Road trip to see Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole

CUSTER – Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse

SHERIDAN – mainly to break up the journey to Cody otherwise we’d be travelling almost 400 miles in one day

CODY – Buffalo Bill Centre of the West, Old Trail Town, Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody Firearms Museum, Plains Indian Museum (upper loop of Yellowstone National Park)


Grand Teton

10 Things to see in Yellowstone NP

1. Watch Geysers Erupt and See Giant, Colorful Hot Springs

Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone is the largest active geyser field in the world and is home to the most famous geyser, Old Faithful. There are also hundreds of colorful hot springs and pools such as the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, pictured above, which is larger than a football field and the third largest spring in the world.

2. See Wild Animals in their Natural Habitat

Grizzly bear by lake

Yellowstone National Park is home to more wild animals than almost anywhere else in the U.S., but it is not a zoo. Visitors are likely to see a number of animals in Yellowstone freely roaming the landscape in their natural habitat. Animals you might see include grizzly bears, gray wolves, the world’s largest wild bison herd, bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans, moose and more. Outside of Yellowstone, to the south and the northeast of the park, you can also see herds of wild horses.

3. Experience the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

View the pink and yellow canyon walls that form the sides of three glorious waterfalls. The place is so inspiring that an overlook of the Lower Falls is called Artist’s Point.

4. Take a Hike in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks

Hiking in Yellowstone

To explore Yellowstone’s wild side, get off the beaten path and onto the park’s 1,300-mile trail system. Some of the most popular hikes are Bunsen Peak, Mt. Washburn and Uncle Tom’s Trail to the base of Canyon’s Upper Falls. Do you have kids? Read our Top 3 Trails for Hiking With Kids article

5. Go Rafting and Paddling

Rafting with Lewis & Clark Expeditions on the Snake River

Take a paddling trip along the shores of Yellowstone Lake near lakeside geysers, or raft down one of the nearby rivers. There are rafting trips available near all the entrances to the park. To help you choose, we’ve compiled a Top 5 rafting trips list.

6. Go Camping

Norris Campground Tent Site in Yellowstone National Park

One of the best ways to experience the Yellowstone region is by spending a night or more under the stars. You can stay at one of the many campsites inside the park, at a nearby campground outside the park or camp in the backcountry. Read our tips for RVers.

7. Live the Cowboy Life

Cody Nite Rodeo. Courtesy photo

Cody Nite Rodeo.

Yellowstone is smack in the middle of cowboy country so don your boots and hat and go with it. Watch a rodeo, attend an Old West gun fight or stay at a guest ranch. Explore Yellowstone on horseback and ride past wildlife, valleys, and rivers. Eat at an Old West cookout. Or learn about a famous, real-life cowboy at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo.

8. Go Fishing

Fall Fishing in Yellowstone with Hooked Outfitting

Fishing in Yellowstone Country is an experience that compares with few other places on Earth. Fling a cast into Yellowstone Lake or the Madison River for fly or lure fishing. Try the trout waters north, south and west of Cody, filled with native Yellowstone cutthroat, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout larger than most anglers can imagine. On your way to Yellowstone through Wyoming, go for the gold and fish Carbon County’s Miracle Mile, or try the waters of Casper, the “No. 1 Big Fish Destination.”

9. Hunt for Rocks, Fossils and Dinosaurs

A petrified tree in northern Yellowstone.

A petrified tree in northern Yellowstone.

The Yellowstone area has many paleontological sites – from dinosaur and fossil museums to petroglyphs and pictographs on rock walls. Inside Yellowstone you will find basalt columns formed by lava and a petrified forest.

10. Immerse Yourself in Native American Culture

Shoshone native dancing at a Pow Wow

There are several Native American reservations nearby Yellowstone. Attend a powwow and watch tribal members to participate in traditional rituals. On the Wind River Reservation, visit Sacajawea’s gravesite, explore the church and museum at St. Stephen’s Mission or try your luck at gaming. While in Cody, stop to see the Plains Indian Museum, one of five museums at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

A popular road trip to Yellowstone starts in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On your way, stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Top 10 Activities in Grand Teton National Park

1. Wild & Scenic Rafting the Snake River

Enjoy a wild and scenic raft trip on the Snake River with a knowledgeable guide. Guests often see wildlife such as moose, beavers, eagles, osprey, and more. Guides share their knowledge of the wildlife, history, and geology.  They can also answer any questions you have along the way. Raft trips with a freshly prepared lunch or dinner along the bank of the Snake River can be booked as well.

