• An aerial view of Old Faithful erupting taken from Observation Point with the Old Faithful Inn to the side.

    Yellowstone

    National Park ID,MT,WY

Four Season Guide to Travel in the Park

Most of the three million people who visit Yellowstone each year come during summer. However, more people are discovering the pleasure of exploring Yellowstone in the "off seasons"--spring, fall and winter. Yellowstone is a year round park, but travel should be planned with consideration of the conditions you will likely encounter.

WINTER

The winter use season of snowmobile and snowcoach travel begins in mid-December and ends in mid-March. Actual opening or closing dates for oversnow travel varies by entrance and will be determined by adequate snowpack and plowing schedules. See Operating Hours and Seasons for the current schedule.

All roads and entrances, with one exception, are closed to motor vehicle travel and many are groomed for oversnow vehicles. The exception is the North Entrance and the road from Gardiner, MT, through the Northeast Entrance to Cooke City, MT, which is plowed and open only to wheeled vehicles. Plowing stops at Cooke City (travel beyond that point is possible by snowmobile), so you must return to the North Entrance to exit the park by car.

Visitors wishing to visit the park on a snowmobile or in a snowcoach must either travel by commercial snowcoach or accompany a commercial guide on snowmobiles (private, unguided snowmobiles or snowcoaches are not allowed). Best Available Technology snowmobiles are required, and there is a daily limit on snowmobile and snowcoach entries. Off-road use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches is prohibited. For more information, go to Winter Activities and Winter Use Planning.

SPRING

Plowing begins in early March. Depending on weather, the first stretches of road to open to motor vehicles include Mammoth-Norris, Norris-Madison, and West Yellowstone-Old Faithful; these roads open in mid-April. Roads on the east and south sides of the park, including East and South Entrances, typically open in early May. The Sunlight Basin Road, between Cooke City, MT and Cody, WY and Craig Pass, between Old Faithful and West Thumb, open by early May as conditions allow. Dunraven Pass, between Tower and Canyon Junctions, and the Beartooth Highway, connecting Cooke City to Red Lodge, MT generally open by Memorial Day weekend. Weather can especially affect road openings over the higher passes. Spring storms may cause restrictions or temporary closures on some roads.

SUMMER

Park roads are generally open for travel, barring accidents, rock/mud slides or road construction. Please see the Road Construction Delays and Closures link below.

FALL

Storms may cause temporary restrictions (snow tire or chain requirements) or closures of park roads. Road reconstruction projects are underway in Yellowstone resulting in some closures of major sections of road (See Road Information Page). The Beartooth Highway, connecting Cooke City to Red Lodge, MT closes for the season in mid-October. Depending on weather, park roads close for the season on the first Monday of November. The only exception is the year round road from Gardiner to Cooke City, MT. The winter season of snowmobile and snowcoach travel begins in mid-December.


Trip Checklist

  • Barring road construction, most park roads are open to automobiles from about May 1 to the first Sunday in November; please plan with this in mind.

  • Make lodging reservations as early as possible.

  • Plan your arrival to secure your campsite early in the day.

  • Review park regulation and permit information before your arrival.

  • Pack clothes that can be layered and that are appropriate for the season of your visit. Visit the Equipment and Clothing for Winter Activities page to get more information on dressing for winter conditions.
  • Get up-to-date road and weather information close to your time of visit by calling (307) 344-7381.

  • To purchase books, maps, or pamphlets about the park before you arrive, contact the Yellowstone Association at (307) 344-2293.

Construction may cause delays or road closures at any time of year. Specific dates for road openings and closings vary from year to year, and are directly related to weather conditions. If you are planning a spring or fall trip to Yellowstone, we urge you to call park headquarters for current road and weather information. Conditions often change rapidly, so stay informed by calling or stopping at visitor centers for information.

Road Construction Delays and Closures

Many of our roads are closed to all but over-the-snow vehicles for much of the year. The following link outlines anticipated opening and closing dates.

Operating Hours and Seasons




State Road Information

These sites provide information on winter road conditions, construction delays, and other travel restrictions.

Idaho Transportation Department - Road Report

Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information

Wyoming Department of Transportation Highway Conditions

Did You Know?

Bear Cubs

Even though the animals of Yellowstone seem tame they are still wild. Feeding the animals is not permitted in any way, and all visitors must keep 100 yards away from wolves and bears, and 25 yards from other animals.