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9 Jun 2021
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Yellowstone National Park can get very crowded during peak season (June, July, and August). The best months to visit Yellowstone are April, September, and October. These “off season” months also provide more chances to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. Bears emerge from hibernation between March and April, migrating birds arrive just before May, and the elk rut begins mid-September.

If you’re looking to plan a trip to the park, here’s the best months to visit and tips to avoid the crowds during your trip!

When is Peak Season in Yellowstone?

Peak season in Yellowstone starts at the end of April and will run until about mid-September. May, June, July and August draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park (overall, the park hosted 3,806,305 visitors in 2020) and tends to create more traffic and higher wait times at the larger landmarks.

Best Times to Visit Yellowstone

If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone this year, we recommend visiting during the following months.

April

Why Visit in April?

There’s nothing like seeing Yellowstone’s natural landscape come alive during the spring. This season is quite an active time for local wildlife as well, and provides a good opportunity to spot bears, wolves, elk, moose and other animals emerging from their winter homes.

Activities to Enjoy

  • Snowshoeing*

  • Wildlife viewing

  • Hiking*

  • Camping*

*Be sure to bring warm clothes and weather-ready gear. Yellowstone’s temperatures and weather can fluctuate widely during this time!

September

Why Visit in September?

September still holds some of the warmer temperatures of peak season, but doesn’t attract as many crowds! Most of the park’s roads are still open, and the local wildlife will still be viewable throughout the park.

Activities to Enjoy

  • Fishing

  • Camping*

  • Backpacking*

  • Hiking*

  • Wildlife viewing

*Be sure to bring warm clothes and weather-ready gear. Yellowstone’s temperatures and weather can fluctuate widely during this time!

October

Why Visit in October?

As the warmer temperatures begin to cool, Yellowstone’s natural landscape shifts and allows the unique opportunity to view the park as winter approaches. October also allows visitors to experience the geysers, hot springs, and natural vents throughout the park without having to squeeze through the crowds.

Activities to Enjoy

  • Hiking*

  • Camping*

  • Backpacking*

  • Wildlife Viewing

*Be sure to bring warm clothes and weather-ready gear. Yellowstone’s temperatures and weather can fluctuate widely during this time!

Tips for Avoiding the Crowds in Yellowstone

Aside from traveling during the off-season months, there are some easy things you can do to avoid the crowds and see more of the park. All it takes is a little planning!

  1. Arrive early. Yellowstone’s crowds will peak during early morning and late afternoon, so getting to the park as early as possible will give you easy access to the landmarks you wish to see. What time does Yellowstone’s entrances open? The park keeps a detailed list of accessible facilities here!

  2. Choose the hidden, secret, and less-known sights. Yellowstone has hundreds of thousands of geysers, hydrothermal features, and natural landmarks. Choose a few sights that aren’t as well-known, and you’ll have easy access to some of the more unique features of the park. View the park’s map of all the thermal features here!

  3. Hike to a higher view. While most of Yellowstone’s landmarks can be viewed up-close and personal, there are a few that can be viewed from an elevated location. Hiking the Fairy Falls trail, for instance, will lead you directly above the Grand Prismatic Spring.


Visiting Yellowstone with the family this year? We’ve got 21 of the best things to see and do in Yellowstone with Kids! Check out our post here.