Best Times to Visit Yellowstone
The best times to visit Yellowstone National Park are from April to May and between September and October. These shoulder months offer mild weather and fewer crowds. July and August are the most popular months to visit: The kids are out of school, and the weather is warm enough to sleep outside. However, this park is no stranger to the cold. Temperatures have been known to drop into the 30s even in the summer. During the winter, expect a wide range of temps, spanning from subzero digits to the high 20s. Don't let that stop you: There's nothing quite like seeing plumes of steam rise from beneath a thick blanket of snow and ice.
Weather in Yellowstone
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
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Spring weather in Yellowstone can be unpredictable, but if you time it right you'll be able to watch the park emerge from its winter hibernation without rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists. Average temperatures can fluctuate anywhere between the high 10s and low 50s, so plan to pack layers. And remember, park roads to popular features don't start opening to the public until the third Friday in April. Check the National Park Service's website to view updated road closures and opening days.
Average highs hover in the 60s and 70s, making for great hiking conditions. Plus, all of the park's facilities will be open. During the warmer months, Yellowstone welcomes more than 2 million visitors, meaning accommodations will fill up quickly. July is an especially popular time to visit for festival lovers, as the park and its surrounding towns host an array of events. If you do decide to tackle the high season, make reservations as far in advance as possible.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit: The weather is still relatively mild, there are plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities and almost all of the summer crowds have dispersed, leaving behind plenty of more reasonably priced hotel rooms and campsites. But as the park prepares for winter, so should you: Average daytime temperatures can range from the mid-30s to low 60s. Also, keep in mind that most facilities (like visitors centers, general stores and post offices) close as early as mid-October.
Winter in Yellowstone is not for the faint of heart. The park experiences heavy snowfall during this season, and daytime temps are rarely above freezing. If you do decide to visit this time of year, always carry safety gear – sleeping bags, flashlights and extra food – and be prepared for precarious driving conditions (some roads will be closed). The North Entrance is the only entrance open to automobiles in the winter, and most park facilities (aside from park headquarters in the Mammoth Hot Springs area) will already be closed for the season by December.
Popular Times to Visit Yellowstone
Tourism volume is estimated based on in-market destination search query interest from Google and on travel.usnews.com in 2015-2016. Hotel prices are sourced from a sample of U.S. News Best Hotels rates through 2015-2016.
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