Yellowstone and Grand Teton Road Trip from San Francisco
A road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is an iconic American adventure. From San Francisco to Jackson, WY, a major gateway city to both parks, it’s a roughly 16-hour drive. To help break up the trip (this is vacation, after all!), plan to spend 2 to 3 days checking out some of the must-visit towns and cool attractions along the way. Read on for some recommendations on how to make the most of a Yellowstone and Grand Teton road trip from San Francisco.
The Route: San Francisco, CA to Jackson Hole, WY | Total Drive Time: 15-16 hours
From San Francisco, follow I-80E to Reno, NV and on to Salt Lake City, UT. From Salt Lake, head out I-15N into Idaho where you’ll turn right onto US-30E then left on ID-34E and finally, on to US-89 N to Jackson, WY just outside of Grand Teton National Park.
Stop 1: Stroll Reno’s Riverwalk District
Head to the revitalized Riverwalk District in downtown Reno, where you’ll find a bustling dining and arts scene. From Wingfield Park, you can stroll the parkway alongside both sides of the Truckee River or find a place to swim if it’s a hot day. From here you can head down to the Arlington Street Bridge to check out the action at the nearby Truckee Whitewater Park. Then, make your way to The Eddy, a hip outdoor hangout and beer garden with food truck fare, and best of all, yard games.
Stop 2: Discover off-the-beaten path Salt Lake
Make some mileage and push on to Salt Lake City, UT where you can reward yourself with a stop at Uinta Brewing Company’s Brewpub. Try their flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale and grab an order of Pub Nachos. While many of the hotels are clustered downtown, opt to stay in the city’s Sugar House neighborhood, where an evening stroll will uncover some of Salt Lake’s most eclectic shops and boutiques, unique hangouts like Campfire Lounge, not to mention great views of the surrounding Wasatch Mountains.
Stop 3: Catch a road side attraction in Idaho
If you’re a fan of stopping at unique attractions, stop by Geyser Park in Soda Springs, ID to see what the Guinness Book of World Records says is the world’s only captive geyser – it’s engineered to shoot a 100-foot spout in the air once every hour.
Stop 4: Hike at the top of the Tetons
At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hop on the Aerial Tram for a 4,000-foot vertical ride to Corbet’s Cabin. From this high vantage point in the southern Tetons, you can take in sweeping panoramic views and access an extensive network of trails linking the mountain to Grand Teton National Park. Don’t miss the easy, .3-mile Top of the World hike along the ridgeline. Or, for a moderate 1.8-mile option, hop on the Cirque Trail and hike from the top of the tram downhill to The Deck @ Piste, where food, drinks and more epic views await, before riding the gondola down from here. Back in town explore the shops and restaurants around Jackson’s iconic Town Square. Don’t miss the chance to grab a scoop at Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream, which serves up to 24 flavors per day.
From downtown Jackson, it’s just 20 minutes to the Moose Entrance Station of Grand Teton National Park where your national park adventure awaits. Not sure how to make the most of your time in the parks? Check out this recommended itinerary: The Best of Yellowstone and Grand Teton if You Only Have a Week.
Photos: Yellowstone National Park geysers – James Kaiser; Reno’s Riverwalk – VisitRenoTahoe.com; Hiking at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – Courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort