What Is The Best Season To Go To Yellowstone National Park
What is the best time of year to visit Yellowstone? Summer in Yellowstone. The months between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day are exceptionally beautiful, although they attract most of the families going on summer vacations and traveling. Spring in Yellowstone. Fall in Yellowstone. Winter in Yellowstone.
Hiking & Backpacking In Yellowstone National Park
Hiking in Yellowstone National Park is one of the best ways to see the park the way it was meant to be seen with minimal other human beings around. Remember that most of Yellowstone is covered in snow during the fall, winter, and spring months, so most of these hiking trails are for summer use only.
Here are some of the best Yellowstone hiking trails for all skill levels:
- Bunsen Peak This 4.2-mile roundtrip hike isnt long but it is strenuous. It climbs 1,300 feet from a thick forest to the peaks summit which boasts breathtaking views of Blacktail Plateau, Yellowstone River Valley, and the Gallatin Mountain Range.
- Cascade Lake A 5-mile roundtrip, mostly flat hike, this one is easy enough for those of all ages and skill levels. It wanders through colorful wildflower meadows.
- Fairy Falls Take your pick of a 5-mile or 7-mile roundtrip hike. Youll pass countless geysers and other thermal features before you get to the 197-foot Fairy Falls.
- Grizzly Lake This 4-mile roundtrip hike meanders through pleasant meadows to a long, narrow lake. The swampy lake is a popular place to fish for brook trout.
- Lake Overlook A short, sweet 1.2-mile roundtrip hike. It passes through geothermal features and ends in a high mountain meadow with sweeping views of Yellowstone Lake.
Yellowstone/grand Teton Packing List
If youre at a loss for what to pack on your trip, or afraid youll forget something, heres my packing list:
Camping & Group Supplies:
- 4 sets of utensils, cups, plates
- Cooking spatula
- First Aid Supplies, sunscreen, bug spray, ibuprofen, imodium, etc.
- Freezer bags and recyclable plastic containers
- Baseball hat/sun hat
- Warm hat
- 1-2 smartwool base layer or long sleeve shirt
- 1 mid-layer
- 1 pair sweatpants, 1 pair leggings / base layer pants
- Warm socks & underwear
- AUX cord for car / car charger / portable charger
- Phone & chargers
What People Are Saying About Norris Campground
Good Campground. Norris is pretty central which is important when visiting Yellowstone. It is operated on first come first serve and it fills very quickly The toilet house is clean and there is water available. Each site has a fire pit, a table, a bear box and a leveled area for the tent. Jérémy, Google reviews
If roughing it isnt really your style, and youd rather enjoy your trip to Yellowstone tiol Park with the comforts of full hookup campsites, then Absaroka Bay RV Park may be what youre looking for. Its only 50 miles from the East entrance to Yellowstone, situated in the town of Cody. Since its so close to town and so close to the tiol Park, you get the best of both worlds!
Adventurous Winter Lodging Yellowstone
Yellowstone Expedition Yurt Camp
Staying at the yurt camp gets you out into the woods and canyons of Yellowstones backcountry. You can read my trip report here. This is my favorite of all the winter tours of Yellowstone. The trip is both rugged and full of creature comforts. Its like winter glamping in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Expedition drives you to their Yurt Camp in a snowcoach and you stay in little yurtlets modeled after ice fishing huts. Dont worry, they are warm and the beds are comfy.
The staff makes the best meals and guides you on a day of skiing or snowshoeing in the most spectacular winter wilderness in the world .
Watch the video or read about it and see if this is the way you want to visit Yellowstone Park in winter.
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Cozy Winter Lodge In Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
The Snow Lodge just steps from the famous geyser. The hotel is lovely, warm, and comfortable its the iconic Yellowstone lodging in winter. Ive stayed at the Yellowstone Snow Lodge a handful of times and always loved it.
Both Christmas at Yellowstone Snow Lodge and New Years Eve are special experience. A giant Christmas tree and decorations make the lobby seem even cozier. Special holiday meals are available in the dining room.
For a little less expensive option, stay in one of the Yellowstone cabins rather than the lodge.
