Best time to visit Yellowstone

Best time to visit Yellowstone

Best time to visit Yellowstone

Spring and fall are known for the mild weather and the least crowds, so April to May and September to November is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park. In the spring, the weather is unstable, and you have to pack diapers. Most roads open by the third week of April, and it’s time to visit the unique Isa Lake.

Fall in Yellowstone gives you beautiful yellow-orange foliage, a swim in the boiling river, and a fun moose mating season, but most facilities close in early November. The peak season between July and August brings lots of summer activities and the perfect weather to visit Grand Prismatic Spring and Morning Glory Pool.

However, summer can be hectic. Therefore you should book your room in advance. Winter in Yellowstone is a harsh and snowy period when some facilities and roads are closed.

Either way, you still have the opportunity to observe migrating bison and wolves, enjoy winter sports, and see steam rise from the thick blanket of ice and snow and droplets freezing in the air. A thick blanket of ice and snow and droplets freezing in the air. A thick blanket of ice and snow and droplets freezing in the air.

Best time to visit Yellowstone 26 THINGS TO DO IN

The best times to visit Yellowstone National Park are from late April to May as well as September through early October. These shoulder months offer mild weather, fewer crowds and little to no road closures.

In Yellowstone, the altitude varies between 1600 and 3400 m, giving a rather cold and humid climate. The months of July and August are relatively mild, but the nights are cold. In addition, the rest of the year, temperatures drop, and it rains / snows regularly.

The park adapts to the climate, and the roads are mostly closed from November to April. Attendance is highest from June to September.

While in summer you will be able to walk and discover the beauty of the park without worrying about snow and closed roads, your visit will be very different in winter. Going there this season seems almost reserved for the initiated, for those who are used to the challenging mountain climate and practice winter sports regularly.

I went there at the end of August. Although we were surprised by the temperatures close to zero during the night, we enjoyed beautiful weather during the day.

1. Morning Glory Pool

March-November • Nature

The stunning beauty of this natural swimming pool is disappearing due to pollution.

2. Old Faithful Geyser

May-October • Nature

Don’t miss Old Faithful on your trip to Yellowstone!

3. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

April-October • Nature

Smaller than Arizona’s Grand Canyon, but no less impressive, stretching for over 30 miles

4. Three Waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Uncle Tom’s Trail

April-October • Nature

The park has nearly 300 waterfalls to marvel at, but these three are the tallest and most powerful.

5. Visit of the big loop

May-October • Nature

Enjoy a scenic ride and explore some of the park’s main highlights on a day trip along the loop.

6. Mammoth Hot Springs

May-October • Nature

These fantastic colorful hot springs are changing and growing all the time. Come and observe the beautiful terraces created by these sources.

7. Grizzly bear

March-early November • Nature

The biggest attraction or the most significant risk? Maybe both!

8. Swimming in the Boiling River

mid-July-February • Activity

Take a relaxing dip in the warm waters of the Boiling River.

9. Fountain paint pots

April-October (best date: April-May) • Nature

These colorful boiling pots are one of the main attractions of the park.

10. Horse riding

April-October • Activity

The most authentic way to explore the wilderness of Yellowstone Park

11. Mud volcano

May-October • Nature

Unique geothermal features draw visitors to this famous spot.

12. Yellowstone Lake

May-October • Activity

Large and beautiful, set in the heart of the park, Yellowstone Lake is an ideal place to marvel at the beauty of nature.

13. Tower-Roosevelt Zone

May-October • Nature

One of the most famous areas of the park offers many natural and historical sites to explore

14. Dunraven Pass

June-September • Activity

Take a scenic ride on Yellowstone’s highest road

15. Fall colors of Yellowstone

end of September – beginning of October • Nature

America’s first national park is dressed for fall

16. Rafting

May-September • Activity

The scenic rivers of the park provide great pleasure on a white water rafting adventure.

17. Black bears

end of March – beginning of November • Nature

Smaller and less aggressive than grizzly bears, you can observe black bears during daylight.

