Yellowstone National Park stretches across parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The park offers nearly 3,500 square miles of thundering waterfalls, dense forests, and bubbling hot springs. Book a stay at one of many incredible Yellowstone National Park vacation rentals today. Since most of the park sits high above sea level, the weather can be unpredictable. It’s important to prepare for both seasonal norms and unexpected storms. That way, you can decide what to pack to stay comfortable while exploring Old Faithful and hiking through Mammoth Springs.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Summer
Summer in Yellowstone National Park is warm and sunny, with temperatures that usually stay in the low 70s. The beautiful weather brings sizable crowds; each summer, more than 2 million visitors pour into the park. This can make for traffic backups in popular areas such as Old Faithful and Canyon Village, but it’s relatively easy to escape the crowds in the park’s more remote regions. Light clothing is usually comfortable for the day, but be sure to bring warmer layers for cold evenings and a rain jacket for the afternoon thunderstorms that happen frequently in July and August. Book your vacation rentals as early as possible to beat the rush.
June through August is a fantastic time to experience all of Yellowstone’s activities. Fish in the Snake River, rent a kayak from Bridge Bay Marina and paddle Yellowstone Lake, or book a trail ride with Adventures Outfitting. Take advantage of the sunshine on one of Yellowstone’s fantastic hiking trails, including the beautiful Uncle Tom’s Trail and the challenging Bunsen Peak Trail. Park rangers also lead fascinating programs in the summer; standouts include night sky observing and guided canyon rim hikes.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Fall
It’s hard to find a more beautiful season than fall in Yellowstone. The grasses and trees turn to flaming shades of yellow, orange, and crimson, framing the deep green forests and snow-capped peaks. After Labor Day, the crowds die down considerably, and daytime temperatures can range from 30 to 60 degrees. Snow is likely, especially in the higher elevations. Warm layers are a must, and it’s a good idea to bring waterproof boots if you plan to hike.
Fall is a fantastic time to explore Yellowstone by bike. In November, park rangers close most roads to vehicles, so you can ride safely. It’s also a great time for wildlife spotting, as bears, elk, and bighorn sheep prepare for winter. If you want to check out some of the park’s legendary dining options, such as the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room and the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room, early fall is your best bet; most lodges close in mid-September or early October. Most ranger programs stop after Labor Day.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Winter
Winter in Yellowstone is silent, snowy, and downright stunning. The park receives heavy snowfall, and daytime temperatures usually range from 0 to 20 degrees. The stretch of road between the Northeast Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs is the only road open to vehicles. If you want to see other parts of the park, you must book a guided snowmobile or snow coach tour with approved operators including Old Faithful Snowmobile Tours and Buffalo Bus Touring Company. A limited number of private snowmobiles are allowed in each day; apply for the permit lottery at recreation.gov. No matter how you enter the park, it’s crucial to pack warm winter jackets, hats, gloves, and thick boots. For outdoor activities, consider insulated snow pants, as well.
Most lodges and restaurants in Yellowstone close for the winter, but you can grab a meal at Geyser Grill and shop for souvenirs at the Bear Den Gift Shop. Park rangers offer a light schedule of programs at Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. If you’re riding a snow coach into the park, bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis. The park sets track on several trails, and all other unplowed roads and paths are open for backcountry adventuring. You can also rent gear at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge or at Free Heel and Wheel in West Yellowstone.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Spring
The snow stays on the ground well into spring in Yellowstone. In early March, you can access the interior of the park by snow coach or snowmobile, but only until road crews begin to plow in the middle of the month. By the middle of April, roads start opening to traffic, but you can always drive to Mammoth Hot Springs from the Northeast Entrance. During this period, temperatures can range anywhere from 30 to 60 degrees, and snowfall is common. Pack winter boots and outerwear for March and early April; after that, mid-weight layers can help you stay comfortable in rapidly changing conditions.
By May, most of the park’s lodges, restaurants, and visitor centers have reopened. Crowd levels are still low and temperatures are warm, making this a spectacular time to visit. If you head to popular spots such as Old Faithful early in the morning, you can enjoy Yellowstone’s beauty without the crowds. May is also a great month to spot baby animals as they emerge from hibernation or hiding. Companies such as The Wildland Trekking Company and Yellowstone Geyser Kayak Tours start operating in May, creating plenty of opportunities to explore the wilderness and see the new leaves.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park?
The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is in early fall. In mid-September and October, you can enjoy the park’s awe-inspiring fall colors without the summer crowds. While temperatures are cool and snow is possible, fall is also a fantastic time to explore Yellowstone’s hiking trails; the South Rim of the canyon and the Lamar River Trail offer spectacular autumn views.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Yellowstone National Park vacation rentals on Tripping.com.