Take the road less traveled to see the historic and awe-inspiring Yellowstone National Park. While there are a variety of locations where you could begin your journey, one of the most scenic is to start in Denver, Colorado. Whether it’s a short weekend trip or a four day sojourn, there’s so much to see along the way to America’s first national park. Rent a car and go on this trip at your own pace.
Drive Time from Denver to Yellowstone: approximately 10-11 hours
Distance from Denver to Yellowstone: approximately 600 miles
Day 1: Start off by renting a car at Denver Airport. Visitors should keep in mind that the airport is located about 30 minutes outside the city. If you’re not in a hurry to hit the road, why not spend some time in the Mile High City? Catch a Rockies baseball game, see the Denver Botanic Gardens or drive the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. You could also go shopping at the 16th Street Mall.
Estes Park is only a 70 mile drive from Denver but definitely a drive to remember. The final destination may even haunt your dreams! Explore the scenic downtown area before setting out to the Stanley Hotel which inspired Stephen King’s book The Shining. If you’re feeling especially brave, spend the night in the infamously famous, Room 217. Although you may need to make a reservation in advance as it is their most popular room.
If your trip allows, explore one of the many beautiful hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, many of which are just minutes away from town. To find the best hike for your experience level, head over to the visitor center, located just Northeast of the intersection of Big Thompson Ave. and N. St. Vrain Ave.
Another ten minutes of driving to the north and you’ve arrived at Yellowstone! As soon as you enter Yellowstone National Park, get your day pass and stop at the nearest Visitor Center to grab a map. With nearly 3,500 square miles to explore, plan your excursion but make sure to visit Old Faithful and smell the Sulphur!
Yellowstone became the first national park in 1872. The park resides in three different states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can see hot springs, mudpots and geysers. Visitors can also explore mountains, forests and lakes to watch wildlife ranging from bison, grizzly bears and gray wolves. Gray wolves are especially fascinating as they were restored to the park in 1995.
Depending on the time of year that you visit, there is so much to do at the park from camping, bicycling, boating, hiking, fishing and more. Make sure to check road conditions for closures as well as road construction, which can be ongoing year round. If you plan to stay the night at Yellowstone, be sure to book lodging ahead of time.
When you’re ready to head home, you can return your rental car at the Jackson Hole Airport or if you’d like to continue exploring head southwest to Salt Lake City and add Utah to the list of states visited. Or head further north into Montana and check out Glacier National Park!