Utah is the perfect gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. No matter where you’re coming from, this loop will show you some of the best Northern Utah has to offer along the way.
Salt Lake City boasts a surprisingly robust food scene and the incredible Temple Square, with its namesake masterpiece that took 40 years to complete. Hike or ride horseback among buffalo on Antelope Island or even float in the buoyant waters of the Great Salt Lake.
Stop at Ogden’s historic 25th Street, which was once “too wild a town” for Al Capone but is now a hub for dining, shopping, galleries and entertainment. Head to the mountains where you’ll find some of the steepest peaks in North America. Then, you can step back in time at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville.
On your way to Yellowstone, drive through the verdant slopes and craggy limestone cliffs of Logan Canyon, and then gape at turquoise waters of Bear Lake beaming before you as you emerge.
Spend two astounding days at Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Then complete the loop, with stops along the way to soak at the five pools of Lava Hot Springs, stand where the golden spike connected the transcontinental railroad, and observe bald eagles at the 80,000-acre Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
Finish your trip in Park City, where you can enjoy world-class performers under the cool evening sky of Deer Valley, the idyllic and adventurous Heber Valley, or the can’t-miss shops and restaurants of historic Main Street.
Have even more time? Extend your journey with visits to Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
- Temple Square
- The Perfect Meal
- Salt Lake City
Salt Lake continues to be the gateway for travelers venturing northward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Its compact downtown makes for easy walking among the many restaurants, bars, and other attractions that bring life to the city center. Visit historic Temple Square, shop at City Creek Center, or curl up with a book in the soaring glass atrium of the Moshe Safdie and Associates-designed City Library. Overnight in Salt Lake City
Temple Square in Salt Lake City is Utah's most popular tourist attraction. The 35-acre area contains more than 15 attractions related to Mormon heritage and beliefs. Whether it’s the rich history, the gorgeous gardens and architecture, or the vivid culture, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently named Salt Lake City one of America's 5 New Foodie Cities. Settle in for comfort food at historic dives or get gussied up for multi-course wine-pairing dinners over white tablecloth. Relax with award-winning beers or be amazed with cutting-edge modern gastronomic fare.
SLC is both a destination city with exciting outdoor adventure, local cuisine and big city amenities and a gateway for travelers making the quick trip to Utah's ski resorts, southward to Utah’s renowned red rock country, or northward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
- Antelope Island State Park
- Ogden's Historic 25th Street
- American West Heritage Center
Get an early start for a side trip to Antelope Island State Park. Lunch on Ogden’s historic 25th Street. Once upon a time, saloons stood side by side with businesses, which thrived on Ogden's status as a railroad hub. Next, discover what life in the West was like in the 1800s at the American West Heritage Center where you’ll join costumed interpreters to enjoy hands-on learning as you visit the mountain men encampment, pioneer cabins, and a turn-of-the-century farm. Finish your day in Logan exploring great dining and world-class performing arts like the Utah Festival Opera. Overnight in Logan.
Antelope Island is a craggy adventure and birding destination in the Great Salt Lake that is home to 36 miles of hiking and mountain bike trails meandering among free-roaming bison and antelope herds who keep watch over alluvial plains and Precambrian rocks. The view from the island’s western side is otherworldly.
Ogden's 25th Street is remembered as a place of excitement and variety. Saloons and bordellos stood side-by-side with businesses that thrived on Ogden's status as a railroad hub. Today, 25th Street offers a glimpse into the past with the opportunity to enjoy unique shops, antique stores and local restaurants.
This heritage center showcases Old West living in the area, from the era of fur trade and exploration through early homesteading. Spring brings Baby Animal Days while September and October are the Fall Harvest, both prime times for Northern Utah residents and visitors to get out and play. Photo courtesy Jim Bowen on Flickr.
- Logan Canyon Hiking
- Bear Lake
- Conestoga Ranch
Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway boasts 43 miles of uncrowded scenery with dramatic limestone cliffs, wildflowers and the Logan River en route to Jackson, Wyoming. Hike the trails or stop at Beaver Creek Lodge for horseback or all-terrain vehicle rides. It's all on the way to Bear Lake, a must-see for lunch and afternoon water activities. Bear Lake is a deep natural lake that changes color with the sky. On the southwest shore of Bear Lake, the town of Garden City is perhaps best known for its legendary raspberry shakes. Overnight here or continue north and overnight in Jackson.
Take a break on the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway for a hike. The canyon trails range from easy strolls by the river to steep and rugged outings that will plant you on top of a peak looking out across the Bear River Mountains. No matter your ability, there’s a trail that is perfect for you.
Bear Lake is often called the Caribbean of the Rockies for its intense turquoise blue water. Each season lends its own characteristic to the lake. Year-round, enjoy a number of recreational and cultural activities but summers are all about raspberry shakes and water sports on the lake’s 70,000 acres.
Nestled on 18 private acres in Garden City and overlooking the lake’s famous turquoise waters, Conestoga Ranch is Bear Lake’s first true glamping resort and the perfect base camp for your outdoor adventures.
- Jackson, Wyoming
- Jenny Lake Grand Teton
- Hiking Grand Teton
A small town with lots to see and do during any season, Jackson is the southern gateway to Grand Teton National Park. With some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the world, some say Grand Teton National Park is the more scenic of the two parks. Photograph the iconic barns of Mormon Row, canoe Jenny Lake, follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams at the Snake River Overlook, hike, climb, and breathe the mountain air. This park is a treasure. Overnight in Jackson.
