The Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park May Surprise You

Yellowstone was the country's first national park.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 21 2024, Updated 4:54 p.m. ET

Yellowstone National Park sign
Source: Getty Images

There's no denying that Yellowstone National Park is one of the gems of the U.S. Between the incredible sights and masses of thriving wildlife, there's so much to see and do when you visit the massive park. But timing is everything, and deciding exactly when you should pack your bags and head out to see the sights can be a gamble.

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Keep reading to learn more about the best time to visit Yellowstone Park, including what time of day you should plan to get started. As it turns out, the best time to visit Yellowstone largely depends on what you're most interested in exploring there.

Arial shot of Yellowstone River and Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park
Source: Getty Images
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When is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park?

According to the Yellowstone Safari Company blog, June through September is when Yellowstone sees most of its foot traffic. This has a lot to do with the daytime temperatures at the park since these months tend to provide the warmest temps.

Not only can you expect gorgeous weather — although the company does note that a surprise snowstorm can't be ruled out during this time — but these are the months when all of the 251 miles of road inside the park will be open.

Many roadways become impassable in winter weather or when snowmelt causes flooding and washouts. That said, there is still stuff to do at the park every month of the year! January may still be too cold to take advantage of some of the higher-elevation attractions, but there is still plenty to see since the cold weather makes the air clearer, allowing visitors to see for miles.

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February can be good for animal lovers who want to watch the forest come alive, as much of the wildlife within the park will emerge for mating season. Then, in March, spring will finally arrive, which creates mud within the park. Mud doesn't keep the critters away, and this is the perfect time to visit if you're hoping to see elk since they'll be cruising around and shedding their antlers.

Bald eagle perched in a tree in Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park.
Source: iStock
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For those seeking a quiet trip, April marks the end of the snow season for many, so fewer visitors are showing up to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. It's also the month that many of the entrances that have been closed for winter open up, granting visitors more access to the park. Then May arrives with the start of the grizzly bear season, which allows many more visitors to see them as they emerge from their dens. The greenery also starts to pop up, creating pleasant views all around.

Then those ideal months begin, which not only make for better weather at the park but also more crowded outlooks, so those hoping to enjoy the peace and serenity of Yellowstone may want to wait until this peak season has died down to visit. After that comes fall, and with it, the beautiful turning leaves of October and November. Of course, as the seasons move on, the danger of freezing temperatures and pop-up snowstorms increases, so access can begin to get tricky.

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Lastly, December blows in with the official start to winter, which means that Yellowstone will open up to snowmobile tours, allowing you to access some of those snowed in parts of the park that are hard to reach by foot.

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When is the best time of day to visit Yellowstone Park?

Just like different months will afford you different experiences, different times of day will allow you to take advantage of different views of the park. The Yellowstone Vacations blog says that those hoping to see a lot of wildlife will benefit from being at the park during early morning or dusk. As for those hoping to beat crowds, you should arrive before noon because that's when things start getting busy.

As for seeing everything else, it seems like just about any time will work. Just as long as you know that one day won't be enough to cram in everything you'll want to do while you're at the park, that is!

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