-day itinerary by entering Yellowstone from Cody, but instead of going to Jackson at the end of the trip, head back to Cody via rt. 20. If you want to break up the drive, Boyson State Park could be a great stop.

  54. My husband and I did a 12 day road trip through SD/WY/MT/ND 3 years ago and did not spend anywhere near enough time in Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We’ve talked about going back to specifically spend the whole time in those 2 places. This itinerary is exactly what we need to make that trip. Guess we’ll start planning for 2023!

    1. Hi Margaret, we’re so glad you found this itinerary helpful! Agreed that Yellowstone/Grand Tetons are magical places – glad to hear you’re planning a return visit 🙂

  55. We are planning an 8 night round trip for Yellowstone/Tetons from Bozeman in early September and I am trying to pin down our route. We arrive late the first night and will stay in Bozeman or Big Sky. I think we are too late for reservations in the park, so here are my preliminary thoughts on a route:

    Night 1 Bozeman or Big Sky
    Night 2-4 West Yellowstone
    Night 5-6 Jackson
    Night 7 Cody
    Night 8 Gardiner
    Day 9 Depart Bozeman

    On the drive from Cody to Gardner I was thinking entering northeast entrance of Yellowstone and seeing Lamar Pass and some of the other northern sites along the way. Any thoughts or suggested adjustments to this route?

    1. Hi Mark, unfortunately the person who wrote this guide no longer writes for us, and I haven’t been to the Tetons/Yellowstone (yet!). Best of luck on tripping planning and enjoy!

  56. Planning on doing this itinerary next month. If starting early in the mornings what time will you typically be done? Trying to decide if we have room to plan anything in the mornings or afternoons.

    1. Hi Tasha, this was written by a former Bearfoot Theory writer so I’m not sure how many hours per day the itinerary includes. Sorry about that!