Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the US. With nearly 3,500 square miles of geysers, wildlife sightings, and awe-inspiring landscapes, it’s easy to see why. However, many visitors underestimate the immense beauty that’s waiting to be discovered on the way to America’s first national park. From turquoise lakes to unexpected lava fields, we’ve rounded up the top can’t-miss stops for your 8-day campervan road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park.
Travel Time from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park
This 718-mile loop to Yellowstone National Park begins and ends at Escape Campervans Salt Lake City location, crossing through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. This route would take approximately 12 hours and 40 minutes to complete without stopping, and we recommend spreading it over at least 8 days.
These directions follow I-89, which is the most scenic drive to Yellowstone National Park from Salt Lake City. For a more direct route, take I-15 to West Yellowstone, bypassing Grand Teton National Park.
TOTAL MILES: 718 miles
TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 8 days, driving 12 hours, 40 minutes
Best Time of Year for a Yellowstone Campervan Road Trip
Yellowstone National Park’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, so being prepared for the unexpected is key. Summers are the most popular time of year to visit and usually guarantee pleasant weather. However, this sunshine also brings extreme crowds, and campsites tend to fill up quickly.
Shoulder seasons are the ideal time for a camper van road trip to Yellowstone. In late April and through May, the temperatures are mild and wildlife is abundant as animals come out of hibernation. September and October are also great for exploring the sights without as many tourists, and the autumn colors only add to the picturesque scenery.
If you’re not afraid of frigid temperatures and snow storms, winter provides a special, crowd-free experience. However, it does come with its share of difficulties. Many campsites are only open from May to October, and road closures are imminent. If you’re looking for a winter road trip with less extreme weather conditions, consider exploring one of these equally impressive national parks.
Preparation for a Yellowstone Camper Van Road Trip
A road trip to Yellowstone is the perfect opportunity to load up your camper van and immerse yourself in the beautiful outdoors! However, to keep your trip as stress-free as possible, we recommend planning ahead to make sure you have everything you need for an unforgettable adventure.
Campsites: During the busier months, campsites fill up quickly, especially within the national parks.Try to reserve a spot well before your trip–in Yellowstone, many campgrounds allow you to book up to 6 months in advance. Otherwise, make note of first come, first serve campsites or look into dispersed camping options outside of the parks.
Supplies: Make sure you have everything you need for a comfortable trip by checking out our available add-ons. Even in the summer, the area gets chilly at night so don’t forget to include a bedding kit. You’ll also want to add an Annual National Parks Pass, as this route will take you through two national parks. Bear spray is another essential if you’re planning to hike, though it can be purchased at one of the park’s general stores.
Phones and chargers: You’ll be covering a lot of ground with your campervan, so a fully charged smartphone with GPS is essential for making sure you’re on the right track. Plus, the views will be out of this world, and you won’t want to miss out on any prime photo opportunities!
Park Maps: Cell service can get spotty within the parks, so always grab a printed map from the park ranger when you enter. These can be super helpful when you’re hiking, or just trying to find your way to the next campsite.
Pro Tip: Since campervans can’t be charged when they’re turned off, be sure to pack portable chargers so that you’re prepared throughout your trip.
Choosing the Right Campervan for your Yellowstone Road Trip
With Escape Campervans’ extensive fleet, you’re bound to find the perfect vehicle to suit your travel needs. Choose from the Del Mar, Mavericks, or Mesa from our Salt Lake City location. While the Mavericks is slightly more compact, all of these models comfortably sleep up to 5 people (with a rooftop sleeper), and include a kitchenette and queen size bed. If you’re traveling to Yellowstone from October to April, we recommend renting the Del Mar or Mesa, along with snow chains.
Day 1: Salt Lake City to Bear Lake, Utah
After picking up your Escape Campervan in Salt Lake City, it’s time to hit the open road and trade in city views for rugged landscapes and abundant wildlife! Your first destination on the way to Yellowstone is Bear Lake, located in Garden City. Often referred to as “the Caribbean of the Rockies,” this natural freshwater lake is known for its crystal blue waters and jaw-dropping scenery. The drive is just over 2 hours and passes through Logan Canyon, one of the most picturesque byways in the country.
