Salt Lake City, the National Parks and Fossil Butte National Monument
Adventurer & Photographer
Fossil Butte National Monument Itinerary
Start / End
Salt Lake City, Utah
Grand Teton, Yellowstone
700 Miles (1,126 KM)
At least 14
Summer & Fall
This trip takes you in a loop, starting and ending in Salt Lake City, Utah. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of the best untravelled small towns in the Mid Rocky Mountains as well as a few popular destinations like Jackson and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. You will travel through the outdoorsy Utah towns of Layton, Ogden, and Logan before crossing the border into Wyoming. Stops in Wyoming include Afton, Jackson, the national parks, and Kemmerer. Back in Utah, take some time to explore Park City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. This national parks road trip itinerary concludes in Salt Lake City, where we recommend spending a few days to soak up the city’s culture.
We recommend at least 14 days to accomplish everything there is to do in the trip starting in Salt Lake City. This trip takes you through two states and you will have a lot of driving. The bigger towns are well worth the stops and can offer you many opportunities for nightlife, but the smaller towns have a western charm to them that is well worth an overnight stop and will add a uniqueness to your trip. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to stop, especially during your longer days on the road. So plan your trip accordingly so that you can experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you can’t make that happen then we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the National Parks and bigger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks.
DAY 1: SALT LAKE CITY TO LOGAN, UTAH
1.5 HOURS/87 MILES
From Salt Lake City, head north on Interstate 15 to the suburbs of Layton and Ogden, on the way to an overnight stop in Logan. Both Layton and Ogden are full of great little restaurants and shops, and we recommend taking time to stop for a few hours in each one. It’s a great chance to acclimate yourself to the American West before heading out onto the road. When you arrive in Logan, don’t just make it a one night stop. Stay through the next day and enjoy the Bear River Mountains.
Best short hike (Layton):
Best place grab a quick bite to eat (Layton):
Best local winery (Layton):
Best short hike (Ogden):
Best place to take the kids (Ogden):
Best place for a stroll (Ogden):
DAY 2: LOGAN
1.5 HOURS/65 MILES
Logan, Utah is an amazing place to spend some time. Nestled at the foot of the nearly 10,000-foot high Bear River Range, Logan’s setting is beautiful in any season. From outdoor adventures to great downtown experiences, you can craft your perfect day in this charming place! We recommend starting the day with breakfast at Angie’s. This eatery offers a classic American breakfast menu with great food and great service, all in a downtown locale. From there, choose your adventure. Head up into White Pine Lake trail system or check out the unsurpassed Wind Cave and Crimson Trail in Logan Canyon. Or stay in town and visit the local history with a downtown tour. Stop in at the Cache Valley Visitor’s Bureau for more information about all the things to do both in-town and out.
Best scenic drive:
Best place to grab a quick bite:
Best place to see a wolf:
Best place to get a little history:
Best local brew and burger
DAY 3: LOGAN TO AFTON, WYOMING
2 HOURS 18 MINUTES/117 MILES
This is going to be a short driving day packed with activities along the way. If you’re the type that starts your day with coffee, head to Caffe Ibis. Afterward, hop in your car and get ready for some beautiful scenery. The route to Afton takes you up Hwy 89 to Bear Lake through Logan Canyon. Logan Canyon is a National Scenic Byway with plenty of great photo ops. About 40 miles into your drive, you’ll come upon Garden City and Bear Lake. Well worth a stop to stretch your legs, Bear Lake is known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies.” Its unique turquoise-blue color is due to the refraction of limestone deposits suspended in the lake. A great stopping place in the area is Bear Lake State Park. After Garden City, Hwy 89 cuts through a corner of Idaho before entering Wyoming. This area of Wyoming is home to Bridger-Teton National Forest, one of the most beautiful National Forests in the United States. Today’s scenic drive ends in Afton, Wyoming. We recommend spending the night in this quintessential western town.
Best local shopping:
Best sugar fix:
Best place to stay:
Best place for dinner:
Best after-hours fun:
DAY 4: AFTON TO JACKSON
1 HOUR 23 MINUTES/70 MILES
With so much to do in this bustling town, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to walk around, stop in the shops, and enjoy a meal or two.
Best place to shop for gifts and souvenirs:
Best place to people watch:
Best way to eat farm to table:
Best place for sushi:
Best place to have a drink while sitting on a bar stool shaped like a saddle:
DAY 5: GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
We hope that you explored all you wanted to Jackson because it’s time leave the city behind and head north for a nature-focused experience in Grand Teton National Park. You really aren’t prepared for the beauty until you actually experience these mountains up close. Today, you’ll explore crystal clear lakes, flowing rivers, and great spots for photography all with the rugged Grand Tetons next to you. If you really want to enjoy Grand Teton National Park, avoid the crowds and bike on the many trails throughout the park. After you’ve been blown away by the Tetons, it’s time to head toward Yellowstone.