18. Canoeing and kayaking

May-October • Activity

Come and enjoy your favorite summer activity among the beautiful natural landscapes of Yellowstone.

19. Moose

September-October • Nature

Follow the song of a moose during mating season. But be careful and don’t get too close!

20. Bear’s teeth route

end of May – mid-October • Activity

Drive along the highest road in the Northern Rockies

21. Locks

September-October-May-June • Nature

Elk rutting is one reason that draws so many visitors to the park each September in September, and in early summer, bring elk calves.

22. Cyclist

mid-March – October • Activity

Biking is a great way to explore the park during the warmer months and enjoy all the famous spots and the scenic route itself!

23. Escalation

May-October • Activity

Rock climbing in Yellowstone is diverse and full of excitement. It’s a climbing hotspot with hundreds of peaks to conquer!

24. Peach

end of May – beginning of November • Activity

Spend a day fishing in the clear waters of this nature reserve full of large fish

25. Bird watching

mid-May-October • Nature

This park is an excellent place to see water birds, migratory species, and birds of prey.

26. Yellowstone sand verbena

mid-June – mid-October • Nature

If you are looking for some of the rarest plants globally, there is one in this park. Come and discover this mysterious flower.

Best time to visit Yellowstone 26 THINGS TO DO IN

If you plan to set foot in Yellowstone, I warn you: you will take a slap! You are about to disembark in a unique environment, an extraordinary atmosphere between geological events and wild animals.

But before that, a little preparation is necessary. You can’t just drop by Yellowstone out of the blue because you will probably have been driving for several hours if you bother to go. So once there, you’ll want to see as much of it as possible! Moreover, the park is immense since it is more significant than Corsica!

In this article, I guide you to prepare for your visit to Yellowstone National Park:

  • 2 days initially, discovering Grand Loop Rd from Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot Springs then the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone;
  • In 3 days after that, you are adding Northern Range if you have the time. 

In addition to the organization that I offer, I provide you with various indications, particularly on the best time to go to Yellowstone, where to sleep, and practical information.

A spectacular but fragile environment

A spectacular but fragile environment

Yellowstone is a pure wonder of almost 9000 km ². To get an idea, it is more significant than Corsica, and the famous Grand Canyon is 4000 km², more than half the area of ​​Yellowstone.

It spans three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Created in 1872, it was the world’s first national park.

Yellowstone is a volcanic landscape with the largest concentration of geysers and hot springs on the planet. You can see lakes, rivers, canyons, forests, and lots of wildlife such as bison, bears, wolves, etc. 

In 1988, a third of the park was devastated by a massive fire despite the 25,000 people available and the 120 million dollars spent to overcome it. It reminds us once again of the fragility of our environment, which suffers from the ravages caused by man. I would therefore like to remind you that it is essential to respect the site and follow the park’s rules when visiting. 

Useful information

Best time to visit Yellowstone - 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022
Best time to visit Yellowstone – 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022
  • The park entrances: as you can see in the picture, there are five entrances: South, North, West, East, North-East. Which one you go through will depend on where you come from. Me, I came from Utah, so I took the southern entrance, which goes through Jackson. I walked through Grand Teton National Park before I got to Yellowstone. There is still more than 1 hour of road between Jackson and the South entrance, so do not plan to sleep in Jackson to not have to make the round trip every day.
  • Entrance fee: 35 dollars for a vehicle of 4 people, valid for seven consecutive days. The national park pass is accepted.
  • The visitor centers: there are ten information and education centers around the park. Please find the list and the addresses of each of them on the site.

Best time to visit Yellowstone – 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022

  • Opening hours: in summer, the roads are accessible 24/7, and all visitor centers are open. It is in winter that it is more complicated with many lanes closed to cars. Only the one between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance is open. Most of the visitor centers are closed. Albright Visitor Center and West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center are among the only establishments available year-round.
  • Minimum duration of visit: you will need at least two days. Indeed, do not think of doing a quick tour in half a day because you are in a hurry and you have planned to visit another park in the afternoon. It would be a shame. Yellowstone is huge, and there is something to see around every corner. You risk leaving disappointed if you do not take advantage of it as it should. So two days minimum, three days is good if you can stay longer, even better!

