I love exploring. I love finding new roads I haven’t traveled before. While I have visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton for many years, I have always wondered if there was another road to get there, maybe one that came out in the area between the parks.
Well, there is. It’s called the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road, and amazingly enough, it runs from Ashton, Idaho, to Flagg Ranch, Wyoming. This road is also known as the Grassy Lake Road. Google Maps recognizes both names.
This is a mostly unpaved road, about 50 miles long. It’s quite remote, so be sure you start out with a full tank of gas. Plenty of water and snacks are a good idea as well. It’s also only open during the summer months, since you’re going to cross over the north end of the Teton Range.
If you’re going to drive it, I recommend 4-wheel drive or at least a good all-wheel drive, like a Subaru (that’s what we took on our last trip). While Google Maps will tell you that you can drive this Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road route in under 3 hours, I recommend at least half a day. I don’t think google has ever actually driven it. And they definitely didn’t include photo stops.
The scenery is beautiful. Indian Lake which has what feels like miles of lily pads, is gorgeous. We also passed countless wildflower-filled meadows, shady forest, smaller lakes, ponds, and creeks.
Not too far from Flagg Ranch we stopped at Cascade Creek where we hiked down a half-mile or so following the beautiful cascades all the way down. If we’d had more time, we would have followed the trail (about 1.8) miles to Terraced Falls, which is actually inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park.
Though we heard wildlife was often plentiful along this road, the best we saw were cattle. Not so exciting there, but the beautiful scenery and the fun of exploring still made it worthwhile. We did wander down a few side roads, but always returned to our main goal.
The area is remote, and your GPS isn’t likely to be helpful, so I recommend a good map. My favorites for exploring anywhere are state-by-state map/atlas. In addition to other states where we travel regularly we have both the Wyoming Map and Atlas and the Idaho Road & Recreation Atlas. In addition to showing all the unpaved roads, they also give recreation information for each state. If you click on either map book and buy one, Amazon will give me a commission, but it won’t change the price of the book. And if you don’t, that’s ok too.
If you’re like me and love a good dirt road, then the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road is a trip to add to your list.