A road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone is an excellent way to see a large portion of the mountainous northwest. There is a lot to see and do while driving through three western states known for their pristine vistas and outdoor adventures. It is possible to drive I-90 in one long day, but it is best to break it up so that you can enjoy this beautiful part of the country.
Hiking, fishing, boating, and camping are all popular activities in the mountains of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This route provides numerous opportunities to see wildlife and gets close to nature before reaching Yellowstone National Park. You’ll want to take your time on this trip so you can stop and enjoy the scenery in Big Sky Country.
Seattle to yellowstone national park road trip distance
If you take the most direct route on I-90, the distance from Seattle to Yellowstone is 755 miles. The drive from Seattle to Yellowstone is nearly twelve hours, so plan on at least a two-day or three-day trip to enjoy the many fun places to stop along the way.
Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Missoula are all excellent places to stay overnight. There are also numerous places to camp along I-90.
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Best Seattle to yellowstone national park road trip
Washington’s Snoqualmie Falls
If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, don’t miss a visit to Snoqualmie Falls, where much of the show was filmed. Take the Snoqualmie Parkway off I-90 to the opening credits’ famous waterfall.
It’s a popular tourist attraction in Washington State and a great location for a photo shoot. There are two observation decks and a gift shop, as well as hiking and picnicking opportunities at the falls. While you’re there, you might want to eat or stay at the Salish Lodge (also known as the Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks), which sits directly above the waterfall and has spectacular views.
You can also visit nearby locations from the show, such as the iconic Double R diner, where Agent Dale Cooper would frequently stop for a slice of cherry pie. Drive down Route 202 to North Bend to the now-renamed Twede’s Café, where cherry pie remains a popular menu item.
Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass
If you’re driving from Seattle to Yellowstone in the winter, use extra caution through Snoqualmie Pass because it gets heavy snow and the roads may be closed. Snoqualmie Summit is a popular winter sports destination, with numerous opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing.
The Snoqualmie Pass area is a stunning alpine wilderness in the summer, with crystal blue lakes, waterfalls, and endless pine forests. To get to the top of the mountain, take the Pacific Crest chair lift.
Right off I-90, there are several great hikes in the area, including Franklin Falls and Beaver Lake. Snoqualmie Pass is also on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Washington’s Spokane Falls
Spokane Falls is the second of several famous waterfalls to see on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip. Spokane Falls is at the heart of the city’s history and is just one of many beautiful places to see on the drive from Seattle to Spokane.
For centuries, it was a gathering place for local Native Americans to catch salmon and perform ceremonies, and in the 1800s, a hydroelectric dam and a mill were built powered by the falls. The falls cascades over rocks and have two distinct levels in the heart of Spokane’s downtown.
Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane features several city landmarks, including a clock tower, a pavilion built for the 1974 World’s Fair, and numerous sculptures.
You can walk across pedestrian bridges to Snxw Mene Island (formerly known as Canada Island) in the middle of the Spokane River, as well as across the Monroe Street Bridge for a great view of the falls. Take the SkyRide, a gondola that crosses the Spokane River, for an extra special treat.
Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene
Lake Coeur d’Alene, with 135 miles of shoreline, is one of the area’s premier natural lakes, and there is plenty to do, including a variety of watersports.
At the marina, you can rent paddle boats or pontoon boats or take a lake cruise. Fishing is also popular at Lake Coeur d’Alene, and you’ll need an Idaho fishing license to do so. Here you can catch salmon, trout, and bass.
If you don’t want to get in the water, there are several beaches on the north side of the lake off I-90, including Sanders Beach and Pebble Beach. The Couer de’Alene Resort has several lakeside dining options, including Beverly’s and the Cedars Floating Restaurant.
Check out the Trail of the Couer d’Alene, a 73-mile paved path that crosses the southern part of the lake and a few other lakes to the east, if you’re a cyclist or just looking for a nice walk. The trail begins on I-90 east of Couer d’Alene in the town of Cataldo.
Montana National Bison Range
The Flathead Indian Reservation’s National Bison Range is located north of I-90 on Highway 93 from Wye. Since 1908, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have managed the National Wildlife Refuge to restore bison, which had become nearly extinct due to hunting.
From May to December, the range is open to the public. Pay your entrance fee at the visitor’s center, where you can also picnic. You can view the herd of 350 to 500 bison by driving along the Prairie Drive and Red Mountain Drive roads with interpretive signs through the range.
You can also see the herd by hiking the Bitterroot, Grassland, and High Point trails. The National Bison Range is off the beaten path and provides an opportunity to learn more about Native American history and western conservation efforts.
Montana Natural History Center, Montana
The Montana Natural History Center in Missoula is a fun stop for kids on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip itinerary.
There are exhibits on Montana’s ecosystems and glaciers, as well as a naturalist lab and a variety of activities for children, such as a discovery room, a nature adventure, scavenger hunts, and other programs. The center also owns the Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden in Missoula, where you can learn about Montana’s native plants and pollinators.
The center is open from Tuesday to Saturday and costs $4 for adults and $1 for children. It is on History Street, close to the riverfront. If you want to explore the riverfront from the museum, there is a walking path from the center that leads to the parks that line the Clark Fork River in Missoula.
Montana’s Grant-Kohrs Ranch
Montana is known for its ranches, and if you want to see one in person on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip, stop by the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, a National Historic Site just off I-90 in Deer Lodge.
