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Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

6 posts
Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

We are planning a trip to Yellowstone this year (2009), but aren't sure when the best time would be to go with regard to weather, animal sighteens, and mosquitoes. Do you know what the advantages/disadvantages are of going in the Spring vs Summer vs Fall?

We are newly retired and our schedule is rather flexible. We like to hike (easy to moderate) and would like to see just about all that there is to see in Yellowstone. So...we are thinking of spending a minimum of 5 days. Does that sound like a sufficient number of days?

We will be driving from the East stopping at Mt Rushmore first, then Yellowstone and down to the Grand Tetons before returning home.

Any tips you can provide will be appreciated!

Green Valley...
Level Contributor
18,030 posts
65 reviews
1. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

Regardless of season, a wonderland! I've been summers and fall, sorry missed spring with all the newborns, but perhaps this year.

Weather more certain in summer and fall; fewer high country surprises.

Here are a couple of Inside Pages, both of which are full of information that go beyond their titles, just to get started.



Bruceton Mills...
Level Contributor
2,526 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

There really isn't a bad time but June is the best in my opinion. By mid June, there are babies all over. The bears are still at lower elevations. I'd say it isn't as crowded but I'm not sure that's true. The weather can be nippy too.

Since you said you're flexible, I change to 7 days. Its worth spending a full day in Grand Teton National Park too. If you've never been, its a beautiful place.

If you can, you should stay inside the park. In all honesty, you'll need to be very lucky to do so now. You're planning very late. Check www.travelyellowstone.com and call their 800 number to see what's available for whenever you want to go.

If you pick July or August, bears will be harder to see. They take siestas and move to higher elevations to avoid the heat. Its still a great place in July though.

I recently took a look at making the drive you're describing. It wasn't any cheaper than flying and that surprised me.

You might take a look at our website too.


Yellowstone and Grand Teton links on the left.

We put planning information, trip reports, maps, pictures with comments, etc trying to help others.

Accomodations will determine your options, I'm afraid. They will be pretty full but cancellations will be happening I'm afraid.

Level Contributor
47 posts
1 review
3. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

I'm planning to visit Yellowstone about first week in June. How about weather at this time of the years. Is snow going to be gone? Are all roads and facilities open?

I'm arriving May 23 (more or less) at LAX, visit national parks of Utah (Zion, Bryce, Arches) and then drive towards Grand Teton, Yellowstone and then towards Columbia River Gorge.

I'm not sure if it is not to early. Can I expect some freak snow at this time of the year?

Or should I arrive week or two later to be on the safe side weather wise?

But then flights are getting more expensive ;)

Green Valley...
Level Contributor
18,030 posts
65 reviews
4. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

geogregor, you have planned an incredible dream trip. I assume you have scheduled at least 3 weeks?

Congratulations on your retirement.

In the post immediately preceding yours, there are some answers by experts. Snow is a risk, but typically fleeting.

Re: the southern parks, you might not want to go there any later, as it will be hot in June and gets hotter. But do go, a scenic wonderland.

Englewood, Fl.
Level Contributor
1,739 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

Five days minimum is certainly enough time for you to get a good taste of everything that Yellowstone has to offer. For some that is enough, for others, like us, it's just a tease!

Our personal preference for our springtime visits to Yellowstone is mid to late May. While there is still the possibility of some late winter weather to deal with, including snowfall, we consider that part of the adventure. We enjoy watching the park awake from it's long winter nap. Most park roads and facilities will either be open, or they will open during our visit. The crowds of summer are non-existant, so the pace can be much slower. The heavier snows have normally retreated to the high peaks, green-up will be beginning in the valleys, and the streams and creeks will be rushing with the winter melt run-off. The bears, both blacks and grizzlies, will be coming out of hibernation, mothers with their new cubs in tow. The bison and elk will be calving, the wolf dens, when we are fortunate enough to be able to observe them, will be active with newborn pups, and with hungry mouths to feed, the adults will be actively hunting even during daylight hours.

As an examole of how hard it can be to predict the weather in Yellowstone in the springtime. In mid May of 2007 we were photographing in Lamar Valley for several days in shorts and tee shirts. Last year during that same two week period we had about four non-consecutive days of nice weather, while the rest of the time we had wind, rain, sleet, fog, some temps in the twenties, minus the windchill, and even occasional measureable snowfall.

Although it can be challenging, and it will seldom be be hot, dry and dusty, we love the early springtime in Yellowstone. We always go prepared, and we believe that it's worth being there at that time for whatever mother nature might throw at us.

Jackson, WY
Level Contributor
113 posts
6. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

This is tricky...for viewing wildlife, you can see wildlife anytime during the srping, summer, fall, but the best time to come is End of May/Beginning of June or Mid September. In the spring, the animals are really just concerned with feeding from the long winter and they are out in the open a lot more. In the fall, the Elk are bugling and are out in the open more and the animals are feeding getting ready for the winter.

For scenery and pictures, I would say first couple weeks in June and the first couple weeks in September. In June, it is still cool enough in the high country where there is still snow on the Tetons and the Snake River Range, which ads more to your pictures. The valley floor has also turned green and wildflowers are in bloom and the cottonwood and aspen trees are green. The fall is also beautiful too...with all the trees and brushes turning in the parks and national forest and usually there is a fresh dusting of snow on the Tetons.

Now...for the weather. Between June 15th and August 30th, you can usually count on it being in the 80s. It could be snowing on the 14th of June and then all of a sudden in it 80 degrees on the 15th and like that for the rest of the summer. It also can be nice weather on either side of those dates, just a little more unpredictable the further you get away. If it is important to have nice weather that is more dependable for you, then I would look at coming closer to the dates above...of course, keep in mind that the crowds are bigger that time of year too.

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
Level Contributor
3,247 posts
32 reviews
7. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

No-one has addressed the mosquito issue, so I'll chime in on that -lol.They are out in full force by July and start disappearing by the end of Aug.

Personally, I would suggest either early June - for reasons already stated - or early Sept.

Whichever time you decide on, you need to call Xanterra for reservations as soon as possible - availability may be a factor in your decision of when to come. Also, I would suggest dividing your lodging between 2 places. Canyon is central to the sights on the east side of the Park and makes a good base. Also, Old Faithful gives you closer access to most of the geothermal areas.

Good Luck - and let us know if we can help with any other questions!

6 posts
8. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

Thank you so...much for the tips and advice! They were extremely helpsul. We've decided on June 8 - 14 for our visit to YS, and we were lucky to obtain reservations at lodges in the part.

Thanks again!

6 posts
9. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

Thank you so...much for the info. Your web site was very helpful.

Level Contributor
1 post
49 reviews
10. Re: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone (weather and nature)

We went to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons the third week of June. Weather was perfect, though it was cooler at times, particularly morning and evening, and we wore layers. Wildlife viewing was spectacular at this time of year, bears and cubs galore, wolves, coyotes, birds, moose, elk, etc, etc! So, starting a trip mid-June is also a good time to go.