The Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip takes you from Colorado to the Wild West and spectacular nature in Wyoming. White mountains, vast grasslands, deep lakes, gurgling rivers and roaming wildlife are all blended into breathtaking scenery in the huge parks. And the charming Wild West towns on the way add another dimension to the Denver to Yellowstone drive.
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Denver to Yellowstone road trip guide
Highlights on the Yellowstone road trip are listed below. For even more great Denver to Yellowstone destinations you also find additional stops along the way.
- Total distance: 1183 mi / 1903 km
- Total driving time: 21.5 h
1. Denver, CO – The road trip to Yellowstone National Park begins
The road trip to Yellowstone starts in the Mile-High City, Denver. The city’s nickname is very suitable as the elevation of the Colorado city is between 5,130 and 5,690 feet (1560 to 1730 m).
Denver is a great starting point for the Yellowstone National Park road trip. The city is a fun destination on its own and in relatively little time you can go from the hip and modern Denver to the wilderness in Yellowstone.
In the Denver area Red Rocks Amphitheater is an attraction not to miss. It’s said to be the only naturally occurring amphitheater that’s acoustically perfect in the entire world. The natural amphitheater is located 17 miles (27 km) west of Denver in breathtaking surroundings. A live concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater is one you remember and the optimal start on the Denver to Yellowstone road trip.
Denver is also the perfect city to visit for beer lovers. The state of Colorado is one of the states in the country with most breweries per capita. The Mile-High City is because of that sometimes even called “Napa of Beer”. Therefore an excellent idea is to fit in time to take a brewery tour. Coors Brewery is the largest in the city, but there are lots of smaller ones that you can visit as well if you prefer to not go mainstream.
A fun and free thing to do before you start the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip is to go and check out Denver Capitol Building, which is modeled after the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. The building is charming and if you climb up to the 13th step of the stairs on its east side you’re exactly one mile above sea level. Previously both the 15th and 18th steps have been regarded as the exact one mile level. But since 2003 the 13th step is identified as the benchmark step.
Additional stop: Rocky Mountain National Park is a very popular addition to the Denver to Yellowstone itinerary. The spectacular and easily motivated detour adds less than 2 hours to the Yellowstone road trip. You find convenient places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park in its gateway town Estes Park.
2. Casper, WY – A convenient Denver to Yellowstone stop on the Oregon Trail
- Driving distance: 277 mi / 446 km
- Driving time: 4.5 h
The city of Casper sits at the base of Casper Mountain in central Wyoming. Mountains are visible from wherever in town you are. And through the Wyoming city the untroubled North Platte River runs.
Casper’s location is very convenient halfway between Denver and Yellowstone. The great location and the majestic surroundings makes the city a great place for where to stop between Denver and Yellowstone.
Even though Casper itself isn’t the prettiest town on the Denver to Yellowstone road trip itinerary it features breathtaking scenery with wilderness just around the corner. If you run into a traffic jam in the Casper area it’s most likely because of wildlife crossing the road. The peaceful western setting in Casper is far away from the hectic city lifestyle.
If you want to learn more about Casper and the exploration of the West a fantastic place to spend an hour or two before you continue the Denver to Yellowstone drive is the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. At the center you get to know more about the history of Wyoming and the opening of the West.
Just like you’re going into the Wild West through Casper on the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip, the historic westward expansion once passed through right here. Permanent exhibits at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center are the Oregon Trail, Mormon Pioneer Trail, California Trail and Pony Express Trail. A visit is a rewarding experience both for adults and younger travelers on a Dever to Yellowstone family road trip.
3. Cody, WY – Wild West life on the Yellowstone road trip
- Driving distance: 214 mi / 344 km
- Driving time: 3.5 h
The Wild West town Cody in Wyoming is located about 1 hour away from where Yellowstone begins and it’s the perfect gateway town on the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip. But even though Cody is a gateway town you need to remember that Yellowstone is huge. When you arrive at Yellowstone East Entrance you still have almost another hour of driving left before you reach the southern loop in the park.
Therefore the best thing you can do on the Colorado to Yellowstone road trip is to split them into two separate destinations instead of combining Yellowstone and Cody. If you have Cody as your Yellowstone base the drives in and out of Yellowstone National Park easily get exhausting.
