Yellowstone became the first national park in the world in 1872. Teeming with wildlife and foliage, Yellowstone National Park is best known for its’ geothermal features, particularly Old Faithful, a cone geyser that erupts over 105 feet into the air every 65 minutes. But with so many great features, you don’t even have to get out of your car to enjoy them all! There are many scenic drives in the park and surrounding area that are simply breathtaking.
Once hailed as the “most beautiful drive in America” by journalist Charles Kuralt, Beartooth Highway is a 60 mile journey across alpine plateaus and near many alpine lakes. This drive was opened in 1936 and follows the Sheridan Trail of 1882. In addition to traveling through Yellowstone, Beartooth Highway also visits the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and has many great places for trout fishing, camping, and hiking. This road is closed by winter snows, so plan your trip between Memorial Day and mid-October.
Another great drive is to head from West Yellowstone to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In a two and a half hour drive, you will visit three states, cross the Continental Divide, see forests and farming valleys, and visit the Teton Range of Grand Teton National Park. There are many route options you can take with this drive, but regardless of what you choose, you won’t be disappointed. This drive ends in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a small town in a valley surrounded by mountains.
If you enjoy riding on gravel roads, Boulder River Road is a scenic drive consisting of paved and gravel roads near Yellowstone. Follow the Boulder River 50 miles straight into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness for great fishing and camping opportunities. Along the way, you also find waterfalls and great spots for wildlife viewing. This ride will also take you near the Gallatin National Forest and Big Timber Ranger District, both of which are excellent detours. This drive is closed in the winters due to the snow.
The drive from West Yellowstone to Bozeman is a scenic drive through a narrow mountain canyon. You will travel through a less visited part of Yellowstone to behold beauty that few venture out to see. During your trip, you will see the Gallatin River, Lee Metcalf Wilderness, petrified forest, and hot springs. If you’re the adventurous type, you might like to stop and try out whitewater rafting or snowmobiling along the way. You will also pass by the Museum of the Rockies and Montana State University. Though this road may be more difficult to travel in the winter, it is open year round.
With so many beautiful things to see at Yellowstone National Park, almost any road has the potential to be a great scenic drive. If you want an adventure, just start driving and see where the road takes you and what you discover along the way. The less traveled an area is, the more likely you are to see wildlife and other unique features. Just make sure to have your GPS or map handy in case you get lost!