Seeing Yellowstone in-person is a breathtaking and exhilarating experience, but it’s important to plan your trip with the weather in mind. You may be wondering if Yellowstone is open year-round, what the weather will be like, or what will be open while you’re there.
Yellowstone is open 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. However, only the road from the North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) to the Northeast Entrance (Cooke City, MT) stays open year-round.
If the roads are open, you can enter and exit the park as you please, even if the entrance stations aren’t open and collecting fees.
My name is Ash, and I’m a former park ranger. I worked as a park ranger in Wyoming and have been to Yellowstone many times. I can’t wait to help you plan your trip to Yellowstone National Park.
I’ve got a ton of information for you about visiting Yellowstone year-round, including the hours, closures, and weather you can expect while you vacation in this stunning national park. Let’s get started!
Is Yellowstone National Park Open Year-Round?
Yellowstone is open 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. This means that if you want to hike a trail at sunrise, you will be able to get in, and if you want to stargaze at 2 a.m., you’ll be able to get out. Open roads are not gated.
But it doesn’t mean that all of the activities and points of interest will be open for you at all times.
- The park’s many visitor centers often close during the off-season.
- The entrance stations are not always staffed.
- Most campgrounds and lodges are not open year-round.
- All roads but one close to vehicles during the winter. It’s also common for the roads through the park to temporarily close due to snow or ice.
- Trails may be closed due to construction or unsafe conditions.
Closures of this nature are common year-round, so let’s discuss what may be closed even if the park itself is open.
Operating Hours for Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Visitor Center Hours
You’ll find ten different places to stop for park information in Yellowstone, from visitor centers to museums to information stations.
If you’re in one of the park’s most popular areas, chances are there are park rangers nearby to answer your questions. However, most visitor centers in Yellowstone are not open year-round.
- Old Faithful Visitor Education Center — open mid-April through October, and mid-December through mid-March
- Canyon Visitor Education Center — open mid-April through October
- Albright Visitor Center — open year-round
- Fishing Bridge Visitor Center — open late May through mid-October
- Grant Visitor Center — open late May through mid-October
- Madison Information Station — open June – September
- West Thumb Information Station — open late May through mid-October
- West Yellowstone Information Station — open year-round
- Museum of the National Park Ranger — open late May through mid-September
- Norris Geyser Basin Museum — open late-May through mid-October
Typically, these visitor centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer months, with shorter hours in the spring, fall, and winter. Visitor centers are completely closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Ranger programs run year-round, except during the months of November and April.
Yellowstone Entrance Station Hours
Yellowstone has five entrance stations — West (West Yellowstone), South (Grand Teton), East (Cody), North (Gardiner), and Northeast (Cooke City). The West, South, and East entrances are open from mid-May through October. The North and Northeast entrances of Yellowstone are open year-round.
Entrance station hours vary and are not published. These stations will almost always be staffed early in the morning until late at night during the summer, with shorter hours during the spring, fall, and winter.
If an entrance station is staffed, you will be required to pay the park entrance fee before exploring Yellowstone’s main trails and viewpoints.
If the entrance station is not staffed, you can drive on through (as long as the road is open).
Common Closures in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Lodging Closures
Yellowstone has twelve campgrounds! To choose which campground will best serve your needs, read all about camping in Yellowstone. The Mammoth Campground is the only campground open year-round. All other campgrounds are typically open from May or June to September or October.
You’ll find nine lodges in the park, and they are typically open from late Spring through Fall. Only two lodges, the Mammoth Hotel and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, are open during the winter.
Reservations for lodges and campgrounds open up in May of the year before your trip. So if you are hoping to travel to the park in 2023, you’ll need to make reservations in May of 2022.
Common Road Closures in Yellowstone
The popular activities in Yellowstone are only accessible from about mid-May until October. If you’re hoping to see all of the can’t-miss spots, be sure to plan your trip during those months.
You can expect the main roads through the park to close down at the beginning of November. Be aware that the park roads will also often temporarily close after large snowstorms, which can happen as early as September. These temporary closures typically last a day or two at most, weather-permitting. Check the current conditions in the park here.
The road between the North Entrance (Gardiner) and the Northeast Entrance (Cooke City) is the only road open to vehicles during the winter. If you plan to see Yellowstone during the winter months, Gardiner or Mammoth Hot Springs is the perfect place to base your trip. Oversnow travel (snowmobiles or snowcoaches) are allowed to operate from December 15-March 15. Tours leave from both Gardiner and West Yellowstone.
The remaining park roads start opening back up in mid-April on a limited basis, with all roads typically being open by mid-May.
Common Trail Closures in Yellowstone
Most trails in the park open and close on the same schedule as the roads, so if the road is open, the trail should be open as well.
