Correctly handling the relationship between land intensive use efficiency and ecological well-being performance is a special essential prerequisite for promoting ecological protection and high-quality development in the Yellow River Basin. Based on the stochastic frontier analysis model in the form of a translog production function that includes a time trend variable, we measure the land intensive use efficiency and ecological welfare performance of 57 cities in the Yellow River Basin from 2008 to 2017. With the help of a coupling model, distribution dynamic theory and geographical detector tools, in the perspective of cities and provincial levels, the dynamic evolution of the coupling degree between them is described, and the coupling mechanism and driving factors are clarified. The results show that: (1) The land intensive use efficiency of 57 cities has basically remained stable and improved slightly over time, provincial capital cities have gradually formed the first echelon of land intensive use efficiency, but the ecological welfare performance has shown a trend of declining fluctuations. The degree of coupling keeps a high level, taking 2012 as the boundary, it has undergone the evolution process of "decline-rise". (2) The degree of coupling development between cities is uneven, because the coefficient of variation of most provinces is increasing, nearly one fifth of the cities belong to the type of "low level coupling" with low development degree and low coordination degree, although more than half of the cities have achieved the relative synchronization between development and coordination. What's more, the degree of coupling generally presents a spatially differentiated pattern of "northeast-southwest", the center of gravity moves to the southwest as a whole, and its evolution is mainly to maintain the original type and transform to adjacent types. (3) As for the driving factors, the explanatory power of economic dimensions speak louder than that of the natural and social dimensions, that is to say, economies are the leading factors of coupling degree, while social factors and natural factors play roles of support and foundation respectively. The interaction between factors shows the two-factor enhancement and non-linear enhancement effects, and social factors are the main interaction objects.