Where to Eat Near Bear Lake, Utah
Campfire Grill Restaurant $$:427 N Paradise Pkwy, Garden City, UT 84028 Start your trip off with a gourmet meal at this rustically charming, open-air restaurant. Indulge in fresh, local ingredients and craft beer while taking in enchanting views of Bear Lake. The restaurant sits on a glamping site, so after dinner, get cozy by the bonfire and chat it up with fellow campers!
LaBeau’s $:69 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028Bear Lake is renowned for its raspberry milkshakes, and it’s basically a required meal before leaving the area. This retro, fast-food spot is celebrated for creating the original “Bear Lake Raspberry Shake,” both tourists and locals alike line up at the window daily for this beloved sweet treat.
Campervan Friendly Campsites Near Bear Lake, Utah
Bear Lake/Marine Side KOA Holiday: 485 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028: For prime access to the water, you can’t go wrong with this lakefront campsite. Open from May through October, this camp offers plenty of space for camper vans, is centrally located in Garden City, and features numerous amenities so you’re guaranteed a smooth start to your trip.
Sunrise Campground: FR102, Garden City, UT 84028: Located at an elevation of 7,800 feet and overlooking Bear Lake, this forested campsite offers ample shade and privacy. Despite feeling blissfully remote, this camp is only 6 miles away from Garden City. Keep in mind that this site is usually open only from the end of June through September.
Day 2: Jackson, Wyoming
Pack up your campervan and fuel up with a filling breakfast before heading out towards Jackson, WY. The drive is about 2 hours and 45 minutes, taking you through the Star Valley Scenic Byway and along the jaw-dropping Snake River Canyon.
Once you arrive, stroll through the kitschy, charming town of Jackson, which serves as the gateway to Grand Teton National Park. Breathtaking mountains surround the area, which are even more magical in the winter when they’re draped in snow. Hit the slopes if you’re here during ski season, or take a ride up the gondola during the summertime for an unparalleled view.
Jackson is also a great base to stock up on food and any forgotten supplies before spending the next few nights inside national parks.
*NOTE- If you’re short on time, you can skip sleeping in Jackson and head straight to one of the campgrounds within Grand Teton National Park.
Where to Eat in Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson Drug $$: 15 E Deloney Ave, Jackson, WY 8300: Originally opened in 1919 as a pharmacy and soda fountain, this Jackson staple has been transformed into a delicious, retro-style diner. Don’t leave without trying their famous, homemade ice cream!
Snake River Brewing $$: 265 S Millward St, Jackson, WY 83001:Wyoming’s oldest small craft brewery has been a town favorite since its opening in 1994. Enjoy their elevated comfort food and wide selection of beers, while breathing in the fresh mountain air and playing a round of cornhole at this casual, outdoor spot.
Campervan Friendly Campsites Near Jackson, Wyoming
Granite Creek Campground: Bridger Teton National Forest, Forest Rd 30500, Jackson, WY 83001: Fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the nearby creek in this wooded campground, which is partially open year-round. Granite Creek Hot Springs are adjacent to the campsite and a perfect way to decompress after hours of driving. This campground is first come, first served and tends to fill up quickly during high season.
Curtis Canyon Campground: Bridger-Teton National Forest, Forest Rd 30443, Jackson, WY 83001: Wake up to views of the Teton Range from this lush national forest campground situated above the National Elk Refuge. The site does not take reservations, so try to get there early.
Day 3: Grand Teton National Park
After an early wake-up call, it’s time to explore your first national park of the trip! From Jackson, you’re only about 20 minutes (approximately 7 miles) from the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park. Have your America The Beautiful Pass ready, along with your camera, as moose sightings are extremely common!
