When is the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park (+ How to Avoid Crowds)

Yellowstone River winds through a golden brown meadow during Fall in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is one of the busiest national parks in the United States, with millions of visitors every year. From the trademark geyser basins to immense wildlife, there’s so much to see and do here.

As you plan your trip, you may be asking yourself, what is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park?

Each season in Yellowstone has something unique to offer. From the peaceful, snowcovered grounds in winter to the busy geyser basins in the summer, there’s something for every type of national park traveler.

This guide covers everything you need to know about finding the best time to go to Yellowstone National Park, including an overview of each season and exclusive tips on avoiding crowds, what to expect, and where to stay.

Important Note
Due to the severe flooding in Yellowstone National Park in June 2022, some roads remain closed. However, as of July 2, 93% of the roads in the park are open and the temporary “Alternating License Plate System” is no longer in effect.

To learn more about what’s open in Yellowstone, read the flood recovery page on the Yellowstone website.

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Yellowstone National Park? Don’t miss these posts!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Yellowstone National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer is a great time to visit thanks to warm weather and all park amenities being open, but it is also the most crowded time of year. Avoid crowds by visiting in September or early October.
  • Where to Stay: Yellowstone has eight lodges inside the park, plus several campgrounds. The Old Faithful Inn and Canyon Lodge are my favorites, both close to all the most popular places to see in the park. Outside the park, look for hotels in West Yellowstone, Montana.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is in West Yellowstone (WYS), serviced by both United and Delta Airlines. Other major airports in the region include Jackson Hole (JAC), Bozeman (BZN), and Salt Lake (SLC). Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Yellowstone is by car. Use Rentalcars.com to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy.
  • Best Self-Guided Tour: My favorite way to learn more about the park is with GyPSy Guides, a narrated self-guided tour perfect for road trips and scenic drives. The Yellowstone Guide and the Yellowstone/Grand Teton Bundle both provide incredible commentary and detail about the history and geology of Yellowstone.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including both Yellowstone and Grand Teton!).

When is the best time to visit Yellowstone?

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward answer about the best time of year to head to Yellowstone National Park: Summer.

All park amenities are open in the summer, including roads, trails, visitor centers, and lodging. The weather is warm during the day and mild at night. But these amenities and perfect weather bring hoards of crowds.

Summer is by far the busiest time of year in Yellowstone.

Yellow, green, and blue hot spring overlooking Yellowstone Lake

If you crave solitude, consider visiting during Yellowstone’s harsh winter, when visitors can see a select few parts of the park and try winter sports.

If you’re somewhere between, I recommend visiting in the shoulder months. May to early June and September to early October offer mild weather, access to park services and amenities, and avoid the heaviest crowds found in July and August.

Do you want to know more about the pros and cons of visiting Yellowstone during each season? Then, keep reading to find the perfect time of year for you!

Are you visiting multiple national parks in the next year? The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for 12 months!

Get your national park pass ahead of time for only $80.

Yellowstone National Park Weather & Visitors by Month

Before diving into the specifics of what’s open, where to stay, and more logistical considerations, let’s look at weather and visitation each month.

Chart of Yellowstone National Park Weather by Month
Source: Yellowstone National Park Service

Yellowstone in January

January is the heart of winter in Yellowstone National park, with frigid days rarely above freezing and even colder nights. Snowfall is heavy, making much of the park inaccessible except by snowmobile. Nevertheless, those who venture to Yellowstone are greeted with unprecedented solitude and incredible opportunities for wildlife viewing, like wolves and bighorn sheep.

  • Average High: 29°
  • Average Low: 10°
  • Rain: 1.1″
  • Snowfall: 14.5”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 1,140

Yellowstone in February

February in Yellowstone is similar to January, with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. Therefore, February is the ideal time for those that want to stay at the unique Old Faithful Snow Lodge and experience the park in deep winter.

  • Average High: 34°
  • Average Low: 13°
  • Rain: 0.75″
  • Snowfall: 10.4”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 1,445
Dense snow at a geothermal feature in Yellowstone in winter

Yellowstone in March

The weather begins to warm up (although many days are still below freezing). Snowfall is still heavy but less than peak winter months. March is an excellent time to view bears as they emerge from the cold winter weather.

