Yellowstone in December: Things to Do, Weather, and More

Written by August Buck
Published: June 14, 2022
Image Credit Carolina K. Smith MD/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

While you may not think that the winter season is a good time for travel, there are a number of reasons to visit Yellowstone in December. This National Park is beautiful during the winter season, and there are a number of activities for you to still enjoy so long as you don’t mind a bit of cold! But what can you expect out of a trip to Yellowstone National Park during this time of the year, and how can you best prepare? 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Yellowstone National Park should you choose to visit during the month of December. We will address what some of the top activities are as well as what the average weather is like. Finally, we will go over some possible places to stay and some other insider tips for you to know before you set off on your journey. Let’s get started now! 

Yellowstone in December
Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of fantastic things to do in Yellowstone during the month of December.

sirtravelalot/Shutterstock.com

Yellowstone National ParkDecember
Top ActivitiesGeyser viewing, wildlife viewing, snowshoe hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobile rentals, guided snow coach tours, Visitor’s Center and Museum
Average Weather5 degrees Fahrenheit-24 degrees Fahrenheit, with nearly 30 inches of snow, and 9.5 hours of sunshine per day
Popular WildlifeBison, elk, antelope, wolves, deer, foxes, bighorn sheep, weasels, rodents
Places to StayOld Faithful Snow Lodge, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins, lodging outside Yellowstone
Things to KnowOversnow activities and guided tours are a must!

Things to Do in Yellowstone in December

Yellowstone in December
In case you hadn’t already guessed, the weather in Yellowstone throughout the month of December is quite cold.

Sonia Horowitz/Shutterstock.com

Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of fantastic things to do in Yellowstone during the month of December. For example, oversnow travel opens by the 15th of the month, which means you can travel throughout the majority of the parts using either snowmobiles or guided snowcoach tours. This is a great activity to consider if you are looking for more guidance while on your trip. 

Additionally, you can rent snowshoes and cross-country skis in order to venture through the park and hike many different trails, though the weather might be a bit brisk for some of you! If you are concerned about the cold weather, there is still one road open through the northern portion of the parks, which means you can see the beauty of Yellowstone from the comfort of your vehicle. 

Both the museum and Visitor Center remain open in Yellowstone National Park during the month of December, and you can also check out the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. In addition, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge opens up during this month as well, giving you more places to stay and more places to explore! 

Weather in Yellowstone in December

Yellowstone in December
Oversnow travel opens in Yellowstone by the 15th of the month, which means you can travel throughout the majority of the parts using either snowmobiles or guided snowcoach tours.

Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

In case you hadn’t already guessed, the weather in Yellowstone throughout the month of December is quite cold. It is a winter wonderland in every way, with temperatures ranging as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 24 degrees Fahrenheit. While there is less than 10 hours of sunshine per day during this time of year, it doesn’t mean that they’re still isn’t plenty of time to explore the park. However, keep in mind that Yellowstone experiences up to 30 inches of snow in this month alone! 

Wildlife in Yellowstone in December

Yellowstone in December
Some lodging options in Yellowstone National Park remain closed during the beginning of December, but they open by the middle of the month.

Carolina K. Smith MD/Shutterstock.com

You likely won’t see any grizzly bears in Yellowstone during the month of December, as they hibernate for the winter. However, there are a number of animals that choose to spend the winter season in lower valleys and elevations, closer to where you might be exploring. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to see other species, besides bears! 

You can expect to see any of the following animals during your trip:

For your own safety, Yellowstone Park Rangers recommend that you stay at least 100 yards away from the nearest large animal, particularly bison, wolves, and bears. Keep in mind that, although they may seem accustomed to humans, these are indeed wild animals in one of the wildest National Parks in America!

Getting to Yellowstone in December

Yellowstone in December
While Yellowstone National Park in December may not be everyone’s ideal vacation, this means that the park is relatively empty should you choose to visit during this time of year.

Warren Metcalf/Shutterstock.com

You should use caution when traveling to Yellowstone during December, given the fact that the weather can be particularly temperamental. In fact, most roads in and through Yellowstone are closed during this time of year, save the northern and northeastern entrances. There is a road connecting these two gates, but all other roads are closed to residential traffic. However, you can rent a snowmobile or enjoy a guided snowcoach tour after the 15th of the month. 

Lodging in Yellowstone in December

Some lodging options in Yellowstone National Park remain closed during the beginning of December, but they open by the middle of the month. This includes the Mammoth Hot Springs Inn and Cabins, as well as the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. These locations booked up quickly, so be sure to check them out well in advance of your trip! Otherwise, you can stay in local towns surrounding Yellowstone so that you have a warm and comfortable place to rest after a long day in the cold. 

Yellowstone in December
You should use caution when traveling to Yellowstone during December, given the fact that the weather can be particularly temperamental.

iStock.com/SL_Photography

Tips and Tricks for Yellowstone in December

While Yellowstone National Park in December may not be everyone’s ideal vacation, this means that the park is relatively empty should you choose to visit during this time of year. You can explore at your leisure and see the park in a new light, including numerous animal species and natural wonders. Stay warm and take your time, and reach out to Yellowstone National Park if you are interested in a guided snowcoach tour or snowmobile rental! 

Share this post on: