Yellowstone Weather in January: What to Expect

Written by August Buck
Published: May 29, 2022
Image Credit Delbars/Shutterstock.com
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If you are planning an upcoming trip to Yellowstone National Park, you may want to know what to expect regarding Yellowstone weather in January. Will your favorite hikes be possible during this time of year, and what sort of wildlife might you expect to see in the dead of winter? Yellowstone is a beautiful National Park, but does it remain this way during the coldest months of the year? 

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about Yellowstone weather in January, including what you can expect in terms of average temperature. We will also address what some of the pros and cons might be to going to Yellowstone in January, as well as some of the potential wildlife that could be present during this time of year. Let’s get started and talk all about Yellowstone weather in January now! 

What is the Weather Like in Yellowstone in January?

Yellowstone Weather in January
Visiting Yellowstone National Park during the dead of winter means that there are new sights to see, a variety of wildlife, and plants and vegetation are extremely different during the dead of winter as opposed to the height of summer.

sirtravelalot/Shutterstock.com

Yellowstone National ParkAverages
High Temp (F)25 degrees
Low Temp (F)1 degree
Rainfall1.5 inches
Snowfall35 inches
Hours of Daylight9 hours/day
Elevation Changes in the Park7,000-8,500 feet

The weather in Yellowstone during the month of January is particularly cold and snowy. You can expect the average temperature to be anywhere from 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 1 degree Fahrenheit on average, and for there to be snow on the ground for the majority of the month.

Attendance at Yellowstone National Park declines greatly during this time of year, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Depending on the weather and various weather patterns throughout the year, Yellowstone has an average of 15 days of snow during January. However, it is safe to say that snow sticks around and most water in the park freezes over during this time of year, including waterfalls and rivers. 

When it isn’t snowing, you can expect cold and bracing days full of bright sunshine and beautiful nature surrounding you. While this may not sound like everyone’s ideal outdoor experience, you may find that visiting Yellowstone in January is a beautiful and peaceful time, especially when you consider the fact that very few people visit during this time compared to the rest of the year! 

Pros of Visiting Yellowstone in January

Yellowstone Weather in January
Two wood bison bulls fighting each other in the snow.

massimofusaro/Shutterstock.com

Speaking of fewer people visiting during the month of January, what might some other pros of visiting Yellowstone in January be? We’ve already discussed the primary reason to visit during an off time of year, and that is simply to avoid the crowds and reconnect with nature without there being throngs of people surrounding you. 

With fewer people comes greater opportunities, including lodging availability and reservation options for a variety of other activities. Because Yellowstone operates year-round, you can expect there to still be a number of things to do in the park despite there being fewer visitors, but we’ll get back to that in a moment. 

One of the best reasons to visit Yellowstone in January has to be the opportunity to see the park in a new light. Visiting this National Park during the dead of winter means that there are new sights to see, a variety of wildlife, and plants and vegetation are extremely different during the dead of winter as opposed to the height of summer. So long as you bring plenty of layers, there is ample beauty to explore in Yellowstone National Park during the month of January! 

Cons of Visiting Yellowstone in January

Yellowstone Weather in January
Because of the snow, it can be extremely difficult to get around if you are in your own vehicle, though guided tours and opportunities to explore the park are available through Yellowstone National Park reservations.

Delbars/Shutterstock.com

Besides the cold weather, the main drawback of visiting Yellowstone in January has to be the fact that most of the roads are closed to residential vehicles. This means that it can be extremely difficult to get around if you are in your own vehicle, though guided tours and opportunities to explore the park are available through Yellowstone National Park reservations. 

However, snow still means difficulties traversing the parts, including potential hikes and other natural experiences. You may find that certain hikes are unavailable during winter, depending on the weather. That’s why it’s always beneficial to call the park ahead of time or otherwise confirm what you might be expecting out of a January visit to Yellowstone. 

What to Do in Yellowstone in January

Yellowstone Weather in January
Depending on how snowy it’s been in Yellowstone, many different animals traverse down into the park from higher elevation areas.

iStock.com/mtnmichelle

Curious what all there is to do in Yellowstone National Park during the month of January? Don’t let the Yellowstone weather in January stop you from enjoying everything there is in this National Park! 

Wildlife Viewing

One of the best things to do in Yellowstone during the month of January, despite the weather, has to be viewing wildlife. Not only is this an activity that you can do from the warmth and safety of your vehicle, you can also expect to see a variety of different creatures during January because of the cold weather. 

Depending on how snowy it’s been, many different animals traverse down into the park from higher elevation areas. They do this for warmth as well as food, as the low-lying meadows provide a much warmer climate compared to the forested mountains beyond. Some of the animals you can expect to see during this time of year are: 

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

If you are worried about exploring nature on a hike during January, it is true that you may not be wearing your hiking boots. However, Yellowstone National Park offers cross country skiing and snowshoeing rentals so that you can explore the park no matter what’s on the ground. Plus, you can do guided hikes in the style or go off and explore on your own! 

Yellowstone Weather in January
Yellowstone National Park offers snowshoeing or cross-country skiing hikes as well as guided snowmobile tours in January.

Jim Cumming/Shutterstock.com

Snowmobiles and Guided Hikes 

Speaking of guided hikes, Yellowstone National Park offers snowshoeing or cross-country skiing hikes as well as guided snowmobile tours. You can explore the park in comfort and style using any one of these practical rentals, and you have the opportunity to see the park during one of the most beautiful times of year.

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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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