The Mountains Are Calling On This Ultimate Road Trip Through The Rockies

rocky mountain road trip

Unsplash/Kevin Noble

This Rocky Mountain road trip starts in the United States and finishes in Canada, hitting three of the best national parks in North America for alpine views. You’ll hike in Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff on this 10-day route. Here’s how.

Day 1: Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone Airport and drive to Yellowstone National Park.

It’s less than a two-hour drive from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to the actual Yellowstone Park, meaning that within a couple hours of stepping off of a plane, you can be driving, hiking or kayaking through one of the best natural landscapes in the country.

Day 2 and 3: Explore Yellowstone National Park.

We know you’ll want to see Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s most famous star landmark, but there’s a great hike to a waterfall that departs from the geyser viewing area. It’s five miles if you want to see the waterfalls but another couple of miles if you want to see two lesser-known geysers on the way.

Since this is a mountain venture, you likely want to reach the summit of one. There’s a six-mile trail leading to the top of Avalanche Peak (10,000 feet above sea level). At the tip-top, you’ll be able to see the Grand Teton Mountains, Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains.

Day 4: Drive to Glacier National Park.

The longest drive of the trip is on Day 4, bringing you from Yellowstone to Glacier. It’s nearly seven hours, but you’ll reach the border of the park earlier in the day. You could stop there; however, the best day hikes are based further north.

Day 5 and 6: Explore Glacier National Park.

One of the most iconic sites in Glacier is the Grinnell Glacier. It’s the name of the park, so you have to make it to one of the giant ice formations. The Grinnell Glacier hike is a true trek, spanning 10 miles. It climbs pretty high uphill, meaning you get to see Grinnell Lake from above before you reach the glacier.

Another must-hike path is the Highline Trail. It’s 11 miles and starts alongside the park’s famous Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Then the trail follows the Continental Divide. There’s a pretty scary bit where you’re right on the edge of a cliffside, but the views are worth it.

Day 7: Drive to Banff National Park and explore.

You only need 4.5 hours to travel from Glacier to Banff. Glacier is actually right on the border with Alberta, the Canadian province where Banff is located. You’ll pass through Calgary on the drive to the park in case you need to restock on hiking snacks or just want a dose of the city before more mountain time.

Day 8 and 9: Explore Banff National Park.

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Depending on your energy levels, you could choose the easy Moraine Lake Shoreline (a flat mile or two trail) or try your hand at Sentinel Pass (seven miles through the wilderness) to see some of the best views of the Ten Peaks of the park.

Your legs might be a little sore from the constant uphill journeys, so your last day is an easier one. There’s a four-mile trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, where you can enjoy a cuppa with some serious views. If your legs are feeling revived from the tea, you can climb up some switchbacks to the top of Big Beehive for even better vistas.

Day 10: Drive to Calgary Airport and fly home.

If you’ve got a late flight, you can maybe squeeze in one last hike before driving to Calgary. It’s only an hour and a half from Banff, so maybe you can do one last mountain wander even if your flight leaves midday. Early birds get the best trail time!


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