Best Overnight and Day Trips to Add to Your Yellowstone Itinerary
Yellowstone National Park is fabulous, but if you’re traveling all the way to Montana, make time to see some of the other epic sites near America’s First National Park. Not sure where to go? We’ve made it easy for you — check out our list of 5 must-see spots destinations within an easy drive from the entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
Big Sky and West Yellowstone:
If you want to stay near the scenery of Yellowstone National Park without actually going in the park, then exploring the area around Big Sky and West Yellowstone is an excellent option. West Yellowstone is right by the west entrance to the park, while Big Sky is just an hour north from West Yellowstone.
West Yellowstone is home to an incredible animal sanctuary for grizzly bears and other locally displaced animals, a fun ropes course, and multiple restaurants.
Read More: Things to Do in West Yellowstone
From West Yellowstone, it’s an easy drive to Big Sky (or vice versa). Big Sky has a ton of incredible hikes and Big Sky Resort transforms into a summer playground in the warmer months.
Read More: Things to Do in Big Sky, Montana During Summer
Butte: History and City Life 2.5 Hours From Yellowstone
Bozeman is the much more famous city in Montana and is the typical city stay visitors do along with Yellowstone National Park, but we also love its big city neighbor to the west: Butte, located over a mountain pass less than 90 minutes from Bozeman.
There’s nowhere else in the USA quite like Butte. The city literally has a massive pit near it from the copper mining heyday at the turn of the 20th century.
In town, there are gorgeous mansions and architecture built by Montana’s “copper kings.” Plus, there are tons of restaurants and bars, including popular Irish ones since Butte has a strong Irish background and culture.
If you have kids, you’ll love Stodden Park in Butte, which has a carousel, ice cream and concession stand, mining themed playground, and a big water park.
Butte is a great place to base yourself during a trip to Montana because you can do some excellent day trips, including to:
Plus, Butte should actually have reasonably priced summer accommodations. You’ll likely have to pay a minor fortune to stay in Bozeman or Yellowstone during high season.
Read More: Best Things to Do in Butte, Montana
Helena and Great Falls: 3-4 Hours From Yellowstone
Head farther north away from Yellowstone and you’ll reach the cities of Helena and Great Falls. This isn’t doable in a day trip from Yellowstone, but it’s worth a couple days to explore and you’ll get away from many of the tourist crowds.
Helena is the capital city of Montana and has a vibrant downtown area. We especially like hanging out by the shops and restaurants along Last Chance Gulch — there’s even a little urbanized creek running through part of it that kids can play in!
Read More: What to Do in Helena, MT
Great Falls has beautiful river scenery that hasn’t been affected by the recent flooding. You can walk along viewpoint trails to see the series of dams and falls along the river in Great Falls.
Read More: Top Things to Do in Great Falls, MT
From Great Falls, there are several excellent day trips to small towns and historic spots:
Grand Teton and Jackson Hole, WY: Just South of Yellowstone
If you had a plans for Yellowstone, but not Grand Teton, this is an easy national park to add onto your itinerary.
Because Grand Teton is located roughly 30 minutes south of the southern entrance to Yellowstone.
Grand Teton is also a much smaller park than Yellowstone, making it easy to explore in just a day or two.
Read More: One Day in Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
Be aware that Grand Teton is just as crowded as Yellowstone in the summer, so expect long car lines by popular attractions (such as getting into the parking lot for Jenny Lake).
Get up early to beat the crowds or spend time outside the park exploring Jackson Hole and Wilson. We really love the quieter nature of Wilson, a small town just east of Jackson Hole. It’s even where we saw a moose family after not seeing any in the park!
Red Lodge and Billings via Beartooth Highway
We love Red Lodge any time of year. In summer, it’s fun to walk around Main Street and enjoy views of the mountains. If conditions allow, there is hiking at Red Lodge Mountain.
Red Lodge is a little over an hour from Billings, Montana’s biggest city. Billings has a fun downtown area complete with a craft beer walking trail.
In addition, it’s a close drive to excellent hikes and historic spots.
Read More: Local’s Guide to Billings, Montana
Day Trips from Billings:
- Pompeys Pillar
- Battlefield of Little Bighorn National Historic Site
- Bighorn Canyon and Yellowtail Dam
- Big Timber
From Yellowstone, the best way to get to Red Lodge and Billings is from the northeast entrance via the acclaimed Beartooth Highway, one of the best drives in America.
We hope this list helps you to replan your trip to Montana if you want to explore beyond Yellowstone National Park! Need more help putting together your itinerary? Check out our First Timer’s Guide to Montana.