Highlights in Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake:This massive lake is the most popular body of water in Grand Teton, and offers picturesque views of the Teton Range, along with several hiking trails. It’s also a perfect spot to stretch your legs and rest after a long day of adventuring.
Oxbow Bend: This scenic overlook sits along the river and is considered one of the best spots for wildlife sightings within the park. Drive your campervan over during sunrise or sunset to witness an extraordinary glow over the Tetons.
Taggart Lake Loop: Park your campervan and bring your camera along for this 3.8-mile hike. While relatively easy, this hike is extremely rewarding and offers outstanding views and ample wildlife sighting opportunities.
Campervan Friendly Campsites in Grand Teton National Park
Colter Bay Campground- 100 Colter Bay Campground Rd, Moran, WY 83013: As the largest of the seven campgrounds inside Grand Teton, this one may be your best shot at finding a spot if availability is low. It has electric hookups and showers and is located in a scenic pine forest. Advanced reservations are required and can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Signal Mountain Campground:1 Inner Park Rd, Moran, WY 83013: This centrally located camp offers electricity, showers, a laundry facility, and sweeping views of Jackson Lake. It’s often one of the first parks to open for the season and operates for longer than most. Reservations need to be made in advance, and spots tend to fill up quickly.
Where to Eat in Grand Teton National Park
Trapper Grill $$: 1 Inner Park Rd, Moran, WY 83013:Overlooking Jackson Lake and the Signal Mountain Marina, enjoy your hearty meal with a view as you dine from the porch of this cozy restaurant. Signal Mountain Campground is also close by, making it extra convenient if that’s where you’re based.
Dornan’s Pizza Pasta Company $$:12170 Dornans Rd, Moose, WY 83012: Head to their upper deck for a glorious, 360-view, order a delicious pizza, and discover why this casual eatery is a favorite among Teton regulars. During the colder months, curl up by the fireplace for an irresistibly cozy atmosphere.
Day 4-6: Yellowstone National Park
After breakfast (and a stupendous sunrise for the early risers), it’s time to depart Grand Teton for your second national park of the trip- Yellowstone! Load up your camper van and continue driving north through Grand Teton on Highway 89, which will lead you directly to the southern entrance of Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park is massive and provides endless sites and trails to explore. We recommend dedicating at least 3 days of your camper van road trip here.
Highlights in Yellowstone National Park
The Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins: Devote a day to gawking at geysers and hot springs by walking around the many geyser basins in the park. Be mesmerized by Old Faithful, the most predictable geyser within Yellowstone, then drive over to Midway Geyser Basin to marvel at the vibrant colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
Lamar Valley: Located in the northeastern part of the park, this valley runs along the Lamar River and is a wildlife-lovers paradise! Hundreds of bison roam the valley, along with bears, coyotes, elk, moose, and bald eagles.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: This impressive canyon features three breathtaking waterfalls, along with numerous trails and pathways. You can pop over for a quick peek from one of the overlooks, or spend the whole day exploring this gorgeous area.
Campervan-Friendly Campsites in Yellowstone National Park
Grant Village Campground: 550 Sculpin Ln, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190: Located along the pristine Yellowstone Lake, this campground is a perfect base for exploring Yellowstone’s geyser basins. The site has shower facilities but is only open during the summer and does require advanced reservations.
Mammoth Campground:N Entrance Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190:This is the only camp in Yellowstone that is open year-round, and it’s located in the northwestern area of the park. This site doesn’t have showers and encourages visitors to reserve a spot well in advance.
Pro Tip- It’s notoriously difficult to book campsites in Yellowstone, and spots tend to fill up immediately. All campgrounds can be reserved up to 6 months in advance, so try to book your site as early as possible!
Where to Eat in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria $:Old Faithful Lodge Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190: Grab a window seat at this casual eatery and watch Old Faithful erupt as you enjoy your meal. While prices can be a bit exaggerated, you can’t beat this view!
