10 Marvelous Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

seattle to yellowstone road trip
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Yellowstone is one of the most famous national parks in the country, and many people fly there and then rent a car, depending on where they live. However, a few years ago, I was invited to my friend’s wedding in South Dakota, and instead of flying there, my husband and I thought, “Why don’t we do a cross-country road trip instead?” What made this even more exciting was that I realized that meant we could do a Seattle to Yellowstone road trip as well.

There are several different ways to do this trip, but I’m showing you the exact way I went, which I felt was also the most direct since I had to get to South Dakota after this. However, I encourage you to take as long as you want at the stops you find interesting if time isn’t a limit. I like that these stops are a mix of big cities and smaller towns, and you can feel free to skip any that don’t fit into your Seattle to Yellowstone itinerary.

With that, let’s get started on planning your trip! I’ll give you important facts to know, a detailed description of each stop, and an itinerary with suggested places to stay each night. No matter which route you follow, you’ll love seeing different parts of the western part of the country.

Tips for a Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Drive

downtown seattle

Confession: I really love road trips. It’s fun to get swept up in the excitement of executing each planning stage. Nothing beats a comprehensive family road trip checklist and some helpful tips. Get ready for an unforgettable Seattle to Yellowstone excursion.

How Long Does It Take To Get From Seattle to Yellowstone?

You’ll cover about 755 miles when driving from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park along I-90, the most direct route. The drive should take around 12 hours one way but will be a lot more enjoyable if you break it up into an exhilarating outing over several days.

I suggest making your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip a three- or four-day trip. There are many splendid towns to stop in as you make your way from Washington to Wyoming.

Are you keen to compare how other expeditions match up? This Seattle to Cannon Beach road trip or Seattle to Las Vegas road trip will give you more car trip ideas.

What Time of the Year Is Best for a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip?

Your ideal time for a Seattle to Yellowstone trip depends on your travel preferences. Generally, similarly to a Seattle to Glacier road trip, the summer (June to August) is unmatched.

Weather conditions are perfect during this time, and all park activities are operational. However, summer is extremely busy, necessitating patience for the high traffic volumes, expert planning, and early bookings.

For fewer crowds, opt for spring (April to May) or fall (September to November). Temperatures are still mild enough for a pleasant ride. These are unpredictable seasons, though, where conditions can change suddenly. Pack enough warm clothing, just in case.

Make sure to reserve your rental car ahead of time! I love using Discover Cars for my trips.

What To Pack for a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

These essentials are must-haves for your Seattle-Yellowstone National Park packing list:

  • Warm sweaters: Lightweight sweaters will keep you snug during your adventures.
  • Leggings: Stretchy leggings are super comfortable when doing a lot of walking.
  • Hiking shoes: Opt for durable hiking boots that can withstand all weather conditions.
  • Sunscreen: Stay protected, especially on those sweltering days.
  • Water bottle: Keep hydrated throughout your road trip to stay alert and refreshed.

Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip Map

Use the map below to get a quick glimpse of what your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip will look like.

10 Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

During your voyage, you’ll make memorable stops in stunning locations. There’s a range of activities up for grabs, like hiking, museum visits, water sports, culinary tours, and more.

Here are 10 unmissable stops for your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip.

1. Seattle, Washington

Your adventures begin in the Emerald City, Washington State’s action-packed hub. You might be doing a couple’s road trip or a friend’s road fiesta (which you’ll want road trip trivia for), but you’ll have fun either way.

It’s hard to suggest just a day’s worth of activities to do (since I’m a local who loves recommending tons to do for visitors), but I suggest you spend your time in Seattle doing three things: explore the downtown area, go sightseeing, and savor the city’s phenomenal cuisine.

Downtown Seattle holds all the vibey city attractions, restaurants, and landmarks, so it’s most convenient to stay here on your Yellowstone road trip from Seattle. Pike Place Market is the city’s much-loved go-to spot for shopping and special culinary experiences, and even though it’s touristy, I recommend going if you haven’t been before.

You can spend a couple of hours here checking out all the boutiques and eateries (check out MarketSpice for tea or Pike Place Chowder for amazing chowder).

Other downtown must-sees include the following:

  • Seattle Public Library: This steel and glass architectural showpiece has about 1.45 million reading materials.
  • Smith Tower: This historic building features a museum on the bottom and a speakeasy restaurant with beautiful views on the top.
  • Paramount Theatre: This is the home of Seattle’s thriving performing arts scene, so see if a concert or show is playing

Your next stop should be the waterfront, where you can sample sublime seafood dishes and ride the Seattle Great Wheel. To witness some of the best city views, head to the Space Needle.

After some attraction sightings, a food crawl is in order. Why not try a guided Pike Place Market food tour? It’s a fabulous way to conclude your Seattle explorations before traveling to the next exciting location.

