Weather in Yellowstone National Park
Spring (April to early June) can be a magnificent time in Yellowstone. At the same time, spring is the transition from winter to summer, and as such can offer a sampling of each. Snow, rain, or extremely warm and pleasant days can all occur within the week. With this in mind, we suggest springtime visitors be prepared for the variety of weather patterns that can accompany the springtime “transition.”
Average daily temperatures can range from highs of 40’s – 50’s (5-15°C) to 60’s – 70’s (15-25°C.) Overnight lows can fall to near zero (-20°C) but often are in the 30-40 degree range.
Summer (mid-June through early September) typically provides our warmest temperatures. Although snow has even fallen on July 4th, summer weather tends to be drier and more pleasant. Highs can run in the 70’s-80’s (25-30°C.) Lows can drop to the 30’s and 40’s (0-10°C.) Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon.
The good news here is that some of our best storms have produced some wonderful sunsets and full rainbows.
Again, it’s important to remember that Yellowstone’s developed visitor areas range in elevation from 6,500 to 8,000 feet surrounded by a variety of mountain ranges. This high elevation makes the sun more intense, and the alpine weather patterns are more dynamic and quick-changing.
Autumn begins the transition from summer to winter. And, just as the spring is a transition period with very unpredictable weather, so is autumn. The major exception is that autumn is changing from warm (summer) to cold (winter.) So, we are often gifted with a majority of warm dry days and cool crisp nights.
Snow is certainly a possibility beginning in September, however the infrequent snowstorms (more likely occurring in late September or October) usually drop only enough snow to temporarily close higher in-park roads.
In autumn, visitors should plan for summer and winter, with highs tending to run from the 40’s-50’s (5-15°C) in later fall to 60’s and low 70’s (20-25°C) in early fall. Lows will typically dip below freezing.
Winter in Yellowstone is like another world. The “fire and ice” effect of the snow and colder temperatures mixed with the steamy boiling hot springs and geysers make for amazing snowscapes and natural beauty.
Most park roads are closed to regular wheeled vehicles, allowing access only to “over-snow” vehicles like snowcoaches and snowmobiles. The road from Gardiner, Montana to Cooke City, Montana, via Mammoth Hot Springs is the only in-park road accessible to cars, buses and trucks. However, the road dead-ends at Cooke City, as travel beyond that town is limited to over-snow vehicles again.
Temperatures in Yellowstone in winter will vary due to elevation. However, most visitor areas tend to stay in the 0-25 degree (-20 to -5°C) range. It is not uncommon for temperatures at higher elevations to drop below 0. Annual parkwide snowfall tends to be around 150 inches, although higher elevations can receive 200-400 inches.
Since Yellowstone is at a high elevation affected by alpine weather systems, it is especially critical to be prepared when visiting and traveling within the park. Proper clothing and footwear is a necessity. Warm and waterproof is best, depending on the activity(s) planned while here.
Cross-country skiing or other highly active pursuits will likely require lighter layered clothing.
Winter weather can occasionally cause the temporary closure of park roads. We suggest you check with the National Park Service at 307-344-7381 or visit the National Park Service website for current road reports.