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How to visit Yellowstone in 2 days?

The guide that I am offering you through the park assumes that all roads are open and, therefore, in high season. In winter, it is impossible to follow this plan.

1. Day one: Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot Springs

Let’s talk about serious things! To help you plan your visit, I’ve made a map so you can locate the places I’m going to talk about. The font color matches the colors on the map. Don’t hesitate to zoom in.

I will consider that the tour starts at the entrance of Sud park because it was there that she created for me. You arrive at the Old Faithful Visitor Center  (A), continuing on the road and heading west. From there, you will follow the Grand Loop Road to Mammoth Hot Springs (B).

  • Old Faithful Geyser: This geyser produces one of the world’s most famous hot water and steam jets. It spouts out every 88 minutes on average. You can find out the eruption predictions at the visitor center.
  • Geyser Hill: boiling and colorful mud pools, geysers, hot springs. TheAnemone Geysergushes out very regularly. I also advise you not to miss the morning Glory Pool.
  • Black Sand Basin: hot water pool with colors ranging from dark blue to golden yellow.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring is the park’s icon: it is a large pool of hot water with bright colors ranging from blue to red. Algae and bacteria cause these colors. I strongly recommend that you do at least part of the Fairy Falls Trail hike to get a high view of the Grand Prismatic: 1 km, 15 minutes walk to get to the lookout. If you can, try going at sunrise or sunset.
  • Fountain Paint Pots: pools of boiling mud.

At Madison Junction, continue to Norris taking a right.

  • Gibbon Falls: 26 m high waterfall.
  • Roaring Mountain: white rock mountain.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs (B): limestone buildings formed by hot water over thousands of years.

2. Day two: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon
Best time to visit Yellowstone – 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022

The formation of this canyon dates back more than 600,000 years, by dint of volcanic eruptions which led to the creation of a vast caldera which gradually filled with lava and sediment. The canyon was then formed by rock erosion from the Yellowstone River.

✎ Fun fact: the name Yellowstone comes from the yellow color of the canyon rock; yellow stone = “yellow stone” 😉

The canyon is 39 km long, between 400 to 1,200 meters wide, and 240 to 370 meters deep.

  • Lower Falls: This is the largest waterfall in the park. There are different points of view to see, including Inspiration Point and Artist Point, where I stopped. They are easily accessible from their respective car parks after walking a few meters. There are also several hikes, including Red Rock Trail (rated easy) and Brink of the Lower Falls (moderate difficulty), which are a little over 1 km long and provide a view of the waterfall. Expect it to climb a bit anyway, but it doesn’t last very long.
  • Upper Falls: The waterfall is less impressive but still worth a stop. You can see it from Upper Falls View or Brink of the Upper Falls.
  • Hayden Valley: an excellent spot to see wildlife (bison, signs, geese, coyotes, etc.). If you see animals on the road, slow down and stop if necessary. If you want to get out of your vehicle, however, keep your distance.
  • Continuing south, you arrive in an area with several mud pools, ponds, and geysers that will remind you of your first day in the park. Sulfur Cauldron (left),  Mud VolcanoDragon’s Mouth Spring  (right) are among the points of interest here. You can park and walk around the circuits to observe the different phenomena.

Then you arrive in front of Yellowstone Lake.

  • To your left, the Lake Butte Overlook: nice view of the lake, good spot for a sunset. 18-minute drive to Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.
  • To your right, West Thumb Geyser Basin: Not to be missed, this basin is unique because it is located on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Please take the opportunity to see the  Black Pool, a splendid turquoise blue; it is one of the most beautiful hot springs. It is located a 30-minute drive from the  Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.

