Wyoming is the stuff dreams are made of! At least it is for this adventure-addicted family. If you love to hike, climb, and camp, this Wyoming road trip itinerary from the Big Horn mountains through Cody to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park is perfect for you.
We zig-zag our way through Wyoming often and in this blog, we are sharing one of our favorite routes from the Big Horn Mountain Range, which is one of the country’s oldest federally protected mountain range and forest areas, to one of our favorite National Parks, Grand Tetons.
If you are planning a trip to Wyoming, be sure to check out all related Wyoming blogs linked at the bottom of this page. But first, let me share with you this amazing girls trip I just finished with my 3 daughters- Gabi, Isabelle, and Tatiana.
If this is your first time to our blog, WELCOME! We downsized to an RV back in 2015 and have had too many adventures to count since then. You can read about those here.
Recently, we’ve been alternating between a home base in Montana and a ton of epic road trips in one of our two RVs that we bounce between.
Related Blog: Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
For the next few years, we climbed a little less and instead, let our passion for hiking, surfing, and MTB to dictate where our travels took us.
For the most part, that was because we were pretty happy just indoor climbing when we were in San Diego every winter. But covid changed that…
Once we left San Diego last May, we knew we wouldn’t be going back and that surfing and indoor climbing wouldn’t be happening much and so this year, our main focus has been climbing.
And by “our” I mean “Gabi’s” which is awesome because she leads all the hard routes so I don’t have to push too far outside my comfort zone.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to climb still but if you have kids that are really driven in sports and they get to that point where they are advancing at an exponential speed to your skill set, you’ll know what I mean. 😜
One of the things I love about climbing is that everything is rated to a specific grade and so while the first year of travel I was pretty proud of myself for leading 5.7 & 5.8, which was super fun for our family when we were starting out, but relatively pathetic as far as climbing abilities go. Now, I’m searching out 5.10a, which means I’m actually getting better!
It’s just, Gabi is looking for 5.11s and is on a mission to send (a badge of honor for climbers when they do a route without being held up by the rope or falling) her first 5.12.
Sending a 5.12 is a huge rite of passage for climbers, one I will probably never experience but one I am determined to support my daughter in achieving.
Related Blog: How My Mom Raised Me To Be A Badass (by Gabi)
After our incredible girls trip a few weeks ago to Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, we decided we should do another girls trip but this time, it’s a Wyoming road trip in search of the perfect 5.12a.
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One Week Road Trip Itinerary Big Horn Mountains to Grand Teton National Park
This trip involved lots of rock climbing, scenic drives, and checking off one of our bucket list hikes. Even if rock climbing and hiking aren’t your thing, this road trip should still provide a ton of inspiration on beautiful things to do in the Big Horn Mountains, Cody, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons.
Day 1: Road Trip From Montana to Wyoming
Our adventures begin with driving out our bumpy dirt driveway from our current home base in Polson, Montana, stocking up on food at Costco in Missoula, and driving until late at night before pulling into a truck stop where I always sleep like a baby to the constant hum of the diesel engine from the semi next to me.
Day 2: Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Byway
After a solid 9 hours of sleep 😴, we enter Wyoming via Columbus, Montana and head East on the 310 to Lovell before turning onto our first destination, Highway 14 Alt Route, also known as Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Byway, that runs across the Bighorn mountain range.
Pro Tip: If you choose to take this road trip from Montana to Wyoming and have time to explore Red Lodge, Custer Gallatin National Forest, and drive the Beartooth Highway, I highly recommend it! We had just done that loop a month ago but I haven’t had a chance to write a blog on it. We loved these 3 hikes- Glacier Lake, Mystic Lake, and East Rosebud Lake.
When you take a Wyoming road trip, there are actually 2 highways that take you across the Big Horns, this one, and highway 16, known as Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, and takes you through Ten Sleep.
Seeing as we have been on a mission to climb, we always take the 16. Plus, the 14 is a bit steeper and harder to tow a trailer over. (It has grades as steep as 10%.)