  • Average High: 40°
  • Average Low: 17°
  • Rain: 1.1″
  • Snowfall: 13.1”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 1,150

Yellowstone in April

Snowfall begins to taper off in mid-April, and visitors who don’t mind the cold weather and road closures return to the park. By the end of April, daily visitors climb ahead of the busy summer tourism season. Like March, April is a great time to see bears in Yellowstone.

  • Average High: 49°
  • Average Low: 26°
  • Rain: 1.2″
  • Snowfall: 5.9”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 2,250

Yellowstone in May

May is one of the best months to visit Yellowstone National Park. As the snow melts, wildlife is out in full force. You can expect to see newborn bison and young elk, as well as wildflowers. There’s a considerable jump in daily visitors starting in May, but crowds are still much thinner than in summer.

  • Average High: 60°
  • Average Low: 34°
  • Rain: 2.0″
  • Snowfall: 1.5”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 15,285
Mother elk and elk calves in a green meadow in Yellowstone

Yellowstone in June

After Memorial Day, visitorship starts to hit its summer high. All park amenities and trails are open, and attractions like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring stay busy all day long. That said, this is a spectacular time to visit weather-wise. The temperatures are mild during the day, wildflowers are in full bloom, and it’s an excellent time for hiking.

  • Average High: 70°
  • Average Low: 41°
  • Rain: 1.5″
  • Snowfall: 0.1”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 31,295

Yellowstone in July

July is the busiest month in Yellowstone National Park, with over a million visitors (nearly 35,000 per day!). Expect lodging to be booked far in advance, crowded trails, and long wait times at restaurants. The weather is excellent, and all paths are snow-free, but be prepared to battle the crowds. If you visit in July, the best way to avoid crowds is to explore around sunrise or sunset.

  • Average High: 80°
  • Average Low: 47°
  • Rain: 1.5″
  • Snowfall: None
  • Average Daily Visitors: 34,875

Yellowstone in August

August is also one of the most popular months to visit Yellowstone, although crowds tend me fewer than in July. Wildlife, like bison, is everywhere. Like July, expect trails and geyser basins to be crowded. However, you can explore around sunrise or sunset to avoid crowds.

  • Average High: 78°
  • Average Low: 45°
  • Rain: 1.4″
  • Snowfall: None
  • Average Daily Visitors: 26,511
Multi-colored rainbow hot springs - Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone

Yellowstone in September

The Labor Day holiday brings a spike in crowds to Yellowstone. However, after Labor Day, crowds drop off, making mid-September one of the best times to visit Yellowstone National Park. In addition, September is the mating season, so elk, bison, and bear sightings are frequent. 

  • Average High: 68°
  • Average Low: 37°
  • Rain: 1.3″
  • Snowfall: 0.5”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 29,400

Yellowstone in October

If you want to escape crowds and still see Yellowstone snow-free, October is a great time to visit. Early October weather is chilly, but daytime temperatures remain above freezing. Park roads and lodging close by the end of October, preparing for the harsh winter ahead.

  • Average High: 56°
  • Average Low: 29°
  • Rain: 1.0″
  • Snowfall: 3.7”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 11,610

Yellowstone in November

Compared to October, visitorship drops significantly heading into November. Fewer guests visit because heavy snowfall begins in November, and much of the park is not accessible (with the expectation of Mammoth that stays open all year).

  • Average High: 39°
  • Average Low: 19°
  • Rainy: 1.0″
  • Snowfall: 9.0”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 1,105

Yellowstone in December

December is the least visited month in Yellowstone National Park. With fewer than 1,000 daily visitors, this is the time to visit for unparalleled solitude. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge opens in mid-December, perfect for those looking for a unique way to spend the holidays.

  • Average High: 31°
  • Average Low: 12°
  • Rain: 1.0″
  • Snowfall: 13.5”
  • Average Daily Visitors: 925

Read More: How to Spend 1 to 5 Days in Yellowstone

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Spring

Plowed but snowy road in Yellowstone National Park in Spring

Unlike many other places in the United States, Spring in Yellowstone is still characterized by snowy landscapes. But compared to winter, wildlife and flowers start to make their resurgence in spring. 

