Plan a Wyoming Road Trip Through Jackson Hole and Star Valley

On this six-day itinerary, you’ll travel through Wyoming’s “Salt to Stone” Region, traversing the Star Valley Scenic Byway and Grand Teton National Park.


Wyoming’s impressive landscape will play the starring role in your road trip.

Photo by Rich Martello/Unsplash

If road trips are meant for travelers interested in the beauty of the journey itself—the wide-open spaces, the charming small towns, and the staggering views that appear around an unassuming bend, Wyoming is among the best destinations for such a vacation. The landscape dramatically shifts from region to region, along with the history, wildlife, and cultural points of interest you’ll see along the way. Over this six-day journey, you’ll cover the Salt to Stone Region (Salt Lake City to Yellowstone) stopping in Evanston, Kemmerer, Star Valley, and Jackson.

The Star Valley Scenic Byway

Trip Highlight:

The Star Valley Scenic Byway

Think of the Star Valley Scenic Byway as a road trip within a road trip. It ascends the 7,610-foot Salt River Pass summit and goes down through the small towns that make up Star Valley. The final section heads east to the Snake River Canyon and ends at the Teton County-Lincoln County Line.

Trip Designer:

Travel Wyoming

Travel Wyoming welcomes all kinds of travelers to one of the last true American frontiers, a land of uninterrupted natural beauty, friendly people, and rich culture. There are many ways to enjoy the Cowboy State, whether it’s camping in a national park or enjoying Western hospitality in town, and Travel Wyoming is the perfect means to plan it all.
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In 2023, a rare white bison calf was born in Bear River State Park.

Courtesy of Travel Wyoming

Day 1:See Bear River State Park’s rare white bison

After flying into Salt Lake City, rent a car and head across state lines to Evanston. The reward for the 80-mile drive? A visit to Bear River State Park. There’s a lot to see in the 324-acre park and your best bet is to start at the Bear River State Park Visitor Center. Inside, you’ll get to see the center’s wildlife mounts and access information on the park and surrounding area, but the true highlight is just outside the front door. Bear River State Park’s bison herd—including the rare white bison—is on most travelers’ lists when they come to this part of Wyoming, but the park also has an elk herd, multiple bird species, and eight miles of hiking trails.

As the sun begins to set, you’ll drive back to Evanston where dinner at Jody’s Diner awaits and a room at the Best Western Dunmar Inn calls your name.
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Dig for shrimp, turtle, bat, bird, and camel fossils at American Fossil in Kemmerer.

Courtesy of Travel Wyoming

Day 2:Fossils and more in Kemmerer

Like all the best road trips, this one includes several “only here” experiences and you’ll drive to Kemmerer to see the next one. The 2,422-person town is known for coal mining and fossils and as the birthplace of the J.C. Penney department store. The J.C. Penney “Mother Store,” which retains some of its original features from 1902, is open for visitors to browse and shop. You can also explore the J.C. Penney House & Museum in downtown Kemmerer before stopping for a quick lunch at Scroungy Moose Pizza.

The history theme continues at Fossil Butte National Monument, where you’ll visit the museum and see its collection of 52-million-year-old fossils. While you’re not able to dig for your own fossils at the national monument, you have the option to stop by American Fossil (just be sure to schedule your two-, four-, or eight-hour dig ahead of time). The fossil quarry allows visitors to keep every fossil they find, including those from crocodiles, parrots, and small rhinos. Paleontological discoveries in hand, end the day with a drive to Cokeville and check into the Western-themed Hideout Motel—pose for a picture in front of the stone and brick sign out front.
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Leave time in your Wyoming itinerary to stop at various viewpoints and overlooks.

