Road Trip to Yellowstone National Park ~ Overview ~ Photos ~ May 2023 

I’ve always wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park and finally got there. It is spectacular and I understand why people make more than one visit and/or stay for longer than a few days. I planned to travel prior to Memorial Weekend and waited until the snow season was over (though there was snow on the ground in the higher elevations).

My route from western Washington started with the I-90, stopping in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I had time to visit a favorite book store (“The Well Read Moose”) before heading to Butte, Montana to break up the drive. Leaving Butte, I went over Homestake Pass (6,329 feet, the Continental Divide) and then local Montana highways to West Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park has 5 entrances. I chose the West Entrance as the town is very close to the park. My favorite part was the Canyon area. And I mentally made a note to return to see more of the northern part of the park. Should you travel to this area, definitely check online or guide books for valuable information.

West Yellowstone has a fabulous Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. And while I saw magnificent bison in the park, I am glad I visited the Discovery Center to see the wolves and bears.

Leaving the park, I traveled via the South Exit, noting that the restaurant at Grant Village was closed but would open Memorial Weekend. The South Exit took me to the gorgeous Grand Teton National Park. It was an easy drive to Jackson, then over the Teton Pass (connecting Wyoming and Idaho, 8,432 feet; very steep, 10% grade but very beautiful) towards Idaho Falls.

I stopped in Idaho Falls to break up my trip as I headed to Boise. The falls and the Japanese garden are quite stunning and there is a nice green belt to walk along.

It was terrific revisiting Boise as I love the Rose Garden, Green Belt and the downtown area.

My last stop was Hood River, on the Columbia. Beautiful, windy area.

Below are some favorite photos. I will have additional posts with information about the areas, including favorite restaurants, and more photos.

Would I go back to Yellowstone? Most definitely … it is a treasure and should be on everyone’s travel list!

Savor your journeys, near or far, real or imagined

Recap ~ Road Trip Western Washington ~ Mt Rushmore

  • Interstate 90 from Western Washington to Rapid City, South Dakota
    • East bound, stop in Missoula and Billings
    • West bound, stop in Billings, Missoula, Coeur d’Alene
    • Total road trip mileage: 2,713 miles
  • Mountain passes on I-90 include
    • Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, Cascade Range, 3,105 feet
    • Fourth of July Summit, Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Mountains, 3,173 feet
    • Lookout Pass, Idaho-Montana border, Bitterroot Range, 4,710 feet
    • Homestake Pass, Montana, Continental Divide, 6,375 feet
    • Bozeman Pass, Montana, 5,760 feet
  • Montana is truly “Big Sky” country; gorgeous area; friendly people. Highlights include:
    • Missoula ~ great place to explore (good restaurants, parks & book stores)
    • Billings ~ neat area; Gateway to Yellowstone (have to plan another road-trip)
    • Little Big Horn Battlefield and National Monument ~ a must visit
  • Mt Rushmore and the surrounding area are definitely worth the drive
    • Mt Rushmore ~ spectacular, awe-inspiring
    • The Badlands ~ fascinating and mysterious
    • South Dakota Air & Space Museum ~ a must see museum
  • Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ~ a favorite spot which I love to re-visit
    • Beautiful scenery, good restaurants and my favorite book store
  • I planned to travel prior to Memorial weekend to avoid summer traffic
    • Encountered snow in Wyoming
    • Be flexible with your travel plans
      • Leave time to explore and perhaps re-arrange itinerary
    • Have fun and savor your journeys



Favorite Restaurants ~ Road Trip ~ Western Washington to Mt Rushmore

When on a road trip, I prefer to dine close by my hotel, i.e., walking distance. I lucked out as there were several very good restaurants on my recent road trip from Western Washington to Mt Rushmore close to where I was staying. I would definitely go back to each of them.


The Stone of Accord, Missoula Montana

An Irish Pub serving fabulous comfort food (including pork chops, meatloaf, fish n chips), soups, salads, desserts (including Guinness Chocolate Cake, Irish White Chocolate Cheesecake). The staff have terrific customer service skills. I highly recommend the Peppercorn Pork Chops (served with delicious champs (best mashed potatoes, with scallions!) and vegetables) and the cheesecake is superb. As expected, there is a terrific bar menu, including Moscow Mule or an Irish Mule. Check out their menu on-line for ideas.

Montana’s Rib and Chop House, Billings Montana

Terrific place for either a quiet dinner or the sports bar area. I chose the latter and enjoyed a fabulous meal (champagne plus a delicious Caesar salad, salmon & baked potato). Great customer service skills. It is a chain (other locations are shown on their web site) and I would highly recommend.

Anthony’s at Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

I’ve eaten at Anthony’s prior to this trip and always enjoyed it. This time I ate in the bar area and loved it. The drinks and food are very good, terrific customer service and the view is lovely (overlooking a pond in Riverstone Park). The salmon was excellent as was the marvelous dessert (a Baily’s Mousse). Plus, there were some uninvited guests: ducks had somehow managed to enter. The staff immediately escorted them out and put up a stuffed animal which is supposed to keep the ducks at bay. We all had a hearty laugh and enjoyed the show.


Savor your journeys!

Favorite Bookstores: Missoula, Montana

On my road trip from western Washington to Mt. Rushmore, I stopped in Missoula for several days. I love browsing and supporting local, independent bookstores, and found two bookstores to add to my “favorite bookstore” list.

In addition to a fabulous book selection, Shakespeare & Company has cards, t-shirts, journals and gifts plus very friendly, helpful staff. Check out the “staff picks” for ideas. I bought two books that look fascinating (one a staff pick).

My finds at Shakespears & Co
My finds at Shakespears & Co

As you peruse the titles, you will discover many books to whet your appetite. There is a small sitting area, music playing in the background and it is well worth a visit.



Another terrific independent bookstore to explore is Fact and Fiction. They have a terrific selection in their small shop plus very friendly, knowledgeable staff. Located in the downtown area, they specialize in local authors and will gladly order books for you. I found a mystery by a local author which looks to be a good read.

Both stores also have readings and special events.

Savor your journeys.

Road Trip: Western Washington to Mt Rushmore ….. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana

Sixty-five miles east of Billings, heading toward Mt Rushmore, a terrific stop is Little Bighorn Battlefield. Park rangers at the Visitor Center readily answer your questions. The Museum has very informative exhibits and a very good collection of books, including Stephen Ambrose’s “Crazy Horse and Custer”.

Leaving the visitor center, as you walk toward Last Stand Hill and the 7th Cavalry Memorial and then the Indian Memorial, you can feel the history all about you. Gaze about and sense what happened here in June, 1876. Think of what victory and defeat meant. Drive about Battlefield Road, following the map from the visitor center to get an idea of the size of the battlefield, stopping at Memorial Markers.

Savor your journeys.

Road Trip: Western Washington to Mt Rushmore ….. Missoula, Montana

I’ve always wanted to visit Mt Rushmore and recently thought why not visit now? I planned to travel prior to Memorial Weekend (as both road trip travel and Mt Rushmore will be very crowded in the summer months) and waited until the snow season was over (or almost over) in South Dakota and Wyoming.

My route from western Washington was very direct, via the I-90 interstate. First stop: Missoula, Montana. Very glad I decided to break up my trip here. It’s a beautiful area, the weather was sunny, nice parks, and two super book stores to explore (a future post). There is a fabulous coffee stand (Copper Mountain Coffee) and a great restaurant (The Stone of Accord) near the hotel (a future post). Yes, I would definitely return to further explore this gorgeous “Big Sky” area.

Savor your journeys.