2. Snoqualmie Falls, Washington

snoqualmie falls

Your journey through Washington continues as you move from Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls, just over 30 minutes (29 miles) away on your Seattle to Yellowstone drive.

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most incredible natural sites in the state. If you’re up for a short but steep hike, go to the bottom to get a different view of it by the river. Otherwise, take the opportunity to capture unbelievable pictures of the 268-foot waterfall. I’ve lived here for 30 years and continue to visit it every year.

Enjoy stunning views from the observation decks before having a quick picnic close to the falls. There’s also a gift shop on-site where you can snag a few souvenirs. This early leg of the trip is your chance to fill up on good food and relax.

Take a ten-minute drive from Snoqualmie Falls to Twede’s Cafe in North Bend for the most mouth-watering cherry pie. It’s the perfect sweet treat and sugary boost before continuing onward to Spokane.

3. Spokane, Washington

The next stop on your drive from Seattle to Yellowstone is Spokane, the “Lilac City,” about four hours (255 miles) from Snoqualmie Falls. I recommend you make this your first overnight stay. That way, you can take your time discovering the area and get some good shut-eye before the next stretch.

I have a good friend who lives here, so I visit at least once a year and love it. The city is littered with natural attractions, art galleries, and interesting cultural sites that’ll inspire epic Instagram captions.

Spokane Falls is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in Spokane. You can treat yourself to a 20-minute cable car ride over the magnificent falls on the famous Numerica SkyRide. This is one of the most scenic ways to see the area, and my kids loved it when we did it last summer. The ride costs $12.95 for adults and $8.95 for children aged 3-12.

For some tasty grub and a little meandering around the city center, go explore downtown Spokane. There are many vibrant restaurants to choose from here (my favorites are Vieux Carre NOLA Kitchen and Wild Sage Bistro). If you’ve got a little time on your hands before turning in, consider visiting these tourist spots:

  • Campbell House — This house museum is more than 100 years old.
  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture — Learn about Native American culture,  history, and more at this museum.
  • Havermale Island and Riverfront Park — View the famed Bloomsday sculptures in the park.

I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to help me plan out my trips and find fun stops along the way. Use my code “BTR5QTP” for $5 off when you sign up!

4. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Coeur dAlene lake

A short 40-minute, 34-mile drive from Spokane takes you into Idaho, where Coeur d’Alene awaits. This small town is a quiet, natural playground, and Lake Coeur d’Alene is its star attraction. The lake runs for 25 miles and has pretty parks, beaches, hiking trails, and campgrounds along its shores.

Stroll the waterside or take a refreshing dip to cool down. This is an excellent time for another picnic as you appreciate the surrounding views. Golf enthusiasts can squeeze in a few rounds at Coeur d’Alene Resort and experience the 14th hole’s floating green.

If you need to stock up on some road trip snacks, pick up souvenirs, or fuel up, spend a few hours downtown. This might give you the energy you need to tackle over 70 slides, rides, and shows at Silverwood Theme Park, just 30 minutes from Coeur d’Alene.

Other city attraction options worth considering include Tubbs Hill, The Art Spirit Gallery, McEuen Park, and Timberline Adventures. I recommend staying overnight here because it’s a fun city – it’s usually my base for vacations in this area. There are plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and parks, which are important when I travel with my family.

If you prefer a chilled, curated experience, a guided Segway tour around Coeur d’Alene will hit the travel adventure sweet spot on your road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park.

5. Missoula, Montana

Missoula Montana

When you’re ready to hit the road again, you’ll be journeying from Coeur d’Alene to Missoula in Montana. You’ll spend about two and a half hours on the road as you approach the trip’s halfway point.

I’m a sucker for keeping things fun and light on the road, so keep entertained with some road trip trivia questions. They’ll make the 165-mile drive whizz by like a breeze.

Once you get to Missoula, there’s a plethora of attractions and activities on the menu. Take it easy and explore the city’s lively streets, getting a feel for the laid-back Montana lifestyle.

The city has a rich history, and you can wander around town on a self-guided walking tour. There are also trails along the Clark Fork River that make for fitting romantic strolls.

By this point of the road trip, you deserve to unwind with delicious food and several cold ones. I rate it a terrific idea to make Missoula your second overnight stop so you can indulge in craft brews and crisp vinos at any local breweries or wineries.

There are wonderful restaurants that afford undisturbed views of the river, one of them being FINN Restaurant. They specialize in seafood, steaks, and artisan pizzas, which you’ll love on your road trip to Yellowstone from Seattle.

6. Berkeley Pit, Montana

berkeley pit

You’ve entered the road trip’s second half, and the next stretch leads to Berkeley Pit, just under two hours (119 miles) away. Before you leave Missoula, take a little time to organize your car, ensuring everything is in place before missioning onward.

