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When to visit Yellowstone National Park

by , SmarterTravel Staff

Yellowstone National Park is a major vacation destination throughout much of the year. The most popular time to visit is during the summer, when tempatures are the warmest. Many roads close during winter due to snow; however, those with an adventurous side can still ride snowmobiles into the park during these months. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit for decent weather, fewer visitors, and lower prices.

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  • high season: mid-June to August
  • low season: November to February
  • shoulder season: March to mid-June, September to October

Weather Information

Yellowstone National Park experiences unpredictable weather during its four full seasons. Summer is the warmest time to visit, with temperatures in the 70s during the day and 30s to 40s at night. Thunder and lightning storms can happen at anytime during the summer, and there's even a chance of snow in June. Spring and fall are pleasant, albeit a bit cooler, times to visit, with temperatures averaging between the 30s and 60s, with regular accumulations of snow reaching 12 inches in a 24-hour period. Winter can be cold and snowy, with temperatures ranging from zero to 20 degrees in the day and sub-zero temperatures at night, and with an annual average of 150 inches of snow in most of the park.

Crowd Information

July and August are the busiest times for the park. Vehicle traffic can be particularly heavy, often doubling travel times. For example, a 30-mile stretch may take an hour to drive during the high season.

Closure Information

Many facilities and park roads close during the year. For instance, from mid-December through February, wheeled vehicles are forbidden from entering the park, and a guide is required for all other access. One exception is the road between the north and northeast entrances, which is open year-round to wheeled vehicles, allowing visitors the chance to catch a glimpse of wolves, bison, and elk. Be aware that roads may also close at anytime due to bad weather.

When to Save

Entrance fees remain standard throughout the year. However, July and August are most expensive months for hotel rooms. Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which handles all of the lodge and some of the comapground bookings for Yellowstone National Park, offers shoulder season rates and discounts.

Information provided by the Yellowstone National Park Service.

A few more sites for information

  • SeeYellowstone.com: Here you will find a listing of major annual events taking place all over Yellowstone, divided by month.
  • Weather.com: This popular site for current weather information also provides upcoming forecasts and previous year's temperature averages.

The information and websites listed here were valid at the time of publication, but some details may have changed since that time. Please check directly with the provider for the latest information.

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