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What Is The Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park

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What Is The Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park

The best times to visit Yellowstone National Park are from late April to May and from September through early October. These months offer mild weather, fewer crowds, and little to no road closures.

July and August are the most favored months to visit. The kids are out of school, and the weather is warm enough to sleep outside. However, this park is no stranger to the cold.

Temperatures have been known to drop into the 30s during the summer in the higher peak areas of the park. During the winter, expect a wide range of temps, spanning from subzero digits to the high 20s.

This season may yield swampy hiking conditions, occasional mudslides blocking parts of the Grand Loop, slushy snowpack, and freezing pouring rain that could hamper activities in Yellowstone like driving, skiing, biking, or boating with a well equipped zip wake.

Don’t let that stop you. There’s nothing quite like seeing plumes of steam rise from beneath a thick blanket of snow and ice. However, the best time to visit Yellowstone is all the time and any time of year.

Visiting Yellowstone By The Seasons

Thinking of traveling to Yellowstone National Park, but not sure when to go and what is the best time to visit Yellowstone? This section will tell you what each season is like and give you advice for the best time of the year to visit Yellowstone:

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone In Summer

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone

When is the very best time of the year to go to Yellowstone? According to most adventurers, Summer is by far the best time to visit Yellowstone if you want to experience everything the park offers.

All the park roads and facilities are open during the summer months, but some activities such as rafting or guided hiking trips only start towards the end of June.

Summer is also the best time for your kids to visit Yellowstone with you. It is also the busiest time in Yellowstone, with the most considerable number of tourists. It’s also the most expensive time to visit Yellowstone as accommodation prices skyrocket in and near the park.

Here are some fascinating things that you will experience when you visit Yellowstone in the Summer season:

  • The first spring flowers start to pop up out of the recently snow-laden soil
  • Bears begin coming out of hibernation anytime from March on and are readily spotted
  • The landscape changes drastically from a winter wonderland to a bright, green terrain.
  • Baby season! Wildlife babies are out and about and can first be seen from April to June

However, the weather in Yellowstone can get hot in summer, especially during the day. In general, you can expect high daytime temperatures to be in the range of 68-78 °F (20 – 25°C), but it can also get as cold as 36-40 °F (2-4 °C), especially at night or at higher elevations.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone In Spring

Contrary to what you might experience in spring in places like Texas, California, or Missouri, you will not find warm weather or wildflowers in Yellowstone during March, April, or May. It’s the most challenging time visiting the park, and you’ll have to be very open-minded and flexible when you decide to visit Yellowstone in Spring.

The spring is called the “mud season” and is a low-volume time to visit Yellowstone. It can still be cold and snowy, and the remaining snow of winter thaws, turning the park’s roads, trails, meadows, and campgrounds. Many roads in the park remain closed in spring, limiting where you can go, and many of the facilities are closed, including hotels, restaurants, and visitor centers.

This season may yield swampy hiking conditions, occasional mudslides blocking parts of the Grand Loop, slushy snowpack, and freezing pouring rain that could hamper activities in Yellowstone like driving, skiing, biking, or boating.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone In Winter

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone

The months between November and March are the coldest in Yellowstone. While it can be a magical time to visit, it’s also the most challenging season to travel to Yellowstone.

There is lots of snow, and it’s usually frigid, with temperatures falling well below freezing point. Average high temperatures in Yellowstone in winter are under 32 °F (0°C), and average low temperatures in January or February are around 0 °F (-17 °C).

If you decide to visit Yellowstone this time, always carry safety gear – snow tires, maps, booster cables, sleeping bags, flashlights, first-aid kids, shovels, extra food, and water – and be prepared for unstable driving conditions (some roads will be closed).

The North Entrance is the only entrance open to automobiles in the winter. Most park facilities (aside from park headquarters in the Mammoth Hot Springs area) will already be closed for the season by December.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone In Autumn

Autumn is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone. The weather is still mild, the roads and accommodations are open (and more affordable), there are plenty of wildlife watching opportunities, and the number of people is lower too.

Average temperatures can range from the mid-30s to the low 60s during the day. Also, keep in mind that most facilities (like visitors centers, general stores and post offices, etc.) can close as early as mid-September. Plus, come mid-October, seasonal road closures start.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone For Wildlife

April, September, and October are the best months to visit Yellowstone for wildlife. These months provide more chances to catch a peek at the local wildlife and enjoy thinner crowds.

Bears appear from hibernation between March and April, migrating birds arrive just before May, and the elk rut begins mid-September.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone For Photography

The winter months are the perfect time to visit Yellowstone for photography. The winter is also a beautiful time to photograph snowfall and steam rising from the hot springs and geysers.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone To Avoid Crowds

Avoid crowds by visiting in September or early October. Or even when visiting for the first time, the best way to avoid the crowds in Yellowstone is to get out early.

With most visitors having breakfast in their hotel, the roads are pretty quiet from dawn until 9:30 am. Wildlife is far more active at dawn than midday as wildlife take advantage of the cool temperatures.

Summary

If you want to experience everything that the park offers, then the second half of June, July, August, and the beginning of September are the best months to visit Yellowstone. However, this is also the busiest and the most expensive time to travel.

The end of May and the end of September – the beginning of October are quieter periods with most of the advantages of summer travel but fewer visitors.

This short period could probably be described as the best time to visit Yellowstone. The weather is good enough, and pretty much everything in the park is accessible, accommodation prices are lower, and fewer people.

Mid-December – the end of February is the best time to visit Yellowstone for those who want to experience the park in winter.

The best time to visit Yellowstone without the crowds is the low season – fall and spring. However, many roads and facilities are closed, and you won’t be able to experience the best that the park has to offer.


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