We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

Seattle
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
Save Topic
Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

Our family of 4 (2 adults/two 9-year olds) is driving to YNP in August and I need advice on where to stay for our half-way points. We've already got reservations for 3 nts in YNP and 1 nt in GTNP (in that order). I want to know if we should return from GTNP via YNP or try to drive down to Jackson and then back up?

Also, does it make any difference in time if I drive out of West Yellowstone to hook back up with I-90 or should I exit the North Entrance instead?

I'm trying to determine travel times as well as points of interest outside the parks. Do I stay in Missoula or Butte as my half-way point stops? Or any other suggestions?

My kids would probably enjoy a ghost town like Virginia City along the way but not sure how much time to allow for that either.

Any advice is appreciated as I've been combing the forums and reading everything but can't find these particulars!

Golden, Canada
Destination Expert
for Regina
Level Contributor
4,269 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

Halfway from Seattle to Yellowstone? Coeur d'Alene or Missoula. Either leaves a drive of 7.5hrs on one side and about 5hrs on the other. Wallace, ID is another stop of interest with the mine tours and museums.

Virgina City could be a detour if you drop down US-287 through Ennis and on to Yellowstone. Also look into Lewis and Clark Caverns near Three Forks, MT.

I would take a different route to get back to Seattle from Grand Teton. A southern route through Idaho and Oregon catching part of I-84. Drop down the hour or so to Jackson and head west to Idaho Falls.

Everett, Washington
Level Contributor
2,445 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

We used to live in Puyallup and did much of the same routes at various times. For the sake of exposing the kids to more territory and better appreciation of vastness of the country I would also suggest a different return route.

My preferred halfway point going to YNP would be Missoula. Lots more lodging options and much pretier location than Butte. Then depending on where staying in YNP consider entering form the north and catching Mammoth Hot Springs and northern areas that day and avoid backtracking on the other days in YNP (that is, do the loops).

After GTNP take Teton Pass from Jackson over into Idaho towards Idaho Falls. Very pretty area around Swan Valley. Then US-20/26 through Craters of the Moon to Bliss on I-84. Stop at Craters and let the kids explore a lava tube and the cinder cones. A good stopping point would be Boise.

Then I-84 to Portland and I-5. The climb up from the Snake River seems to last forever. With early start a lunch at Multnomah Falls in the Gorge might be possible. The sudden transition from arid rocky east side to lush green west side can make a great impression on kids. From there its 4-5 hours to Seattle, construction and traffic willing.

Seattle
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

Thank you Sequim88 and Wanderer05 for the suggestions! Sounds like Missoula will probably be our 1/2 way stop on the way into YNP. I forgot to mention that we're actually spending an additional night in Gardiner to do the Mammoth and northern parts of the park before we head down to Old Faithful and then Lake area so it's more like 4 days in the park!

I was initially concerned that returning south thru Jackson, Idaho Falls, Oregon, etc. would be just too long after spending so much time in the car thru YNP, but it sounds like there's some cool stuff worth detouring and stopping for.

Roughly how many hours total from Boise back to Seattle with minimal stops?

If we decide to go back thru YNP instead is it better to drive down thru Jackson and up on the west side of the park or backtrack out of GTNP thru YNP? Thought maybe we'd only go half-way thru GTNP and not try to see all of it.

I'm thinking maybe we could do Virginia City and Phillipsburg on the way home? Have either of you done that? I also heard great things about the dinosaur bones at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.... just weighing the options!

Truly appreciate your insight!!

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

"I'm thinking maybe we could do Virginia City and Phillipsburg on the way home? Have either of you done that? I also heard great things about the dinosaur bones at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.... just weighing the options!'

I've done all of the above. for VC and P, you'll take the Pintler Loop; well worth it!!! Allow an hour in each.

Missoula is a good halfway point Seattle to YNP, though on occasion I've pushed through to Butte going east.

Using Google Maps (which you might try), it's Boise to Seattle, WA

503 mi – about 8 hours 16 mins. It's a scenic drive as well.

GTNP is relatively small and has two parallel major and a few minor roads. You have the time to explore it, perhaps even from your YNP lodging

When you decide to depart YNP. I'd go a different route than arriving for the sake of some variety. Don't think the difference in time will be that much.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

I'm sorry, a cold, a cough, a temp, not thinking well.

Philipsburg is the correct spelling, I made the same mistake.

Ennis and Virgina City are to the west.

I like Sequim's route idea heading back west. Depends on time.

A neat thing to do if possible, cheap cameras for the kids. In YNP they will love it.

Junior Ranger Program is worth looking into; kids enjoy this as well.

Signing off before I make more mistakes. :(

Seattle
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

Thanks voyaging! Wow, 8+ hours straight thru might be too much for my kids at the end of a long trip if we make Boise the halfway stop as suggested. It sounds cool though. We're just not the best at leaving really early either.

Maybe we'll just loop back north via side roads and overnight somewhere with a pool. That's always the great equalizer!

I appreciate everyone's input....I've still got some research to do. Great tip about Google Maps -- didn't know it calculated mileage.

Maybe the Museum of the Rockies on the way to YNP and then the smaller towns of Virginia City and Philipsburg on the way back....

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
Level Contributor
2,810 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

I think that visiting MOR in Bozeman on your way to YNP is a great idea. They're opening a new interactive exhibit in the Children's Discovery Center tomorrow - "Exploring Yellowstone". It sounds pretty interesting and a good intro to the park. Of course, the dinosaur exhibits are always a big hit too.

If you go to Virginia City, you'll pass Quake Lake on the way out from West Yellowstone - a great Visitor's Center there that doesn't take too long. Certainly an interesting story.

In VC, there's an old fire engine that does a tour of the town which the kids usually like. Also, if you have the time, there's a train ride between VC and Nevada City that's fun and not very long. In Nevada City, there's a display of old-time music machines that's also fun - just make sure to bring change - they're not free :-)

Enjoy your trip!

8. Re: Driving loop from Seattle-YNP-GTNP-Seattle need advice

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 29 December 2010, 06:16
Get answers to your questions about Yellowstone National...