National Park Road Trip: Jackson Hole to Big Sky

Pack up the car and get ready for an exciting full-day scenic drive through TWO must-see National Parks!

Warm summer days are finally here! The mountain roads between Jackson and Big Sky are open and filled with astonishing views just waiting for you to take in. There are many ways to get from A to B, but one of the most popular routes allows you to checkout TWO national parks!

We will start this road trip from Jackson, but you can also flip our itinerary to depart from Big Sky!

Fuel up, pack a cooler, and keep your binoculars handy (you never know what you’ll see along the way)! What we do know is… you’re in for an unforgettable trip.

Your Adventure begins in the mountain town of Jackson, WY. With its prime location just outside of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson earns a high-ranking spot on every outdoor enthusiast’s travel bucket list.

As you make your trip itinerary, be prepared to depart from Jackson early in the day, as the drive-time hovers around 6 hours without scenic stops or wildlife along the road.

Jackson to Jenny Lake (22 mi)

Welcome to the first leg of your road trip!

Begin on 191 North past the National Elk Refuge towards Moose, WY. Look out for the impressive herd of Elk that may be grazing in the refuge.

Continue on to Teton Park Road and cross over the Snake River, which is the Colombia River's largest tributary.

Take a morning stroll around the lake and don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! This is a good time to sneak in a subtle reminder to ALWAYS carry bear spray and know how to use it when recreating in bear country.

Jenny Lake to Colter Bay Village (19 mi)

After a little morning cardio around Jenny Lake, it’s back on the road.

You're now presented with the option to stay on Teton Park Road or take Jenny Lake Road for a new perspective of the lake. As you drive through the park, there are many great opportunities to photograph the Tetons in all their glory, but be sure you are completely pulled off the main road in a legal turnout before doing so! Mount Moran Turnout is a great stop for a group shot!

As you travel north, you'll begin to see the massive blue body of Jackson Lake. Stop for another leg-stretch on the Jackson Lake Dam. If you’ve got the time and the proper permits, cast a line into the Snake River and try your hand at catching a native Cutthroat Trout.

Continue on towards Colter Bay.

Insider tip: Grab a treat at the general store in Colter Bay Village and make your way over to the Lake Shore Trailhead where a friendly gravel beach awaits with amazing views!

Colter Bay Village to Yellowstone South Entrance (18 mi)

Say farewell to the Colter Bay Village and get back on route 191 North towards Yellowstone National Park.

Take in views of Jackson Lake standing bright blue in front of the Tetons. If you need another walk and another photo opportunity, pull off at the Jackson Lake Overlook, located just past the Lakeview Picnic Area. Pass over the Snake River once more before going through the South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone South Entrance to West Thumb Geyser Basin (22 mi)

Welcome to Yellowstone National Park!

Show your pass to the park rangers or pay the required entrance fee, as you enter America's FIRST National Park.

Pose for a picture by the unmistakable National Park Service sign. The road north will eventually begin to hug the Lewis River. Pull of the road for a great view of Lewis Falls!

Your next stop is West Thumb Geyser, settled right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake. There are many trails to explore here, and is a great spot for a picnic lunch.

West Thumb Geyser Basin to Old Faithful (18 mi)

How about that view?!

Take a break and stretch your legs on the trails around the West Thumb Geyser. Check out Lakeshore Geyser, a steamy pool resting right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake.

Time to gain some elevation, while making your way up Craig Pass and cross the Continental Divide.

On this leg of the trip, you'll definitely want your binoculars and camera ready for wildlife sightings!

Old Faithful to Grand Prismatic (7mi)

Time for the long anticipated stop to catch the eruption of Old Faithful. If you have a little time to spare once you arrive, grab a Huckleberry Shake at the Old Faithful General Store and take a walk along the boardwalks that weave through the geyser basin. There is so much to explore during your visit to Old Faithful!

Time to load up, folks! We're off to see Grand Prismatic Spring, the wonderfully colorful and commonly photographed steamy geyser.


Grand Prismatic to Yellowstone West Entrance (38 mi)

Follow the trail from the Grand Prismatic Spring Parking Lot and over the Firehole River. Continue onto the boardwalk and follow the path past Excelsior Geyser Crater, Turquoise Pool, Opal Pool, and finally past the rainbow waters of Grand Prismatic Spring. Take it all in!

From here, you'll continue to drive along the Firehole River north toward its confluence with the Madison.

At the Madison Junction, take a left to head towards the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The road will take you along the Madison River with beautiful views of National Park Mountain and Three Brothers Mountain on your left.

Yellowstone West Entrance to Big Sky (56 mi)

The final stretch before you arrive in the quaint mountain town of Big Sky!

Enjoy the scenery and watch for wildlife wandering through the willows along the Gallatin River. This is a popular area to spot moose, deer, elk, and even the occasional bear or wolf.

Can you spot Lone Peak in the distance as you approach your destination?

We bet you thought this place only existed in your dreams! As you explore all Big Sky has to offer, chat with the friendly locals, take in the beautiful mountain backdrop, and get out in the giant outdoor playground that surrounds this paradise.

We want to see your amazing road trip photos! Tag #visitbigsky for your change to be featured on our website and social media.


About the Author

Visitor Services Manager

Emily Lessard

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