If you’ve read my brief Western US road trip itinerary, you’ll know that in May my mom & I took off to 4 states for a week long road trip- embracing the outdoors & trying to have as normal of a vacation as possible during COVID!
I’ll be breaking it down day by day to showcase all of the best (and worst) places and things during my week long, 500+ mile road trip from Salt Lake City, Utah to Bozeman, Montana.
Day 1: We’re off!
My mom and I chose a late-evening flight on Jetblue to get to Salt Lake City, where we booked a hotel by the airport to get some sleep before we started our drive to Jackson, Wyoming the next day.
Our flight was pretty much empty, and we each got rows to ourself! However, it was definitely rough having to wear a mask the whole time on the plane since my mom & I rarely ever need to wear it for more than 30 min-1 hour at a time. Aside from that, the flight was easy and we arrived in SLC around 11:30 pm.
We then went to get our rental car (which turned out to be a disaster, stay tuned) and then quickly grabbed some late night fast food before we went to our hotel and crashed for the night.
Day 2: Starting Our Journey
We woke up in Salt Lake City feeling particularly refreshed thanks to the 2 hour time change! We quickly Yelped some good breakfast places in the area, and chose one that was 20ish minutes into our drive. We arrived at Sill’s cafe in Layton UT and luckily got sat right away- it was the cutest little diner!
Apparently Utah scones are legendary (although I’ve never heard of them) so naturally my mom and I had to try! We 100% were not expecting it to be the size of a plate so on top of this crazy scone we also got an omelette and a GIANT pancake. Big mistake! If you’re ever at a Utah diner- totally just get the scone because 1. it’s HUGE and 2. it’s DELICIOUS.
Following our scone experience, we were feeling full & finally got on the road to Jackson, Wyoming (Approx: 5 hour drive in total) The route we took went through Idaho for a pretty large amount of time and then finally got us into Wyoming.
If you know my mom & I, you know that there’s just no way we’d be able to last through a 5 hour drive without a couple of pit stops. With that being said, I literally pulled up the map above, looked around the midpoint of the route, and saw an interesting town name called “Lava Hot Springs, Idaho”. Naturally I googled it and discovered that there was actually a pretty well known hot spring in this tiny town, so we decided to make that our midway stop. We drove through the remaining parts of Utah and into Idaho and quickly lost sight of houses & businesses but gained sights of rolling hills and open land. It was absolutely beautiful the whole way!
Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
We arrived in Lava Hot Springs and immediately went to the hot springs facility for a dip. The entrance fee was $8 a person, and they had changing rooms and lockers for your belongings. The hot springs had 5 pools with different temperatures depending on your preference of heat. Also, no one was wearing masks anywhere which was SO weird but absolutely amazing (mind you, this is before the CDC said it was okay to take them off nationwide).
We soaked in the hot springs for about an hour and decided to venture into the extremely tiny town for some lunch. We stumbled upon a super small local restaurant, grabbed a bite to eat, and chatted with the waitress who was SO nice… Western hospitality?
On the road again
After a quick dip and something in our stomachs, we were back on the road for the second half of our drive for the day (it was about 2 hours from Lava Hot Springs to Jackson). Along the way, we stopped quickly in Soda Springs Idaho, another small town, for some quick pics since it started to rain. The town was super cute and historical- definitely glad we stopped!
Following Soda Springs, we finished up our drive and rolled into Jackson, Wyoming around 5 pm. Throughout the drive, barely anyone was on the road and there were far more farms and fields than people! There was a very obvious town center in Jackson, but our hotel (Snow King Resort) was on the outskirts of the town, just 5 min away, because it was actually a ski resort! The hotel itself was so nice, it had an outdoor pool, a restaurant, and a cozy cabin-like feel. Our room was also newly updated and modern looking and had plenty of space!
After checking in and unpacking, we went down the road to downtown Jackson to explore. There were a ton of shops and restaurants in the city center, so we spent a good amount of time popping in and out of each one to take a look at the souvenirs & I got my postcards of course!
After a long day of driving and walking around, we were ready for dinner. It only felt right to eat some BBQ out west, so we headed down the street to Bubba’s BBQ where we were greeted with all of the amazing BBQ smells and a warm welcome. My mom naturally got the ribs and I stuck to my usual brisket. My favorite thing about BBQ is the fact that you always get a great selection of comfort food sides to pair with your meat dish. On top of my brisket, I got mac & cheese, texas toast and coleslaw.
Following our BBQ dinner, we headed back to the Snow King for some rest before our first big day tomorrow- Touring Grand Teton National Park!