Rockies road trip: Western safari

See wild animals in wild places, from the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone
Chris Woolston

THE ROUTE: Grand Teton > Yellowstone > Cooke City, MT > Red Lodge, MT > Cody, WY (275 miles).

WHY GO: Wild animals in wild places. You could see a moose wading in the Snake River, a grizzly lumbering around Yellowstone Lake, mountain goats clinging to the Beartooth Mountains, and bighorn sheep grazing in the Shoshone National Forest.

WHO IT'S FOR: Nature enthusiasts, photographers, and anyone who can still be excited over the day’s 100th bison sighting.

WHERE TO STAY: The Cody (in Cody, naturally) offers Western-themed rooms with resort-style comfort. From $230; thecody.com

TOP STOPS:

Jenny Lake. Boat rides, hiking trails, dining at the Jenny Lake Lodge ($$$$), and, above all, reflections of the Tetons. $25/vehicle (good at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks); nps.gov/grte

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Yellowstone River plunging 308 feet into a multicolored chasm is the most powerful scene in the entire park. nps.gov/yell

Lamar Valley. See vast bison herds—and maybe even some wolves—roaming the American Serengeti west of Cooke City.

West Summit Overlook, Beartooth Pass. Pull over to take in the thin air and sweeping views at nearly 11,000 feet, high enough to see snow in August.

Downtown Red Lodge. It’s six blocks of mountain gear, Western art, huckleberry fudge, big burgers, and locally made micro­brews. redlodge.com

Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Five top-notch museums in Cody displaying Buffalo Bill memorabilia, art by Russell and Remington, Yellowstone area wildlife, Plains Indian headdresses, and Winchester rifles. $18; bbhc.org

YOU KNOW YOU'RE ON A BACKROAD: As the sign out front proudly states, the small school at Belfry, MT, is the home of the bats.

MOVIE TIE-IN:Shane. The 1953 classic was filmed near Jackson and Grand Teton National Park.

BEST GAS STATION: Top of the World Store. The only gas station on Beartooth Highway is a popular stop for cold drinks and fishing licenses. topoftheworldresort.com

BEST LOCAL FLAVOR: Elk chili nachos at the Handle Bar Pub, part of the Four Seasons Resort at Teton Village near Jackson. $$$; fourseasons.com/jacksonhole