Seattle – Mt Rainier (Paradise) – Yellowstone NP – Grand Teton NP – Salt Lake City – Moab – Arches NP – Canyonlands NP – Monument Valley – Bryce Canyon NP – Zion NP – Las Vegas

We did an amazing trip through the Rocky Mountains national parks in May/June 2018 – a good time to travel to avoid the crowded peak season of July and August.

We hired a car in Seattle and it took two days to drive to Yellowstone National Park via Mt Rainier, Selah and Butte.

Mt Rainier National Park (Paradise)
It’s a beautiful drive from Seattle to Mt Rainier. We drove via Paradise and although raining and cold we loved driving through Mt Rainier NP and made a couple of worthwhile stops:

  • Longmire
  • Narada Falls
  • Paradise – good place for lunch
  • Reflection Lakes is a good stop if sunny
  • Box Canyon Trail
  • Grove of the Patriachs Nature Trail – a highlight

Grove of the Patriachs Nature Trail

Mt Rainier National Park to Selah
It is a very scenic drive all the way to Selah with a couple of stops to take in the views:

  • Palisades Viewpoint
  • Rainier Viewpoint

Scenic road to Selah

Selah to Butte
This is another scenic drive. Just beyond Selah be sure to stop at the Colombia River overlook for views of the Colombia River and the beautiful monument to wild horses – Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies.

Colombia River Overlook, Selah

Colombia River Overlook

In Butte we had an overnight stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites and a delicious meal at the Casagranda Steakhouse – highly recommended.

Butte to West Yellowstone
From Butte it was a couple of hour’s drive to the town of West Yellowstone and the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It is a good idea to visit the Visitor Information Centre in West Yellowstone for information and maps on Yellowstone NP.

If you cannot get accommodation inside Yellowstone NP, the town of West Yellowstone is a good base for exploring the park – there is an extensive choice of accommodation and restaurants.

Yellowstone National Park
We spent two and a half days in the magnificent Yellowstone National Park – have a look at our blog on Yellowstone for details and photographs.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park
Leaving the southern entry/exit of Yellowstone NP takes you through the Grand Teton National Park – a magnificent drive. We stayed at the pretty town of Jackson. See our blog on the Grand Teton NP and Jackson for details.

Grand Teton National Park

Jackson to Salt Lake City
It was about a 5-hour drive to Salt Lake City – a fascinating place and worth stopping for a couple of days. The world headquarters of the Mormons. Have a look at our blog on Salt Lake City for what to see and do.

Temple Square, Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City to Moab
Moab is an excellent base from which to explore national parks:

  •  Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park

Both parks are amazing and it’s worth spending a few days in the charming town of Moab to experience the natural wonders nearby.

Also, don’t miss Dead Horse Point State Park (near Canyonlands).

See our blog for more details on Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Moab to Monument Valley
Monument Valley is not actually a national park – it is a Navajo Tribal Park. To see the amazing rock formations throughout the valley, access is via a self-drive, 17-mile loop road. We stayed inside the park at the View Hotel. Have a look at our blog on Monument Valley for more information and photographs.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Grand Canyon
We did not include the Grand Canyon National Park on this road trip as we had visited the park on a couple of occasions before. If you have not been to the Grand Canyon it is a must see. On this itinerary it would best seen between Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon.
Have a look at our blog on our trip to the Grand Canyon in Winter for what to see and where to stay.

Bryce Canyon National Park
This was one of our favourite national parks. The 33km Scenic Drive takes you through the park with many overlooks along the way. Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos – spires of rusted limestone. The best time to visit is sunrise – for the best light – but we thought they looked wonderful any time.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park
The drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park takes about 2 hours and we enter Zion NP at the eastern entrance. Part of that drive takes us on the spectacular Zion-Mt Carmel Highway (part of Hwy 9) – one of our favourite drives of the trip

The most popular section of Zion National Park is Zion Canyon. Due to vehicle congestion, from April to October, the canyon is accessible only via shuttle buses – with 8 stops along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and a recorded commentary. Guests staying at the Zion National Park Lodge are allowed to take their cars in as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

Springdale is ‘base camp’ for Zion National Park with plenty of accommodation, restaurants, galleries, shops and outdoor adventure activities.

Visit our blog on Zion National Park for more information.

Zion National Park East Entrance

East Entrance to Zion National Park

Las Vegas
This is where we finished our road trip through the national parks. Las Vegas is about as far from nature as you can get but it has it’s own appeal – amazing shows, casinos, hotels, shopping.

See our blog on Las Vegas for some ideas on what to see and do, and for excellent value for money accommodation.

For more information contact Dave Upton at

May/June 2018