Ernie’s $$- 406 US-20, West Yellowstone, MT 59758:Since options within Yellowstone are a bit limited, pop over to the town of West Yellowstone for this unbeatable sandwich shop. Their breakfast sandwiches are especially decadent, and the French expat who runs it makes the best coffee in town. The shop is just down the road from the park’s West Entrance, making it a convenient stop if you’re near Madison Valley or Gibbon Falls.
Day 7: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Say your goodbyes to Yellowstone as you begin to make the drive back down to Salt Lake City. From West Yellowstone, the charming city of Idaho Falls is a little less than a 2-hour drive away (about 108 miles), and makes for a perfect stop to break up the trip. Explore the Idaho Falls Waterfall which cascades into Snake River, or venture just a bit further south to hike the unique Hell’s Half Acre Lava Trail.
Campervan Friendly Campsites Near Idaho Falls, Idaho
South Tourist Park:2800 S Yellowstone Hwy, Idaho Falls, ID 83402: Located right outside of town, this small campground sits along the beautiful Snake River. Facilities are basic, and there are no hookups or reservations, but it makes for a convenient base to rest for the night.
Where to eat in Idaho Falls, Idaho
Dixie’s Diner $:2150 Channing Way, Idaho Falls, ID 83404: Step back in time at this 1950’s themed diner, where you’ll feel like you’ve just walked onto the set of Grease. Play your favorite 50s tune on the jukebox, grab a booth, and enjoy a delicious burger and milkshake!
Smokin Fins Idaho Falls $$:370 Memorial Dr, Idaho Falls, ID 83402:If you’re craving something a little different after a week on the road, give your taste buds a treat at this decadent seafood and sushi restaurant. They also have plenty of options for vegetarians and meat eaters.
Day 8: Idaho Falls, ID to Escape Campervans Salt Lake City Hub
After a hearty breakfast in town, pack up your camper van one more time and begin the final leg of your journey. The drive is 3 hours (about 216 miles) from Idaho Falls to Escape Campervans Salt Lake City location, so you’ll want to get a head start. Remember that you’ll need to drop off your camper van before your assigned time, between 8:30 and 10 a.m.
Why Rent a Camper Van for a Yellowstone National Park Road Trip?
A road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park is the perfect opportunity to rent from Escape Campervans, rather than a traditional RV. Here are just a few of the reasons why opting for a campervan might be the ideal choice for you:
More Flexibility: Escape Campervans are more compact than traditional RV’s, allowing for added mobility. Since this route takes you through cities, small towns, and winding mountain roads, having a smaller camper van allows for much more flexibility. Not to mention, your campervan can easily fit in most tent sites. This is hugely beneficial in the national parks, especially during high season when options are more limited.
Affordability: Escape Campervan is a solid choice for your wallet because of our competitive rates compared to other RV and campervan companies. Our flexible add-ons ensure that you’re not paying extra for gadgets and amenities that you have no use for. Plus, our fuel-efficient camper vans will save you about half as much in gas compared to a typical RV. We much prefer that you spend that money on souvenirs and raspberry milkshakes!
Convenience: There’s a lot to see on this road trip, and Yellowstone is notorious for long entrance lines (sometimes caused by a lingering bison in the middle of the street). Being able to sleep within the park and begin exploring before the hordes of tourists pile in is invaluable. Plus, the fact that Escape Campervans are designed to be self-contained means that you don’t have to stress about finding a campsite with electricity or sewer hookups.
Choosing an Escape Campervan for your Yellowstone National Park road trip will guarantee a smoother, stress-free, and more affordable adventure. We’re sure you’d rather spend your time keeping an eye out for bears and bison, not RV-friendly parking spots!
Reserve With Escape Campervans for your Campervan Road Trip
The journey from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park is the perfect opportunity for an unforgettable campervan road trip! Now that you’ve discovered the amazing sights on the way to Yellowstone, all that’s left is to book your dream camper van and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Click the link below to reserve your Escape Campervan and let your ultimate Yellowstone adventure begin!