west glacier hikes bowman lake

How to plan an *EPIC* 8-Day Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park Trip

Going from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park in a single road trip allows you to experience some of the most magical, authentic, and pristine lands America offers.

There truly is not much more “American” than this little slice of heaven. The grandiosity of Glacier National Park will blow you away (and call you back). The natural beauty yet rugged nature of Yellowstone National Park will allow you to connect at a deeper level.

Combined, you’re in for a real treat you’ll never forget. (Even more of a treat if you visit Grand Teton National Park, too.)

So pack the bags, grab the camera, and let’s get you into the wild!

Why You Can Trust Me: I’ve done this exact drive and have spent a lot of time in both of these National parks. They’re amazing and I can’t wait to use my knowledge to help you plan a great trip!

Bowman Lake is a must see destination on your Glacier National Park to Yellowstone trip.

Your Ultimate Guide to a Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park Roadtrip

As you’re starting your trip to Glacier National Park, you’ll want to fly into Kalispell or Whitefish. These are on the West side of Glacier National Park and offer the most flight availability. You could fly into Great Falls or Helena, adding considerable time to your trip.

The West Glacier region also has the most lodging availability, but the eastern side is what I consider the best of the best for hiking and scenery.

How many days do you need to see Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park?

I would say no fewer than six days, but eight or nine will allow you a more comprehensive trip and maybe allow you to explore Grand Teton National Park as well. Even though the summer days are long, your 8+ hour drive between parks will suck up most of one day.

Mormon Row with the Grand Tetons behind it.

Which park is better, Glacier or Yellowstone?

In my opinion, Glacier National Park far exceeds Yellowstone’s. Glacier is called the Crown Jewel of the Continent for a reason. This is nothing against Yellowstone, but once you experience Glacier, few places will be more stunning.

Related: The best time to visit Glacier

8-Day Glacier to Yellowstone Itinerary

This is all contingent on you having a permit to enter the park and visit Logan Pass, Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, and the Two Medicine Lake area. I’m also going to list places I think you’ll enjoy, and if there’s any need to write notes, I will.

Bowman Lake with puffy clouds in the sky.

Day 1 – West Glacier

  • Bowman Lake – One of my favorite places in all of West Glacier. (Make sure to stop by the Mercantile for Bear Claws.)
  • Lake McDonald Shore – This is where you can see all the colored rocks
  • Sperry Chalet Hike (read about it) or Apgar Lookout
Lake McDonald's colorful rocks with mountains in the background.

Related: Best things to do in Kalispell, MT

Day 2 – West Glacier/Logan Pass

  • Avalanche Lake – Likely the most famous hike on this side
  • Explore Logan Pass – I’d spend all day here
  • Via Logan Pass: Hidden Lake and Highline Trail
  • Via Piegan Pass Trailhead: Siyeh Pass Trail or Piegan Pass Trail
  • Via the Loop Trailhead: Granite Park Chalet or Swiftcurrent Pass
Stunning views at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park.

Day 3 – Logan Pass/East Glacier

  • Wild Good Island Lookout
  • Saint Mary Falls Trail or Baring Falls
  • Jackson Glacier Overlook
  • Two Medicine Lake: hike to Twin Falls, do the South Shore Trail, or Aster Falls
The epic scenery on the Grinnell Glacier Hike. This is a must for anyone on their Glacier National Park to Yellowstone trip.

Day 4 – Many Glacier

This is the best part of the park. I’d honestly suggest two days here, but that’s up to you.

  • Grinnell Glacier Hike
  • Cracker Lake
  • Iceberg Lake
  • Bullhead Lake
The Glacier National Park valley from the Going to the Sun Road.
Grand Pismatic Hot Spring, the best view point in Yellowstone.
An elk stares out in Yellowstone.

Day 5 – Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park

Wrap up your day at Many Glacier and begin the 6.5-hour drive from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone.

