Best Time to Visit Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is a spot that should be on your vacation bucket list if it isn’t already. Located mainly in Wyoming, although some parts stretch into parts of Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone has two acres of beautiful land to enjoy. Iconic spots like Old Faithful also put Yellowstone on your “must-see” list. If you’re thinking of taking the trip, you should know the best time to visit Yellowstone as well as some planning tips.

When to Visit Yellowstone

To get optimal weather with fewer crowds, plan your trip for either April to May or September to October. As you can imagine, the summer months get crowded which can become annoying if you’re trying to take in the sights

April-May Visits

If you choose to visit in April or May, the weather can be a bit unpredictable so pack and plan accordingly. The temperatures can be anywhere from the teens to the low 50s. 

While it’s not exactly shorts and t-shirt weather, there is still plenty to see and do. Plus, crowds are minimal, making it a great time to visit. Keep in mind that park roads to many popular features don’t open until the third Friday in April. If you visit in April during National Park Week, you can take advantage of fun and unique activities.

June-August Visits

There’s no denying that if you visit during the summer the weather will be great for hiking and other outdoor activities. Temperatures at this time of year are in the 60s and 70s. Because the weather is so great and the kids are out of school, the park gets packed quickly. If you plan on going this time of year make your reservations way in advance and be prepared for the crowds.

September-October Visits

Fall is a great time to visit Yellowstone because the weather is mild and there’s still plenty to do minus the summer crowds. You can also get a more reasonably-priced hotel room and have a better selection. Campsites also become more available at this time of year. When planning your visit just be sure that everything is still going to be open as some visitors centers and general stores tend to close in the middle of October.

November to March Visits

If you love heavy snowfall and temperatures that barely hit freezing then you may not mind visiting during this time. But, the majority of people would rather go when the weather is better. Driving conditions around the park get treacherous and most park facilities are closed. Entrances and road access are also limited.

Planning Your Trip to Yellowstone

Once you nail down when you want to visit, it’s time to plan your trip. The main thing to remember is to book enough time to be able to enjoy the park without rushing. At least three days is recommended so that you get all your sight-seeing in. 

If you can spend four or five days, you’ll have some downtime as well as time to go fishing, hiking, or check out other nearby sights. You’re on vacation, so it should feel like one. You shouldn’t feel like you’re in fast forward mode while trying to do everything.

As you decide the length of your stay, there are many accommodations to suit your style. Some people like to camp or rent a rustic cabin while others prefer a stay at a historic hotel. There are even dude ranches to check out. Whichever you choose, make your reservations as far ahead as possible because they do book up quickly.

Getting to Yellowstone

Depending on where you live, you could make your Yellowstone National Park vacation a family road trip. This way you have a vehicle with you to explore and can pack any outdoor gear you want. 

But, if you live far away or don’t want to drive, flying is an option. Most visitors fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. It’s about an hour and a half away from the park’s north entrance. Yellowstone Airport is another option because it’s only ten minutes away from the park’s west entrance. But, it’s a much smaller airport so it may not accommodate your plans.

Must-See Spots in Yellowstone

While you want to see as much of the park as you can, several spots make the must-see list.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful is the world’s most well-known geyser. It erupts about every hour and a half. The eruptions average around 130 feet high, so it is an awesome sight to see. Some people hike out to Observation Point to get a bird’s-eye view while others go to the dining room at the Old Faithful Inn to catch a glimpse.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is located in the Canyon Village area. Erosion helped to form this spot over the span of thousands of years. It’s about 20 miles long and a mile wild. It’s a great sight to see as well as one of the part’s most popular hiking spots.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the park’s largest body of water. You can drive around the lake to get some great views or plan a picnic lunch nearby during the warmer months. Either way, you don’t want to miss it.

As you plan your trip to Yellowstone, keep the best times to visit in mind as well as planning tips and must-see sights. This will make your trip both memorable and enjoyable. Happy travels!

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