I did this 2 week Seattle to Denver road trip a few years ago. I started in Seattle, Washington, where I had been living for the previous 4 months, and ended in Denver, Colorado…well, actually, I ended in St. Louis. But I cut the road trip off at Denver because the last part was just me driving like a mad woman to get home!
I was with a friend for most of the road trip, and we had such a great time, even though we had basically no money to spend. We used Couchsurfing to stay with locals for free, ate cheap food, and only did free activities. We actually spent a lot of time just hanging out with our hosts or meeting up with friends of friends, so it wasn’t a typical trip filled with sight seeing. But it was one of the best trips I can remember.
That was due in part to all of the amazing places we visited. We saw a lot of great cities throughout the west, with plenty of nature in between. There were a couple of long driving days, but we broke it up by staying in one city for a few days at a time.
During the 2 week road trip from Seattle to Denver, our major stops were in the following places:
- Portland, Oregon
- Columbia River Gorge
- Boise, Idaho
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Moab, Utah
- Denver, Colorado
I recreated our trip with this 2 week USA road trip itinerary. I stayed true to our route and major stops, but I did make some slight changes based on what I would actually recommend for YOU to do on your trip. For example, we stopped in Logan, Utah to stay with our friend’s brother, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend spending time there (although it is a beautiful little town).
Seattle and Denver are two major cities, so I think linking them with a BIG road trip is the perfect way to spend a couple of weeks, and to see more of the U.S. while you’re at it! A 2 week western road trip is quite long for some people, but I made this itinerary pretty flexible, with advice on how you can shorten your trip.
We completed this road trip at the end of January/February, and we didn’t have any issues with weather conditions. I know most of you will probably want to complete this trip in the summer, but don’t be afraid of a winter road trip either (or spring or fall)! Also, if you’re starting in Denver, you can flip this itinerary and follow it in reverse.
So keep reading to see allll the details in this 2 week Seattle to Denver road trip itinerary and start planning your own!
2 Week Seattle to Denver Road Trip Itinerary
Days 1 & 2 // Seattle, Washington
We’re starting this road trip in Seattle, Washington, so of course you should spend a couple days exploring the city before you go. Seattle is a beautiful city that perfectly mixes art and culture with an adventurous spirit. You can visit a museum, grab a coffee from a local roaster, indulge in fresh food, go for a hike, and end the night watching a show, a concert, or checking out the nightlife.
Things to Do:
- Try all of the delicious food in Pike Place Market
- Walk up to Kerry Park for a view of Mt Rainier
- Explore the Fremont & Ballard neighborhoods
- Check out the Chihuly Glass Museum & the Space Needle
Read Next: Seattle Guides
Drive // Seattle to Portland
The drive from Seattle to Portland is a short 3-hour trip South on Highway 5. Since it’s so close, you can decide when you want to make the drive. During the summer, you could easily do it in the evening after a full day in Seattle. Otherwise you can drive down first thing on the third morning of your trip.
If you’d prefer to take your time, you can also add an extra day to your itinerary. Stop through in Tacoma for a few hours on your way and check out the Tacoma Art Museum.
Days 3 & 4 // Portland, Oregon
Portland is an interesting city and most people seem to love it. It’s very laid-back, it feels very suburban overall, and everyone just seems pretty chill. Downtown Portland doesn’t feel chaotic like many city centers do, and it’s a great place to spend time. But I think the best part of Portland is the east side neighborhoods, where you can stroll along, stop in at local restaurants, and feel a different vibe every few blocks. If you’re short on time, 1 day in Portland is enough.
Things to Do:
- Wander through the labyrinthine Powell’s City of Books
- Explore the East Side neighborhoods, like Alberta Art District, Hawthorne, & Mississippi
- Wander through the Portland Japanese Garden
Read Next: Quick Guide to Portland, Oregon
Day 5 // Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge scenic byway is located just East of Portland. There are tons of places to stop off to hike, see waterfalls, or just enjoy the scenery. To save time, do this on your way out of town instead of making it a day trip. Leave the city early in the morning, spend a few hours seeing the waterfalls, and then keep driving.
Read Next: Visiting Multnomah Falls
Drive // Portland to Boise
After seeing the waterfalls and driving through the Gorge, I’d recommend driving straight on to Boise, Idaho for the night. It’s a 7-hour drive, so if you want to spend a significant amount of time along the Columbia River Gorge (to hike, for example), then you might want to add in an extra night to break up the drive.
Day 6 // Boise, Idaho
I didn’t spend much time in Boise. Our main reason for stopping here was because we needed a night somewhere between Portland and Salt Lake City. We ended up staying with a friend’s parents, and we got up the next morning to do a quick hike at Table Rock, then left mid-morning. For us it was a short stop, but feel free to spend a full day here with this itinerary. Otherwise you can cut a day from your trip and just continue on.
