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Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

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Hotels.com asked me to share my insight on visiting Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is an incredible park with so much to do and see. And your experience can differ depending on the time of year you decide to visit. So keep reading if you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park.

upper yellowstone river falls waterfalls at yellowstone national park

As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling at this time, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk. 

If you do decide to travel at this time, here are some recommendations: 

  • Wear a face mask.  
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis. 
  • Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses.
  • Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the winter is a much different experience compared to visiting during the summer months. There are pros and some cons no matter what time of year you visit but if you’re prepared you’ll have a great time. Below is an overview of what you can expect depending on the season you decide to visit.

Spring in Yellowstone

Spring is still very cold in the Yellowstone area. Wearing layers is essential because the mornings can be frigid but if the sun is out you’ll want to remove a layer or two by the afternoon. Not all of the park will be accessible as many of the roads are still closed. Also, the hiking trails are also not ideal as they do get muddy from the snow that has yet to fully melt.

However, if you want to avoid crowds, see some wildlife, and some of the other amazing attractions, mid to late spring is a good option. You’ll see a WHOLE lot of wildlife! Keep your distance and admire them from afar. Even though there are fewer cars in the park there may be some wildlife on the road causing traffic so be patient.

Summer in Yellowstone

Summer at the park is gorgeous and the warmest. There are loads of wildflowers on the trails and it’s a great time to explore the park on foot. However, this is also the busiest season. There are a lot more people on the trails, cars on the road, and the campsites become full.

There are 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 sites but they are only open for a portion of the summer. Most of the campsites can be reserved in advance while some are first-come, first-serve. If you’re planning to camp or hike, apply a bug repellant to help avoid mosquito bites.

Fall in Yellowstone

One of the best times to visit Yellowstone National Park is during the fall season. The fall foliage is incredible! The fall leaves present themselves in the middle of September to around the first week in October. You’ll see beautiful yellow and orange leaves throughout the park. However, the weather, like spring can be unpredictable so it’s important to check the weather before you head out for the day and be prepared for any changes.

Winter in Yellowstone

If you want to see Yellowstone covered in snow then visit in the winter. Yellowstone National Park turns into a winter wonderland! Prepare to see snow-covered trees, frozen waterfalls, and more!

You will need to be well prepared with the appropriate gear. And if you plan on doing any exploring microspikes or even snowshoes will be needed. Many of the roads will be closed however the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance remains open to the public.

Best Month to Visit Yellowstone National Park

September is a great time to visit the park because the weather is still great and the summer crowds are gone. However, there are many reasons to visit during other seasons. It just depends on the goals of your trip. No matter when you decide to visit be sure to check the weather, be mindful of any road closures, book lodging in advance no matter what season, and have the gear you need.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone

It’s important to book lodging in advance no matter what season. Summers are busy and book up fast. And some hotels close for the season during the winter and even spring months. There are Yellowstone accommodations available inside the park and near the entrances to the park.

I hope this helped you determine when is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy your visit!


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