Last summer (2021) we drove this section from Grand Teton National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park on our 5-month road trip from Montana to Florida and back. That road trip started with a one week rock climbing adventure from the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming to Grand Teton National Park where we hiked Paintbrush Divide in one magnificent day.
We had done part of this Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain National Parks drive back in 2017 when we watched the Solar Eclipse from the Tetons, however, on that trip, we had headed to Steamboat Springs on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park and in this blog, I’m highlighting the route that takes you through Pinedale and Laramie, Wyoming.
Best Time To Take A Road Trip Between Grand Teton & Rocky Mountain National Parks
This road trip between Jackson Hole and Denver is a perfect summer and fall road trip since many of the roads inside both National Parks are closed for the winter and don’t reopen until late spring or even early summer.
Things To Do From Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain National Parks
Grand Teton National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park road trip includes 4 of my favorite mountain ranges, making it an adventure playground for hiking, camping, rock climbing, boating, and more. Even if you aren’t up for a strenuous hike like we love to do, there are plenty of easy, jaw-droppingly beautiful hikes you can do in all 4 of these mountain ranges.
How to Drive from Grand Teton National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park
There are four main options that you can take when you leave Grand Teton National Park. The first 3 options will bring you to the east entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, while the last option will bring you in through the west entrance. Be sure that Trail Ridge Road is open before driving that way.
1 | Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain via Moose, Casper, and Cheyenne (514 miles, 8 hours)
Technically the fastest route (but only by a few minutes), is to head east out of the Tetons through Moose, through Shoshoni, hopping on I-25 in Casper, and then heading south through Cheyenne until you get to Loveland.
Highlights of this route:
It’s a beautiful drive through the mountains when you leave Moose and there’s a ton of free dispersed camping along the way. However, once you drop out of the mountains it’s a little bit of a boring drive…unless you take option 2.
2 | Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain via Moose, Lander, Rawlings, and Laramie (486 miles, 8 hours)
This is the same as above except when you get out of the mountains, you head towards Lander, Wyoming, one of our favorite rock climbing destinations in the USA. Even if you don’t climb, there is some really great hiking and camping in the Wind River range surrounding Lander.
Highlights of this route:
Great views leaving Moose, stopping to play and explore in the rustic town of Lander and then eating in the foodie, college town of Laramie. Plus, all the fun adventures near Laramie in Medicine Bow Forest and Vedawoo.
3 | Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain via Pinedale, Rock Springs, and Laramie (524 miles, 8.5 hours)
This is the route we chose on our last trip and the one I’ve highlighted below. Besides the fact that there is a lot to see and do on this route, I was towing our 42′ fifth wheel and in my opinion, this is the easiest route to take if you are towning between Grand Teton National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. It does still have rolling hills, but they are less than the grades coming out of Moose.
Ironically, even though this is the easier route, I did blow a radiator hose towing out of Saratoga and had to get both the truck and trailer towed into Laramie. If this is your first time to drive in Wyoming, know that Wyoming is intense. If it isn’t getting huge snow storms or 50+ mph winds, then it is incredibly hot. The day we broke down it was close to 100 degrees! Good times!
Highlights of this route:
So many adventures to experience at Freemont Lake, Cirque of the Towers, Saratoga Hot Springs, Medicine Bow Peak, Vedawoo, plus great campgrounds and delicious food along the way.
4 | Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain via Pinedale, Saratoga, Steamboat Springs, and Granby
This option is the same as the last but when you get to Saratoga, go south through Baggs, Steamboat Springs, and Granby to enter Rocky Mountain National Park from the west entrance (assuming it is summer and Trail Ridge Road is open.)
Highlights of this route:
You still get to explore all of the Wind River range, Medicine Bow national forest, plus, you get to see the beautiful mountains of Steamboat Springs. We loved this road trip and did it in our smaller class C RV years ago. I did not want to tow the fifth wheel over the pass leaving Steamboat Springs and we needed to check out Laramie.
If this is your first time to the Rockies, this is the route I’d choose. I also added a few tips for driving this route at the bottom of this blog.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park has so much to offer that we have separate blogs for it. The big thing to remember about visiting the Tetons is that it is very crowded in summer and as amazing as it is for sharp jagged mountains and wildlife, if you are doing this road trip from the Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park, there is so much equally amazing views and wildlife along the way with waaayyyy less crowds.
Personally, we like to only spend 1-3 days in the Tetons each summer. Just enough to do one of the epic hikes and then we like to move on to other Wyoming or Idaho towns to camp and relax.
