Updated: Dec 3, 2022
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Western Park Travel Itinerary
If you are looking to explore three very unique parks within close proximity to allow an epic one week road trip, look no further than the trifecta of Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons. These parks offer mountainous backdrops, luscious green terrain, and impressive natural wonders. We recommend looking for a cheap flight into Kalispell, MT and renting a car. Following your adventure, we recommend dropping off your car and flying out of Boise, ID.
Day 1-3: Glacier National Park
Our favorite national park to this day, Glacier has so much beauty to explore. After picking up your car in Kalispell, head to the quaint town of Whitefish and grab a coffee at Montana Coffee Traders or a brew at Bonsai Brewing Project.
Where to stay in Glacier
Top Hike: Grinnell Glacier
This is a difficult hike, but our absolute favorite! It starts in Many Glacier at Many Glacier Hotel at 8:30am. If the boat is full or you do not want to buy tickets, you can hike one mile to the other side of the lake where you can reconnect with the ranger at the beginning of the hike. If you do not feel the need to hike with a ranger, the AllTrails hike begins in the parking lot to the west side of Swiftcurrent Lake.
Be prepared with waterproof clothing & get your camera ready for the most incredible views! This hike ends at the base of Grinnell Glacier, a 710 acre glacier that is retreating every day. This was by-far the most rewarding hike we have ever done as we hiked it in a wild rain-storm.
Read: 10 Hiking Essentials
Top Hike: Scenic Point
We found this hike thanks to a recommendation from a local and now we are recommending it to you! It is the definition of a hidden gem, considering we only came across three people during the entire duration of our hike. This hike is filled with a steady incline with multiple switchbacks. However, the view from the top is certainly worth the effort!
Day 4-6: Yellowstone National Park
Hop in the car early on the fourth day and drive 6.5 hours to Yellowstone National Park. Along the journey, stop for a brew at Bozeman Brewing Company or 406 Brewing Company in Bozeman, MT. From here, you will enter Yellowstone from the northern entrance, allowing you to stop and see the Mammoth Hot Springs along your journey.
Where to stay in Yellowstone
Must See: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The canyon rim trail is an out and back trail that takes you along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Starting at the upper falls, you will wind alongside the cliff, opening up onto beautiful landscapes of both rock and water. The canyon rim trail will lead you to Artist Point. Named after its breathtaking view of lower falls and the canyon, Artist Point provides a vantage point into the canyon that makes you feel as though you are hovering above.
Day 7: Grand Tetons
On the morning of the seventh day of your trip, head to Grand Tetons National Park via Yellowstone (you will not have to pay a separate entrance fee if entering from Yellowstone). The drive is about 1.5 hours and allows you to witness the breathtaking Tetons from afar.
Where to stay in Grand Tetons
Top Hike: Cascade Canyon Trail
Cascade Canyon trail is an out and back trail through the beautiful Cascade Canyon. It will add 6 miles (round trip) to hike from Jenny Lake visitors center to this trailhead rather than taking the boat. We decided to take the boat in order to allow more time for the Cascade Canyon trail. With all of the vegetation, wildlife, and water on this trail, there is a higher probability of hiking through a bear's territory. With that being said, this is an incredible trail following along the river of the canyon. The views are breathtaking and we highly recommend you hike (at least a part of) this trail!
Boat Tickets: $18 Round Trip
As you head out from Grand Tetons National Park on your way to Boise, be sure to stop in the quaint town of Jackson WY. If not for their weekend farmer's market, for a delicious brew at Thai Me Up Melvin Brewing or Snake River Brewing. The drive from Jackson to Boise is roughly 6 hours, however, there are two interesting stops that could break up this road trip. First, two hours from Jackson is the quaint town of Idaho Falls. An hour and a half from Idaho Falls is Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve.
Day 8: Boise Idaho
Boise is becoming a very popular destination for nature enthusiasts. Rugged and untouched, Boise is home to cultural attractions, arts, and outdoor activities at its doorstep. We recommend looking for a great deal on hotels for the last few nights of your trip here.
Some of our favorite activities in Boise include floating down the Boise River starting at Barber Park ($3 return shuttle), eating ice cream at The Stil, sampling many types of potatoes at Boise Fry Company, and grabbing a beer flight at 10 Barrel Brewing Company.
On the ninth day of your trip, you will by returning your rental car and flying out of Boise to your home destination. All epic road trips must come to an end. However, you can spend your travel time planning your next incredible trip!
Getting to Kalispell
Word of Advice: buy your flight tickets in a different browser than the one you used to research prices. Cookies track your searches and some airlines are known for increasing your price on returning inquiries.
Best Time to Visit Western Parks
The best time to visit Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons National Parks is summer through early fall. Glacier National Park has a narrow window when the trails are not covered in snow. The most ideal time to visit would be in summer, however, you may consider early fall in order to avoid the crowds.
Where to book lodging
Also Read: Camping Hacks
What to Pack for a 1 Week Camping Trip
Packing light is always the key when camping, especially when you plan to bring your necessary camping gear on a plane. We packed all of our camping gear into one checked bag by packing the below light-weight gear:
Temperatures get very cold at night in Western Parks. Be sure to pack layers and plenty of warm clothes for your trip.