The visit of Yellowstone creates more of a headache for all those who would like to include the park in a wider tour of the SouthWest: due to the distances, very often this project turns out to be more of a forbidden dream than anything else to be postponed to a second trip, perhaps entirely dedicated to the Real America or focused on the Utah Migty Five and the famous Wyoming park (itinerary to which we have dedicated a special ebook).
I often answer your questions in this regard: how to include Yellowstone in a 15-20 day itinerary departing from the airports where you most commonly land in the West, namely San Francisco and Los Angeles? In fact, theat the airport's choice where to land to visit Yellowstone is quite a puzzle. As you can read here, the most strategic international airport is without a doubt Salt Lake City. However, in case of advantageous offers on flights or for itinerary needs, other options can also be evaluated: together with Denver in Colorado, among the main ones, the airport of Las Vegas in Nevada it is one of the "least worst".
So if Las Vegas is the city you have chosen as the starting point for your trip to Yellowstone, you will need to organize the move well. My intention is to offer you an overview of the possibilities routes from Las Vegas to Yellowstone, so that you can get a better idea of the distances, travel times and intermediate stages that can be done on the way. Obviously, these tips will also apply if Las Vegas is a stop over for you on your journey north.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Yellowstone
- The shortest route
- How to divide the stages and where to stop
- From Las Vegas to Salt Lake City: other possible stops
Distance from Las Vegas to Yellowstone
A distance of 1200-1270 km divides Las Vegas from the two closest Yellowstone entrances, namely the West Entrance and the South Entrance: in any case a very long journey that requires 1, 2 or more intermediate nights depending on the type of itinerary you decide to do. If you want to make an hourly calculation, you have to take into account from 11 to 12.30 hours of travel without stopping. During this long movement they touch 6 states: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The shortest route
If you have to optimize the time at your disposal in every way, I recommend that you follow the following itinerary, which is the shortest ever:
Here are the indications in detail:
- drive north on I-15 N da Las Vegas to Idaho Falls for approximately 1015 km (obviously you will have to plan an overnight stay along the road, see the next paragraph).
- When you are in town, stay on the highway until you see the signs for Yellowstone at exit 119.
- Take Highway 20 E, the road that in about 1.45 hours (175 km) will take you to Montana, West Yellowstone, the western gateway to the park.
If, on the other hand, from Salt Lake City you want to enter the park via Jackson and Grand Teton passing bysouth entrance, you will have to follow the itinerary shown on the map you find here.
How to divide the stages and where to stop
Along this road it is necessary to make at least an intermediate overnight stay and we could say that Salt Lake City it is in a good position to break up the journey. However, it should be specified that from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City they are still needed around 6 hours, a long path that must surely be broken in two parts, perhaps by inserting an intermediate stage of naturalistic interest. If 6 hours a day of driving is too much for you or in any case you have decided to deepen one of the stages mentioned below a little better, you can also decide to stop a little earlier to sleep in Provo, knowing full well that the amount of kilometers to be covered is only postponed to the next day.
- Provo accommodation available
- Our recommendations for overnight stays in Salt Lake City
Here are some tips to make the trip from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City more interesting:
- Surroundings of St. George: St. George is the first major city on I-15 north of Las Vegas - there is no shortage of natural beauty here. In our article dedicated to St. George we have given some suggestions on excursions to do in the area: you can choose one that does not take you too long before heading back to Salt Lake City.
- Kolob Canyons Road: exit 40 of I-15 leads to Kolob Canyons, a displaced section of the Zion National Park, little known. The distance from Las Vegas is approximately 245 km, for a total of 2.10 hours. The red road begins immediately at the Visitor Center Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive, a short panoramic (16 km round trip) that leads to an observation point on the crimson rock canyons framed by the green of the woods. When you get to the top, you'll have to go back to take I-15 again. Allow around 30-45 minutes for this detour (without any paths).
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: a little more rational than the previous one because it goes in the correct direction, this detour can help you make the trip much more fascinating. Exit I-15 at Exit 57 towards Cedar City and take UT-14 E. After 25 minutes you will find a fork with UT-148, the road that leads to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a natural red rock amphitheater that resembles a lot in Bryce Canyon. The road skirts the National Monument offering some nice viewpoints and, continuing north, meets the town of Parowan, from which you can re-merge onto I-15 and continue to Salt Lake City.
Whether you're sleeping in Salt Lake City or Provo, you'll have to hit the road the next day to get to asap West Yellowstone (west entrance) o Jackson (south entrance). Again, if you are in a bit of a rush, you won't have time to make many intermediate stops. However, if it annoys you to go on the road without stopping at least once, you can let yourself be inspired by the advice we gave in our itinerary from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, choosing a stage that does not waste you too much time or does not take you too far off the road. : keep in mind that from Salt Lake City at the two entrances there are over 500 km to do in about 4.30 / 5 hours of travel.
From Las Vegas to Salt Lake City: other possible stops
With a little more time available, the available itineraries are truly numerous. They will serve 1 to 3 additional intermediate nightsBut this way the trip from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City will become more than just a commute!
1) Leaving Las Vegas behind you can dedicate a day to Valley of Fire e Zion National Park (the latter via the UT-9), visiting the first in transit on the journey to Utah, and the second in a little more depth in what remains of the day. It will therefore be necessary to stay overnight in the Zion area before resuming the journey north along the last piece of UT-12, the US-89 N and I-15 N.
My recommendations for staying near Zion
2) After reaching Mt. Carmel Junction, you will then continue to travel north towards Salt Lake City. However, along this stretch of the on the road you can decide to add another classic Utah stage, deviating a few kilometers from the US-89 N to reach the Bryce Canyon. The park is worth at least 3 hours to visit and may require an overnight stay in the area or in the direction of Salt Lake City (Panguitch, for example). Da Panguitch a Salt Lake City then it takes about 3.3o hours to do all in one go, as in my opinion there are no unmissable places of interest. From Salt Lake to Yellowstone you can then follow the usual itinerary by inserting one or more intermediate stops among those indicated in the article already linked.
- Accommodation available in Panguitch
- My recommendations for accommodation after visiting the Bryce
3) If time is not an issue, you can make an additional addition to your itinerary after Bryce. Instead of going to sleep in Panguitch, continue east on UT-12, finding accommodation for the third night in one of the towns along it. splendid panoramic road (Boulder, Escalante or Torrey). The next day, a visit to another Utah Mighty Five gem awaits you: the underrated park of Capitol Reef. In the linked article you will find information and advice on how to organize your visit, but keep in mind that, at the latest in the early afternoon, you will want to get on the road to reach Salt Lake City via the UT-24 W, the US-50 W and, from Scipio onwards, the usual I-15 N (about 3.30 hours).
- Accommodation available in Boulder
- Available accommodation in Escalante
- Accommodations available in Torrey
4) There would be a further enrichment of the trip, but here the detour is substantial! After Capitol Reef, instead of driving north you could reach Moab along the UT-24 (approximately 2 hours of travel), stay overnight there and dedicate 1-2 days to its beauties before returning back and returning to Salt Lake City along the US-191 N / US-6 W roads and finally I-15 N (about 3.45 hours of travel).
My recommendations for staying in MoabDo you need a ready-to-use itinerary? Our Yellowstone and Utah Mighty Five in 16 Days ebook departs and returns right to Las Vegas and almost completely covers this route towards Yellowstone, with the exception of Moab which is reserved a space on the return journey south from Wyoming. If you want to get a better idea and be inspired by our advice, you can buy it as a useful tool for this type of trip.