San Francisco to Denver Road Trip | Day 5: Salt Lake City & Jackson Hole

In May 2014 we drove 1,950 miles through 6 different states (California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado). We went to 5 national parks/landmarks, went to 4 museums, took 2 factory tours, rode a train through the Rockies, went on a boat cruise of Lake Tahoe, took a walking tour of San Fran, hiked the tallest peak in Salt Lake City, saw real dinosaur bones in Colorado, survived the highest altitude we’ve ever been at (11K feet), ate countless memorable meals, and had one Guy Fieri sighting. Check out our route:


Day 5 began early! We drove around downtown and towards to capital building to start the day.


We were headed to Ensign Peak for a morning hike!


Ensign Peak is where the first Mormon pioneers of Salt Lake City placed their ensign. The vantage point of the land below helped them conceptualize what kind of city they wanted to build.


The trail itself was tough! It’s only a half mile but has an elevation gain of 500 feet (read: STEEP!).


Halfway up!


The views from the summit were incredible.


A panorama:



The prominent capital building from Ensign Peak: (which is exactly a mile south of the trail)





Being from a sea level location getting up to Ensign Peak was a challenge. That said, once you finally do reach the top (sweaty, winded, and grumpy) it will all be worth it. On a clear day like we had, the views are breathtaking. What a fantastic way to see the city! While I cursed the hike on the way up AND down, I’m still really glad we did it.


After our hike we checked out of our hotel, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the Natural History Museum of Utah.


The view of the mountains from the lobby was incredible:



The collections were all really cool and the museum had a nice open flow. The dinosaur exhibits were one of our favorites:


My favorite thing in the museum was the minerals/crystals/geodes collection. They had pieces from all over the world that were just stunning.


We even got a glimpse of the storage rooms on the top level. Kinda cool to see something like this at a museum!


After we were done at the museum we hit the road. We drove due north for about an hour and crossed into Idaho.


About an hour and a half from the border we arrived at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho.


Now this, folks, is Americana! The Idaho Potato Museum is full of roadside charm despite being totally dated and a little run down. The people there were exceptionally nice and naturally proud of their beloved potato.


I marveled at their collection of potato peelers and potato mashers!


It’s not a big museum so it took about 15 minutes to go through the whole thing. We bought some silly souvenirs and postcards and headed on our way.


From there were still had another two hours before we reached our final destination for the day – Jackson, Wyoming.

The stretch of road between Idaho and Wyoming may have been my favorite driving during the trip. We were located in the Big Hole Mountain Range, just outside of Grand Teton National Park. The roads were flat and wide open. Big sky in every directions and mountains on the horizon.


We saw some dark and stormy weather out there too but didn’t end up driving through any of it.


We crossed over into Wyoming with about 30 minutes left of driving to go.


The scenery was just beautiful. I don’t even know if these pictures could ever capture it (which is why I recommend road trips to everyone, you have to get out there and see it for yourself).


All of a sudden the road opened up on to a gorgeous valley and we pulled over to take a picture.


Turns out that valley was our destination for the day – Jackson Hole. The views down into Jackson were amazing. I knew we must be pretty high up to have such a great vantage point and when I checked we were at 8,400 ft. of elevation.


We drove down into Jackson, checked into our hotel, had dinner, and went back to the hotel to do some laundry (a necessary evil on a road trip!).


Stay tuned for Day 6 where we visit Grand Teton National Park and explore more of Jackson Hole!

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

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