The drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone may be long, but it’s also one of the most epic road trips to take if you’re hoping to check out many of the top national parks in the Southwest region of the United States.
A short detour will bring you to the Grand Canyon, and all of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks will practically be en-route as you drive to Yellowstone from Las Vegas. With so much to see and do, you’ll probably spend way more of your day outside your car than in it!
For tips about what to see and do on a Vegas to Yellowstone road trip, read on to learn about the best stops to make and some of the logistics for planning a successful drive.
Distance from Las Vegas to Yellowstone
The road trip from Las Vegas to Yellowstone covers about 740 miles, which follows I-15 for the majority of the route.
However, if you want to make side stops at other National Parks like the Grand Canyon (highly recommended!), count on adding some miles to the total count.
|Drive||Distance||Estimated Drive Time||Where to Stay|
|Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park||46 miles (74 kms)||45 minutes||Valley of Fire State Park|
|Valley of Fire State Park to Grand Canyon National Park||222 miles (357 kms)||4 hours||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Grand Canyon National Park to Zion National Park||98 miles (158 kms)||2 hours||Zion National Park|
|Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park||84 miles (135 kms)||1 hour 50 minutes||Bryce Canyon National Park|
|Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park||112 miles (180 kms)||2 hours||Capitol Reef National Park|
|Capitol Reef National Park to Arches National Park||132 miles (212 kms)||2 hours||Arches National Park|
|Arches National Park to Canyonlands National Park||26 miles (42 kms)||30 minutes||Canyonlands National Park|
|Canyonlands National Park to Salt Lake City||242 miles (389 kms)||3 hours 50 minutes||Salt Lake City|
|Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls||213 miles (343 kms)||3 hours||Idaho Falls|
|Idaho Falls to Grand Teton National Park||94 miles (151 kms)||2 hours||Grand Teton National Park|
|Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone||236 miles (380 kms)||4 hours 50 minutes||Yellowstone|
How Long Do I Need Driving from Las Vegas to Yellowstone?
A straight-shot drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone would take between 10 and 11 hours to complete. 11 hours behind the wheel is no way to spend an incredible road trip!
Plan on at least three days of driving if you want to only make minimal stops. If you’re hoping to explore other parks and really make the most of the drive, then realistically plan on at least a week, if not more, for driving from Las Vegas to Yellowstone.
Best Time of Year to Drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone
Spring, summer, and fall are all good times of year for a Las Vegas to Yellowstone Road trip.
Although summer is one of the most popular times of year to drive to Yellowstone, thanks to the weather and the most options for accommodation, it’s also when you’ll need to deal with the most tourist crowds. Keep in mind that other places in the southern portion of your drive in Arizona and Utah will also be very hot during the summer, which can make outdoor activities more difficult to enjoy.
The shoulder months of April-May and September-October are often good bets if you want to miss the snow season in Yellowstone as well as the summer crowds. Temperatures are also usually better for hiking and outdoor activities (maybe with the exception of swimming).
It’s also possible to drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone in the winter, although much of the accommodation around Yellowstone and other National Parks will be closed during this time of year.
Best Stops on a Las Vegas to Yellowstone Road Trip
There are a lot of great detours to make when driving from Las Vegas to Yellowstone. We’ve included some of the no-brainer cities you’ll pass through and longer side trips, so you can pick and choose where you want to go depending on your interests and your time.
Valley of Fire State Park
Less than an hour outside of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is one of the gems of Nevada. This incredible park gets its name from the bright red and orange color of the sandstone formations that characterize this Mohave Desert region.
Although it might feel like your drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone has barely begun, it’s worth planning to stop and spend some time in Valley of Fire.
Other than the amazing natural rock formations, one of the park’s top attractions is the petroglyphs carved into the sandstone canyons, which are estimated to have been made by Ancestral Puebloans about 2,500 years ago.
Make sure you get photos of the Elephant Rock; this iconic rock is hard to miss, not only because of its location near the park entrance but also because of its shape (any guesses as to what it resembles?).