There are lots of opportunities to ski or snowshoe from the hotel. Or spend your days walking the boardwalks around Old Faithful Geyser Basin.
Read more about visiting Old Faithful Geyser in winter here.
The only way to get there is via snowcoach or snowmobile, and you need to plan both your transportation and your lodging at the same time. You should make your reservations in the Obsidian Dining Room, too. It fills up quickly and there is nowhere else to eat at the Snow Lodge.
The concessionaire that runs the Snow Lodge can organize Yellowstone winter packages that include lodging, transportation, dinner reservations, and even day tours. Make your reservation here.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
Take a historic walking tour around Fort Yellowstone, ski and snowshoe, and walk around Mammoths terraces.
Where To Stay In Yellowstone In Winter
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
- Standard hotel rooms, hot tub cabins, and one-bedroom suites are available.
- The hotels lobby was recently renovated. A newly added Map Room is a lovely public space off the hotel lobby where guests can relax and order a beverage from the coffee bar.
- Mammoth Gift Shop and Mammoth General Store are open year-round.
- Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is Yellowstones only campground to be open year-round. There are 85 sites and reservations are NOT accepted. All sites are first-come, first-served.
- Mammoth Hotel Dining Room is a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is the only 4-star certified green restaurant in the National Parks.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge Obsidian Dining Room is a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Firehole Lounge offers cocktails, local craft beers, wine, and small plates.
- The lodges lobby is very rustic and inviting. Guests are welcome to gather in front of the fireplace or just have a seat and relax.
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Fishing Bridge Rv Park
The Fishing Bridge RV Park is positioned near the basin of the Yellowstone River as it leads out of Yellowstone Lake. The parks name originated from a wooden automobile bridge where visitors would fish for Cutthroat trout. Now, laws strictly prohibit fishing from the bridge, but guests still take advantage of natures beauty that surrounds its historic grounds.
This campground is the only one inside yellowstone national park that has full electricity, water, and sewer hookups. All 344 sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Note that vehicles exceeding this length are restricted.
Other Activities In Yellowstone National Park
Camping, hiking, and backpacking are far from the only recreational activities in Yellowstone National Park. Here are a few other great ways to enjoy the park:
- Bicycling Explore the established public roads and other designated routes of Yellowstone on bicycle. Rentals are available at Old Faithful Lodge.
- Boating Both motorized and non-motorized boating, including canoeing and kayaking, are allowed in designated areas. Permits, available at ranger stations and visitor centers, are required.
- Fishing Yellowstone is home to some of the best fishing in the world. Anglers target cutthroat trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout among others.
- Horseback Riding Explore the Yellowstone backcountry with your own stock or with a guided horseback tour out of the lodges at Mammoth, Tower-Roosevelt, or Canyon.
- Ranger Programs Enjoy a variety of informational ranger programs, including ranger walks, Junior Ranger activities, night sky talks, and young scientist programs.
- Skiing & Snowshoeing If youre camping in Yellowstone in winter, dont forget to bring your cross-country skis or snowshoes! A handful of downhill skiing opportunities are also available.
- Snowmobiling Bring your own snowmobile or join a guided snowmobile tour to explore Yellowstone in the winter. Do note that years of controversy over their use has led to recently updated Yellowstone snowmobile restrictions.
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How Much Does It Cost To Visit Yellowstone & Grand Teton
Of course, your trip budget depends on your choice of vehicle, whether youre finding lodging or staying in campgrounds, and whether or not youre cooking your own meals.
We rented a minivan for the four of us, camped out most of the trip with our own gear , and cooked most of our meals . To give you an idea, our budget for 4 people on our camping trip was as follows:
- Flights: $2200
- Lodging : $260
- Food : $300
- Sundries : $200
We find that the rough cost for any camping/road trip out West is usually around $900 total per person, give or take a couple hundred dollars, depending on how many people were on the trip, location, etc.
