The Best LA to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Last Updated on August 30, 2022 by Snezana Grcak

Preparing an LA to Yellowstone National Park road trip is no joke, but you’ll undoubtedly have a lot of fun along the way. The Shuttle Fare team will help you explore beautiful areas between California and Wyoming, including entertainment destinations in Nevada, stunning trails and deserts in Utah, parks and restaurants in Salt Lake City, and iconic falls located in Idaho. Discover the greatest natural landscapes, places to eat or rest, parking, cozy hotels, historical sites, and much more in our amazing travel guide. You’ll also find numerous incredible locations and activities in Yellowstone for both the summer and winter months. 

Drive From Los Angeles to Yellowstone

The route from Los Angeles to Yellowstone National Park is just over 1,000 miles long, and the point-to-point ride may take up to 16 hours. So, we certainly don’t recommend doing it over the course of one day, especially since you’d miss numerous magnificent places along the road.

The best LA to Yellowstone National Park road trip includes spending a night in at least two cities before reaching the destination. Split the drive into three days, and then give yourself a couple of more to explore Yellowstone. Use the breaks along the way to check out amazing spots and try out fun activities. Enjoy the nightlife in Vegas, hike through Valley of Fire State Park, relax in Salt Lake City’s parks, and visit magnificent Mesa Falls. 

Once you get to the national park, a whole new adventure begins, and you’ll find all the must-see places and must-do activities in our travel guide.

U-20 to Yellowstone National Park

Attractive Stops Along the Way

Check out the must-see places from Los Angeles to Yellowstone, and use our tips to make your road trip as fun and eventful as possible.

Las Vegas: World’s Entertainment Capital

Vegas is the first big city on the route, and it’s approximately a 4-hour drive from LA. We recommend spending an entire day here, and here are the top 5 things to see and do in Vegas. 

  1. Take a 30-minute ride on the famous High Roller to enjoy the views of the city, and then stop by Yard House to grab a beer or truffle mac and cheese. Find parking here.
  2. Fremont Street Experience is a must-visit entertainment and gambling destination in Vegas. Click here to find convenient on-site parking.
  3. If you’re into history and criminology, the Mob Museum is worth checking out. It’s close to Fremont Street, and you can find the ticket and parking fees here.
  4. Bar-hopping is one of the tourists’ favorite activities in Las Vegas, and deservedly so. Our top picks include Double Down Saloon, Frankie’s Tiki Room, and Golden Tiki. If you like cocktails, visit Juniper Lounge inside the Park MGM or head to Chandelier Bar at the Cosmo to try the fantastic Verbena. Also, Skyfall Lounge inside the Delano Hotel offers the best views.
  5. Gondola rides at The Venetian are also popular tourist attractions. This hotel is great for couples who want some romance in this fun city.

We suggest you spend the night in one of the numerous Las Vegas Strip hotels before continuing your road trip.

Las Vegas

Top Spots for Hikes & Views North of Vegas

All nature lovers will enjoy the spectacularly scenic ride north of Las Vegas. Our team selected the three picture-perfect places to check out or hike through.

  1. Valley of Fire State Park (ideal for hiking and camping)
  2. Virgin River Gorge (breathtaking views)
  3. Zion National Park (all of the above and more)

Click here for all the essential info about traveling from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, including the best route and spots for hikes, camping, or lunch breaks.

Salt Lake City: Parks, Restaurants & Cultural Attractions

The best known as the Mormons’ religious center, the city provides an assortment of entertainment, cultural, and dining options. It’s a clean city with beautiful parks, such as Liberty and Sugar House, and botanical gardens like Red Butte.

Downtown restaurants offer delicious meals for lovers of nearly any cuisine. For brunch, we recommend the Melting Pot, Copper Onion, and Dodo, while vegetarians and vegans must visit Vertical Diner. Liquor laws are more strict than in most states, but there are a ton of breweries to make up for that.

When it comes to cultural attractions, our team suggests the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Natural History Museum of Utah, and Clark Planetarium. If traveling with kids, go to Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. For those interested in recreational activities, we recommend hiking around or kayaking in the Great Salt Lake.

Spend the night in a city hotel, and continue your LA to Yellowstone National Park road trip the following morning.

Salt Lake City

Lava Hot Springs: Top Summertime Destination

Lava isn’t just a hot spring; it’s a fully developed summer town with lots of activities for both adults and kids. Check out the water park near the hot springs, and try out river rafting. Note that there are a lot of visitors during summer, so expect to deal with a crowd.

The place is ideal for entertainment but not so much for dining. So, have fun in Lava, continue your trip to Yellowstone, and then stop in Idaho Falls after about an hour for a lunch break. The SnakeBite Restaurant is the place for steaks and seafood. If you’re into Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, visit Hot Springs Pho, Krung Thep, or Dee Kitchen. 

Mesa Falls: Final Must-See Stop

Upper and Lower Mesa Falls are Eastern Idaho’s gems that are certainly worth a detour. Take a right turn in Ashton to embark on a 15-minute side trip to the falls. Leave your vehicle approximately 200 yards from the falls, and enjoy the spectacular views. Note that the approach road is closed during the winter, so visitors must go on a 1-mile hike to get there.

Mesa Falls

Things To Do in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the places that actually lives up to expectations and even exceeds them. It’s like a theme park but of natural wonders. You’ll see deep forests, canyons, waterfalls, geysers, hot pools, and diverse animals. In fact, watching wildlife is as popular as enjoying the geologic features, and you may notice bison, bears, wolves, mountain goats, bobcats, and many other creatures.

There are many hiking options, and you don’t even have to walk too long to see some beautiful spots. You could go down the colorful Grand Canyon to the brink of an impressive waterfall or check out breathtaking steaming pools and mud pots. There’s also a lily-covered mountain lake, which is frequented by a very small number of tourists. Other activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and boating or kayaking on Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone National Park also has the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful, situated in Upper Geyser Basin, as well as popular Mammoth Hot Springs. We recommend spending an entire day on the geysers and hot pools, so consider lodging and make a clever plan.

Yellowstone Hot Pools

Our team also strongly suggests visiting Jackson Hole and Grand Tetons. The latter is a quiet, beautiful place with whitewater rafting opportunities, while Jackson Hole is great for a night out. It offers a bit of nightlife and nice restaurants, so don’t hesitate to check it out.

The Best Time for Your Road Trip

There’s no bad time for organizing a road trip from LA to Yellowstone. For most of the drive, you’ll go through gorgeous preserves and forests, which look fantastic no matter the season. However, note that some forest roads close during winter, and the weather conditions will certainly prolong your trip.

Millions of visitors arrive every summer, which is the park’s peak season, so you should avoid it if you hate crowds. Our recommendation is late spring or fall; the weather is just right, and the number of tourists is bearable. Nevertheless, you’ll undoubtedly have an amazing time whenever you decide to travel.