Berkeley Pit is in Butte, and a stop here will add to your unique places counter during the road trip. The Pit stands as one of the region’s most fascinating historical landmarks and is best known for its high acid levels as an old open-pit copper mine.

How acidic, you ask? Well, the water could give good old lemon juice a run for its money. The composition contains toxic arsenic, copper, and peculiar microscopic lifeforms, which means no crazy ideas of dipping your toes in the water.

I know this sounds like a strange stop, and I almost didn’t stop myself on my road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone. Trust me, though, it’s worth it and won’t take too much time out of your trip. I loved learning about the history of it and seeing its unique color on my drive from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park.

Berkeley Pit is more about taking inspiring snaps of this strange yet alluring, intensely green water feature that represents a compelling past. Your main activity is a viewing area from the prominent Berkeley Pit Stand, accessible for $3 per person.

Elsewhere in Butte, make flavorful fare on top of your agenda to seal this leg. Some of the stellar options are Annie’s Café, Casagranda’s Steakhouse, Hummingbird Café, and La Casa Toscana.

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7. Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman Montana

Bozeman is an hour and 20 minutes (85 miles) from Berkeley Pit, ideal for an overnight stay. This Montana nature oasis calls for more outdoor adventures, and you can expect tranquil hiking paths and biking trails.

Dinosaur lovers are spoiled here because this is where you find the thrilling Museum of the Rockies. Tour the space and navigate through a remarkable fossil collection, including Tyrannosaurus rex specimens.

You can even get a sneak peek at how fossils and historic preservations are prepared. Siebel Complex’s Bowman Dinosaur Viewing Laboratory provides an exclusive look into all things dinosaurs. Other exhibitions offer detailed tales from the Viking era and significant parts of Native American history.

For a completely different museum experience, the American Computer and Robotics Museum will check all the boxes. You can channel your inner techie by learning about all sorts of innovation-led exhibits and installations. You’ll be mind-blown by the quantum computing and artificial intelligence showcases.

If you can find a gap for something slightly off the cuff, embrace an alpaca and llama farm tour for a little animal appreciation.

Having mini-mes around shouldn’t hinder your road trip exploits. All you need is the right game plan for road-tripping with a baby.

8. Silver Gate, Montana

Silver Gate Montana

You’re getting closer to Yellowstone National Park, but a couple more stops are on the cards before reaching the final destination. Next up is Silver Gate, a manageable two-hour, 50-minute drive from Bozeman (130 miles).

The Beartooth Mountain range, which includes some of the tallest peaks in Montana, encircles Silver Gate. If you didn’t take advantage of any hiking, mountain biking, and fishing opportunities earlier in the trip, here’s your shot.

The area also has wildlife and waterfalls to enjoy, with horseback riding as an alternative activity should that tickle your fancy. At night, the skies sparkle as twinkling lights dance, creating a brilliant stargazing canvas above.

Silver Gate town is modest in size, with a handful of restaurants, convenience stores, and gift shops. A slight detour along Highway 212 will take you to Cooke City, only three miles from Silver Gate. Cooke will deliver invigorating experiences if you’re braving a winter journey. It’s ideal for remote winter escapes.

Once you’ve soaked up enough small-town Silver Gate and Cooke City goodness, it’s time to cross state lines and head to Cody.

Pet parents know the importance of including enough stops when traveling with animals. Brush up on some tips from this article about cross-country road trips with dogs.

9. Cody, Wyoming

Cody Wyoming

The second-last stop on your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park road trip is Cody in Wyoming, an hour and 40 minutes (79 miles) from Silver Gate. You’ll get an authentic slice of that classic Wild West atmosphere in Cody. There are awesome cultural activities and abundant natural beauty to take in on your Seattle road trip to Yellowstone.

In Old Trail Town, you’ll get to see an intriguing collection of 26 historic relics and cabins that capture the Western frontier. I also recommend checking out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The center has five museums in one location, celebrating cowboy history, Indian traditions and cultures, and Western artworks.

You can also bag an extraordinary outing with a Red Canyon Wild Mustang tour. No, this isn’t the car I’m referring to. It’s one better: the majestic horses. Mustang tours are considered America’s version of the safari experience. Add sightings of mountain sheep, elk, and bison, and you indeed have yourself an amazing wilderness viewing experience.

Other Cody highlights:

  • Cody Night Rodeo
  • Shoshone National Forest
  • The Cody Cattle Company dinner theater

To sit back while a knowledgeable guide does all the hard work, take a Cody trolley tour around town.

10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

yellowstone old faithful

It’s finally time to head toward Yellowstone. The last leg of the road trip from Cody to the park should take an hour or about 52 miles.

However, keep in mind that this is one of the most popular parks in the country, so you’ll likely encounter traffic entering or leaving. I visited here during the peak of summer, and it took us an hour just to leave because wildlife was spotted on the way out, and everyone had to stop to look at it. Just keep this in mind when planning out your itineraries for the day.

