Yellowstone hosts around four million visits each year. More than half of these visits happen during June, July, and August. If you plan to come during summer, make reservations for reservable campsites or hotel rooms as far in advance as possible: don't expect to find a spot at the last minute. The seven first-come, first-served campgrounds usually fill by early morning.
Inside the park, expect busy facilities and destinations, reduced parking, as well as delayed travel times due to heavy traffic and wildlife jams. You can help prevent traffic jams by pulling over to watch wildlife. Always park in designated areas and avoid blocking roads.
Here are some tips to make the most out of a summer day:
- Arrive early
"Rush hour" at park entrances is generally from 9 am to 11 am. Check the webcams for a live look at traffic conditions at the North and West entrances.
- Stay late
Take advantage of the long, summer days and you'll find fewer crowds as dinnertime approaches. During summer, it doesn't get dark until after 9 pm. Be sure to check for road construction that might affect evening travel.
- Avoid the main attactions during peak hours
Destinations like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and Norris Geyser Basin see peak visitation from 10 am to 3 pm. Plan your day so you can avoid these spots during these times.
- Go for a hike
Walk a half-mile from your car and you'll leave the crowds behind (in most cases). Be sure to follow best practices for traveling safely in bear country: hike in groups of three or more, make noise, carry bear spray and know how to use it.
For a less busy Yellowstone experience, visit during our shoulder seasons or even winter. Start planning by reviewing the month-by month description of seasons, the opening and closing schedule of park roads, and tips for exploring in winter.