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the drive on the 14. Not that it isn’t beautiful, in fact, you should definitely drive it if you ever have the chance.
Related: The 15 Best Hikes in Wyoming
For us, we were trying to get to some great climbs and the one climbing destination, Steamboat Point, along this highway was a bit disappointing mostly because, on the approach, which was super steep, Tati accidentally knocked a big rock and sliced open Gabi’s shin. Then the good ol’ Wyoming wind came howling in and practically blew us off the edge on the cliff. Last, to make us really start questioning if we had upset the adventure gods, the rope got stuck on the rap rings when Gabi tried pulling it down from a two-pitch climb and had to reclimb it in the wind.
Also, I realized I left my climbing shoes back in Polson and will be having to do this trip in a pair that are 1 size too small and very painful to climb in. 😩 Oh, and then, on the hike down, it rained…
But, we are warriors and can’t be deterred too fast so we loaded back up in the RV, drove down to the Walmart in Sheridan for a few supplies and then drove towards a tiny Wyoming town called Story.
By now it was close to 10 pm and right before we got to town we saw a huge scenic overlook parking lot and decided it would be a perfect spot to sleep.
It was, until midnight when that famous Wyoming wind started up again and woke us all up. Seriously, this happens to us all the time on Wyoming road trips!
With a quick audible, I drove a few more miles into town and parked on a residential area to get a few more hours of sleep. Two days in and so much stress and not much adventure. Don’t worry. It’s about to get epic.
Day 3: Piney Creek Canyon in Story, WY
I did something I never do. I forgot to pack our coffee hand grinder. So I drive into the town of Story, which consists of a tiny general store, a fire station, a woman’s club, and a few churches. That’s it, but, it’s absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend visiting here!
Luckily, the woman’s club had an outlet on the outside of the building so I could grind coffee because for the life of me, I just couldn’t get the generator to turn over!
With coffee running through my veins, we head a few more miles past town to a dirt road to Piney Creek Canyon, which is a 2.5-mile trail that I highly recommend. We’ve overlooked this place on all our other travels through Wyoming., but it’s only 10 miles from the I-90 and is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to in the USA.
While we were here to climb, there were many other local residents walking the trail for their morning stroll or our picking berries.
The climbing here wasn’t epic like Ten Sleep but it was right in the sweet spot for Isabelle and I to get in a couple of lead climbs. Add in the fact that we were surrounded by a lush forest and the sound of the creek and I say it was a perfect day!
We climbed until our fingers were sore and then continued our Wyoming road trip by heading south to Buffalo and then back west through Wyoming, this time on the oh so familiar and favorite drive on highway 16.
We got to our favorite campground, Boulder Park, with plenty of time to cook a wonderful meal and sit by the campfire. Yes! A perfect day!
Related Blog: Complete Guide To Climbing Ten Sleep, WY
Day 4: Attempting Tricks For You in Ten Sleep Canyon
Today, we mean business. After a chill morning of reading and meditation, we head to the parking area for French Cattle Ranch. It had rained the night before and the water level on the river was much higher than it had been when we were here a month ago.
This worked in my favor as Tatiana loves having to take off her shoes to forge a river!
Once across, we approach FCR then turn left into No Mans Land. We warm up on a crowd favorite, Big Yellow Butterfly, a two-pitch 5.10/5.11 that I know I should be leading but use the excuse that “I don’t have my climbing shoes that fit with me.”
It’s time. We move around the corner to the base of Tricks For You, a 5.12a that has the potential to make the history books (of Gabi’s mind that is).
It’s a solid attempt.
Really, she was super close to the send. She did top it out after one fall but I knew deep down, she wants that send.
Not that it mattered whether she sent it or not. I thought it was amazing to see her get so close because now, she knows it’s attainable.
It’s one thing to have a goal. It’s a totally different thing when you have a goal that you know is in your range. Now, she just needed more reps. More time. More rest days. And when we come back, I know she’ll get it.