You might also consider visiting some of the less popular spots during the peak daytime hours. For example, Old Faithful is always crowded (to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with it, anyways), so maybe go towards the end of the day instead of around lunch.

This was the country’s first national park, established in 1872. Yellowstone has sweeping landscapes, geysers, and hot springs. There are also loads of canyons, alpine forests, and gleaming rivers.

Take your pick of areas to explore based on what you’ve always wanted to see. Over two million staggering acres of land are covered with wild plants and animals. To observe and take pictures of some of the park’s best sites, visit these stunners:

  • Canyons: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Geysers: Old Faithful; Castle; Daisy
  • Hot springs: The Boiling River; Mammoth; Grand Prismatic
  • Lakes: Trout; Yellowstone
  • Waterfalls: Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River; Tower Fall

In West Yellowstone, you can pop into the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center for educational exhibits. Yellowstone is an amazing place to round up road trip activities if the tour bug bites.

If you’re in the mood for an exclusive excursion when visiting Yellowstone from Seattle, navigate the park in style. You’ll witness astonishing sites during a private tour with lunch.

Seattle to Yellowstone National Park Itinerary: 4 Days

Seattle Road Trip Stops

I think you’ll make the most of your Seattle to Yellowstone National Park road trip if you spend four days on the road. This itinerary will ensure your nature-inspired journey is filled with diverse experiences across the four states.

Day 1: Seattle to Spokane

Part one of your road trip is a 4-hour, 10-minute ride from Seattle to Spokane. You’ll cover 279 miles. Along the way, you can mix it up. Aim to strike a delicate balance between the activities you know and love and entirely new experiences.

Downtown Seattle is the hot spot for attractions, bars, and trendy restaurants. Roam around Emerald City’s Pike Place Market or Pioneer Square. Before moving on to Spokane, grab a hearty breakfast, a few trinkets, and a classic Seattle coffee.

A quick stop at Snoqualmie Falls en route for a picnic or nature walk will ensure you get to enjoy the great outdoors of Washington State.

Where To Stay: The Davenport Grand is one of the best places to stay in Spokane, and you’ll be right by the river. (Rates start at around $154 per night)

Day 2: Spokane to Missoula

The second leg of this sensational journey will see you traverse three states as you move from Spokane to Missoula. This stretch shaves an hour off the previous day’s drive and spans 198 miles.

After a SkyRide over the Spokane River, all roads lead to Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. Enjoy quiet time and a peaceful picnic at Lake Coeur d’Alene. If heart-thumping excitement is more your flavor, opt for a Timberline Adventures zip-line.

Return on the road and look to Missoula, where you can satisfy your craving for scrumptious nosh, craft beers, and fine wines near the Clark Fork River.

Where To Stay: C’mon INN Missoula has a rustic, cabin-style look and feel, making for a comfortstable overnight stay. (Rates start at around $189 per night)

Day 3: Missoula to Bozeman

By day three, you’re firmly in the trip’s second-half stretch. You’ll take a cool drive, pacing yourself from Missoula to Bozeman. You’ll spend just around three hours on the road, completing 202 miles.

At Berkeley Pit in Butte, stop to admire and photograph the peculiar open-pit copper mine now forming an acidic body of bright green water. So sharp is the water’s acid levels that it has been compared to Coca-Cola.

When you leave Butte and head to Bozeman, anticipate some museum mania. The Museum of the Rockies is a dinosaur-lovers delight. A different offering at the American Computer and Robotics Museum will entertain tech fanatics.

Where To Stay: MountainView Lodge and Suites provide old-style charm in decor and have a pool and fitness center. (Rates start at around $132 per night)

Day 4: Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park

The pièce de résistance of your road trip is the 1 hour and 20-minute drive taking you from Bozeman to Yellowstone, an easy 78 miles. However, factor in a few extra minutes and miles for stops in two striking locations.

Silver Gate is up first, surrounded by the beauty of the Beartooth Mountains. Here, take in the fresh Montana air with a leisurely walk and a calming moment of reflection.

In Cody, discover Old Trail Town and the ways of the Wild West with an independent history tour. The final destination is mesmerizing Yellowstone National Park. Spend all the time you want exploring the park’s canyons, geysers, hot springs, lakes, wildlife, and waterfalls.

Where To Stay: Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone have cute cabins to rent out that all come with a fireplace and front porch. (Rates start at around $179 per night)

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You’ll love all these stops on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip! Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite part.

2 thoughts on “10 Marvelous Stops on a Seattle to Yellowstone Road Trip

  1. Safecastle says:

    this Seattle to Yellowstone National Park road trip seems like a great adventure! It covers a manageable distance (755 miles) and allows for plenty of interesting stops along the way, including natural wonders and charming towns.

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