What is the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park?

Written by August Buck
Published: July 15, 2022
© Cody Linde/Shutterstock.com
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Knowing when it’s the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park can be difficult, especially if you have never visited before. What can you expect out of a trip to Yellowstone, especially if you are going during a particular season or time of year? Is there an optimum time of day to begin your exploration of this park? There’s a lot to plan before visiting Yellowstone, but that’s why we’re here to help.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about visiting Yellowstone National Park, including when it is ideal to visit. We will address both the time of year that is good for visiting, as well as the time of day. If you have never visited the park before, we will also discuss some top activities to do and some insider tips to help with your trip. Let’s get started now!

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
While Yellowstone National Park remains open year round, many of its roads close in late fall to tourist traffic, for the safety of visitors.

©Lorcel/Shutterstock.com

Yellowstone National ParkActivities and Information
Yellowstone in SpringVisit during this time of year to check out wildflowers, birdwatching, some snow excursions, and wildlife emerging after a cold winter! Some roads will be closed.
Yellowstone in SummerAll roads open during this season, making all activities available to you as well. Fish, hike, camp, explore, and drive throughout the park, but know there will be crowds!
Yellowstone in FallWatch for mating animals, changing foliage, and the end of fishing season. A great time of year for hiking and photography! Roads begin to close toward the end of the season.
Yellowstone in WinterOnly one road remains open to tourist traffic during this season, but snowcoach/bus travel is available. Rent snowmobiles, snowshoes, or skis to traverse the park!
Best Time of Day?Try to visit at dawn or dusk for peak wildlife activity!

The Best Time of Year to Visit Yellowstone

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
If you have an invested interest in hiking, camping, or otherwise exploring Yellowstone either on foot or in the comfort of your own vehicle, you may want to visit during milder months.

©Lillac/Shutterstock.com

The best time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park truly depends on what you plan on doing, as all times of year have something unique to offer. However, you should know that Yellowstone is located at an extremely high elevation, leading to a long and harsh winter compared to other national parks. Depending on seasonal conditions, you may only have a few months out of the year in which a snowless visit is possible.

This is why Yellowstone National Park is busiest during the months of June, July, and August, with some crowds lingering into September. These months offer tourists the best weather possible for enjoying this outdoor wonderland, with basically no threat of snow or rain. However, this also means that a normally peaceful, serene, and awe-inspiring slice of nature is full of people during these months.

If you have an invested interest in hiking, camping, or otherwise exploring Yellowstone either on foot or in the comfort of your own vehicle, you may want to visit during these milder months. This is especially true if you want to engage in any water-based activities. You can only fish and swim in Yellowstone during summertime. 

On the other hand, visiting Yellowstone during its frigid wintertime gives you fewer crowds, but not necessarily fewer activities. Yellowstone National Park remains open year round, though many of its roads close in late fall to tourist traffic, for the safety of visitors. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still get around- Yellowstone offers guided snowcoach tours and snowmobile rental opportunities, should you find this exciting!

The Best Time of Day to Visit Yellowstone

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
No matter what time of year you plan on visiting, you should have some idea of Yellowstone’s park schedule, especially when roads and park gates open or close to tourist traffic.

©Susanne Pommer/Shutterstock.com

The best time of day to visit Yellowstone National Park is at dawn or dusk for prime wildlife viewing opportunities, but early mornings seem to be less crowded overall. If you are visiting during the summertime especially, waking up early to beat the crowds is always a good idea! Some popular summer spots, such as the Boiling River swimming area, fill up fast. The earlier you can get there, the better.

What to Consider Before Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
The seasons greatly affect anyone’s visit to Yellowstone, from road closures to hotel availability.

©Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

It is important to take some time researching Yellowstone before you visit, including some of the top sights to see and activities to do. We’ve all heard of Old Faithful, but there are a number of other fantastic features to check out in Yellowstone National Park! Doing your research beforehand allows you to prioritize what you want to do before you visit.

The seasons greatly affect anyone’s visit to Yellowstone, from road closures to hotel availability. No matter what time of year you plan on visiting, you should have some idea of Yellowstone’s park schedule, especially when roads and park gates open or close to tourist traffic. The park may be open year round, but you may not be able to drive your car directly to your favorite geyser!

Tips for Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
Knowing what to pack is extremely important to keep in mind before you visit Yellowstone.

©Colton Stiffler/Shutterstock.com

One of the best tips to consider before visiting Yellowstone? Plan more time than you think you need, and make sure you pack properly! No matter what time of year you visit, but especially during the summertime, you will find that things take longer than you expect. If you visit during the months of July or August, know that you may run out of time to do certain hikes or activities, depending on traffic and parking availability.

Knowing what to pack is also extremely important to keep in mind before you visit Yellowstone. The weather can be extremely volatile and unpredictable, so packing multiple layers and waterproof gear is never a bad idea. While you may not need to worry about this in the dead of summer, being prepared is what Yellowstone National Park advocates for!


The Featured Image

boiling river yellowstone
© Cody Linde/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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