Related Blog: Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
To tell you the truth, I’m not a fan of Rock Springs. I usually only stop here to stock up at Walmart and then move on. You could explore Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop or White Mountain Petroglyphs and I’ve heard that it’s cool, but I haven’t made time for either
If you really have a lot of time for this road trip, I would either stay an extra night of two in Rock Springs and spend a day exploring Flaming Gorge.
We drove through here in April 2021 but got hit with a huge snowstorm so we couldn’t do any hikes but the area looked gorgeous.
This is another one of my favorite towns in Wyoming and I can’t believe it took us 6 years of full-time travel to discover it. We normally travel so much through Ten Sleep and Lander to go rock climbing that I hadn’t made time to get to Pinedale.
I love this town because it’s small enough to feel quaint but large enough to have everything you need in terms of restaurants, stores, and adventure activities.
Another reason we had stalled in coming to Pinedale is because it is the gateway to the Wind River Range and you need high clearance to get to a lot of the trailheads. Before in our class C, we couldn’t get to the trailheads, but now, we could drop the trailer and get out to one of the best hikes in Wyoming and probably even one of the best hikes in the world: The Cirque of the Towers.
On this trip we also discovered one of the best RV Parks, Yellowstone Trail RV Park. This new RV Park has huge sites, basketball and pickle ball courts, brand new and immaculately clean bathrooms, laundry facilities, and…wait for it… jacuzzis that they will deliver to your campsite and fill with steamy hot water. It was amazing!!!
If boating is your thing, be sure to check out Fremont Lake which also has camping, fishing, and swimming.
Favorite Hike near Pinedale: Photographers Point via Pole Creek Trail
Saratoga Hot Springs is famous and draws many travelers. It’s only a few miles off the I-80 and best of all, it’s FREE! There are 2 concrete pools (one of which is almost too hot to get in), plus there are natural pools built along the river.
After a nice soak, head into the town of Saratoga, which still has that old west vibe. Be sure to also make time to drive up to Medicine Bow and do a hike. There are some really beautiful and easy strolls from the Lewis Lake trailhead. This is also where you can begin the more challenging hike to the top of Medicine Bow Peak.
Related Blogs: Best Hikes Wyoming (includes all the details for Medicine Bow Peak)
For an easy stroll on a paved trail, park at West Lake Marie Trailhead
While you could choose to drive south and hit Baggs and Steamboat Springs, we chose to keep going east to Laramie mainly so that we could rock climb at Vedawoo.
Laramie surprised me with how foodie it is. Being a college town draws in a great energy and some decent breweries and restaurants. Our two favorites were Bond’s Brewery (because they hang a huge flag in the entrance) followed by cupcakes at Sugar Mouse Cupcake House.
Pro Tip: We camped at the Albany County Fairgrounds in town and while it is just a big dirt parking lot, it has full hookups for only $30 a night or $150 for the week! There’s also a great craft butcher, 307 Meat Co, nearby to stock up on protein.
Favorite Hikes near Laramie: Turtle Rock Loop Trail (only if you’ve already done Medicine Bow Peak!)
Rocky Mountain National Park
There is so much to explore in and around Rocky Mountain National Park that I have in this blog post here. Be sure to check out the views from Trail Ridge Road or drive the Old Road if it is open. Note that Rocky Mountain National Park often requires an entry reservation permit. Learn more about how to get one of these permits by clicking here.
If it is hard to get a ticket, you can hike to Chasm Lake instead but you have to start after 3pm. The trailhead is the same one as Long’s Peak and is outside the main area of the national park.
Be sure to check out our list of the top hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to find out which hike you should do when you visit.
If you choose to go south from Saratoga, you can explore the rad mountain town of Steamboat Springs. And if you are in an RV, there are some great free camping options at the top of the grade when you leave Steamboat.
Road Trip Tips
We have so many helpful resources for planning a successful road trip. Check them out below and have a wonderful time exploring Wyoming’s Wild West!
- FREE ebook: 1000 Miles of Memories How to Plan Your First Road Trip & Save Money by Camping
- How to Plan a Successful Road Trip
- How to Road Trip on a Budget
- First Timers Guide to Road Trippin‘
- Road Trip Essentials & Car Camping Tips
You can also combine this road trip itinerary with one of our other road trip itineraries:
- Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
- Rocky Mountain to Mesa Verde National Park
- Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore National Park