Cody on its own also deserves at least a night or two on the road trip from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. The city is named after its all famous founder Buffalo Bill, whose real name was William F. Cody. Buffalo Bill passed through Wyoming in the 1870s and fell in love with the beautiful setting. It’s easy to see why when you visit on the Denver to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone road trip.
Apart from the scenic environment a highlight when you visit Cody on the Denver to Yellowstone drive is to explore the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It consists of several museums under one roof where you can indulge in facts about the founder of Cody and the history of the Wild West. The center offers something new to learn for every traveler and is a great stop no matter if you travel solo, as a couple or make a family road trip from Denver to Yellowstone.
Cody is also the best chance to attend a rodeo on the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip. The town is known as the rodeo capital of the world with nightly rodeos during summer. Its rodeo venue sits with a beautiful mountain backdrop so make sure that you get there in time to enjoy the Wild West atmosphere.
Additional stop: Red Lodge is an alternative to Cody or an additional stop on the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip. The town in Montana offers fewer things to do compared to Cody but it’s nevertheless a very pretty and peaceful town where you stay right where the legendary Beartooth Highway begins.
4. Yellowstone National Park, WY – Spectacular nature in America’s first national park
- Driving distance: 80 mi / 129 km
- Driving time: 2 h
Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the US the 1st of March in 1872. Visitors come from near and far to take in its dense forests, vast valleys, gurgling rivers, towering mountains, captivating thermal activities and exciting wildlife.
Luckily, Yellowstone National Park is so big that there’s room for everyone to enjoy the park. By size Yellowstone is so big that it’s even larger than some small states. Even though the main roads of the park tend to become crowded every summer it’s still possible to find your own part of the park to explore if you don’t mind a hike.
A highlight in the park and one of the reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park is the hot springs and geysers. Around 60% of the world’s hot springs and geysers are said to be inside Yellowstone. Of the hot springs the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is certainly one for the Denver to Yellowstone road trip itinerary. It’s the most photographed spring in the park and its huge size and bright colors are breathtaking.
Old Faithful is a geyser that must be included on the Denver to Yellowstone itinerary as well. Its faithful eruptions occur about once every one or two hours. If you just missed one you don’t need to wait much longer for the next. So when you have driven from Denver to Old Faithful you won’t miss its spectacular show.
The wildlife in Yellowstone is another highlight as you visit on the Colorado to Yellowstone National Park road trip. Bison jams happen all the time in Yellowstone so make sure that you add extra driving time for that. In Lamar Valley the bison love to roam freely and they don’t mind crossing the road at all.
5. Jackson/Grand Teton National Park, WY – More awe-inspiring nature to fall in love with
- Driving distance: 99 mi / 159 km
- Driving time: 2.5 h
As the distances are long when you move from place to place in Wyoming it’s 99 miles (159 km) from lodging at Yellowstone Lake down to Jackson Hole. But it’s still only 10 miles (16 km) from where Yellowstone ends in the south to where Grand Teton National Park begins. So the two national parks sit very close to each other in northwestern Wyoming and that makes it convenient to visit both of them on the same trip.
In Grand Teton National Park the tall Grand Teton mountains rise up from the lush grasslands like granite towers. The Grand Teton mountains reach a staggering 13,775 feet (4198 m). And Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake in the park beautifully reflect the heights of the mountains.
Jackson Lake is 15 miles (24 km) long, while Jenny Lake is much smaller. Both are great for water activities if you want to be active on the Denver to Wyoming road trip. For less active amusement you can also catch the Jenny Lake shuttle boat to get across the lake and enjoy the beautiful views from the water.
Another great Grand Teton spot for scenic views and some history is the Mormon Row Historic District. In the 1890s settlers arrived from Idaho and established the small community. When you visit Mormon Row today especially two buildings stand out. One of them is Andy Chamers Homestead and the other one is Moulton Barns. They both picturesquely sit in front of the amazing backdrop made up by the Teton mountain range.