Head to the Midway Geyser Basin and Old Faithful area

  • Grand Prismatic (Overlook and Boardwalk)
  • Fairy falls
  • Artesia Geyser
  • Deep Blue Geyers
  • Morning Glory
  • Old Faithful
  • Biscuit Basin
  • Enjoy the sunset by watching wildlife in Hayden Valley
Old faithful, one of the most visited places for visitors on their Glacier National Park to Yellowstone.
One of the many hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Day 6 – Yellowstone

  • If you can make an early sunrise, visit Hayden Valley and watch it come to life
  • Enjoy Yellowstone Lake (maybe kayak?)
  • Check out the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (Including Artist Point, Lookout Point, Grand View, and others. I’ve seen bears here twice. So keep an eye out!)
Viewing of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist Point. This is a fan favorite on the Glacier National Park to Yellowstone road trip.
If you're lucky, you'll encounter a bear on your Glacier National Park to Yellowstone vacation.

Day 7 – Yellowstone National Park/Grand Teton National Park

If you stay in Yellowstone National Park, do the upper loop through Tower Junction, Lamar Valley for more isolation and wildlife (if you’re okay driving), and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Or hike Mt Washburn and check out the Washburn Hot Springs.

An American bison in Yellowstone National Park.

Day 8 – Yellowstone/Grand Tetons

I’d recommend visiting Grand Teton National Park and seeing the sights there. Yellowstone is cool, but you run out of things to do directly in the park after a few days. (See below for other activities to spend your time!)

BONUS: Should I add Grand Teton National Park?

If you can squeeze in some time in Grand Teton National Park, I would highly advise it. Honestly, it’s probably better than Yellowstone – but I come from the hiking side versus the sightseeing side. But, of course, you could also do it in one day and still see lots!

2-day quick bonus guide to Grand Teton National Park

Day 1Immerse yourself in the Tetons

  • Hop on the boat and go hike Cascade Canyon. It’s a moderate hike, but the views are stunning. There’s a short uphill section at the beginning, and then it’s mild. Make sure to stop by Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls on your way up. Want a more strenuous hike? Go to Delta Lake.
  • Grab some dinner and camp chairs and go to Glacier View Turnout.
The jagged peaks of Grand Teton National Park with a road winding through it.

Day 2See the sights

  • Start the morning at Schwabacher Landing. Then check out Oxbow Bend and Jackson Lake Dam.
  • Go check out Mormon Row. If it’s summer, the wildflowers will be enormous.
  • Drive to String Lake and Jenny Lake to see some of the best views in the park.
  • Take the Gondola up via Teton Village for dinner and sunset in the mountains.

Even though this is a Glacier National Park to Yellowstone road trip, seeing Grand Teton will make your day!

Planning a trip stressing you out? Check out these great guided tours in Yellowstone

Preparing for Your Amazing Glacier – Yellowstone Road Trip

✔️Point-to-Point Trip

Remember, this is a point-to-point trip, meaning you must book a flight into Glacier and out of Yellowstone/Jackson/or SLC/Idaho Falls. (Jackson is the closest, but not cheap.) Additionally, you’ll need to do the same for your rental car.

Morning Glory hot spring. This is one of the most colorful hot springs you'll see on your Glacier National Park to Yellowstone trip.
  • If you start in Glacier, fly into Kalispell or Whitefish.
  • If you start in Yellowstone, fly into Jackson, West Yellowstone, or Idaho Falls.

Flights! – Rental Car! – Lodging! Book your entire trip with Expedia.

✔️Be Animal Safe

You’re in the wild American West with these gorgeous National Parks. There are few places where wildlife is allowed to roam like they did centuries ago, and it’s here. So remember to hike with bear spray, stay 100 yards from bears, and 25 yards from all other animals.

As you go from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone, these tips will help ensure you and the animals stay safe.

✔️Cell Service can be Spotty

The worst of your cell phone woes will be in Yellowstone National Park, though I’m sure they have updated some infrastructure since I was there in 2020. I’d recommend downloading your maps offline and getting a park map.

Luckily, getting around Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park is still pretty easy.

✔️How close are Yellowstone and Glacier National Park

From Glacier National Park to Yellowstone is approximately a 7.5-hour drive, but I would budget a little over eight hours when factoring in bathroom stops. The middle portion is on Interstate 15, with the bookends on state highways.