Courtesy of Travel Wyoming

Day 3:Drive the Star Valley Scenic Byway

This is the most on-the-go day of the road trip, so fill up on the motel’s complimentary continental breakfast before driving north along the Star Valley Scenic Byway. The state’s newest scenic byway, this 80-mile stretch lies between the Webster Range to the east and the Salt River Range to the west and drops into Star Valley, a region made up of several small Western towns. With mountain peaks, cattle ranches, hayfields, and historical points of interest, it’s a dynamic drive that can be curated based on which sights and activities appeal to you most—although there are a few you definitely don’t want to miss.

Your first stop in Star Valley will be a chance to raise your heart rate. The 1.5-mile, out-and-back Periodic Spring Trail is a relatively easy hike that leaves you plenty of time to drive into Afton to see the world’s largest elk antler arch (composed of more than 3,000 elk antlers) and have pub-style lunch at Colter’s Lodge.

From Afton, your route takes you to Old Auburn Rock Church, one of Star Valley’s oldest buildings, and north to Alpine. You’ll get a bit more sightseeing in when driving through Thayne and Etna before reaching Melvin Brewing Company in Alpine for dinner and drinks. Tonight’s accommodations are back down south, at the Kodiak Mountain Resort in Afton.
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Try on a few different cowboy hat styles in downtown Jackson.

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Day 4:Western wear and burgers in Jackson

Rise and shine for the baked goods and hot coffee at Haderlie Farms in Thayne, only available until 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. depending on the day. Drive to the world-famous town of Jackson, where boutiques, art galleries, and several spots to pick up Western wear surround the iconic town square. For vintage pieces (think Double RL and Pendleton) browse the racks at Womenfolk. Find a cowboy hat at Beavercreek Hats & Leather.

Now that you’re properly outfitted in denim and suede, visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s indoor and outdoor exhibits. Life-size sculptures, paintings, and a variety of other mediums tell the tale of the Wild West and its majestic inhabitants.

A full day of driving, shopping, and appreciating art will leave you ready for a bit of R&R and The Virginian Lodge is a perfect place to kick up your boots. Have dinner at Dornan’s (also an option for a longer stay with a three-night minimum).
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Lovers of water will appreciate the park’s access to water, from Jenny and Jackson Lakes to the picturesque Snake River.

Courtesy of Travel Wyoming

Day 5:Explore Grand Teton National Park

You can either sit down to breakfast at the Virginian Restaurant, an institution in the mountain town or grab to-go burritos from D.O.G. No matter which you choose, if you enter Grand Teton National Park on the earlier side, you’ll enjoy fewer summer crowds along the two-lane roads and at the viewpoints.

The best way to see the park is on the 42-mile Scenic Loop Drive, which covers all the highlights and top photo spots. Snag a parking spot at Jenny Lake and plan a hike around the glacial lake. (Don’t forget your bear spray, and keep your distance from wildlife.) The entire trail spans 7.1 miles, circumnavigating the lake in its entirety, or you can opt to only hike part of the trail. Both options come with the opportunity to take a dip in the lake’s refreshing waters.

For lunch, there’s The Trapper Grill at Signal Mountain Lodge, where the nachos, quesadillas, and BLTs come with unobstructed views of Jackson Lake and the white-capped Teton Range. Properly fueled, continue the drive through the park, stopping at Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher Landing, and Mormon Row. The latter is home to the famous T. A. Moulton Barn, a scene synonymous with Jackson Hole.

Before tucking back into your cozy bed at The Virginian Lodge, you’ll want to celebrate the end of your unforgettable Wyoming road trip with a meal at the Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse. (Pro tip: A dinner reservation guarantees free entry to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar’s live music scene upstairs.)
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Mark the end of your road trip with a photo in front of the elk antler arches in Jackson’s Town Square.

Courtesy of Travel Wyoming

Day 6:Fill up with a classic Jackson breakfast

Start the day at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn, a Jackson Hole staple, in nearby Wilson. (You can also snap a pic of the Town Square antler arches while you’re there.) With breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, and chicken fried steak and eggs on the menu, you’re guaranteed to fly home from Jackson Hole Airport satisfied—although there’s a good chance you’ll already be planning a return trip to the Cowboy State.
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