Winter travel restrictions are in place from March to late April, only allowing over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles to travel throughout the park. The exception is the Mammoth and Lamar Valley areas, which remain open year-round. 

Spring is an excellent time for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You’ll also have a great chance of spotting Grizzly bears and wolves in Lamar Valley.

By late April, park roads begin to open to regular vehicle traffic. For Spring 2022, here are the expected road opening dates:

  • April 15: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village
  • May 6: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village
  • May 11: Cooke City to Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
  • May 13: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall
  • May 27: Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass), Beartooth Highway

Late April and May are excellent times to see wildlife in Yellowstone. Expect to see bison calves, moose calves, and black bears in Lamar Valley. You’ll also find elk calves in Mammoth, grizzly bears throughout the park, and wildflowers sprouting everywhere. 

All park roads are open by the end of May, and some park services begin to open. 

Important Note
Visiting in Spring is remote as most visitor centers, park services, and lodging do not open until May. However, the North Entrance near Gardiner remains open all year. The West Entrance near West Yellowstone opens in late Spring, and the South Entrance usually opens in mid-May.

A bear cub in a wildflower covered meadow in Yellowstone

Pros of Visiting Yellowstone in the Spring

  • Spring is one of the best times to see wildlife. Starting in April, newborns are out in full force. Expect to see bears, elk, bison, and moose.
  • There are few visitors in Spring. However, with only a few thousand visitors a day, late spring is an ideal time to visit for those that want to avoid peak summer crowds.
  • Wildflowers begin blooming in May. Yellowstone comes back to life in late spring, filled with vibrantly colored vegetation and beautiful wildflowers.

Cons of Visiting Yellowstone in the Spring

  • Early spring is still snowcovered. Most park roads are closed until late April, and the park remains covered in snow. So unless you are interested in snowshoeing or skiing, this isn’t an ideal time to visit.
  • Most lodging doesn’t open until May or June. So if you plan on visiting in early to mid-spring, you’ll have to stay outside the park in Gardiner or Cooke City and drive into the Mammoth or Lamar Valley areas.
  • Most of the park services are closed in March. This month marks the transition from winter lodging to summer lodging. The few lodges open in the winter shut down for a few months and snowmobile travel stops to allow for road plowing.
  • Snowfall continues through May. Winter storms are still possible through early June. Weather can be unpredictable, so you always need to prepare for inclement weather when visiting in spring.
Snow melts atop Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Spring

  • See wildlife and baby animals, like bears, bison, elk, and moose
  • Scenic drive on Grand Loop Road in May once most areas are open
  • Hiking in lower elevation areas starting in late April, like Mammoth Hot Springs and areas near West Yellowstone
  • Skiing and snowshoeing in March in Mammoth Hot Springs

Where to Stay in Yellowstone in Spring

These are the best lodges inside the park open during spring:

These are the best campgrounds inside the park open during spring:

For more on camping, read this post on the 12 best campgrounds in Yellowstone.

Are you looking for the best hotels outside Yellowstone? Check out this post on where to stay near Yellowstone National Park.

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Summer

Sunset over a distant waterfall in Yellowstone

Summer is the most popular time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park. By June, all park lodging and roads are open. Amenities like dining and visitor centers are available by June as well. 

Visitors spike in June and hit total summer levels by mid-June, staying elevated through Labor Day in September. July is the busiest month in Yellowstone, with over one million monthly visitors.

Summer is an excellent time to hike and explore Yellowstone’s geyser basins despite the crowds. The trails are snow-free (although sometimes a bit muddy through June), and road conditions are ideal.

In summer, you can expect to see plenty of elk in Mammoth Hot Springs, wildflowers blooming, and bison roaming throughout the park.

If you want to see the most popular attractions in Yellowstone, like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, summer is a good time to visit!

Important Note
If you want to visit Yellowstone in the summer, you’ll need to book lodging inside the park 12 to 13 months out. Campground reservations are also released a year in advance. Accommodation outside the park tends to fill up 3 to 6 months in advance.

