thank you, we're going end of june
It might slow you down a but but do consider the loop on WY-130 from Laramie to Walcott over the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. Spectacular scenery. Keep it as an option if weather is clear. If not perhaps skip but ti would be a shame to miss.
As noted taking Togwotee Pass to Moran Jct. and seeing Tetons is a good route if you won't otherwise be getting down to Grand Teton NP. But if going there after YNP then there's a bunch of things to see north from Riverton to Cody including Wind River Canyon, Thermopolis (springs, Travertine terraces, Dinosaur Center, etc...) and museums in Cody. Good stuff but only if it does not mean missing Tetons.
If this is the day you arrive from Europe, you might want to go no further than Rawlins which is about four hours from DEN. Stay someplace with a pool, relax and have an early night. Then the next day drive on to Yellowstone on via 287 on the route Tet suggests. I assume you'll be visiting Grand Teton NP on this trip as well, but if not, make a left at Moran and drive about 10-12 miles on 191 to the Snake River Overlook for a fantastic view of the mountains.
thank you all for the ideas!
The Thermopolis/Cody route I figured would be from Riverton on the 2nd day so there would be plenty of time to get to OF that afternoon. But again, ONLY if plans are to visit GTNP later. Otherwise slam dunk choice would be stay in Lander and do the Tetons the next day on way to OF.
Rawlins to Riverton would only be another two hours via WY-135 (Sand Draw Cutoff) but I completely missed the jet lag aspect. Even Laramie might be far enough. But DIA to Riverton shows as 6 hours on GoogleMaps (Lander would be exactly same) and it stays light a long time at end of June. A real off the beaten path shorter option for arrival day would be Saratoga (nice resort there) at a bit under 4 hours via Snowy Range but that leaves an extra long next day to YNP.
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