There are many great hiking trails throughout the park, like the Fire Wave, known for the red and white stripes of sandstone, or the White Domes Trail, which has everything from caves to desert vistas.
- Grab our Las Vegas to Grand Canyon itinerary if you want even more interesting stopping points from Nevada to northern Arizona.
Grand Canyon National Park
Although the Grand Canyon is a bit of a detour from the most direct way to Yellowstone from Las Vegas, if you’re already on a road trip in the southwest, it’s well worth the extra time behind the wheel.
The Grand Canyon is often listed among the most amazing natural landmarks in the world, so you should definitely take the opportunity to visit it if possible!
There are two entrances to the Grand Canyon: The North Rim and the South Rim. Although the South Rim is the more popular of the two, it also adds significantly more driving time, while the North Rim entrance is easier to add to a drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone. The North Rim is usually much quieter than the South Rim, so you won’t need to deal with as many other visitors.
A lot of travelers consider the North Rim to be more serene and remote as well. Some of the most popular hikes near the North Rim are the North Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Point which is known for its spectacular overlook.
If you want to spend a night or two at the Grand Canyon to make the most of your time exploring the area, there are several lodges and campgrounds near the North Rim-just make sure you have reservations well in advance!
- Also, remember that the North Rim closes during the winter, usually between December 1st and May 1st, but check the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information.
Zion National Park
Whether or not you add a stop at the Grand Canyon to your Vegas to Yellowstone road trip, Zion National Park is practically on the way from either direction.
Probably the most popular of Utah’s Big 5 National Parks, Zion has an incredible landscape of canyons, mesas, and spectacular sandstone formations.
Even if you don’t stop for long, you should definitely add the six-mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. It’s considered one of the most beautiful drives in Utah and crosses right through the park’s center.
- If you are skipping the Grand Canyon, this itinerary will take you straight from Las Vegas to Zion National Park
Hopefully, you can plan for enough time that you’ll be able to get out of your car and explore some of Zion’s wonders on foot. Hiking is one of the best ways to see the park, with some easy hikes being the Canyon Overlook, Riverside Walk, and the Weeping Rock Trail.
If you’re an experienced hiker, grab some extra water and sunscreen to check out the hike to Observation Point.
- Be aware that certain hikes within Zion require you to enter a ballot for timed tickets – and crowds at peak times mean you will need to allow plenty of extra time to catch the shuttle in and out of the park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon stands out from the other National Parks of the southwest for its distinctive hoodoos. These naturally made tower-like rock formations are anywhere between 5 feet to a whopping 150 feet high!
This National Park is home to some of the most-photographed natural landmarks and locations in Utah. Make sure you bring your camera to get photos of Thor’s Hammer (one of the most iconic hoodoos of the park) and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the red canyon walls.
Like many of the National Parks you’ll encounter on the drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone, hiking is one of the best ways to see the landscape. If you have a day or two to explore Bryce, you might also consider taking a horseback riding tour.
Spending a night at Bryce is worth it to see the night sky. It’s a certified Dark Sky Park and has one of the best views of the stars in the entire United States!
- Got longer to spend in Utah? We have a detailed itinerary for all the interesting stopping points between Zion to Bryce Canyon if you want more than just the highlights tour.
Capitol Reef National Park
Although Capitol Reef is the least visited of Utah’s Big 5 National Parks, it has a lot of surprises in store, especially if you like visiting spots with a more off-the-beaten path sort of feel.
Even if you don’t have time to do more than drive through the park on Highway 24, you’ll still be rewarded with breath-taking vistas over the red-rock canyons at spots like Panorama Point.
If you want to leave the car, you can hike the easy trail to Sunset Point. The entire hike is less than a mile round-trip, and it’s a spectacular place for (you guessed it) watching the sunset.
Arches National Park
It’s a no-brainer where Arches National Park gets its name. With over 2,000 natural stone arches, the landscape of this park is unlike anywhere else in the world!
Even just driving through the park will allow you to see many of the iconic stone arches and red-rock towers that characterize the landscape. Spending a bit more time will allow you to hike some of the top trails, like the Devil’s Garden, or a more challenging trek to the Delicate Arch, which is probably the most famous arch in the entire park!