Bison crossing the road in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone

Pros of Visiting Yellowstone in the Summer

  • The weather is excellent, with warm daytime temperatures and cool nights. Most days have sunshine, but occasionally there’s an afternoon thunderstorm.
  • All park roads, services, and lodging are open. If you want to stay in the park, plan your trip from June through September, when most park lodging is available. 
  • Wildflowers cover Yellowstone in beautiful colors. If you want to see the park come to life, there’s no better time than early summer when the park is in bloom.
  • All park trails and activities are available. They are all open in summer if you want to see all the quintessentially Yellowstone destinations.

Cons of Visiting Yellowstone in the Summer

  • Summer is the most crowded time to visit Yellowstone. From mid-June to Labor Day, crowds are high, particularly at the most popular attractions like Old Faithful.
  • Rainstorms are relatively common. Summer tends to be prone to afternoon thunderstorms. You can avoid the rain by exploring earlier in the day, starting at sunrise.
  • Wildfires can affect air quality. Unfortunately, wildfire season only seems to be getting worse. Given its unpredictable nature, you may or may not have poor air quality and visibility due to wildfires on the west coast (even ones as far west as California!).
  • Lodging is in high demand, and you need to book far in advance. For example, if you plan to visit in summer and want to stay in the park, you’ll need to book lodging about a year in advance.

Read More: Where to Stay in and Near Yellowstone

Crowds gather around Old Faithful Geyser eruption in Yellowstone

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Summer

  • See Yellowstone’s Geyser Basins, particularly the Upper Geyser Basin, Biscuit Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, and West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • See wildlife in Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley, best seen around sunrise or sunset
  • Visit Grand Prismatic Spring, best seen at midday when the sun shines on the spring and steam is minimal
  • Take a boat on Yellowstone Lake, either a guided tour or a renting your boat or kayak

Read More: 22 Things to Do in Yellowstone in Summer

Where to Stay in Yellowstone in Summer

These are the best lodges inside the park open during summer:

These are the best campgrounds inside the park open during summer:

For more on camping, read this post on the 12 best campgrounds in Yellowstone.

Are you looking for the best hotels outside Yellowstone? Check out this post on where to stay near Yellowstone National Park.

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Fall

Yellowstone River winds through a golden brown meadow during Fall in Yellowstone

After Labor Day, crowds drop off significantly. The weather stays reasonably warm through September before getting colder in October. 

Early to mid-Fall is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park if you don’t mind chilly days and want to avoid crowds. 

Starting in late September, leaves change color, and grasses turn a beautiful golden brown. Cool fall mornings produce mystical steam at the geothermal features. It’s truly the most beautiful time of year and my favorite time to visit Yellowstone.

Fall is also an excellent time to see wildlife in Yellowstone. September marks the start of the elk rutting season. Head to Mammoth Hot Springs to see the bull elk and their impressive antlers.

In Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley, expect to see lots of bison and moose, particularly around sunrise or sunset.

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

Orange leaves and fall colors in Yellowstone

Lodging in Yellowstone begins to close for the winter in early October. Park roads close starting in early November. If you plan to visit Yellowstone in the fall, I’d recommend staying in mid-September to early October before the closures.

For Fall 2022, here are the planned road closure dates:

  • November 7: All roads close at 8:00 am except the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance.
  • October 11: The Beartooth Highway (US-212) closes between the Long Lake barricade, near the Top of the World store, and the Montana/Wyoming state line.
  • Travel east of Cooke City, Montana, to Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is possible until early November. Check at WY DOT.
Bull elk atop a hill during rutting season in Yellowstone

Pros of Visiting Yellowstone in the Fall

  • Fall is a great time to see wildlife since it is mating season. Don’t miss the elk rutting season in September, best seen in Mammoth Hot Springs.
  • Fall colors briefly cover the park. Capture the beautiful yellow aspens starting in September through early October.
  • Crowds decrease significantly after Labor Day. Therefore, the best time to visit Yellowstone with fewer crowds is from mid-September to early October.

