Yellowstone National Park Weather & Seasons

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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.

Summer

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.

Things to Do:

Fall

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.

Things to Do:

Winter

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.

Things to Do:

Spring

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.

Things to Do:

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.

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