17 Great American Road Trip Ideas, from Mountain Roads to Coastal Treks

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“Phew, finally.” When driving through America’s Big Sky Country, you might feel that rare, raw sense of peace immediately wash over you—don’t be surprised if you catch yourself audibly sighing out loud. From alpine meadows carpeted with vibrant wildflowers to the greatest views of sun-kissed peaks, this 200-300 mile journey hits 3 of America’s hottest National Parks: Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. The trip can originate from either end point, depending on your preference. The best time to visit: late spring or early fall, when the weather is generally mild, and all roads and attractions in each park are open for travelers.

Where to stop: Start the journey heading to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Here, you’ll find panoramic views of crystal-clear waters, reflecting the mountains surrounding. Next, head to the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road. Home to towering peaks, cascading falls, and glacial-carved valleys, you can wind your way through the heart of Glacier National Park (make sure to hit Logan Pass along the way, it’s the highest point along the road). From there, you’ll want to drive around downtown Whitefish for a bite to eat. Then, to the vibrant and charming town of Bozeman, nestled in the Gallatin Valley. In the winter, Bridger Bowl Ski Area is a must for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Only around an hour south, you’ll arrive at Yellowstone. Continue on the Grand Loop road to drive in transfixed wonder at the Park’s beloved and multi-colored geothermal geysers, including Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Norris Geyser Basin. Conclude your road trip with a spellbound visit to Grand Teton National Park, renowned for its clear, mirror-like lakes (a must: Jenny Lake), and jaw-dropping views of wide mountain ranges. Whether hiking a trail, or driving to overlook peaks of Signal Mountain Road–there’s nothing quite like these views.

Where to eat: During your time near Glacier, eat at the modern yet cozy Herb & Omni, or the more low-key, yet equally delicious, Jalisco in Whitefish. Cateye Cafe in Bozeman is an eclectic, cat-themed hotspot popular among locals. After soaking in the essence of Yellowstone, head to tough-to-beat Local Restaurant and Bar for contemporary American dishes. Closer to Grand Teton, eat nachos outside on the deck of Signal Mountain Lodge for lunch, or sit by the window for sweeping views of the mountain range at The Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge.

Where to stay: There are incredible homestead and mountain houses available to book via Airbnb near Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. For hotel accommodations, begin at Aprés Whitefish to rest your head near Glacier. From there, a stay at Mountain Sky dude ranch, only an hour from Bozeman, encapsulates the heart of a true American West road trip experience. Near Yellowstone, stay at Jackson Hole’s infamous Hotel Terra– and when crashing from your last excursion in Grand Teton, the cozy Hotel Jackson is only four miles away.

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