Cons of Visiting Yellowstone in the Fall

  • Road closures begin in early November. Similar to spring, much of the park becomes inaccessible starting in November. The only roads remaining open year-round are in Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley.
  • Most park lodging closes in early October, except Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, which close later in fall. So if you want to stay in the park, you should plan to visit in September.
  • Fall weather can be unpredictable. Snowstorms can happen as early as September, although heavy snowfall doesn’t usually come until November. If you plan to visit in the fall, you should be prepared for potentially freezing daytime temperatures.
Hot springs in a golden brown meadow in Yellowstone

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in Fall

  • See Yellowstone’s Geyser Basins, particularly the Upper Geyser Basin, Biscuit Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, and West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • See wildlife in Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley, best seen around sunrise or sunset
  • See the elk rut in September in Mammoth Hot Springs. You can’t miss the incredible bull elk often seen here
  • Visit Grand Prismatic Spring, best seen at midday when the sun shines on the spring and steam is minimal
  • Spot fall colors throughout the park, particularly in Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs

Where to Stay in Yellowstone in Fall

These are the best lodges inside the park open during fall:

These are the best campgrounds inside the park open during fall:

For more on camping, read this post on the 12 best campgrounds in Yellowstone.

Are you looking for the best hotels outside Yellowstone? Check out this post on where to stay near Yellowstone National Park.

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Winter

Old Faithful geyser sign in winter

Yellowstone National Park is a winter wonderland from November through April. Unfortunately, this extended winter season is long and harsh. For that reason, it is the least popular time to visit Yellowstone. 

On a typical winter day, there are only around 1,000 visitors in the park (compared to 30,000+ in summer!).

If you crave a unique experience, don’t mind the freezing temperatures, and want ultimate solitude, consider visiting Yellowstone in the winter!

Much of the park closes in early November. Then, starting in mid-December, the park shifts to winter operations

In winter, only two areas of the park are open:

  • Mammoth Hot Springs to Lamar Valley. Accessible from the North Entrance, this is the only park area that is open to regular vehicles all year long. You can snowshoe and cross country ski at Mammoth Hot Springs and look for wolves in Lamar Valley. Visitors can stay at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel inside the park.
  • Old Faithful. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge welcomes guests in the winter months and is only accessible via a park-run snow coach or snowmobile. Here you can snowshoe, ski, and snowmobile to the remote, snowcovered areas of the park.

Roads in the park shift to oversnow travel only (either by snowmobile or snowcoach) on December 15, 2022, including these routes:

  • West Entrance to Old Faithful
  • Mammoth to Old Faithful
  • Canyon to Norris
  • Canyon to Lake
  • Old Faithful to West Thumb
  • South Entrance to Lake
  • Lake to Lake Butte Overlook
  • East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass)

If you visit in winter, you can expect to see wildlife at lower elevations. Keep your eyes peeled for bison and wolves in particular.

Two elk wander through frozen, snowy Lamar Valley in Yellowstone

Pros of Visiting Yellowstone in the Winter

  • There are no crowds in Yellowstone during the winter. With less than 1,000 visitors many days, you can easily find solitude.
  • Winter at Yellowstone is incredibly unique. The snow-covered landscape looks entirely different in the winter. Visiting this time of year is an exclusive bucket list experience that few complete.

Cons of Visiting Yellowstone in the Winter

  • Temperatures stay below freezing all winter. Nighttime temperatures are usually subzero or single digits. So you’ll need proper winter gear when visiting this time of year.
  • Most lodges, park roads, and amenities are closed. Winter is an incredibly remote time of year to visit Yellowstone, and you must be prepared for the harsh conditions.
A cross country skier in front a geyser during winter in Yellowstone

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Winter

  • Participate in winter sports. Winter is an excellent time to cross-country ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile in Yellowstone.
  • See wildlife in Lamar Valley, one of the few areas you can access by vehicle in winter.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone in Winter

These are the best lodges inside the park open during winter:

These are the best campgrounds inside the park open during winter:

For more on camping, read this post on the 12 best campgrounds in Yellowstone.

Are you looking for the best hotels outside Yellowstone? Check out this post on where to stay near Yellowstone National Park.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone by Activity and Interest

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park to Avoid Crowds

The best time to visit Yellowstone to avoid crowds is May, September, and early October. Most park amenities, including lodging and roads, are open, wildlife is active, and the geyser basins are easily accessible in these months.

