Drive From Seattle to Yellowstone National Park & See the Best Sites Along the Way: Two Road Trip Options for Faster or Slower
Living in Seattle and being from Montana (and having a blog all about Montana means I have done the route from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park numerous times.
The good news is that any way you take to get to Yellowstone from Seattle is going to have gorgeous scenery.
However, I consider there to be one route that is the quintessential Seattle to Yellowstone road trip, and another way that’s a bit more off the beaten path.
I’m going to cover both options for how to get to Yellowstone from Seattle in this article, with tips on what to see along the way and where to stop. Plus, some insider tips for how to make it into an epic, unforgettable road trip.
Route 1: Seattle to Yellowstone Via Southern Idaho and Grand Teton National Park
This is my favorite way to get to Yellowstone National Park from Seattle because it combines some incredible Idaho scenery and another famous national park into your Yellowstone vacation.
For this route, you’ll head east from Seattle toward the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Once there, this is a good place to get lunch.
I recommend checking out a restaurant at one of the Red Mountain wineries, which are known for their world-class wine and farm-to-table cuisine. Enjoy a meal and then purchase a bottle or two to bring with you to enjoy in your hotel that night.
And where are you staying for the first night of this road trip? That would be Boise, Idaho!
It takes about eight hours to drive from Seattle to Boise. If you time your drive to get into the Tri-Cities by 11, take an hour lunch and driving break, then you should be to Boise by 5pm. This gives you time to check into your hotel and walk around the cool downtown area of Boise.
Another option if you have the time is to stay overnight in the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) to break up the long driving day. This will also give you time to better explore both the Tri-Cities and Boise before you continue on your road trip to Yellowstone.
Overnight in Boise On Your Way From Seattle to Yellowstone
My top pick for where to stay in Boise is the Grove Hotel.
This luxe hotel is located right in the city center and you can walk to many restaurants and all of the top downtown sights. Plus, it has a variety of room types. We really liked having the one-bedroom because it gave us more space with two adults and two kids to spread around.
The room service option was also a nice perk when traveling with kids. In addition, there is a huge pool and hot tub with views overlooking the city.
Before you leave Boise, definitely walk around the clean and dynamic downtown area.
On your walk, check out Freak Alley, a side street full of colorful murals.
I also like walking down the tree-lined N 8th street that crosses at the west end of Freak Alley. The street has an enjoyable ambiance of restaurants and cafés lined with outdoor tables.
Along N 8th street is Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters. This cafe has amazing lattes and cappuccinos. Get one to go to enjoy on the next leg of your drive.
There’s also excellent hiking around Boise if you want to make your road trip a bit longer. Spending two nights in Boise will give you extra time to do some hikes or see some of the nature.
If you don’t have time to stay longer in Boise, don’t worry, I still have some nature attractions coming up for you on this road trip itinerary before you get to Yellowstone. Which brings us to…
Overnight in Twin Falls, Idaho: A Scenic Spot Between Seattle and Yellowstone
That’s because the next half of this road trip is in Twin Falls, Idaho. This is where you will see one of the most impressive canyons in the west. We even saw people base jumping from the edge of the canyon when we were there!
Park at Twin Falls Visitor Center and walk along the trail lining the edge of the canyon. From there, you’ll have gorgeous views that are especially pretty at sunset.
Where to Eat: Funny story side note, but when we were in Twin Falls we ate at the Olive Garden, because that sounded awesome to me because there are hardly any Olive Gardens around the Seattle metro area!
Another top thing to do in Twin Falls before you leave is to visit Shoshone Falls. This natural attraction is usually more impressive in the spring or early summer than in the fall (when the above picture was taken) after the hot summer has dried up a lot of the raging water, but it’s still lovely scenery any time of year. There are also some hiking trails around the area.
Where to Stay in Twin Falls, ID
Twin Falls has an assortment of chain hotels. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Twin Falls. It was comfortable and served the purpose of a quick stay. If you want to stay closer to the canyon, check out the Quality Inn and Suites, which is a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center.
Or view all the hotels and vacation rentals in Twin Falls plus easily compare them thanks to this handy map (the building icon is where the Visitor Center is).
Two Epic National Parks: Visit Grand Teton On Your Way to Yellowstone From Seattle
After Twin Falls, you’re going to continue on to Wyoming. This is where you’re going to start some pretty impressive parts of your road trip because you’ll be visiting Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.
While it’s possible to explore this region in a quick overnight stay since Grand Teton National Park isn’t that large, I recommend giving yourself at least two nights in Jackson to properly see the area in the park.
If you have longer time available to dedicate even three or four nights, even better. You’ll have more time to do some of the hikes in the park.
In downtown Jackson, take time to walk around Jackson Town Square park and marvel at its cool antler arches at each corner of the square.