Outdoor adventurers might also consider spending a night at one of the campgrounds as they drive to Yellowstone. The park has spectacular night skies, and the sunrise over the red sandstone landscape is breathtaking.
Canyonlands National Park
Rounding off Utah’s Mighty 5 is Canyonlands National Park. The park is enormous, covering over 330,000 acres, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails through canyons and mesas.
The park’s most popular area is called Island in the Sky, where you can find scenic drives, camping, and hiking. Mesa Arch and Grand View Point are two of the highlights of this area, both of which are reachable by fairly easy hikes.
If you have more than a day, you can explore some of the other top areas of Canyonlands, like The Needles, which are known for their unique needle-like sandstone formations. Adrenaline junkies should head to the area of the park known as The Rivers, where the Colorado and Green Rivers meet, which has some epic places for white water rafting and kayaking.
Salt Lake City
Utah’s capital city is a no-brainer stop to make when driving from Las Vegas to Utah. Not only is Salt Lake City the gateway to Utah’s Big 5 National Parks, but it also has a great combination of history, culture, and city life.
Spending at least a night in SLC is definitely recommended. This will give you a chance to recharge for another day behind the wheel; plus, there’s enough to see and do in the city that it’s practically worthy of its own road trip.
Spend the morning visiting the top sites around Temple Square, like the iconic Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the name’s a mouthful, but the architecture is jaw-dropping). Families will enjoy museums like the Natural History Museum of Utah or spend an afternoon at the Hogle Zoo.
- We have a more detailed guide to all the interesting things to do with kids in Salt Lake City over here.
Coming closer to your final destination as you drive from Las Vegas to Yellowstone, Idaho Falls is another great city to stop in, at least for an afternoon or possibly a day or two, depending on your time.
Situated on the Snake River, there are lots of opportunities for water sports like fishing, kayaking, and rafting. Right downtown, the city’s River Walk area has beautiful parks with pathways, public events in the summer, and an array of great restaurants and city attractions like the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho.
If you’re okay with adding a bit more driving time to your trip, you can visit the spectacular Mesa Falls, which are about an hour’s drive from the city.
Idaho Falls is also close to two different natural hot springs: Heise Hot Springs and Lava Hot Springs. These are great places to relax after all the hiking and long hours in the car, where you can literally soak in the mountain scenery!
Grand Teton National Park
Road trips to Yellowstone often include a stop at Grand Teton since the two National Parks are so close together. Grand Teton doesn’t get as much traffic as Yellowstone, so it’s easier to find places with a more remote and wild feel.
The towering mountains are dominated by Grant Teton itself, which is the tallest peak reaching 13,700 feet.
Take a (very cold) dip in Jenny Lake and then a shuttle boat across the tranquil alpine waters to reach the trail for Hidden Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in the park, which plummets over 100 feet.
The park also has an abundance of wildlife, and along with the bison, elk, and pronghorn, which make frequent appearances, you might also get to see other animals like bears, moose, or even wolves!
Grand Teton has several campgrounds and lodges inside the park itself, or hang at Jackson Hole, as it is a popular place to stay for a day or two while exploring the area.
Our complete family guide to Yellowstone National Park coming soon!
More Tips for Road Tripping from Las Vegas to Yellowstone
- Planning a successful road trip from Las Vegas to Yellowstone is dependent on making reservations in advance. If visiting Yellowstone in the summer, it’s recommended to make your reservations at least six months, if not a full year, beforehand since the park fills up so fast!
- Plan for a variety of weather, no matter what time of year. You’ll be covering a big distance driving from Las Vegas to Yellowstone, and the climate will change considerably. Even in the summer, pack layers to be prepared for cold nights.
- Sunscreen, bug spray, and water bottles will become your best friends! Double-check to make sure you have all three before starting out on any hikes.
- Keep your distance from wildlife. Even if an animal seems curious enough to approach, never offer them food. When driving, always give animals the right of way-you are visiting their home, after all!
- Never forget an important road-tripping item again! Download our complete road trip checklist ready for your next family adventure
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