Things to Do:
- Go hiking at Table Rock
- Tour the Old Idaho Penitentiary
- Visit one of the museums or the aquarium
Day 7 // Drive from Boise to Salt Lake City
Have a slow morning in Boise before making the 5 hour drive to Salt Lake City. I dedicated an entire day to this drive to give you some flexibility. Spend more time in Boise, get some extra time in Salt Lake City, or take your time driving through Idaho and find a few extra things to see along the way.
Day 8 // Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park is about an hour north of Salt Lake City. This was a highlight of the trip for me, so don’t skip it! The landscape is stunning, and it sits right on Great Salt Lake. This is a great place to hike, camp, or just spend a day driving around the park to take in the beauty. You’ll spot plenty of bison here too!
I recommend booking a place to stay in Salt Lake City, and then driving up to Antelope Island State Park for a day trip. However, you can find accommodation near the park and move on to Salt Lake City the following day instead.
Read Next: Antelope Island State Park
Day 9 // Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is most well-known for being home to the LDS Church, as well as being a popular destination for winter sports. Digging into the religious side of the city can be done at Temple Square, or many other points around the city with religious significance. In the winter, a lot of people head up to Park City, but there’s plenty to do around the city any time of year.
Things to Do:
- Visit Temple Square, home of the LDS church
- Check out the exhibits at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
- Hike up to Ensign Peak
- Drive up to Park City
Drive // Salt Lake City to Moab
The drive from Salt Lake City to Moab is so fascinating; you get to see the landscape change from the mountainous region of SLC to the red deserts of Southern Utah. You definitely won’t get bored with the scenery on this 4-hour drive!
Day 10 // Moab
After a 4 hour drive, you’ll arrive in Moab, Utah. This is one of my favorite stops on the entire 2 week Seattle to Denver road trip itinerary! The main draw of this tiny desert town is all of the outdoor activities. It’s a popular spot for climbing, hiking, and mountain biking, and it’s near some amazing national and state parks. This place is definitely for the more adventurous, but the town has all the basics you need for a fun stay.
Day 11 // Arches National Park
You can easily spend an entire day at Arches National Park. Begin your visit early in the morning and drive through to the end of the park. That way, you can make your way back up to the entrance throughout the day while others are going in the opposite direction. Choose one of the many short hikes to see some of the incredible arches up close.
Read Next: Arches National Park Photo Diary
Drive // Moab to Glenwood Springs
As you leave Moab, take the (upper) Colorado River Scenic Byway. This road follows the Colorado River through the red rock canyons, so you’ll be surrounded by walls of rock and the most classic Southwestern vistas. The byway is much emptier than the main highway, so you’ll have more space to stop off for photos, hiking, or a picnic. From here, you’ll connect with Interstate 70 and head east through Colorado. There are plenty of small towns where you can stop off for a break, like Grand Junction.
Day 12 // Glenwood Springs
The drive from Moab to Glenwood Springs will take you less than 5 hours (unless you want to take your time), so you can arrive with plenty of time to spend in this little Colorado town in the afternoon/evening. The hot springs are the main attraction here, so be sure to take a dip. It’s a great activity to do in the evening after a day of driving–and even better in the winter!
Things to Do:
- Relax at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool (the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world)
- Head to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park & take a tour of the caves
Drive // Glenwood Springs to Denver
The last leg of driving on this Seattle to Denver road trip is from Glenwood Springs to Denver. It takes about 3 hours, but allow a bit more time, especially if you’re driving in winter. You will be crossing over a mountain pass, so keep that in mind when planning your driving days and estimating times.
Days 13 & 14 // Denver
After 2 full weeks, you’ll finally arrive in Denver, Colorado, the mile-high city! Regardless of the season, there’s always something to do here. Between cultural institutions, great restaurants/bars/coffee, and being surrounded by the most beautiful landscape. this city is worth at least a few days of exploring. I really recommend a couple of full days, but this is flexible depending on how much time you have.
Things to Do:
- Spend the day at the Denver Art Museum
- Take a day trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
- Wander the shops and restaurants in Larimer Square
Read Next: Denver, Colorado Photo Diary
That’s the end of the epic Seattle to Denver road trip! This itinerary is packed full of great places to see and lots of things to do. There is plenty of flexibility to make it fit within your time-frame, and you can pick and choose which places you really want to see (and which ones you want to skip).
You can easily extend the 2 week USA road trip a bit if you want to spend more time in each place or make more frequent stops. This could also be easily condensed if you have less time. My favorite stops on this road trip were the Columbia River Gorge, Antelope Island State Park, and Moab & Arches National Park. Those are not to be missed!
Want to continue this road trip? Check out m 5 day road trip itinerary from Denver to Jackson Hole! And check out the final leg from Jackson Hole to Seattle to create a loop.
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