Yellowstone National Park is located in the Rocky Mountain Range, and has sections of its boundary inside Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The park is open 24 hours a day from May through September, with many roads closing once snow arrives.
It is the third-most visited National Park in America.
What is the Best Month to Visit Yellowstone?
Based on our research and data, October is the best month to visit Yellowstone. Services are just starting to close, but the park’s roads are still fully open. The amount of visitors has dropped by almost two thirds off the peak summer numbers, so the park – while still crowded – won’t be unbearable.
The best months to visit Yellowstone, per season are as follows:
- Late April in Spring
- September in Summer
- October in Fall (and overall)
- November in Winter (hope that some of the roads are still open)
The facilities near Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon areas that closed in fall, begin to open back up late April to mid-May. In April, the roads also begin to reopen to regular vehicles. By the end of May, all roads are back open, although certain services within the park can still be limited.
In the higher elevations, skiing and snowshowing are popular activities in the spring. At the lower elevations, hiking is most popular. Wildflowers also begin to bloom in April, including buttercups, shooting stars, and pasqueflower.
Springtime weather in Yellowstone is fairly moderate, never reaching above the mid-60s, but usually staying in the 40s during the daytime. At night, temps frequently fall below freezing. The weather for Yellowstone in May is in the mid 50s, which aids in melting the leftover snow from the winter.
Visitation to Yellowstone in the spring has two very different halves. April is a quiet month in the park, seeing very low visitation numbers. By May, the amount of visitors explodes by 600% to almost 500,000. By June, may’s numbers double. Memorial Day weekend is extremely busy.
Yellowstone’s Spring Statistics:
- Average Precipitation Amounts: 81 inches (206 cm)
- Average High Temperature: 46 °F (8 °C)
- Average Low Temperature: 29 °F (-2 °C)
- Average Park Visits per Month: 70,000 in April; 500,000 in May
Summer (June – September)
Summer in Yellowstone is extremely busy and expensive. Visitorship hovers at or above 1 million visitors a month for the duration of the season. The peak visitation month is July.
Lodging inside Yellowstone and neighboring Grand Teton parks, as well as at nearby towns like West Yellowstone MT, Gardiner, MT, and Jackson, WY are usually at max capacity through the season. In order to secure a room or a camping spot, most will need to be booked at least 6 months ahead of time.
The summer weather at the park is very comfortable, usually staying in the 60s and 70s during the daytime.
Yellowstone’s Summer Statistics:
- Average Precipitation Amounts: 37 inches (94 cm)
- Average High Temperature: 67 °F (19 °C)
- Average Low Temperature: 42 °F (6 °C)
- Average Park Visits per Month: 955,000
Fall is a short season at Yellowstone. It seems like within a blink of an eye, the park goes from massive crowds and comfortable weather to a desert town blanketed with several inches of snow. October is the time of this transition for the park. Visitation numbers drop by half from September, and nighttime temperatures begin to fall back below freezing again.
Most facilities near Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon will close during October, usually in the latter half of the month.
Yellowstone’s Fall Statistics:
- Average Precipitation Amounts: 56 inches (142 cm)
- Average High Temperature: 46 °F (8 °C)
- Average Low Temperature: 28 °F (-2 °C)
- Average Park Visits per Month: 320,000
Winter (November – March)
Depending on the elevation, Yellowstone National Park receives between 50 and 200 inches of snow each year. This massive amount of snow forces closures throughout the park.
Every year, in early November, most park roads close to regular traffic in preparation for the winter season. The only road that stays open all year is the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance. Most of the facilities inside the park are also shuttered for the season. The Mammoth Springs visitors center is the one exception, and will stay open all year.
During winter, access to the interior of the park—like Old Faithful and the Canyon—is restricted mightily. Once enough snow accumulates (usually by mid-December), roads open to “oversnow” travel only. This means the only way to visit Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other popular destinations during winter is by guided snowmobile or snowcoach, or through the NPS’s guided snowmobile program. Winter travel hours are from 7 am til 9 pm.
Winter season stretches through march, and regularly into the beginning of April.
Yellowstone’s Winter Statistics:
- Average Precipitation Amounts: 100 inches (254 cm)
- Average High Temperature: 26 °F (-3 °C)
- Average Low Temperature: 13 °F (-11 °C)
- Average Park Visits per Month: 36,000