It was founded by Johnny Grant, a Canadian fur trader, and then expanded by Conrad Kohrs, known as Montana’s Cattle King. He once had 50,000 cattle and ten million acres of land. Conrad Warren also owned it before it was designated a National Historic Site in 1972.
The Grant-Kohrs Ranch is still in operation today. You can take a tour of the barn and bunkhouse buildings, as well as walk around the ranch and see the cattle and cowboys who work it. There’s also a blacksmith shop and a chuckwagon.
Summer is a great time to visit because the ranch offers several programs and guided tours. There is no admission fee to the Grant-Kohrs Ranch.
Montana’s Missouri Headwaters State Park
The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States, and it begins in Montana, just north of Three Forks off Interstate 90, where the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers meet.
Sacagawea was kidnapped as a girl by the Hidatsa tribe and taken to North Dakota from this location. She accompanied Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery on their journey to the headwaters, which they documented in their journals.
You can walk or bike along the interpretive trails at Missouri Headwaters State Park, canoe, fish, and camp overnight. You can also rent a tipi to sleep in while camping.
The park is open all year and charges for camping and tipi rentals. The entrance fee to the park is $8 per vehicle. On the way from Seattle to Yellowstone Park, this state park is a scenic and peaceful stop.
Montana State University Museums
Montana State University in Bozeman has two excellent museums worth visiting on your way from Seattle to Yellowstone.
The Museum of the Rockies, a Smithsonian affiliate, houses a massive fossil collection as well as a complete T-Rex. Natural history exhibits, a planetarium, cultural exhibits, and a variety of programs are also available. It is open all year and admission are $16.50 for adults and $10.50 for children.
Consider visiting the American Computer and Robotics Museum on the Montana State University campus for an unexpected learning experience. Local engineer George Keremedjiev founded the museum by collecting calculators and adding machines.
The museum houses a diverse collection of items related to computing, artificial intelligence, and information systems. It displays cuneiform tablets, robotics, and electronics, some of which you may remember from your childhood.
It’s a fantastic place to visit if you work in technology or simply enjoy computers. This museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and costs $8.50 for adults and $5 for children.
Montana’s Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is located in West Yellowstone, just outside of Yellowstone National Park, so it could be a good preview before you go into the park, or you could stop by on your way back from Yellowstone to Seattle.
It began as a refuge for nuisance grizzly bears who would otherwise be killed, and it now educates the public on how to reduce the problem. Wolves, otters, birds of prey, and squirrels are now included. The center has exhibits where you can learn about the animals and also see them.
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center has the bears try out bear-resistant garbage cans and food containers, so you might see a bear trying to break into one while you’re there.
Every day of the year, the center is open. Adult admission is $15, and children’s admission is $10.
Where to Stay on the Seattle-Yellowstone Highway
If you intend to visit any (or all) of these locations on your Seattle to Yellowstone road trip, you’ll need to find a great place to stay along the way. On this beautiful road trip, the cities of Spokane, Washington, and Missoula, Montana make excellent overnight stops.
The Historic Davenport – If you’re looking for some luxury in Spokane, this hotel is a great option. They are centrally located and have a number of luxurious amenities as well as plenty of lovely rooms to ensure you are well-rested to continue your road trip. Click here to see if they are available.
Montvale Hotel –
Another excellent Spokane option, especially if you prefer something a little smaller and more intimate. They have a variety of lovely, chic rooms to choose from, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar.
Private Rental –
If you’d rather not stay in a hotel and prefer to find your own place, a private apartment or home rental is the way to go! There are so many great places in Spokane, such as this cozy central cottage, that you’re bound to find something to your liking. Browse private rentals in Spokane by clicking here.
INN Missoula, come on! If you’re looking for a comfortable and dependable place to stay in Missoula, this hotel is an excellent choice. They offer a variety of clean and comfortable rooms, an indoor swimming pool and fitness center on-site, and a variety of other amenities to make your stay enjoyable. Click here to see if they are available.
Private Rental – A private rental, such as this plush condo in central Missoula, is another popular option in Missoula. There are so many properties to choose from in the city that you’ll be able to find something that meets your requirements. Browse Missoula private rentals by clicking here.
The Bentwood Inn –
This luxury hotel, located in Wilson, WY, is an excellent choice for those looking for a place to stay close to Yellowstone National Park. They have a plethora of plush rooms to accommodate all party sizes, breakfast is included each morning, and guests can even enjoy wine and cheese in the evenings. Click here to see if they are available.
Yellowstone Park Hotel –
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in West Yellowstone, Montana, this is a great option. They have a number of great rooms available and even an on-site swimming pool and are located close to Yellowstone National Park’s western entrance. Click here to see if they are available.
Private Rental –
If you’re looking for a private rental near Yellowstone, there are plenty of options close to the National Park. A place like this condo near the Park’s west entrance is just one of many options. Browse private rentals near Yellowstone National Park by clicking here!
Yellowstone visitors observe the Old Faithful Geyser.
By stopping at some of these Seattle to Yellowstone road trip stops, you can get off the interstate and spend some time in the mountains, learn more about the west’s nature and landscape, and have a fantastic adventure.
Do you intend to take a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park? Do you have any questions about the journey? Tell us in the comments!