A road trip from Flagstaff to Missoula is any RVer's dream. There are so many interesting stops and opportunities for side trips that you may never want to go back home. Five national parks await along the route, from the Grand Canyon with its famous views to Yellowstone with its geysers and animal-sighting adventures. You can look forward to some fun in the cities along the way as well. Salt Lake City is a tourist destination in itself, and Missoula has natural beauty and cool culture to spare.
Grand Canyon National Park
As you probably know, the views at Grand Canyon National Park are breathtaking from any perspective. You can look straight down at the canyon from the glass Skybridge, or you can see panoramic vistas from a helicopter. You can even get closer looks by hiking or riding a mule. For 360-degree views, go to Hopi Point, or take in other perspectives of the canyon at Mohave Point, Powell Point, or Yavapai Point. In between admiring the scenery, you don't want to miss Grand Canyon Village, the historic district, Havasupai Falls, and Desert View Drive.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is where you can see hoodoos, those weirdly shaped rock formations with the fun name. The park is loaded with these capped, red-rock pinnacles. You can take one of the many hikes for a closer view or take the 20-mile drive to see it all. Bryce Amphitheater is not to be missed; it is a natural depression loaded with hoodoos.
Golden Spike National Historical Park
In Promontory, Utah, you can see the spot where the First Transcontinental Railroad became complete, stretching from the eastern United States all the way to Sacramento. The golden spike was made of 17.6-karat gold, and it was the final spike driven ceremoniously into the ground to join the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento to the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha. Immediately after being tapped into place, the golden spike was removed to prevent it from being stolen; today, it sits on display at Stanford University. The Golden Spike National Historical Park preserves the historical site and offers information about what it took to complete the railroad.
Yellowstone National Park
What's there not to love about Yellowstone National Park? Encompassing 3,471 square miles, it has so much to do and see. Your first priority might be to watch some geysers erupt and experience colorful hot springs. The most famous geyser is Old Faithful, but it's not the only one as Yellowstone is home to 500 geysers and 10,000 geothermal features. The nice thing about Old Faithful is that it's somewhat predictable; it currently erupts about 20 times a day, and its next eruption can be predicted with about 90 percent accuracy. Along with Old Faithful, popular geyser areas include Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Lower Geyser Basin, and Mud Volcano. Be sure to get a map beforehand, so you don't miss anything. As you're driving around the loop, watch for wildlife dotting the area. You might see bears, moose, elk, wolves, bison, otters, badgers, and foxes.
Yuba Lake State Park
For a refreshing stop right off I-15 between Fillmore and Nephi in Utah, drive to Yuba Lake, a sprawling reservoir on the Sevier River. It offers boat-in camping and lots of water recreational activities. Fishing is a popular activity at Yuba Lake, and you might catch walleye, rainbow trout, catfish, and northern pike here.
Granite Ghost Town State Park
This granite mine in Montana was the richest silver mine in the world. It was almost abandoned, but the very last blast uncovered silver veins that yielded $40 million. Granite Ghost Town is the remains of the camp that revolved around mining all that silver. See the Miners Union Hall and the company hospital as they were in the camp's heydey in the late 1800s.
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park
If you like underground explorations, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park has one of the biggest limestone caverns in the world. Just 43 minutes from Butte, Montana, you'll see colossal cave features and, of course, a colony of bats in residence. Park staff can take you on one of three guided tours geared toward different levels of ability. There are handrails in the caves for safety. Once you're above ground again, you can explore the many hiking trails and a visitor's center.
Lake Powell is a favorite destination for boaters in Arizona, Utah, and beyond. It's a huge reservoir, and the water is warm. If you've ever dreamed of water skiing in bathtub-temperature waters, this is the place for you. There are even a few nice campgrounds in the area for overnight stays.
Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs is a quaint little town in Idaho that has hot springs, a large swimming complex, and Portneuf River rapids perfect for tubing. You can spend a whole day enjoying the water as you take advantage of one-man, two-man, and four-man tubes that are available to take down the river. There's a designated spot to enter and exit for the safest and most fun ride. The swimming complex has several large swimming areas, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a water park and two diving boards. One of the diving boards is so high that you have to sign a waiver to use it. Finally, soak in the hot springs to relax after a day of fun; you can choose from hot, hotter, and hottest.
Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
If you're up for a side trip, less than two hours from Pocatello is Twin Falls, where you can find the Niagara of the West. Shoshone Falls is spectacular in the springtime and truly does rival Niagara Falls for jaw-dropping beauty.
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
Not far from Missoula, you can get a taste of the cattle industry that helped build the west at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. The ranch used to be the headquarters of a 10-million-acre cattle empire, and the main house has been preserved with its original furnishings. You can also see the bunkhouse, blacksmith shop, horse barns, and cattle sheds, all as they were at the height of the cattle industry. You can explore on your own or take a ranger-led guided tour. There are chuckwagon programs, blacksmith demonstrations, roping lessons, wagon tours, and 7 miles of walking trails. Cattle still dot the countryside, and you can see horses and chickens as well.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is probably most famous for two things: its large saltwater lake, seven times saltier than the ocean, and for being the place where the Mormon pioneers ended up and built it into a major city. For a little flavor and history of the area, stop by the Salt Lake Temple in the center of downtown Salt Lake City. Its manicured grounds and interesting architecture provide a peaceful spot in the center of the city. If you're looking to see what pioneer life was like in the early days of Salt Lake City, stop at This Is the Place State Park, which is named after the words uttered by Brigham Young when he saw the Salt Lake valley. There are many campgrounds and dump stations for your needs in the area.
Idaho Falls is right next to the Snake River, and the Greenbelt has a system of trails leading to parks and a waterfall. You might want to visit the Museum of Idaho in downtown Idaho Falls to learn more about local history and the Lewis and Clark expedition. You can also see a recreated 1800s town. You'll find several campgrounds and dump stations for your comfort.
Butte is a picturesque city set in the Rocky Mountains of southwest Montana, and it's the last city before you reach Missoula on your road trip from Flagstaff to Missoula. You can find campgrounds and dump stations for your RV needs in the local area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Flagstaff to Missoula, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Flagstaff or Missoula.