A small town with lots to see and do during any season, Jackson is home to Grand Teton National Park and the southern gateway to Yellowstone. Don’t miss the world-class art galleries and dining, the Silver Dollar Saloon, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, National Museum of Wildlife Art, and the National Elk Refuge. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
Grand Teton National Park boasts some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the world. A great introduction to the park is Jenny Lake, home to four diverse trailheads, scenic driving, canoeing, meadows of wildflowers, camping, fishing — even the chance for prepared adventurers to escape to the backcountry. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
Explore three distinctly different hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Shape your itinerary to your time frame and hiking ability. Sure, there’s plenty to see from the car, but the crisp mountains of Grand Teton invigorate the mind and spirit — just travel in groups and carry bear spray. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
- Old Faithful
- Yellowstone Wildlife
- West Yellowstone
Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the world’s first national park. This rugged landscape is home to extensive wildlife, beautiful scenic drives, and unforgettably iconic destinations like Old Faithful. The town of West Yellowstone, located just outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is a year-round, family-friendly destination. Nestled among majestic mountain peaks, and surrounded by natural scenic wonders, the town is rich in history and activities. Overnight in West Yellowstone or continue on to Pocatello, Idaho.
Yellowstone sits in the caldera of an ancient volcano at an 8,000-foot elevation and covers over 3,468 square miles. It has 10,000 hotsprings, 200 geysers, and many vents and mud pots. Start with its most famous: Old Faithful. Visit the Upper Geyser Basin and hang around for, oh, 92 minutes. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
This mountain wild-land is home to a range of animals including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, herds of bison and elk, 50 species of small mammals and 318 species of birds. At 4,900 head, the two bison herds are hard to miss. Keep in mind, these are wild animals and many are dangerous. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
West Yellowstone is Montana's adventure gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The small, rustic town of fewer than 1,500 residents offers plenty to do year-round. It was named a top 10 winter town in the world, top 10 trout town in America, and is famous for some of the nation's most awesome landscapes. Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism.
- Pocatello & Lava Hot Springs
- Golden Spike
- Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
After a morning of history (and hot springs soaking) in Idaho, venture on to the Golden Spike National Historic Site, a tribute to the perseverance and talents of all who worked to complete the transcontinental railroad. Two beautiful, fully-functional replicas of the original locomotives are on display from May 1 through Labor Day, with reenactments on Saturdays during summer. Continue on to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. This refuge offers some of the most phenomenal waterbird watching in the western U.S. Overnight in Brigham City.
Pocatello, Idaho, serves up a varied menu of history and heritage from the world’s only Museum of Clean to the Idaho Museum of Natural History. There’s also historic architecture and a zoo. In addition to the hot pools for soaking and relaxing at Lava Hot Springs, there’s a full resort community built up around it. Image courtesy fishermansdaughter on Flickr.
This national historic site is history in motion and marks a nation-transforming event. Just behind the visitor’s center you can wander the tracks and see the numerous relics they have on display. During the summer months “Driving of the Last Spike” is frequently reenacted. There are also auto tours and interesting trails.
This site is one of the best birding destinations in the entire world. Located only miles from Brigham City, Utah, spend a day visiting the Wildlife Education Center and exploring the wetlands and waterfowl habitat along the auto tour route.
- Deer Valley in Summer
- Park City Main Street
- Jordanelle Reservoir
Park City, Utah, could certainly stake a rightful claim to being the “perfect mountain town.” Combining its silver mining heritage, a modern vibe, and a deep appreciation for the outdoors, Park City strikes a balance between luxury and comfort. Whatever your daily activity may be (say, biking Deer Valley or stand-up paddleboarding at Jordanelle), you’ll work up an appetite for the diversity of fine restaurants that line Historic Main Street and beyond and want to wind down with a local craft beer or whiskey. Overnight in Park City.
Deer Valley Resort is filled with nonstop activity in summer such as lift-served mountain biking, hiking and scenic chairlift rides, Summer Adventure Camp for children and music-filled evenings at our Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. There is also award-winning cuisine throughout the resort.
On the National Register of Historic Places, Park City's Historic Main Street is the centerpiece of this mountain town, and home to dozens of restaurants, bars and unique local shopping experiences. The town is also packed with other fun things to do that offer visitors the very best of Utah.
Nestled in the rolling mountains north of Heber City is Jordanelle Reservoir. It has two distinct recreation areas, Hailstone and Rock Cliff, that offer a variety of recreation opportunities. Spend a day or weekend picnicking, camping, boating, birding or hiking.
- Utah Field House
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Flaming Gorge
Step back in time 159 million years to a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Experience the Wall of Bones and beyond. The Vernal area is also home to three distinct state parks, hiking, rafting, fishing, and Old West and Native American history. Continue to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area where trophy trout fishing awaits on the reservoir and below the dam on the Green River. There are also uncrowded trails through untamed forests and lots of opportunities to see wildlife. Plan two or three days, if possible.
Even more geologic time is revealed here than in the Grand Canyon. Within an 80-mile radius of Vernal, evidence of the entire Earth's history is visible. At its center is the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum which gives visitors a virtual tour of our planet’s ancient history.
Dinosaur National Monument features two distinct districts. The gateway to the park's prehistory is in the Dinosaur Quarry near Jensen, Utah. Here you will uncover the world-famous fossil exhibits that give the park its name. The adventure-rich Canyon district extends along the Green and Yampa rivers.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area might be home to the West's most spectacular reservoir. It certainly is one of the best fisheries around. The reservoir is part of an all-encompassing outdoor destination that is a scenic playground for boating, waterskiing, windsurfing, camping and backpacking.