Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone Road Trip

Hot springs, bison and bears await on this 1,763-mile adventure through cowboy towns and three national parks, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton.
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Elk lounging on a clear spring day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk lounging on a clear spring day in Rocky Mountain National Park

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From alpine lakes and herds of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park to the spectacular peaks in Grand Teton National Park and the grizzlies of Yellowstone, this road trip is packed with once-in-a-lifetime sights.

From Denver, head west to Estes Park, Colo., the closest town to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Spend time perusing its local breweries, restaurants, shops and outdoor activities. From there, access Rocky’s hidden gems and popular routes, including the legendary Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in a U.S. national park.

Cross into Wyoming, exploring Laramie, Saratoga and the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, an extraordinary, less-traveled route that takes you past gorgeous alpine peaks. Continue to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Look for moose, elk, bears, wolves and bison in both parks. Jackson, Wyo., which is minutes from Grand Teton National Park, and makes for a great stopover. You’ll find lively restaurants, great shops and a ton of summer activities at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. From there, head north to Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park.

On your way home, head out Yellowstone’s East Entrance and stop through Cody, Wyo., for great theater, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum and fantastic rodeo. Afterwards, drive to Cheyenne for a dose of outdoor fun and Old West culture. 

Map

Start: Mile High Fun in Denver

Union Station in Denver, Colo.

Union Station in Denver, Colo.

From fine art to trendy restaurants, use your feet to explore Denver. The top six things to do include enjoying a Rockies game, visiting the Denver Art Museum, and seeing the zoo. Read more.

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park at night

Estes Park at night

6 Things to Do in Estes Park
Perched at 7,200 feet and 90 miles away from Denver, Estes Park is a fantastic basecamp for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern side. You also can access the park's west side via the park's spectacular Trail Ridge Road, which connects the two sides of the park. Here are six tips on what to do in Estes Park during your Rocky Mountain National Park. 

3 Estes Park Locals Share their Favorite Spots
Read about three local entrepreneurs who share their recommendations and why they love their town next to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Longs Peak catches the sun on an August morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

Longs Peak catches the sun on an August morning.

48 Hours in Rocky Mountain National Park
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by following our itinerary covering both sides of the park.

GyPSy Guide Audio Driving Tour
Download the Rocky Mountain National Park tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go. gypsyguide.com/tour/rocky-mountain-national-park/

Erik Stensland, the Light Catcher
A revolution and a refugee crisis spur on a photography career for Rocky Mountain National Park's Erik Stensland.

Trailblazing in Laramie, Wyoming

Kari Kilmer, manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch, driving her team

Kari Kilmer, manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch, driving her team

Laramie's Legacy
One hundred and 50 years ago, a Laramie resident became the first female to cast a vote. Stop in Laramie to learn about her legacy, stay at a guest ranch and eat the best cinnamon roll ever.

Laramie Locals Share their Favorite Spots
Be a traveler rather than a tourist. Get the behind-the-scenes stories on everything from comic heroes to outlaws in the Laramie area. Then read recommendations from three locals and learn what their favorite things to do in Laramie.

Carbon County Gives Power to the People

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort

In southern Wyoming, you’ll discover a string of towns that make up Carbon County. They’re woven together by ranching, coal, oil and a growing wind turbine industry. Stop at some of these small-town attractions.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park - Tetons in the early morning May 28th, 2017 at Schwabachers Landing

It took more than 30 years for Grand Teton National Park to transform from an idea to one of the country's most stunning parks. When Congress created the park in 1929, it only included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., played a key role in acquiring an additional 35,000 acres for the park under the name "Snake River Land Co." Amid controversy the "new" Grand Teton National Park was established Sept. 14, 1950, by President Harry Truman.

With Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake at 6,320 feet and the summit of the Grand Teton at 13,770 feet, the park’s elevation ranges create one of the nation’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Experience this majestic park by hiking, boating, wildlife-watching, rock climbing and fishing. The park's southern end stretches a few miles short of Jackson, Wyo., a vibrant mountain town full of high-end boutiques, great restaurants and hotels for a range of budgets.

Read more about Grand Teton National Park on our Yellowstone website www.yellowstonepark.com/tag/grand-teton-national-park.

Yellowstone National Park

Great Fountain Geyser at Sunset in Yellowstone National Park

Great Fountain Geyser at Sunset

Just a few miles along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway is Yellowstone National Park's south entrance. 

If it weren't for an artist and a photographer, Yellowstone National Park might never have become the world's first national park in 1872. For years rugged explorers returned from the Yellowstone region with stories of a strange landscape dotted with steaming pools. In 1871 artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson joined a 40-day geological survey in the area. Their paintings and photos helped inspire Congress and President Grant to create the park. 

Yellowstone is a large park; it's hard to even skim its attractions in one day. We recommend one day of wildlife watching and one day of geyser gazing.

Read more on our Yellowstone website www.yellowstonepark.com and get up to speed on Yellowstone's entrances at www.yellowstonepark.com/park/yellowstone-park-entrances

Capital Adventures in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo

Stop in Cheyenne for an old-meets-new West experience. Enjoy authentic cowboy culture, craft beers and the uncrowded outdoors in Wyo. Feel like a cowboy or cowgirl at these three unique Cheyenne favorites.

End: Denver, Colo.

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Grand Lake at the West Entrance Town to Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Lake, Colo. is located just one mile from the West Entrance of the park and is home to the largest and deepest natural alpine lake in the state.

An Amtrak long-distance train travels through the lush forests and wildflower meadows

Closest Train Service to Rocky Mountain National Park

Get to Rocky Mountain National Park by train, then bus or taxi. The closest Amtrak trains are in Denver and Granby, Colorado.

Trail Ridge Road from Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Drive Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road links Estes Park and Grand Lake and offers some of the best views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Entrance sign to Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

The 9.4-mile gravel, one-way road leads cars along the steep slope of Mount Chapin's south face past waterfalls, pine forests, and Fall River Pass