All American Road Trip: Explore Wyomings Majestic National Parks in 3 Days

The Rocky Mountain range that extends from Canada to central New Mexico creates many of the American West’s iconic landscapes. The Grand Tetons are located at the center of this range, an incredibly stunning part of the country that presents surreal vistas and untouched forests to explore. Further north lies Yellowstone National Park, an iconic destination in its own right. This three-day itinerary will explore both these parks, along with the town of Jackson.

There will be breathtaking views, plenty of opportunities to hike, mountain bike and get in tune with your natural side throughout your journey. This part of the country is also well known for wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for buffalo, elk, deer, bald eagles and perhaps even a bear.

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Gunn

DAY 1 – GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

The first stop on this Wyoming adventure is Grand Teton National Park. We’ll first drive from Jackson to the town of Moose, which is located in the park. There are a few different ways to explore the park, including by car, bike, or foot.

John D.Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway in Grand Teton National Park. Photo Courtesy of Antoine 49

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway

This park is known for its beautiful mountains, pristine lakes and abundant wildlife. Many scenic drives will take you through the park. One of the most famous drives is the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, which takes you past some of the most impressive views in the park. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, biking and fishing.

View from Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park. Photo Courtesy of Al_HikesAZ

Cascade Canyon

One of the most popular hikes in the park is the hike to Cascade Canyon. This 13.7-mile hike will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. It starts from the west of Jenny Lake and goes up to Inspiration Point with an altitude gain of approximately 1,000 feet.

For exploring most of Grand Teton in a single hike, you can opt for Cascade Canyon Loop, which will take you through Hidden Falls, Cascade Canyon, Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point, as well as Lake Solitude and Paintbrush Canyon. This is a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of over 4,500 feet and a distance of 20 miles. If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, there are plenty of options, including the Phelps Lake and Bradley Lake Trail.

Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park. Photo Courtesy of John Mason

Jackson Lake

As the sun sets, be sure to take in the beauty of the Teton Mountain Range. There is no better place to watch the sunset than from the shores of Jackson Lake. Photography enthusiasts will love the opportunities to capture the beauty of the area.

The lobby at the Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Photo Courtesy of Josh Friedman

Where to Eat & Stay Near Grand Teton National Park

After an exciting day exploring the park, we’re returning to Jackson for the next two nights. There are plenty of options for hotels and lodges in Jackson, these range from Super 8 by WyndhamHampton InnSpringhill Suites, to the luxurious Amangani. Jackson also has a surprising number of restaurants to choose from. Visit The Blue LionCafé Genevieve, or Miazga’s Restaurant during your time here.

Downtown Jackson, Wyoming. Photo Courtesy Daniel Vorndran

DAY 2 – JACKSON, WYOMING

It’s time to explore the town of Jackson, located in a 48-mile valley surrounded by mountains. It is home to three ski areas, a town square with an arch at its center and astounding natural features. There are plenty of things to do in Jackson no matter what your interests are. The attractions range from low-key to high-intensity and from cultural to educational.

The National Elk Refuge was created in 1912 to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for one of the largest elk (also known as the wapiti) herds on Earth. Photo Courtesy of Ken Lund

National Elk Refuge

The National Elk Refuge is a great place to see wildlife in its natural habitat. The refuge is home to more than 7,500 elk. While visiting, you’ll also see a variety of other wildlife, including bison, deer and bald eagles. Stroll along the 5.8-mile Multi-Use Pathway at the refuge to take in the gorgeous landscape.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art. Photo Courtesy of Mindy McAdams

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Continue on your wildlife viewing, but this time in paintings. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is one of the largest museums in the country dedicated to wildlife art. The museum has a large collection of American and European art, including paintings, sculptures and taxidermy.

The four elk antler arches guarding the corners of Jackson’s George Washington Memorial Park, more commonly called the Town Square. Photo Courtesy of H. Michael Miley

Jackson Town Square

End your day in Jackson Town Square, located in the heart of Jackson. It’s lined with shops, restaurants and galleries. The square is also home to the town’s visitor center and the iconic arch that welcomes visitors to the town. Pick up some souvenirs, admire the local art and grab a bite to eat.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone National Park. Photo Courtesy of Mattia Panciroli

DAY 3 – YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

For the final day of our Wyoming National Park road trip, we’re headed to America’s first National Park—Yellowstone National Park. The park is known for its geothermal features, including geysers and hot springs. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, elk and grizzly bears. With one day in this majestic destination, we recommend hiking or signing up for a guided tour.

Mount Washburn (elev. 10,243 ft.) in Yellowstone National Park provides an amazing view on a clear day. Photo Courtesy of Kat B.

Hiking

Hiking is a great way to see the park’s beautiful scenery and wildlife. Mount Washburn is a popular destination for hikers, and the trail to the summit is six miles. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the park. Another great hike is the North Rim Trail. It is a strenuous hike, but the views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are well worth it. Alternatively, you can drive along the North Rim to access some of the same views.

Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Photo Courtesy of James St. John

Guided Tours

To get the most out of your visit to Yellowstone National Park, we recommend taking a bus tour beginning in West Yellowstone. The Lower Loop Bus Tour will take you to some of the park’s most iconic sights such as the Old Faithful Geyser and Yellowstone Lake. Plus, you’ll take home some fun facts about Yellowstone, shared by knowledgeable guides.

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone National Park

To get the best out of our time in Yellowstone, we choose to stay in West Yellowstone. There are several excellent options for accommodations, including Gray Wolf Inn and SuitesYellowstone Park Hotel, or the Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone. For dinner, enjoy a meal at The Branch Restaurant and Bar as you reminisce on unforgettable moments from your Wyoming summer vacation.


The Great American Road Trip. Photo from our Original Series Venturing Out: Park 2 Park

Read Next: Discover more than 50 Summer Road Trips throughout the United States.

Watch Next: Venturing Out: Park 2 Park

Explore: Visit our partners at Explore Better to book your ideal summer road trip adventure.

Enjoying our content?

Subscribe and receive a weekly newsletter packed with awesome stories to inspire you!

Related articles