Seasonal Highlights

Yellowstone has something to offer every month of the year. If you like to avoid crowds, check out spring (April/May) and fall (September/October). Be sure to read the current conditions before you head our way since some roads and facilities maybe be closed or affected by weather which can look and feel like winter any month of the year).

A winter visit will fill your days with snowy landscapes, steaming geyser basins, and fewer crowds. However, access to the interior of the park (e.g. Old Faithful, Canyon) is restricted to oversnow travel and many facilities are closed, so it's important to plan a winter trip well in advance.

Here’s a quick rundown of monthly highlights in Yellowstone (and where best to see them):

January

Crowds: low
Services: limited
Roads: winter travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to northeast entrance
Suggested Activities: skiing/snowshoeing, snowmobiling, guided snowcoach tours, overnight at Old Faithful, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: American dippers (rivers with open water), coyotes and foxes hunting (snow-covered meadows throughout the park), rime ice and steam inversions (thermal areas), trumpeter swans (rivers with open water), wolves (Lamar Valley)

February

Crowds: low
Services: limited
Roads: winter travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to northeast entrance
Suggested Activities: skiing/snowshoeing, snowmobiling, guided snowcoach tours, overnight at Old Faithful, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: American dippers (rivers with open water), coyotes and foxes hunting (snow-covered meadows throughout the park), rime ice and steam inversions (thermal areas), trumpeter swans (rivers with open water), wolves (Lamar Valley)

March

Crowds: low
Services: limited
Access: winter travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to northeast entrance.
Suggested Activities: skiing/snowshoeing, snowmobiling, guided snowcoach tours, overnight at Old Faithful, wildlife watching
Highlights: grizzly bears emerge from dens, neotropical migrants begin to arrive (bluebirds, meadowlarks, osprey, robins), wolves (Lamar Valley)
Significant Dates: March 1 - Yellowstone’s birthday. Various dates - Interior roads close for spring plowing.

April

Crowds: low to moderate
Services: limited
Access: roads begin opening to regular vehicles (mid-month)
Suggested Activities: hiking (lower elevations), skiing/snowshoeing (higher elevations), wildlife watching
Highlights: bison calving (Lamar Valley), black bears emerge from dens (Lamar Valley), bull elk antlers in velvet (Northern Range), chorus frogs (wetlands throughout the park), grizzly bears (roadside meadows), marmots (Northern Range), more birds arrive (ruby-crowned kinglets, Wilson’s snipe), Uinta ground squirrels, wildflowers (buttercups, shooting stars, pasqueflower)

May

Crowds: moderate (Memorial Day can be very busy)
Services: limited
Access: all roads open by Memorial Day weekend
Suggested Activities: hiking & backpacking (lower elevations), guided-trips, wildlife watching
Highlights: black bears (Lamar Valley), bison calving (Lamar Valley), campgrounds begin to open, chorus frogs (wetlands throughout the park), elk calving (Mammoth Hot Springs), grizzly bears (roadside meadows), moose calving (Lamar Valley), pronghorn calving (Lamar Valley), ruffed grouse drumming (conifer forests), wildflowers (glacier lilies, bitterroot), wolf pups emerge from dens (Lamar Valley)
Significant Dates: Memorial Day weekend - All roads open, fishing season opens, some bear-management closures lifted

June

Crowds: moderate to high
Services: limited to full
Access: all roads open
Suggested Activities: boating, camping, fishing (lakes), hiking & backpacking (lower elevations), ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: bears less visible as they move to higher elevations, bighorn sheep calving (Lamar Valley, Calcite Springs Overlook), cutthroat trout spawning, elk calving (Mammoth Hot Springs), mountain goats calving (northeast entrance), wildflowers (arrowleaf balsamroot), songbirds in full song, waterfalls flowing at full volume, high water limits access to backcountry campsites and popular swimming areas
Significant Dates: Mid-June: boating services open on Yellowstone Lake, most campgrounds open on or before June 15

July

Crowds: high
Services: full
Access: all roads open
Suggested Activities: boating, camping, fishing (lakes, rivers, and streams), guided-trips, hiking & backpacking (all areas), horseback riding, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: bison rut (Lamar & Hayden valleys), mosquitos, wildflowers (at higher elevations), river levels drop (opening up many backcountry campsites)

August

Crowds: high
Services: full
Access: all roads open
Suggested Activities: hiking & backpacking (all areas), boating, camping, fishing, guided-trips, horseback riding, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: bison rut (Lamar & Hayden valleys), wildfire smoke can obscure views
Significant Dates: August 25 - National Park Service Birthday

September

Crowds: high to moderate
Services: full to limited
Access: all roads open
Suggested Activities: camping, hiking & backpacking (all areas), fishing, guided-trips, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: campgrounds begin to close for season, elk rut (Mammoth Hot Springs, Grant Village), black and grizzly bears (roadside meadows), raptor migration (Hayden Valley), fall color (above 7,000 feet), fewer mosquitos
Significant Dates: Mid-September - Boating services close for season on Yellowstone Lake

October

Crowds: moderate to low
Services: limited
Access: roads begin closing for winter season (and weather causes many temporary closures)
Suggested Activities: hiking & backpacking, fishing, ranger-led programs, wildlife watching
Highlights: bears return to lower elevations and are more visible along roads, elk rut (Mammoth Hot Springs, Grant Village), raptor migration (Hayden Valley), fall color (below 7,000 feet), snow begins to accumulate (above 7,000 feet)
Significant Dates: Mid-October - Dunraven pass closes, Beartooth Highway Closes (outside northeast entrance)

November

Crowds: low
Services: limited
Access: winter travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to northeast entrance
Suggested Activities: hiking, wildlife watching
Highlights: bighorn sheep rut (north entrance), bison begin migrating to lower elevations, snow begins to accumulate (below 7,000 feet), wolves (Lamar Valley)
Significant Dates: Early November - interior roads close to vehicles, fishing season ends

December

Crowds: low
Services: limited
Access: winter travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to northeast entrance
Suggested Activities: skiing/snowshoeing, snowmobiling, guided snowcoach tours, overnight at Old Faithful, wildlife watching
Highlights: bighorn sheep rut (north entrance), rime ice and steam inversions (thermal areas), trumpeter swans (rivers with open water), wolves (Lamar Valley)
Significant Dates: Mid-December - interior roads open to oversnow travel

 

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

(307) 344-7381

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