Snake River rafting in Grand Teton National Park is scenic rafting and without whitewater rapids. Be sure to bring your camera for fantastic pictures!

2. Jackson Lake Cruise with Breakfast or Dinner

Colter Bay Marina offers Breakfast and Dinner Lake Cruises to Elk Island, which is a unique and exclusive activity in Grand Teton. Once on the island, you’ll find a hot buffet waiting for you. Breakfast includes trout, pancakes, potatoes, eggs, yogurt, pastries, fruit, cowboy coffee, and more. Dinner features steak and trout with a variety of sides. Enjoy your meal with Mount Moran directly in front of you, rising out of the lake. After your meal, take time to explore the island and hike a short overlook trail.

3. The 42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive

This drive is your personal tour of Grand Teton National Park! The loop is comprised of the Teton Park Road, the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive (one way), and Highway 89. Along this drive you’ll be able to visit Jenny Lake, the Craig Thomas Visitor Center in Moose, Schwabacher’s Landing, Snake River Overlook, Cunningham Cabin, Oxbow Bend, the Signal Mounain Summit Road, and so much more.

A Grand Teton road map can be found here.

4. Horseback Rides

Spend a morning or afternoon in Grand Teton horseback riding and experience the views the same way the early explorers did. Jackson Lake Lodge horseback riding also offers one and two hour scenic rides where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Tetons, Oxbow Bend, and the Snake River. Colter Bay Village along the shores of Swan and Heron Ponds and include panoramic mountain views from wildflower meadows.

5. Hiking

Are you looking for the best day hikes in Grand Teton national park? There are plenty to choose from but none will disappoint! The most popular short hikes are Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, String Lake, Leigh Lake, and Swan and Heron Pond. Are you looking for a full-day hike that is more challenging? Choose Cascade Canyon, Death Canyon, or Paintbrush Canyon and experience towering granite peaks and beautiful remote lakes – a hike you will never forget!

View more detailed hiking information and Grand Teton trail map PDFs on the National Park Service website.

6. Ranger & Naturalist Programs

Join a park ranger for  a guided hike, a campfire program, or a Tipi Demo. Naturalists and area historians at Colter Bay Village and Jackson Lake Lodge offer a variety of complimentary programs throughout the week, including live raptor programs, grizzly presentations, and historical tours. And be sure to take part in the Junior Ranger program. (Hint, it’s not just for kids!) Regularly scheduled Ranger programs with times and descriptions can be found on the National Park Service website or at any of the park Visitor Centers.

7. Fishing

Whether it’s fly fishing or lake fishing you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Grand Teton. Fishing Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake, or the Snake River is often the highlight the entire vacation for guests. Fly fishing and lake fishing can both be done on an individual basis or with a guide. When you book a trip with a guide, all equipment is included for the day, with the exception of a fishing license. Going on a guided trip is often a great option for those flying in to the area. Fishing in the park requires a Wyoming state fishing license, which can be purchased at the Colter Bay Marina, Signal Mountain Marina, or in the town of Jackson. Please review National Park fishing guidelines.

Grand Teton Fishing Report

8. Wildlife Viewing

Grand Teton wildlife viewing is regularly referred to some of the best in the US. Bear, Bison, Moose, Elk, Pronghorn, Eagles, and more are regularly seen throughout the park. Looking for the best place to see bears in Grand Teton National Park? These places change regularly, and your best option is to ask at a Visitor Center or Activity Desk once you are in the park. The Activity Desk at Jackson Lake Lodge keeps a log of recent animal sightings. However, some of the best spots for wildlife viewing generally are the Willow Flats in front of Jackson Lake Lodge, Oxbow Bend, Elk Ranch Flats, and Moose.

9. Boat Rentals

Jackson Lake boat rentals allow you to spend a few serene hours exploring the Colter Bay, Half Moon Bay, and other surrounding bays and islands. The Colter Bay Marina rents kayaks (double and single), canoes, and motorboats. Maps, lifejackets, and radios are provided with your boat rental. Boating is a fantastic way to spend a few hours relaxing in the morning or afternoon.

10. Bus Tours of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

Grand Teton tours via bus with a guide is the perfect introduction to the park. Look for wildlife, learn the history of the park, and visit popular sites throughout the park. You’ll experience panoramic Tetons views along the way, and tours include frequent stops to explore the park as well. Plan a bus tour at the beginning of your trip to allow you time to revisit the places that inspire you.

Bonus Activity:  Picnic and Swim at String Lake or Colter Bay Swim Beach