Please note that if you want to go to Lake Butte Overlook and then to West Thumb Geyser, you will have to make a detour of about 40 minutes. If you don’t want to do that, I advise you to skipper Lake Butte and go straight to West Thumb, which I wouldn’t miss for any reason.

In addition, I mentioned each place from north to south, but you can choose to go in the opposite direction depending on where you spent the night, for example.

3. How to visit Yellowstone in 3 days?

And well, nothing could be simpler! You do your first two days as indicated above, and you spend your last day in Northern Range. It is the best place to have a chance to see gray wolves, but you can also meet bisonelk, hinds, etc.

Starting at Mammoth Hot Springs (A), you will head east and pass through the Blacktail Deer Plateau. When you reach Tower Junction (B), go straight ahead to see Tower Fall (C). Then turn around and take a right to go to Buffalo Ranch (D) and Lamar Valley (E), where you can have the chance to see wolves (it’s still quite rare). 

If you have to drive at night, keep in mind that at any time, you might run into a bison in the middle of the road. It happened to me, and it’s surprising because you don’t necessarily see it long in advance—one more reason to ride slowly.

A third day is also the opportunity to explore what we haven’t seen the previous days due to lack of time or to return to our favorite spots, for example. It allows you to be less in a hurry and to enjoy your visit.

Where to sleep in Yellowstone?

Best time to visit Yellowstone - 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022
Best time to visit Yellowstone – 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022

1. The campsite

There are 12 campsites in Yellowstone National Park. For 5 of them, it is possible to reserve a spot on Yellowstone National Park Lodges. For the rest, it’s “first come, first served.” Few campsites are open all year round; you can check which ones are closed on Prices vary between $ 15 and $ 32 per night.

Bivouac or backcountry camping is also authorized but requires a permit—more information on

3. The lodges

More comfortable but much more expensive! There are nine lodges in the park, and only two are open in winter: Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. You can book on Yellowstone National Park Lodges as well. 

3. My experience

In case you were wondering which option I had chosen. Well neither! We slept in our car with my friend since the beginning of our road trip, which had started in Utah. In Yellowstone, we hadn’t booked anything, and the campsites were filling up very quickly. We, therefore, slept in our vehicle parked in a hotel parking lot, which is prohibited.

Indeed, we no longer knew what to do! It is not allowed to sleep in your vehicle in the park outside the campsites. So we left Yellowstone, but at the exit, there were only hotels. It was dark; we didn’t want to go too far away, so finally, we parked in this famous hotel parking lot.

Besides, I will remember that night all my life. We were amazed by the temperatures, around 0 degrees – while it was 25 ° during the day. In Utah, it’s 20 degrees at night; we weren’t prepared at all and had to drive a few kilometers in the middle of the night to turn on the heat and warm us up.

In short, an experience that I advise you not to reproduce! For that, sleep at a campsite in the park. Book it in advance when possible or arrive early enough to find a free space. As for the cold, plan on good sleeping bags and warm clothes.

Best time to visit Yellowstone
Best time to visit Yellowstone

The Yellowstone Experience, in conclusion

Yes, visiting Yellowstone is quite an experience. It is the national park that undoubtedly marked me the most among those I had the chance to discover. Some offer us desert landscapes, others mountainous, others marshy, but Yellowstone makes us explore a volcanic universe and the result of fascinating geological phenomena

In addition to the diverse landscapes that can be seen there, it is impossible to visit Yellowstone without encountering a bison. Who regularly sees bison crossing the road like this? Me no, personally. So it was a natural first experience to have such wild and massive animals right in front of me.

Visiting Yellowstone requires some preparation and organization. But once there, give way to wonder. Don’t forget to make the most of every nook and cranny of this mythical and colorful national park!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post a comment. I will answer you with pleasure. Thank you and see you soon!

If you liked the article, don’t hesitate to share it, it could help others! 😊

Best time to visit Yellowstone – 26 THINGS TO DO IN 2022

Best time to visit Yellowstone

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