Additional stop: The tiny town Dubois is conveniently located on the way from the parks back to Denver. Dubois is less than 2 hours from Jackson and only around 1 hour from Grand Teton’s eastern Moran Entrance Station. That the authentic cowboy town is positioned so close to the park allows for more time in Grand Teton National Park.
6. Lander, WY – Another peaceful stop on the Yellowstone drive
- Driving distance: 160 mi / 257 km
- Driving time: 3 h
An hour further away from the Wyoming parks than Dubois but also a convenient overnight stop on the Denver to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone road trip is Lander. If you have an overnighter in Lander you can enjoy one last almost full day in Grand Teton National Park before you make the scenic drive back towards civilization in the afternoon.
Lander is known as the town “where the rails end and the trails begin”. The town and area is a real outdoor playground. Hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing are very popular things to do in Lander and the surrounding area. Sinks Canyon State Park is a natural treasure that is located just a few miles south of Lander.
7. Laramie, WY – Old West charm on the Yellowstone road trip
- Driving distance: 224 mi / 360 km
- Driving time: 3.5 h
Laramie is located in beautiful Wyoming surroundings brimming with western history from its older days. The city was founded in 1868 and Laramie’s Historic Downtown area has well-preserved buildings with Old West charm.
The downtown area in Laramie is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the buildings in the district are from the 1800s. An interesting slightly less old building is Laramie’s Historic Carnegie Library. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie financed the building of the library in 1906. Today the building houses city offices and in 1981 when the library moved out of the building the residents passed the books one-by-one to the new location of the library.
But as you drive back from Yellowstone to Denver you also notice that not all about the Wild West is charming and happy. Laramie’s Territorial Prison from 1872 is a former prison that used to house many feared and desperate Wild West villains. Most notably outlaw Butch Cassidy was once held at Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie. Nowadays touring the grounds at the former prison site is a great way to learn more about Wyoming’s history on the Denver to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone road trip.
Finishing the Yellowstone road trip loop in Denver, CO
- Driving distance: 129 mi / 208 km
- Driving time: 2.5 h
After a spectacular Wyoming adventure it’s time to round off the Yellowstone National Park road trip. The final 129 miles (208 km) takes you back to where the Yellowstone road trip started, Denver.
Yellowstone road trip itineraries with days
For the ultimate Yellowstone National Park road trip it’s recommended to have 2 weeks or more. If you have less time you can do a pacier Yellowstone road trip with longer days on the road.
Ultimate Yellowstone road trip itinerary (2 weeks)
- Day 1-2: Denver
- Day 2-3: Casper
- Day 3-4: Cody
- Day 4-9: Yellowstone NP
- Day 9-12: Grand Teton NP
- Day 12-13: Lander
- Day 13-14: Laramie
Pacy Yellowstone road trip itinerary (1 week)
- Day 1: Denver
- Day 1-2: Casper
- Day 2: Cody
- Day 2-5 Yellowstone NP
- Day 5-6: Grand Teton NP
- Day 6-7: Lander
- Day 7: Laramie
Yellowstone road trip hotel search
Use the booking tool below to find the perfect accommodation for your road trip from Denver to Yellowstone. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to start with hotels in Denver.
Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip FAQ
You find the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Denver to Yellowstone National Park road trip below.
The ultimate road trip from Denver to Yellowstone National Park and back again through Grand Teton National Park is 1183 miles (1903 km) long. To drive the entire loop takes 21.5 hours, not including any stops along the way.
The suggested road trip route from Denver to Yellowstone National Park is 571 miles (919 km) long. It takes roughly 10 hours to drive the distance, excluding road trip stops. The route for the way back to Denver through Grand Teton National Park is slightly shorter.
The main stops included on the Denver to Yellowstone itinerary are Denver, Casper, Cody, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, Lander and Laramie. You also find several appreciated additional Yellowstone road trip stops along the way.
Casper in Wyoming is conveniently located halfway between Denver and Yellowstone National Park.
From Denver to Jackson Hole it’s 502 miles (808 km) by car. The journey takes about 8.5 hours to drive.
For the ultimate Yellowstone National Park it’s recommended to have 2 weeks or more. Remember that Yellowstone on its own is bigger than some small states. But if you have less time, you can take a pacier road trip with less time in the great parks.