Yellowstone National Park Weather & Seasons

Yellowstone National Park
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Winter and Summer in Yellowstone National Park are like night and day. While a majority of visitors come to the park between June and September (for the best access to activities, lodging, and services), many enjoy the cold pristine winter days for wildlife viewing and activities like snowmobiling and snow coach rides. The off-seasons of Fall and Spring make travel difficult, but if you time it for a good weather year, you'll find peace in the park with fewer visitors.


Dates: June - August

Weather: Average daytime summer temperatures range between 70 to 80 degrees F in the lower elevations. Nights are cool and temperatures may drop into the 20s in the higher elevations. June can be cool and rainy; July and August tend to be somewhat drier, although afternoon thundershowers and lightning storms are common.

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Dates: September - November

Weather: Fall is beautiful in Yellowstone with crisp, cool air and the aspens glowing with a palette of oranges, yellows and reds. It is another great time to visit the Park. There is less traffic and the scenery dressed in all the fall colors is awe-inspiring. The wildlife are on the move to lower altitudes, making viewing opportunities exceptional. Autumn weather can be pleasant, although temperatures average 10 to 20 degrees lower than summer readings--highs ranging from 40 degrees F to the upper 60s. Over-night temperatures can fall into the teens and single digits. Snowstorms increase in frequency and intensity as winter approaches. Sudden storms can cause a drop in temperature and/or result in precipitation.

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Dates: December - March

Weather: Travel into the vast majority of Yellowstone during the winter is difficult. It can only be accomplished via guided snowmobile tours or snowcoaches. Only one road remains open in Yellowstone during the winter. That is the northern most roads that connects Gardiner, Montana with Cooke City, Montana. Private vehicle travel is allowed on that road during the winter months. The thermometer rarely reaches much over zero degrees F during the winter months. The heat of the sun on a clear day may cause the mercury to rise up to the mid-20s. Subzero over-night temperatures are common. Occasionally, warm "chinook" winds will push daytime temperatures into the 40s causing significant melting of snowpack--especially at lower elevations. Yellowstone also experiences periods of bitterly cold weather. The lowest temperature recorded in Yellowstone was -66F (-54C) near West Yellowstone on February 9, 1933. Annual snowfall averages near 150 inches. At higher elevations, 200-400 inches of snowfall have been recorded.

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Dates: April - May

Weather: Spring is a quiet time to visit Yellowstone. As soon as the roads are opened for vehicular traffic, you can experience the area with minimal other visitors. As most of the wildlife in Yellowstone gives birth to their young in the spring, this is also a great time for wildlife viewing. The cold and snow of winter often linger into April and May. Average daytime temperatures during these months can range from a low of 40 degrees F to a high of 70 degrees F. The temperatures will gradually get warmer, but the nights can still be at freezing or below.

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Spring activities vary greatly on the previous winter. During a dry year, trails can be dry as early as April while during a wet year, they can be snow covered until mid-June. It's hard to plan too early for a Spring vacation as it is so weather dependent.

West Yellowstone and North Entrances open in mid-April. The East Entrance opens in early-May and the South (connecting to Grand Teton Park) opens in mid-May. A majority of visitor centers (other than Old Faithful and Mammoth) don't open until mid to late may.

Throughout the Year

  • At any time of year, be prepared for sudden changes; unpredictability characterizes Yellowstone's weather. 
  • Always carry a warm jacket and rain gear even in the warmer months. 
  • Always carry extra clothing when hiking, skiing, or snowmobiling. 
  • Good walking shoes and layers of clothing are recommended throughout the year. In the winter you'll also need warm boots.

Questions & Answers

Yes. The weather can take surprising turns in the higher mountain elevations where Yellowstone is located. Snow has been recorded nearby on every calendar day of the year (luckily not consecutively), so snowstorms and freezing temperatures can occur even in mid-summer. You don’t want to be caught off guard when these storms blow in--be sure to pack warm clothes like a waterproof/windproof softshell and a warm hat.

Yes. Snow can and usually does arrive in September in Yellowstone. Storms roll through the untamed high country year-round and can often be unpredictable. Pack warm, weatherproof clothing, like a softshell, even if the weather forecast is warm and sunny during the time of your visit. Fall is usually cooler in the mountains than other locales. You should expect cold mornings (especially if you’re camping) that will warm up into the afternoon. Be prepared for a surprise storm--in the off chance that one blows through.

Yellowstone weather trends cooler and storms can be unpredictable. If visiting in the summer months, expect to be chilly in the morning and warmer in afternoon. You''ll want a warm fleece jacket, waterproof/windproof shell, a breathable shirt and fast-dry hiking pants or shorts. Bring sturdy hiking shoes because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. The sun is harsher at these high elevations, so you’ll probably appreciate sunscreen and sunglasses as well.

High summer guarantees the most access to Yellowstone, which is why millions prefer coming during June, July, and August. If you want to miss the crowds in Yellowstone and have the best chances of booking a stay within the park, the best times to come are as the visitor season winds up from April to May, and as its winding down again in September or October. Alternately, everyone should experience the unique winter wonderland beauty of a Yellowstone winter at least once. However, private visits are all but blocked, meaning you’ll probably need to get in on a snowmobile or snowcoach tour for a winter visit.