Best road for photo ops:
Best place to hike:
Bucket list experience:
Best scenic drive:
DAY 6 - DAY 9: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
You can’t come all the way to Wyoming and not spend at least a couple days exploring the state’s two national parks. Trying to see both national parks in one day is depriving yourself of a truly grand experience. Once you reach the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park, be sure to get a park map at the entrance station. In that map you will be able to see anything and everything that may spark your interest during your park journey. Remember, Yellowstone covers a huge area of land. If you want to get the best experience without a lot of driving, we suggest staying one night within Yellowstone National Park.
Major attractions in Yellowstone include:
GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
GRAND CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE
Best place for wildlife:
Best place to ride a horse:
Best point of interest:
Best iconic American landmark:
DAY 10: FOSSIL BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
4.5 HOURS/241 MILES
With Yellowstone in your rearview mirror, It’s time to take a trip into Wyoming’s pre-history. Kemmerer, Wyoming exists today on what is essentially the bed of an ancient tropical sea. Right outside of town is the phenomenal Fossil Butte National Monument. Some of the world’s best preserved fossils are found in the flat-topped ridges of southwestern Wyoming’s cold sagebrush desert. Fossilized fishes, insects, plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals are exceptional for their abundance, variety, and detail of preservation. After your trip through the ancient world, head back into Kemmerer and enjoy the slow-paced little town.
Best place to grab coffee and a quick breakfast:
Best place to see a fossilized crocodile:
Best place for a swim and a picnic-Kemmerer:
Best place for dinner:
Best place for a drink
Best place for a hike through pre-Cambrian history:
DAY 11: KEMMERER TO PARK CITY, UTAH
2 HOURS/112 MILES
From Kemmerer, you’ll cross back into Utah below Evanston, Wyoming and keep heading south to Park City, Utah. There’s so much to do in this little town, but the best thing about Park City is its dedication to the outdoor world. This was the place of the 2002 Winter Olympics after all, and the outdoor activities are extensive. But Park City has a great city-centric activity level too. In Park City it’s realistic to be browsing through one of the numerous art or history museums in the morning and be lacing up your boots to hike one of the numerous trails just outside the town in the afternoon. The best place to start any visit to Park City is the visitor information center.
Best way to get up the mountain:
Best way to get down the mountain:
Best place to burn some calories:
Best way to see the town and get fed:
Best place to people watch:
DAY 12 - DAY 14: SALT LAKE CITY
IN 1847, WHEN MORMON PIONEERS ARRIVED IN THE SALT LAKE VALLEY, LDS CHURCH PRESIDENT BRIGHAM YOUNG SELECTED A PLOT OF THE DESERT GROUND AND PROCLAIMED, “HERE WE WILL BUILD A TEMPLE TO OUR GOD.” ATTRACTING 3 MILLION TO 5 MILLION VISITORS A YEAR, TEMPLE SQUARE IS THE MOST POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTION IN UTAH, BRINGING IN MORE VISITORS THAN THE GRAND CANYON OR YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. CONTAINED WITHIN TEMPLE SQUARE ARE THE SALT LAKE TEMPLE, SALT LAKE TABERNACLE, SALT LAKE ASSEMBLY HALL, THE SEAGULL MONUMENT, AND TWO VISITORS’ CENTERS. THE SQUARE WAS DESIGNATED A NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK DISTRICT IN 1964. LOCATED IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN SALT LAKE CITY, TEMPLE SQUARE HAS A RICH HISTORY, GORGEOUS GARDENS AND ARCHITECTURE, VIVID ART AND CULTURE THAT PULLS YOU IN, YOU’LL BE SURE TO HAVE AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE.
1 HOUR/40 MILES
Get ready for some city life. But first, you need to get there. There are two ways to get to SLC from Park City, but we recommend the route taking Hwy 224 to Hwy 190 over Guardsman Pass. Total drive time (one way) is about one hour, but you’ll probably want to figure in a little extra time so you can stop for photos and perhaps a picnic along the route. On top of the mountains the country opens up and you’ll have majestic views in all directions. At the summit of the pass, the elevation is about 9,700 feet above sea level. If you’re traveling during the winter, you’ll have to take the Hwy 224 to Interstate 80 route since Guardsman Pass is closed in the winter.
After arriving in Salt Lake City and getting settled in your hotel, head out and explore this vibrant city!
Best place to shop:
Best way to see the city:
Best downtown nightlife:
Best cultural experience for families:
Best place to shop local:
Can’t miss restaurant:
Best Mexican food in Utah:
Can’t miss outdoor experience: