Top 10 Scenic Drives Surrounding Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of stunning natural beauty. If you’re planning a road trip to this iconic destination, there’s no better way to experience the park’s majestic landscapes than by exploring its scenic drives. From winding mountain passes to expansive valleys, these top 10 routes offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

Key Takeaways:

  • Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most picturesque drives in America.
  • These scenic drives offer stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Discover the top 10 routes to take your road trip to the next level.
  • Explore the Beartooth Highway, Grand Loop Road, Lamar Valley, Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs, Blacktail Plateau Drive, and more.
  • Experience the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Yellowstone from the comfort of your car.

Beartooth Highway: A Scenic Drive to Take Your Breath Away

The Beartooth Highway is a must-see for any traveler seeking a true scenic drive experience. This 68-mile highway passes through the stunning Beartooth Mountains, offering panoramic views that will leave you breathless.

As you wind through the alpine meadows, you’ll spot various wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzly bears.

It’s an unforgettable route that takes you through switchbacks and steep climbs, with hairpin turns adding to the excitement.

Be sure to stop at the various pullouts along the way, where you can take in the panoramic views of snow-covered peaks, crystal-clear streams, and pristine forest landscapes.

The Beartooth Highway is typically open from late May to mid-October, weather permitting. If you’re planning a road trip to Yellowstone, make sure to add this to your itinerary.

Experience the Beauty of Beartooth Highway

As you drive through the Beartooth Highway, you’ll encounter an array of stunning sights, including:

  • The Beartooth Pass, which sits at an elevation of 10,947 feet and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • The Rock Creek Vista Point, where you can take in views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains.
  • The Top of the World Store, serving as a great spot for a coffee break and a restroom stop.
  • The Gardner Lake Overlook, where you can see the Gardner Lake nestled in the valley.

The Beartooth Highway offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while exploring the rugged terrain of Montana and Wyoming.

“The Beartooth Highway is one of the most spectacular drives in America, with jaw-dropping views at every turn.” – National Geographic Traveler

Grand Loop Road

There’s no better way to experience the diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks of Yellowstone National Park than by taking a drive on the Grand Loop Road. This scenic drive encircles the park, offering stunning views of the park’s natural beauty.

The 142-mile drive takes you through some of the park’s most famous attractions, like the Old Faithful geyser and the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring. But it also takes you through lesser-known areas, like the Lamar Valley, where you can see herds of bison and elk.

The Grand Loop Road is divided into two loops, the Upper Loop and the Lower Loop, each with its unique attractions. The Upper Loop takes you through the Norris Geyser Basin and the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, while the Lower Loop takes you through the Hayden Valley, the Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

With so much to see and experience, it’s recommended to take at least a full day to drive the Grand Loop Road. But if you have more time, don’t hesitate to take a few days and explore the different attractions in-depth.

Make sure to stop at the different pullouts and overlooks along the way, as these offer some of the best views of the park’s natural beauty. Keep your eyes peeled for the park’s incredible wildlife, including bears, wolves, and moose.

Driving the Grand Loop Road is an unforgettable experience, and one that should be on every park visitor’s to-do list. So buckle up, and get ready to experience the beauty of Yellowstone National Park from the comfort of your car.

Lamar Valley

If you’re looking for a scenic drive that offers unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities, look no further than Lamar Valley. Often referred to as the “Serengeti of North America,” this picturesque route is a must-visit for any Yellowstone National Park visitor.

As you wind through Lamar Valley, keep your eyes peeled for herds of bison, majestic elk, packs of wolves, and even grizzly bears. This area is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream come true.

But the beauty of Lamar Valley doesn’t stop at the wildlife. The valley offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and rolling hills, making it a perfect spot to take in the natural beauty of Yellowstone.

Be sure to bring your camera along for this scenic drive. The abundance of wildlife and stunning mountain and valley views are sure to provide plenty of photo opportunities.

Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the Absaroka Mountains with the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, a 47-mile long route that will take you through some of the most spectacular views the Yellowstone area has to offer. Named after the famous Nez Perce Chief Joseph, this drive is not only scenic but also historically rich, following the same trail the Nez Perce tribe took during their retreat to Canada in 1877.

Starting at the junction of US Highway 212 and Wyoming Highway 296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway gradually gains elevation, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. As you travel through the Shoshone National Forest, you’ll pass by deep canyons, rolling hillsides, and pristine lakes.

One of the most prominent points of interest along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is Dead Indian Pass, a high mountain pass that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. As you venture further into the byway, you’ll encounter the Sunlight Basin, a glaciated valley that boasts an abundance of wildlife, including bears, moose, and elk.

If you’re a fan of road trips, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is definitely one for the bucket list. With its winding roads and stunning vistas, this drive is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of the natural beauty surrounding Yellowstone National Park.

Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs: A Scenic Drive through Yellowstone’s Geothermal Wonders

Embark on a spectacular journey from Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs, discovering the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park. This scenic drive will take you through some of the park’s most remarkable features and offers an unforgettable experience.

Starting from Norris, be sure to explore the Norris Geyser Basin, home to some of Yellowstone’s most famous geysers, including Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest active geyser. Marvel at the colorful hot springs and bubbling mud pots as you make your way towards Mammoth Hot Springs.

As you continue your drive, take a moment to stop at the Roaring Mountain, where steam and gas escape from the mountain’s rocky surface, creating a deafening roar. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, including elk and bison, which are often seen along the way.

Finally, arrive at your destination – the stunning travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. These natural wonders have been formed over thousands of years from the mineral deposits of the thermal springs. Walk along the boardwalks and witness the colorful pools and intricate formations, which are constantly changing due to the geothermal activity below.

If you have the time, consider taking a detour to the nearby Sheepeater Cliff, a towering lava formation that offers stunning views of the surrounding valley.

Overall, the Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs scenic drive is a must for any Yellowstone visitor, offering a unique perspective on the park’s natural wonders.

Blacktail Plateau Drive: A Hidden Gem Among Yellowstone’s Scenic Drives

If you’re looking for a peaceful and quiet drive through Yellowstone’s wilderness, be sure to check out the Blacktail Plateau Drive. This 6-mile gravel road is a hidden gem that winds through the park’s northern range and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

What to Expect on Blacktail Plateau Drive

As you begin your journey on Blacktail Plateau Drive, you’ll immediately notice the vast open terrain and the rolling hills that stretch out before you. The road is relatively flat, making it an easy drive that allows you to soak in the natural beauty of the park.

Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for bison, elk, and other wildlife that call this area home. The drive is also dotted with geologic features such as the Petrified Tree and Lamar Valley Overlook, adding to the incredible sights that await you.

Why Blacktail Plateau Drive is Worth the Visit

While it may not be as well-known as some of the other scenic drives in Yellowstone, Blacktail Plateau Drive provides a unique experience that is definitely worth checking out. The lack of crowds and noise makes it the perfect spot for enjoying nature and wildlife without disturbance.

Additionally, the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys make for incredible photo opportunities that you won’t find elsewhere in the park. If you’re looking for a peaceful and picturesque drive through Yellowstone, Blacktail Plateau Drive is the perfect choice.

So, the next time you’re planning a road trip through Yellowstone National Park, don’t forget to add Blacktail Plateau Drive to your list of must-visit scenic drives. You won’t regret taking the time to explore this hidden gem.