Snowy or muddy trails are common in the spring and early summer months. If you plan on hiking in the park’s mountains (like the popular Mount Washburn Trail), expect to encounter snow into the summer.
Bear-related trail closures are common on the east side of the park near Fishing Bridge.
Temporary trail closures may happen due to construction projects or unsafe conditions, so check the current conditions in Yellowstone before you go.
What is the Weather Like in Yellowstone?
Even though Yellowstone is open year-round, you’ll find some pretty dramatic temperature swings in this park! You can find amazing things to see and do in Yellowstone at any time, but because the park sits at about 8,000 feet above sea level, the weather varies drastically between seasons.
Take a look at the average highs and lows (in degrees Fahrenheit) and snow levels (in inches) at Yellowstone National Park:
|Avg High (F)||28||34||39||49||60||70||79||78||68||56||39||30|
|Avg Low (F)||9||13||17||26||34||41||47||45||37||29||19||12|
|Avg Snow (“)||14||10||13||6||1||0.1||0||0||0.5||4||9||13|
|Avg Rain (“)||1.1||0.8||1.1||1.2||2||1.5||1.5||1.4||1.3||1||1||1|
Winter Weather in Yellowstone
The Yellowstone area will start accumulating snow as early as September and continue into May, and this is when you’re most likely to hit those common closures listed above. There usually isn’t enough snow accumulation for snow activities until December, and most of the snow falls from December through March.
Daytime temperatures will often be below freezing, and with the wind chill, it will often feel even colder. Nighttime temperatures can easily be in the single-digits or below zero. When the temperatures are this cold, the geysers are extremely steamy which can make it hard to see what they actually look like!
Big snowstorms are common, and it’s normal to have a storm come through and dump a bunch of new snow in a small amount of time.
Pack your warm winter boots, coats, and gloves. You can snowshoe or cross-country ski some of the park trails and roads, or take a snowcoach or snowmobile to see Old Faithful in the snow. Driving through the Lamar Valley is one of the most popular winter activities, as it’s typically the best time of year to see wolves.
Spring Weather in Yellowstone
Yellowstone doesn’t have much of a traditional spring, with snow often still falling in May. Trails can be icy, snowy, or muddy this time of year.
April is cold and is one of the worst times to be in Yellowstone. Most things aren’t open, the weather is unpredictable, and there are very few activities available to you.
May can be a much better time to visit as it typically has warmer, more Spring-like temperatures. However, it’s also the rainiest month in the park. I always hike with rain gear in May, even if the day starts out looking nice.
Summer Weather in Yellowstone
Summer is the high season in the park, which means that everything is typically open. It’s extremely crowded and busy at this time, but you’ll get the warmest weather for exploring!
Even summer in Wyoming can be a little unpredictable, though most days you’ll have comfortable temperatures in the 70s or low 80s and lots of sunshine. Big thunderstorms like to roll in during the afternoon hours, so try to get your longest/highest elevation trails done in the morning if you can.
Summer is wildfire season in Yellowstone. You may find air to be smoky from nearby fires, areas may be closed, or fire restrictions may be in place.
Traffic and crowding in Yellowstone can be terrible.
Did you know that it’s common to sit in traffic for an hour or more during the summer?
Are you hoping to see the best sights without getting stuck in traffic, circling parking lots, or being surrounded by people?
Stay ahead of the crowds with this Yellowstone Itinerary. You will see all of the can’t-miss spots, plus get lodging and dining guides, driving directions, and insider tips!
Autumn Weather in Yellowstone
Autumn in Yellowstone is short but lovely. A visit during September or early October brings cooler temperatures, bluebird skies, perfect hiking weather, and crisp mountain air. Weather-related closures can happen anytime during these months, but typically only last a few hours or days.
Yellowstone isn’t particularly known for its fall colors, but you will start seeing some beautiful changing leaves in the higher elevations in September and the lower elevations in October.
I would skip a visit in November because almost all roads and trails are inaccessible by then.
So now you may be asking yourself, when is the best time to visit Yellowstone?
Now that you know you can visit Yellowstone year-round, click here to see my specific recommendations for the best times to visit Yellowstone.
More Yellowstone Trip Planning Information
Yellowstone Itinerary — a detailed hour-by-hour sightseeing schedule.
How to Get to Yellowstone — the best airports and roads in the area.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Yellowstone? — itinerary ideas.
Where Should I Stay? — the best options in and around the park.
All About Camping — learn about the park’s campgrounds and how to get a site.
12 Things You Can’t Miss on Your First Visit to Yellowstone — the top spots
The Best Easy Hikes — the perfect trails for kids, wheelchairs, and beginners.
Best Things to Do — activities for every type of adventurer.
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