Discover The Quietest Time Of Year In Yellowstone
Looking for some silence and solitude? Escape to Yellowstone this November and experience the worlds first national park during one of the quietest times of the year! For the first time, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is open through Thanksgiving. Weve come up with 7 reasons why you should visit Yellowstone this November:
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Rv Camping Tips For Yellowstone
Exploring a new place is a fun and exhilarating experience. Therefore, avoiding any possible mishaps or issues along the way is a necessity. Researching everything you can about the park before visiting is the best way to circumvent any problems.
1. First things first, you must realize the size of your unit. Roads in Yellowstone can be steep and windy, making it difficult to maneuver quickly. When driving a bigger rig, be sure to avoid the Bighorn Mountains located east of Cody, Wyoming. Also, dodge the Beartooth Highway between Red Lodge, Montana and Yellowstones northeast entrance.
2. Always abide by speed limits and warnings. Use pull-offs as needed and be aware of guardrails. Lastly, take caution when around other pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.
3. Yellowstone does not accommodate oversized RVs. Be honest with the size of your unit, as those over 40 feet are typically not allowed. Note that the 40-foot limit includes the vehicle and the trailer. If making a Yellowstone campground reservation, give the exact dimensions of your unit and, if needed, ask if any oversized spots are available.
4. Learn about the parks campgrounds ahead of time. RV camping in Yellowstone is much less stressful if you research and make reservations prior. Be aware that Fishing Bridge Campground is the only campsite in the park that has full hookups.
Is It At All Possible To Visit Old Faithful In November
All the information I can find says that roads are closed during November to prepare them for the winter. However, is it still possible to take buses or guided tours?
Are there other parts that are available?
Yellowstone “closes” on 31 October, in that they cease visitor services and road clearing. The park roads remain open for visitors until the first snow storm that produces enough snow to close the roads. The majority of the park remains closed from that point until mid-December when it re-opens for winter season.
The only access to the park in November, once they close the roads, is the road that traverses from the north entrance to the northeast entrance . That road is the only winter access route for residents in the Cooke City, Montana area so it is maintained year round.
Along the Gardiner to NE Entrance you could see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Terraces, perhaps wildlife in Lamar Valley. But the majority of thermal areas in Yellowstone are in the area that is closed in early November.
The west, south and east park entrances are closed at the same time as the roads. So legally you can’t enter through them even on skis or with a snowmobile.
All the above is for doing it yourself. Tours through the park cease in October and don’t resume until the winter season.
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Winter Camping In Yellowstone
For the hardy, and experienced, Yellowstone winter camping is an option. The only campground open in winter in Yellowstone is the Mammoth Campground. Its open to tents and RVs on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you prefer backcountry winter camping in Yellowstone Park, you can get a free permit. Plan to ski or snowshoe into your destination and camp in the snow. Check the park site for info on winter camping Yellowstone.
Free Camping In Yellowstone
RV camping in Yellowstone can become costly therefore, staying at a free campground helps cut down on costs. Free campsites do not typically have as many features as those that cost money, yet they are delightful for those who love to boondock.
Free camping in the Yellowstone area is minimal. Some places have bathroom facilities and other small amenities, whereas others are merely a spot to park for the night. The campgrounds listed below are all within a 30-mile radius of the park:
Timber Camp Campground: Gardiner, Montana
Cherry Creek Campground: West Yellowstone, Montana
Spring Creek Campground: West Yellowstone, Montana
Wal-Marts and other participating stores allow free overnight stays in their parking lots. Always use caution and respect the rules of the facility, however. The last thing you want is to have a run-in with a business owner or law enforcement.
Purchasing published books that list free accommodations is another useful way to save time and money. Many are surprised to learn how many places are RV-friendly, especially near a National Park. Thinking outside the box can be helpful in these situations.
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What Is The Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park
This National Park is open all year long, and the best time to go to Yellowstone largely depends on what you would like to see in the park.
If you visit the park during the Summer , expect the hottest weather and hordes of tourists. You can catch a glimpse of the Summers weather when visiting during the shoulder season .
The weather is milder during Spring and Fall, and there are fewer tourists around the park. Most of the seasonal attractions close down around the end of October.
Yellowstone is magical during the Winter. Do expect, however, that you will have to alter your itinerary as some of the attractions and roads will be inaccessible. