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Travel News Best Time for Visiting Yellowstone Park

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Best Time for Visiting Yellowstone Park

Are you wondering when is the best time to visit Yellowstone? We’ll help you plan the perfect Yellowstone trip for any season: Spring - See melting snow and baby animals Summer - Camp under the stars and play in the water Fall - View aspens changing color and bears getting ready for winter Winter - Explore the winter wonderland of snow, ice and steam Find the closest airports for the seasonal entrances of Yellowstone.

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Yellowstone weather is noted for unpredictability. In the summer, high temperature tops 80 degrees with frequent thunderstorms. In the winter, there will be sub-zero weather with 70 inches of snow. This guide will help you pick the when to visit, what to do when you get there and the best ways to reach Yellowstone Park.

Yellowstone Weather in the Spring

Springtime in Yellowstone is short and sweet. Winter travel restrictions start to lift by the middle of April but there is still snowshoeing and cross country skiing at higher elevations. At the lower elevations, trails are opening for hiking and backpacking. Spring is the perfect time for wildlife watching

In Lamar Valley, the bison, moose, and pronghorn have their calves while black bears and wolf pups emerge from their den. Grizzly bears can be found along roadside meadows and marmots and ground squirrels frolic in the fields.

Three black bear cubs near Tower; Jim Peaco; August 1996

The birds return to Yellowstone too. Neotropical migrants like bluebirds, meadowlarks, osprey, and robins are the first to arrive. Following by ruby-crowned kinglets and Wilson’s snipes and ruffed grouse drum in the conifer forests.

Buttercups, shooting stars and pasque flowers are the first blooms of the year to be joined by glacier lilies and bitterroots. A chorus of frogs sing in the wetlands throughout the park.

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Month

April

May

Average High Temperature in Fahrenheit 50 60
Average Low Temperature in Farenheit 26 34

Yellowstone Weather in Summer

The warm days of summer are filled with laughter and playing children. The park services are in full swing like a gigantic summer camp.

Steamboat Point & Sedge Bay

Steamboat Point & Sedge Bay on Yellowstone Lake as seen from Lake Butte overlook; Jim Peaco; September 1997

By Memorial Day, all of the roads are open and tourist flock to the park. My mid-June, all of the campgrounds follow suit. The bears are less visible as they move up to higher elevations and all of the song birds are singing.

The park services opens all of their services. Rangers lead guided programs. Fishing season opens Memorial Day. The warm days allows swimming and boating in Yellowstone Lake. This is the high season traffic that Yellowstone is known for.

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Month

June

July

August

Average High Temperature in Fahrenheit 70 80 78
Average Low Temperature in Fahrenheit 41 47 45

Yellowstone Weather in Fall

Fall color along the Gardner River; J. Schmidt; 1977

Fall offers warm days combined with crisp nights. At high elevations, the quaking aspens put on a brilliant display of fall colors.

Summer crowds start to disperse by Labor Day and campgrounds begin to close mid-September. Boating services shut down on Yellowstone lake too.

By late October, snow begins falling at higher elevations and bears begin to descend to the lower meadows. By the end of October, expect Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Highway to close.

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Month

September

October

Average High Temperature in Fahrenheit 68 56
Average Low Temperature in Fahrenheit 37 30

Yellowstone Weather in Winter

Yellowstone can be a winter wonderland for those that brave the elements. By mid-November, there are winter travel restrictions throughout the parked except for Mammoth to Northeast Entrance. In mid-December over snow travel, such as snowmobiles or guided snow coaches, opens on the interior roads.

Upper Geyser Basin in winter; JW Stockert; 1972

The ardent visitor can see mists rising off of the geysers creating rime ice and steam inversions. Don’t forget to look for trumpeter swans and American dippers on areas with open water.

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Month

November

December

January

February

Average High Temperature in Fahrenheit 39 30 29 34
Average Low Temperature in Fahrenheit 19 12 10 13

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Best Ways to Reach Yellowstone Park

Yellowstone Park spans nearly 3,500 square miles across the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. There are five entrances to Yellowstone (North, North-East, East, South, and West) but only the North entrance (Mammoth) is open in the winter.

Because of its size, remoteness and the multiple entrances, it’s hard to pick an idea airport or approach. The closest airports are Bozeman Montana (BZN), Billings Montana (BIL), Cody Wyoming (COD) and Jackson Wyoming (JAC). There is also limited seasonal commercial service into West Yellowstone Montana (WYS). The price conscious flier could look into Salt Lake City Utah (SLC) or Denver Colorado (DEN) and drive in the rest of the way. Be sure to compare flight prices to the various airports to find the best price.

Check out our complete guide to visiting Yellowstone on where to stay, the cheapest flights, and what to see.

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About the Author

Jenn and Ed Coleman// Coleman Concierge

We are Jenn and Ed, aka Coleman Concierge. Let us serve as your guide to help you and inspire you to get out, expand your work and seek adventure, even in your own backyard. Along with our perspective and personality, we strive to provide tools and tips for you to experience heightened adventure in your own life.