It’s a beautifully wide open route that shouldn’t have much traffic. But do watch for animals, strong wind gusts, and inclement weather.

On your Glacier National Park to Yellowstone trip, don't forget to spot by Yellowstone Lake.

✔️ Long Days = Not a lot of food options late at night

If you’re like me, you soak up every ounce of daylight possible on my trips. But the sun won’t set during the summer months until close to 10 pm in Glacier (and a little earlier in Yellowstone). Due to this, many places are closed by the time you return from a hike or sightseeing.

I suggest eating dinner before you head out OR having enough food in the cooler or hotel room to satisfy your cravings.

✔️Where should I stop between Glacier and Yellowstone

While I did the drive straight through, there are some nice spots to stop along the way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone if you want to extend your trip.

  • Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
  • Henrys Lake State Park
  • The Bozeman Trail Marker
  • Norris Hot Springs
  • Blackfeet Nation Sculpture (Southeast)

My 3-day Yellowstone Itinerary

✔️What should I pack on the Glacier National Park to Yellowstone trip

The Milky Way over Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Where to stay near Yellowstone and Glacier?

The lodging availability around Yellowstone National Park is not great. You also have a few spots inside the park and West Yellowstone. But outside of that and camping, you might have to drive a ways.

Yellowstone Accommodations

📍Budget Option Budget options don’t exist during the summer months. But this one was somewhat reasonable.

📍 Mid-Range Option Lake Yellowstone Hotel (inside the park) or Canyon Lodge (inside the park)

📍Luxury Option Old Faithful Inn (in the park)

One of my favorite spots on a Glacier National Park to Yellowstone road trip. Bowman Lake is magical at sunset.

Glacier National Park Accommodations

I’ll be providing East and West designations below. Just like Yellowstone, there are not a lot of non-camping budget options.

📍Budget Option – West Glacier: Kandahar Lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort & East Glacier: St Mary Village

📍 Mid-Range Option – West Glacier: Glacier Guides Lodge & East Glacier: Swiftcurrent Inn (inside the park) or Rising Sun Inn

📍Luxury Option West Glacier: Lake McDonald Lodge & East Glacier: Many Glacier Hotel (inside the park)

No hassle trip! Get an 8-day vacation planned for you!

Best Things to Do in Glacier National Park

Below are my favorite things to do in Glacier National Park.

Friends on a float trip outside Glacier National Park.

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park

Below are my favorite things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

  • Enjoy all the hot springs and geysers
  • Wildlife spotting – lots of bison, bears, eagles, and deer
  • Hiking to the viewpoints
  • Kayaking on Lake Yellowstone
A perfect reflection photo in Grand Teton National park

FAQ: Glacier National Park to Yellowstone

Can you do Glacier and Yellowstone in one trip?

You can do it in one trip. They’re not too far apart – well, those on the east coast will think it’s far, but for West Coasters, driving 7 hours is nothing. However, I would suggest going to Glacier and experiencing the park’s awe. OR I’d do a quick overview of Yellowstone and then get down to Grand Teton National Park.

What is the Glacier National Park to Yellowstone Drive like?

The drive is straightforward and shouldn’t take more than 8 hours with bathroom stops. The region closest to Glacier will be the most visually appealing, with the rest being expansive landscapes!

How many days do you need to see Glacier National Park and Yellowstone?

Seven to nine days will give you a great understanding of the parks and what makes them so beautiful and appealing. But, of course, you’ll long for Glacier way more afterward, so keep that in mind when planning it all out.

Sunrise in Yellowstone's Hayden Valley with early morning fog rising.

Wrapping up – Glacier National Park to Yellowstone Itinerary

A road trip from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone is an incredible adventure that offers the chance to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in America.

From the towering peaks and crystal-clear lakes of Glacier to Yellowstone’s geysers and hot springs, this journey will surely leave you with unforgettable memories.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or simply looking for a scenic drive, there’s something for everyone on this epic road trip through Montana and Wyoming. So pack your bags, hit the open road, and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime!

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside