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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Yellowstone in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Yellowstone in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit Yellowstone?

The best time to visit Yellowstone is summer, when the weather peaks at a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring open roads, campgrounds, and access to numerous activities and wildlife. This period also aligns with local festivals, though it’s the peak season, meaning more crowds but ample opportunities for exploration.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the first national park in the United States, and one of its most famous. The park sprawls over two million acres in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and contains famous geological features like the Old Faithful geyser and the Mammoth Hot Springs.

Visitors can explore countless scenic hiking routes such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The park is home to countless animal species, including magnificent animals like bison and bears.

Yellowstone is so massive that there is something to see no matter which part of the park you visit and when you decide to come. However, you want to make sure that you catch good weather since you’ll be spending most of your time outdoors. Read on to learn about the best time to visit Yellowstone.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Yellowstone

Madison River West Gate viewpoint during the Overall Best Time to Visit Yellowstone


The best time to visit Yellowstone is during the summer, when you have the most reliable chances of good weather. Yellowstone is located at a high elevation (the lowest point is 6,500 feet above sea level) which means that its climate is cold and harsh.

Winters tend to be long and frigid, and even spring and fall can bring periods of cold wintery weather. If you want to be absolutely sure that you won’t get caught in any snow flurries, then summer is the best time to visit.

Temperatures are the warmest they are all year, but they are far from hot and you won’t have to worry about heatstroke. According to the official Yellowstone National Park website, summer temperatures are about 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and rarely above 70 degrees in higher elevations.

Due to the milder weather, you have a higher chance of encountering open facilities when you visit during the summer. Most campgrounds are only open from the end of May to early September.

In fact, if you have your heart set on camping in Yellowstone, summer is pretty much the only time that you can visit. The park roads are fully open between Memorial Day and mid-September.

During other seasons, there are regular road closures due to snow and cold weather, so be sure to check the current status on the park roads if you visit outside of the high season.

More of the park’s visitor centers and other facilities are open during the summer, making it a more interesting time to visit for the whole family. There are many kid-oriented activities, such as the junior ranger and junior scientist programs.

Other popular forms of programming include guided walks, wildlife viewing sessions, and scientific talks. Most animals are at their most active during the summer, making this a good season to spot wildlife. Crowds of bison tend to congregate in the summer.

Elk, mountain goats, and moose are harder to spot, but do roam around more in the warmer weather. The summer is also the season when the surrounding areas come alive. If you head just a bit outside of the park, you’ll get to attend plenty of festivals and events, including rodeo season.

Popular festivals include:

Keep in mind though that summer is the most popular time to visit Yellowstone by far. In August 2021, the park received nearly one million visitors in just one month.

The park is big enough that you can still go hiking on backcountry trails without seeing other people around, but there will be crowds in the parking lots and around popular areas.

Cheapest Time to Visit Yellowstone

Grand Tetons during the least busy time to visit Yellowstone, as viewed from Oxbow Bend

Snehit Photo/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Yellowstone is in the fall, when you can find discounts on accommodation and flights. For accommodation, the absolute cheapest time to visit is in the summer since that is the only time you have the cheapest accommodation option — camping.

You can find campsites open in early September, but by the end of the month, they shut down. If you want to save money on accommodation but also prefer sleeping in an actual bed, then the early fall is the best time to visit.

After Labor Day, the crowds decrease and many of the lodges within Yellowstone offer discounted room rates.

By mid-October, most accommodation options within the park itself are closed except for Old Faithful Snow Lodge, but you can find discounts on accommodation in towns near Yellowstone itself. By fall, the cost of getting to Yellowstone decreases as well.

The prices of flights to nearby airports like Bozeman are cheapest from November to March, while Jackson Hole airport has discounts in September and November, before the ski season starts.

Least Busy Time to Visit Yellowstone

Sun rising over the Lamar Valley during the best time to go to Yellowstone, in late spring and early summer

Gestalt Imagery/Shutterstock

The absolute least busy time to visit Yellowstone is in the winter, but you can also beat the crowds by visiting in the spring as well.

Yellowstone National Park helpfully has a basic guide to how many visitors you can expect each month on its website. November to March, the park has consistently low visitor numbers every month.

In April, the visitor numbers are low to moderate. Although spring has more visitors than the winter, it’s not crowded by any means. You’ll still have many of the trails, even the most popular ones, to yourself. The benefit is that the weather is much better in the spring than in the winter.

The worst of the cold has passed, and by April, average temperatures are around 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Spring is one of the best seasons to visit Yellowstone if you want to spot animals.

You have the highest chance of spotting a bear in the spring as they leave their caves and hibernation spots to search for food. Many animals, including bison, have their babies during this time.

By the end of April, more facilities around the park are open, such as lodges and visitor centers. This is a good time to visit to experience the park’s activities before Memorial Day brings the crowds.

Worst Time to Visit Yellowstone

Bison grazing during the worst time to visit Yellowstone

The Sturdy Table/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Yellowstone is in the winter unless you are a hardy cold-weather explorer, as the temperatures are too cold to function. You don’t want to underestimate the force of Yellowstone’s winter by any means.

It starts early and ends late; some locations at higher elevations have snow from late September until mid-May. During the depths of winter, temperatures are downright frigid in the park.

According to the official Yellowstone website, daily high temperatures range from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, with nighttime temperatures being much lower. Heavy snowfall is common, and strong storms can be dangerous if you get caught in the wild.

Due to the bad weather, many roads and hiking trails along with all campsites are closed for the season. Most other facilities, like visitor centers and lodges, also close, although the park operates several warming centers to prevent hypothermia.

However, if you are a very experienced cold-weather explorer and have the best gear for sub-zero temperatures, visiting Yellowstone in the winter is rewarding.

The stark snowy landscapes are beautiful, and you get to see the park in a whole new way by trying backcountry skiing or snowshoeing. The winter is the best time to see wolves since they have no competition for prey. Plus, you get to see all this with almost no tourists around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of the sign outside of Yellowstone pictured during the overall best time to visit, the spring or fall

Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most common questions we’re asked to help you pick the best time to visit Yellowstone:

What month is best to visit Yellowstone?

June is the best month to visit Yellowstone because the weather is warm but it’s the least crowded summer month.

How many days are enough for Yellowstone?

If you’re a big nature lover, you want to spend at least seven days in Yellowstone. If you just want to see the major sights, you need three days.

What month is the cheapest to go to Yellowstone?

The cheapest month to go to Yellowstone is October, when you have more accommodation options and they’re usually discounted.

What month does Yellowstone close?

Yellowstone National Park is open all year round, but most of its visitor centers and amenities close from late October to late April.

What is the hottest month in Yellowstone?

July is the hottest month in Yellowstone, but even then, temperatures rarely rise higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone?

The best time to visit Yellowstone is during the summer, offering mild weather and full access to park facilities, alongside vibrant local festivals. However, anticipate larger crowds due to its popularity as the peak travel season.

Regardless, there are plenty of amazing times to visit Yellowstone, each with their own pros and cons. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience all that the park has to offer. Happy travels!