Best Time Visit Yellowstone for Good Weather

The best time to visit Yellowstone for good weather is in the summer. Most daytime temperatures are in the 70s or low 80s, with cooler overnight temperatures. Aside from the occasional afternoon thunderstorm, days are sunny, perfect for exploring.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park for Wildlife

The best time to visit Yellowstone for wildlife is spring and fall, when wildlife is most active. As the snow melts in spring, bears, moose, bison, and elk emerge with their young seeking warmer weather. Likewise, fall in Yellowstone is mating season, bringing plenty of wildlife sightings.

Bison in a field in Yellowstone National Park

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone for Hiking

Summer into early fall is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park if you are interested in hiking or backpacking. Due to the harsh winters, most trails stay snowcovered until May or June. By late June, snow has melted, trails are less muddy, and the weather is excellent for hiking.

Read More: 15 Best Hikes in Yellowstone

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone to See Waterfalls

Rivers and snowmelt fuel the waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. The waterfalls, particularly in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, are most powerful in spring or early summer. That said, waterfalls here stick around all year and photograph well in the fall.

Waterfall framed by trees and rock spires at Tower Fall

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone for Photography

There’s no wrong time of year to photograph Yellowstone National Park. However, photography in Yellowstone is at its best in fall or winter. You can photograph excellent fall colors in September and October in the fall. In winter, you can capture a truly unique view of Yellowstone’s snowcovered geyser basins.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone for Fall Colors

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park to see fall colors is in late September to early October. You’ll find the best fall colors where aspens grow in Lamar Valley, Blacktail Plateau Drive, and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Yellowstone River flows through a valley in the fall

Most Affordable Time to Visit Yellowstone

The most affordable time to visit Yellowstone is in the shoulder months. You’ll find the best prices on flights and lodging from late April to May (before Memorial Day) and from mid-September to early October (after Labor Day).

Tips for Avoiding Crowds at Yellowstone National Park

If you’re looking to avoid crowds in Yellowstone when visiting during the peak season, follow these tips:

  • Start your day early. Popular Yellowstone attractions, like Old Faithful, are busiest at mid-day. So beat the crowds by exploring in the early morning or just before sunset. This time of day is also when Yellowstone is most photogenic!
  • Explore Yellowstone’s hiking trails. Most visitors to Yellowstone choose to stick to the boardwalk paths through the geyser basins. However, if you want to avoid crowds, consider hiking instead. The Mount Washburn Trail is one of the best hikes in Yellowstone. Read more about the best hikes in Yellowstone.
  • Explore off-the-beaten-path. There are so many things to do in Yellowstone. You’ll find the most crowds in the Old Faithful area. Consider spending more time near Yellowstone Lake, Tower-Roosevelt, and Lamar Valley if you want to avoid crowds.

Read More: 22 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone

Early morning sunrise as Old Faithful erupts in Yellowstone

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Month to Visit Yellowstone National Park

What is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park?

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is during the shoulder months before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. In May, September, and early October, Yellowstone is open and accessible with fewer crowds compared to summer.

What is the busiest month in Yellowstone?

July is the busiest month in Yellowstone, with over one million monthly visitors. June and August aren’t far behind with heavy visitation as well. However, crowds tend to drop off after Labor Day in September.

When should I go to Yellowstone to avoid crowds?

The best time to go to Yellowstone to avoid crowds is in May, September, and early October. Most park amenities, including lodging and roads, are open, wildlife is active, and the geyser basins are easily accessible in these months.

When should you not visit Yellowstone?

The worst time to visit Yellowstone National Park is winter if you aren’t interested in winter sports. The park is difficult to access as most roads and lodges are closed. Temperatures remain below freezing for most of the winter season.

What is the best time of day to go to Yellowstone National Park?

The best time to go to Yellowstone is in the early morning, just after sunrise, or evening just before sunset. These “golden hours” create beautiful lighting, making the park incredibly photogenic. It’s also an excellent time for avoiding crowds at popular attractions.

Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park will depend on your interests and priorities. Staying in the winter requires much more planning and cold-weather gear, but visiting in summer comes with crowds and higher prices.

Overall, the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is in the shoulder months: mid-May to early June or mid-September to early October. Park roads and lodges are open during these months, but crowds are fewer than in peak summer months.

If you want to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out these posts!

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

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