Guide to the Seasons in Yellowstone [Infographic]
Seasons in Yellowstone
A spectacular wilderness full of surreal hydrothermal features makes Yellowstone National Park home to stunning natural wonders that change with the seasons. This means there is no “best” time to visit Yellowstone because it depends on what you want to see and do during your visit. It offers new sights and extraordinary surprises depending on the time of year. Seasons in the park may come and go in Yellowstone, but the magic stays all year. Get to know more about spring, fall, and winter.
Yellowstone’s shortest season is full of activity. Winter thaws, the landscape greens, roads start opening up, and bears, bison, elk. wolves and other large mammals are more active. We welcome Yellowstone’s newest inhabitants, the newborns! The park may be warming up but the weather isn’t-it can still feel a lot like winter. But there are fewer visitors, the park is quiet. and there is much to see.
Nature Highlights: Babies! First the beautiful red bison calves, then elk, moose, and pronghorn calving. Wolf pups and mother bears and cubs emerge from dens.
Activities: Spring is perfect for hiking and backpacking at lower elevations and skiing and snowshoeing on higher ground. Watching for baby wildlife never gets old, you can bike on park roads that are still closed to public vehicle traffic, and guided trips begin in May.
Services: April: Very limited, roads closed until the end of April. May: Almost full services. all roads open (by Memorial Day weekend)
The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are the busiest and with good reason. The park is exceptionally beautiful, it’s full of life. and the weather is warm. Yellowstone really shines. Discover classic park experiences such as Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Enjoy the park’s full slate of roaming wildlife, varied landscapes, and famous geothermal features. Explore on foot, in a car, by boat, or on horseback.
Nature Highlights: The wildflowers are in full bloom, songbirds in full song, and waterfalls flowing at full volume. Wildlife watching is at its prime, especially the bison rut (mating) in August.
Activities: You name it. you can do it. Enjoy boating, camping, fishing on the park’s lakes, hiking and backpacking, ranger-led programs, guided trips, horseback riding, guided touring, and more.
Services: Full services, roads open.
Fall in Yellowstone is spectacular. As summer fades and the sunlight starts to wane, there’s an enchanting shift in the park. The temperatures drop and visitation decreases. Leaves and grasses turn dramatic yellows and oranges, and the captivating golden hues really stand out against the deep evergreen backdrop of the forests. Thanks to the cooler temperatures, steaming thermal features become even more dramatic. And the haunting sound of the bull elk’s bugle during the fall rut. or mating, is something to hear.
Nature Highlights: Yellowstone wildlife prepares for winter. Bears are actively feeding to fatten up for winter and elk rut (mate) in September. The skies. made even bluer by colder dryer temperatures, embrace snow-dusted mountain tops. Birds begin migrating and bears start to hibernate. Snow begins to accumulate by November.
Activities: Take advantage of camping until the campgrounds close. Hiking and backpacking is always the best way to explore the park or try a guided-trip or ranger-led program. There’s still time to catch the big one fly-fishing. And you can bike on park roads when they close to vehicles (beginning of November).
Services: Full to limited
September: campgrounds, lodges and dining start closing, roads open October: limited. tours stop, roads begin to close.
November: limited, all roads close (except Mammoth to NE Entrance)
Yellowstone is a winter wonderland in the park’s quiet season. When the park is blanketed in snow, it’s also covered in magic. An already ethereal landscape becomes even more dramatic and enchanting. Services are limited but your discoveries will be endless. Steaming geysers, snowy basins, and frozen waterfalls. Rime ice and steam inversions, formed from frozen rising mists. Spot elk, bison, and wolves easily against the snowy backdrop. See Yellowstone the way few others do for an intimate, almost other-worldly experience.
Nature Highlights: Winter is the best time for wolf watching. Take a tour to
Lamar Valley to see bison, elk, and wolves in their winter habitat. Delight in glistening new snow (often perforated with snowshoe hare or elk tracks), dramatic fog and ghost trees in the geyser basins, and the bizarre phenomenon of sun dogs. Spot trumpeter swans on rivers withopen water.
Activities: When the snow falls. there’s plenty to do. Cross-country ski past geysers or snowshoe through the quiet forest. Take a guided snowcoach tour, have a cozy overnight at Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, ice skate on a local rink with stops for a warm-up by the bonfire, or participate in an interesting ranger-led program.
Services: Limited, winter travel restrictions, over-snow vehicles (snowcoaches and snowmobiles) required to access the park interior
For more information and reservations, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges. com or call 307-344-7311.
For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
Want to experience Yellowstone in depth? See what makes Yellowstone National Park a great place to work for a season or longer!
Explore Seasonal Packages
Spring Wolf & Bear Discovery
Dive into the world of Yellowstone’s wolves and bears.Learn More
Trails Through Yellowstone
Lace up your hiking boots and sling on your daypack for four days of hiking, wildlife viewing, and discovery in the world’s first national park.Learn More
Fall Wolf & Elk Discovery
The elk mating season, or rut, spans late summer and fall where we’ll take plenty of time to enjoy and discuss the dramatic displays of mating bulls.Learn More
Old Faithful Winter Expedition
Venture into the heart of Yellowstone on a journey through the park’s winter wilderness.Learn More