Best time to visit Yellowstone

The best times to visit Yellowstone is from late April to mid-June and from September to October. These months offer lesser crowd and relatively mild weather. However the “best time” to visit this park ultimately depends on what kind of trip you wish to have. If you are visiting it with your kids and family, then you would probably want to opt for warmer weather i-e July and August. But if you are hoping for some wildlife sightings, cheaper flights and no crowd then the best time for you to visit is in winters.

Each season in Yellowstone provides a completely different experience to its visitors. July through Septembers are the warmest and driest months with highs reaching 70s. The mornings are usually cold though no matter what time of the year because of the altitude. Hers is a graph of average temperature fluctuations throughout the year to give you an idea

Yellowstone is one of the most popular National Park in US as approximately four million tourists visit this place each year. It features canyons, hot springs, forests, alpine rivers and legendary geysers including its most famous, Old Faithful. This old faithful geyser erupts throughout the day, spewing up to 8400 gallons of scalding water over 100 feet in the air. This park is also home for diverse wildlife species including bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope. This mountainous landscape is also ideal for downhill and cross-country skiing, fishing and hiking.

Summer in Yellowstone (June- August)

Summer in Yellowstone National Park

It is a tourist hotspot in summers. All of the park facilities are open during this time. There are also array of events hosted by the Park and its surroundings for the visitors including Idaho international Summer fest, Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival, Junior Ranger Wildlife Olympics and the Geyser Hill walk.

Hiking conditions are great as the weather is warm and dry. You can experience beautiful sunsets alongside alpine rivers at the park. But accommodations fill up really quickly during the summer time. So if you decide to tackle the summer season, book your accommodation and flight as soon as possible.

Autumn in Yellowstone (September – November)

Hot Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

This is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone as the weather is still mild and there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife sighting. Almost all of the summer crowd is gone so you can avail cheaper accommodation. But most facilities including general stores, visitor centres and post office are closed by November. So keep that in mind and pack your stuff accordingly.

Winter in Yellowstone (December – March)

Winter in Yellowstone National Park

Winter in Yellowstone are not for the wimps. There is heavy snowfall throughout this season and the temperature drops as low as -60. Even daytime temperature is rarely above freezing so if you do decide to visit during winters, pack plenty of warm clothes, safety gears, flashlights and extra food. Almost all of the park facilities are closed except the HQ in Mammoth spring area so you are basically on your own.

In winters, the park is open for cross-country skiing, ice-climbing, snowshoeing and exploring the ski and snow vehicle trails that cut through snowy basins like Black Sand, and frozen waterfalls that shimmer like frosted chandeliers.

There are also some events organized particularly for winters including Bozeman Ice Festival, Snowmobile Expo, Power sports Show and ranger-led guided snowshoe walks.

Spring in Yellowstone (April – May)

The weather is still cold but can be unpredictable, average temperature fluctuates between high 10s and 40s in spring. But if you time it right, it could be your best experience ever. You can witness the park start blooming after its winter hibernation. And you will be able to avoid the summer crowd but do remember that park roads to popular features are closed to the public until the third Friday in April.

Best Time to See Wildlife in Yellowstone

If you really want to witness wildlife species, then the best time for you to visit this park is in winters. Most of the animals remain near the valley and can be seen keeping themselves warm near a hot spring or a geyser. Winters are also a great a time to see wolves and bears in the park.

However if you visit the park during summer, chances to spot wildlife species are quite low as many of them head to higher elevations in search of cooler temperature.

Fall is also a great time to spot species like elk, bulls and bighorn sheep. Expect a lot of bugling, bunch of elk strutting around showing off and the occasional duel. September and October can be especially exciting as the elk are in rut and act a little crazy.

So, no matter what time of the year you visit Yellowstone, you will have some great time there. Do remember to pack some warm clothes with you whenever you visit as the mornings are usually really chilly here.

FAQs

How many days do you need to visit Yellowstone National Park?

You will need at least two days to really experience the area. But if you have time then 3-5 days would be better so you can enjoy hiking, sightseeing and can explore some sights off the beaten tracks.

How long does it take to drive the loop in Yellowstone?

It takes around 3-4 hours of drive through the loop. You can pick any side of the loop depending on the sights and other attractions on the way. All of them take almost the same time.

Is October a good time to visit Yellowstone?

October is usually a great time to visit Yellowstone as weather is not extremely cold and wildlife species are back in the park area. However lean more towards early October as weather can get really cold by the end of it and the facilities in the park start closing.

What is the off season for Yellowstone?

November through mid-April is usually off season for the park. As there is heavy snow in the park and some of the roads are also blocked.

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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