Across from the north end of the square is one of my favorite places to eat in Jackson Hole: Jackson Drug. It’s an old drugstore turned into a cool little cafe with great comfort food menu items and delicious ice cream and milkshakes.
Where to Stay in Jackson Hole: Bentwood Inn
We actually stayed overnight in Wilson, the neighboring town to Jackson, because it was a bit more affordable and we loved the look of the Bentwood Inn. The stay met — and surpassed — expectations, and I highly recommend staying at the Bentwood Inn when visiting Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.
Want to stay right in Jackson? This handy map will help you find your perfect accommodation:
When you’e not checking out Jackson or relaxing at Bentwood Inn, you’ll be spending all your time on this leg of the trip amidst the jaw-dropping scenery of Grand Teton National Park.
For best things to do in Grand Teton National Park when short on time, check out our 1-Day in Grand Teton Itinerary.
Then the next day choose the inner or outer road of Grand Teton National Park to travel up to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
And voila, you have made it to Yellowstone from Seattle!
Just remember the south entrance isn’t open year-round so if you visit in winter you’ll have to take a longer route to get to the winter entrance for Yellowstone, which typically is Gardiner, but that will likely change based on recent flooding events in 2022.
Seattle to Yellowstone Option #2: The Faster (But Still Scenic!) Route via I-90
Now for my other recommended way to get from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re short on time, you’ll be glad to hear this way is much faster, but thanks to the beauty of the west, it is still a stunning drive with lots to do along the way.
From Seattle, make your way west along I-90 to Coeur d’Alene. If you’re wanting to turn this into a road trip and not just get to Montana as fast as possible then I would definitely stay overnight here.
Coeur d’Alene is right next to the large beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. I’ve even stopped here on my way to Missoula (another good place to spend the night on your way to Yellowstone from Seattle) for a couple of hours.
I do so to let my kids run around Fort Sherman Playground, followed by splashing around at the beach right across from the south end of the park. Just make sure you bring an easy to access change of dry clothes!
If you’re spending the night in Coeur d’Alene, you’ll have even more time to explore. Other top things to do in this charming lakeside city include boating or kayaking on the lake, hiking along the city-adjacent Tubbs Hill Nature Trails, biking along North Idaho Centennial Trail, and seeing the historic and picturesque Fort Sherman Chapel.
Where to Stay in Couer d’Alene:
- The Couer d’Alene Resort: Epic place to spend the night since it’s right by the lake and has a private beach area, an infinity pool, and lots of fun amenities including a spa and golf course.
- One Lakeside: Ideal for families since the units have multiple bedrooms and it’s in walking distance to Fort Sherman playground. Plus has lake views!
From Coeur d’Alene, continue onto Missoula via I-90. In Missoula, you can stop for lunch.
If you have kids I suggest giving them a break from the car with a visit to Caras Park where you’ll find the very cool Dragon Hollow playground and the fun, fast “A Carousel for Missoula” attraction.
Read More: Insider’s Guide for Missoula’s Carousel and Dragon Hollow Playground
Even though it’s not that far from Coeur d’Alene to Missoula, if you have road tripping time, I recommend staying overnight in Missoula also.
Missoula is such a neat town with so much to do. The city is known for its breweries and riverside activities in a beautiful welcoming ambiance. It’s also a beloved college town that is one of the most liberal cities in the state.
From Missoula, it’s three hours to Bozeman, another college town that is quickly becoming one of Montana’s most exciting destinations.
Read More: Where to Stay in Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman is an ideal place to stay overnight on your way to Yellowstone. It’s a good place just to rest for the night, get a yummy bite to eat along bustling Main Street, and relax (check out the Bozeman Hot Springs!) before you head to Yellowstone.
Read More: Best Things to Do in Bozeman, MT
You technically can use Bozeman as your base for exploring Yellowstone, and lots of people do, but here at Travel Montana Now we recommend trying to stay in one of the entrance towns or even in the park if you can get reservations.
This is simply because it saves so much driving time. Staying right by the park or at one of the coveted lodges within the borders of Yellowstone also makes it easier to beat the crowds to some of the popular spots in the park in the morning.
This detailed article makes it easy for you to choose lodging. —> Where to Stay In & Around Yellowstone National Park
If you don’t want to hop around hotels, know that from Bozeman it’s about an hour’s drive to two of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park: Gardiner by the north entrance or West Yellowstone by the west entrance.
Important 2022 Info for Yellowstone: Due to historic, unprecedented flooding along the northern end of Yellowstone National Park, the north entrance and northeast entrance will be closed until further notice (likely for all of 2022 and possibly beyond). The roads connecting Gardiner to Mammoth and Mammoth to the northeast entrance will also be closed while road destruction from the floods is repaired.
Yellowstone Trip Planning Tips:
To help you plan out your Yellowstone trip so you have an epic time before heading back to Seattle (or onto your next destination), check out our top articles on Yellowstone: