My college best friend, Ashley told me she was going to drive herself from Denver to Seattle by herself for her new adventure doing travel nursing. My first thoughts? How long is that drive? Are you breaking it up? Where are you stopping? She goes into telling me everyone doesn’t have the time off and she was just going to do it…alone. She proceeds to tell me its 21 hours in total, but she plans to stop in Yellowstone National Park to camp during the first night. Then, stop in Boise, Idaho the second night to finish in Seattle on the third day. Okay…I’m in.
I won’t dive into what to do in Denver since I barely spent time there on this trip, but if you are looking for things to do or places to eat find my Denver post here!
Tip: my friend got the “America the Beautiful” annual park pass here. This pass paid for itself on this trip. For $80 a year you can get into a ton of National Parks and your guests too! We could use it at Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and the Lava River tube in Bend, Oregon (from our road trip).
Things to know about the pass:
- Covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Passes are punched at the time of sale and valid one full year from month of purchase (through the last day of the month).
- Allows a pass owner and all passengers in a private vehicle, or the pass owner and 3 adults at sites where per-person fees are charged.
- When using your pass, photo identification will be required to verify ownership.
We started driving from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. This took about 9 hours from Denver. We drove the whole park which took quite some time. We left around 6am and didn’t top exploring until 10pm. The good thing is there is so much daylight in the summer. The sun didn’t set until 9pm! We came from the south entrance and started west towards our first stop at Old Faithful. Then drove counter clock wise up to Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, then following the Yellowstone River to Yellowstone Lake.
We woke up in Yellowstone then drove a short distance to the Grand Tetons National Park to Jackson hole. Jackson Town is known for the old western theme. We went to Persephone Bakery for a turmeric latte for some caffeine so finish the drive. Once we got to Idaho, I found the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho on Pinterest. It was $3 per car (cash) to get in. Apparently Shoshone is taller than Niagara Falls! It was super hot the day we went so we just snapped a couple pictures from the lookout points then headed on to Boise.
Places to Eat: The STIL (Sweetest Things In Life) was the cutest ice cream shop in downtown Boise. They also offered beer, wine and alcohol infused ice cream and floats. You must show your ID to try the infused flavors. STIL had a great modern atmosphere… I would highly recommend!
On the third day, we started our morning in Boise to Bend, Oregon. This stop was a bit out of the way to Seattle, but I highly recommend. It reminded me of a mountain town in Colorado. About 20 minutes from bend is the Lava River Tube which is over a mile long underground.
Places to Eat: Spork in Bend, Oregon. We went to Spork around 5:30pm for dinner and the line was already superrrr long. The service is great and offer drinks while you are in line. We asked the server what was good and the story of Spork since they had a ton of reviews on Yelp for such a small town. It started as a food truck then expanded into an Asian and Mexican fusion. We ordered 4 small plates which was about perfect. They are known for their spicy fried chicken which I recommend.
We ended up being in Bend on the first Friday of July which had a ton of live music and art open until about 8pm. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying the food, breweries and shopping Bend has to offer.
The final day was about a 5.5 hour drive from Bend to Seattle. There’s not much to stop at along the way other than Portland.
Below is a picture from our friends rooftop. Seattle is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. To see what I did on a previous trip check out my Seattle post here.
And that wraps up our PNW road trip. If you have 5 days to take this road trip is totally doable. You can book two one ways and rent a car to make it pretty affordable.