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Vancouver to Yellowstone

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Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
Vancouver to Yellowstone

We(family of three) are going to visit Yellowstone National Park with our friends(another family of three) in August. We will drive from Vancouver, and spend 1 night in Spokane, 2 nights in West Yellowstone, 2 nights in Jackson, and on the way back to Vancouver, 1 night in Pendleton(different road back home). Can anyone give us some suggestions on this trip. Many thanks!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 18,092
reviews: 288
1. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

Here is the must sees for Yellowstone-


A lot of people try to do the upper loop one day and the lower loop another day.

Pam who is one of the DE on the Yellowstone National Park forum is excellent at giving detailed daily trip plans.

Good luck!!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 11,276
reviews: 86
2. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

I would probably go for 3 nights in Yellowstone and 1 in Jackson if you can swing it.

Peachbelle is right that some do the Upper Loop one day and Lower Loop another day. In my mind, there are 2 major areas on the Lower Loop, the Upper/Midway/Lower Geyser basins and the Canyon to Fishing Bridge area that can easily have 1 day each.

Your Jackson to Pendleton day is going to be pretty long. The first couple of hours will be on 2-lane road, then you'll be on Interstate the rest of the day.

I would be happy to do itinerary suggestions. You basically have 1 full day and a part of the next day because that is your day you are going to Jackson.

Day 1: You will arrive late in the afternoon from Spokane. I would exit the Interstate at Cardwell. Once you turn right off the exit ramp, there is a big brown sign that routes you to the left to *Yellowstone*. I go straight onto a smaller road and it will connect to US 287. This is a few minutes shorter. You will follow 287 on in to West Yellowstone. If you get there early enough you may want to go ahead and buy your entry ticket at the Yellowstone Visitor Center in West Yellowstone. It is next to the IMAX theater. There is also the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center if you have kids and they are interested. You can also drive in to the park and look for animals. It is likely you will see bald eagle, trumpeter swan, elk and bison between West Yellowstone and Madison. If you have bought your entry ticket, you can go to the *Prepaid Pass* lane at the entrance gate which is usually quicker.

Day 2: I would make this your geyser day. Turn right at Madison Jct, after you cross the Gibbon River Bridge, turn right in to Firehole Canyon. When you get back to the main road, head in to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. Go to the Visitor Center first, write down the eruption times for the predictable geysers on the brochure available at the desk (50cents). Try to work some of these in on your walk thru the geyser basin. Save some room for ice cream at the Old Faithful Inn. You get it on the 1st floor and can take it up to the 2nd floor deck overlooking the geyser basin. In August, the gesyer basin can be quite hot. You will need sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. After you finish this area, head back toward West Yellowstone stopping at the geyser basins you went by this morning...Black Sand, Biscuit, Midway and Fountain Paint Pots. Also drive the Firehole Lake Road. Overnight in West Yellowstone.

Day 2: Head in to Canyon. Make a pit stop at the Visitor Center, then do the North Rim. If you only do one viewpoint, Brink of the Upper Falls is the first one you come to. Go to the South rim, at least do Artist Point which is the classic view of the Lower Falls. From this area, go south thru Hayden Valley, looking for wildlife. Stop if you see anyone out with long lenses on their cameras! Do Mud Volcano. At Fishing Bridge, stop, park and walk across. This is often a good place to see wildlife, believe it or not. From here head south around the lake. If you are not geysered out, do West Thumb geyser basin, then out the South entrance.

If you can possibly add a day, you could do the Upper Loop on day 2 and then do this day 2 on your day 3.


Edited: 9:10 pm, July 12, 2012
Saint Paul...
posts: 2,375
reviews: 43
3. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

Since I've done all the "out of the park" parts I'll offer some thoughts on those.

Vancouver to Spokane depends on route. Fastest (7 hrs) is via I-5/I-90 through Seattle area (bypass using I-405 to Bellevue). Via Osoyoos is 9 hours. Via Canada-3 to US-385 through Colville add another half hour (or more). If you don't mind leaving early and arriving late the Can-3 route would be most interesting. We tend to prefer 2-lane roads when we are not in a hurry. Also, you might want to consider Post Falls, ID for lodging since tax rate is lower there as are room rates somewhat. Wonderful place for breakfast there - Old European Restaurant (http://oldeuropean-restaurant.com/pf.html).

Spokane to West Yellowstone is 7 driving hours or so but consider adding a little scenery via US-10A from Drumond, MT to Anaconda, MT and back on freeway - passes scenic Georgetown Lake. Adds about half hour of driving. The US-287 route to W. Yellowstone is interesting because it passes Earthquake Lake (w/visitor center) and scenic Hebgen Lake. On other hand US-191 south from Belgrade (near Bozeman) passes the Big Sky resort area and is worth a short drive up to see Lone Mt. up close.

On return Jackson to Pndleton is a solid 9 hours. With an early start you can perhaps breakfast on the road with a side trip to Driggs and see other side of Teton Range. The section of ID-31 that passes through Swan Valley is one of the prettier places I've ever seen. From Idaho Falls consider US-20 to Mountain Home via Craters of the Moon. Adds about 1/2 hour not including stopping time to view craters and lava tubes. Interesting landscape for sure. At the Snake River be sure to note the loooooong climb on the Oregon side - the hill that seems to go up forever.

Pendleton to Vancouver, BC has to be via Columbia Gorge if you have not gone through there before. Going to I-5 via Portland adds about an hour over going north on I-82 to I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass but is one of the classic North American drives.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
4. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

To PeachBelle8288: Thanks for your kind reply. The link is extremely helpful: top 10 attractions and the map, simple and clear. Great!

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
5. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

To Pam:Yes, I am rearranging my itinerary:3 nights in West Yellowstone and 1 in Jackson. Luckily, there are still rooms available. We are actually going to stay outside of the park. None of us have been to these two places. I am the organizer and i am going to follow your instructions. thanks!

Edited: 12:51 pm, July 13, 2012
Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
6. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

Hi,Sequim88:I am so glad you provide info on the roads. we never went to these two places, and the map can not tell you enough info. Great info! Now I have a picture when we should start going and what we can do on the way to and back. we are heading to yellowstone and grand teton, but still do not want to miss the beautiful part on the road.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 11,276
reviews: 86
7. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

Wonderful! Well, on Day 2 I would go in to Norris Junction and turn north to Mammoth. Do the Upper Terrace drive and walk the Lower Terrace. The best bathrooms here are near the bus parking lot next to the gas pumps. There are some in the basement level of the Visitor Center, but the others are better. From Mammoth head east, then at Tower Roosevelt Jct, head out in to Lamar Valley. Then return to Tower Junction, head south and do Tower Fall, drive Dunraven Pass and then you will come out at Canyon. Stop at the VC if anyone needs a pit stop. Head back to West Yellowstone. If you still have time, you can stop at Norris Geyser Basin at this point.

I always stay at West Yellowstone, so I find it convenient. for visiting the park.

Day 2 will be a long day behind the windshield, so make sure you watch your time so you can get back to West Yellowstone by dark.

This will give you sunset times.


Print this out and take it with you. You will be able to figure how long it will take to get somewhere by looking at the park map you will receive at the gate. You will double the miles to get your time. IE Canyon to West entrance = 40 miles = 80 minutes (with no wildlife jams)


Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8
8. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

Excellent info! Thanks again! One simple question: if I go to visit Grand Teton Park, where should we stay,Jackson Hole or Jackson? We will stay in west Yellowstone park before heading to Grand Teton.

9. Re: Vancouver to Yellowstone

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