We head back to FCR and I decide to stop being a big baby and lead a 5.10b, Euro Trash Girl, a great route right outside my comfort zone.
Now, it’s time to relax with some wine, dinner, and a campfire.
Related: Best Campgrounds in Wyoming
Day 5: Climbing at Lake Point in Ten Sleep Canyon
After a long debate of whether to go try Tricks For You again, another 5.12a, or a 5.11d that is popular around these parts, we decide on the latter so that we can climb at Lake Point.
Gabi gave it a solid attempt and took a fall with only 2 bolts to go, but then got back on the wall to top it out. Another route that we will be coming back to soon to get the tick on the send record.
I hop on lead for a fun 5.10, Isabelle leads a 5.8 for Tati and then we finish on a great 5.11b before calling it a day.
We have only 2 more days before we are meeting Victor and Jiraiya in Idaho Falls and so we decide to make our way further along on our Wyoming road trip and head over to Cody but not before stopping at the Ten Sleep Brewery for their famous Speed Goat with Lemonade beer. 😋
Day 6: Climbing in Cody & Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
After spending the morning catching up on work, which some days feels way too stressful and looks a little like this… outline a blog, post on Instagram, add stories to Instagram, reply to emails, publish YouTube videos on both channels, create content for the app…We drive a few miles out of town where right after you pass through the tunnels there’s a pullout on the right and a couple dozen climbing routes adjacent to the parking lot.
Really! The climbs are just steps from the car here. It’s amazing and another one of those places that we’ve overlooked and a great place to take your kids rock climbing!
Gabi attempts another 5.11d and a few more 10’s while Isabelle and I lead a scary 5.8 😦
With noodles for arms, we drive into Yellowstone NP entering from the east entrance and driving up to Artists Point and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, a drive and part of Yellowstone that we have never done.
Honestly, it was a little underwhelming but now I can say I’ve seen it and if you are on a Wyoming road trip, I think it’s still a must-do.
From here we drive down to Grand Tetons, a prettier drive imo and park at String Lake trailhead, ready time get up early and finally check Paintbrush Canyon off our endless bucket list of hikes.
Day 7: Hiking Paintbrush Canyon in Grand Teton National Park
6:30 wake-up calls aren’t easy for our family! But Tati is a gamer and jumps out of bed, quickly downs a bowl of cereal, laces up her shoes, throws on her backpack, and starts moving one foot in front of the other.
She’s not stoked (what 10-year-old would be stoked to have to hike 20 miles!) but I have to say, she starts the hike with a very positive attitude.
We finish the hike with sore feet and smiles nine and a half hours later. It was epic! In fact, it was so epic it gets its own YouTube video.
Don’t forget to check out this blog for more details on the most epic hikes in the Tetons.
I hope this inspires you to take a Wyoming road trip. From the beautiful Ten Sleep Canyon to the plains of Cody and then the magnificent Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, how could you not love this road trip!
How To Do This Wyoming Road Trip
If you are considering recreating this awesome trip, I recommend flying into Billings, renting a RV or car here and then heading down toward Lovell, Wy to start off driving the 14a like we did on day 1. Once you get to the Tetons, head north through Yellowstone and then east through the Beartooth Highway and Red Lodge before returning to Billings.
Let me know if the comments if you’ve done this trip or if you have any questions.
you can also opt to extend this road trip to some of our other nearby favorite destinations like Lander (WY), Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range (WY), Grand Targhee (ID), the Black Hills (SD), or Rocky Mountain National Park (CO).
Related Wyoming Blogs:
- 15 Best Hikes Wyoming
- Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier National Parks Road Trip
- Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore National Parks Road Trip
- 25 Things to do in the Black Hills, South Dakota
- Grand Teton to Rocky Mountain National Park Road Trip
- One Day in Yellowstone: West to South Entrance
- Climber’s Travel Guide to Lander, Wyoming
- Climbing Guide to Tensleep, Wyoming
- How to Hike Middle Teton
- 10 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
- How to Hike the Iconic Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range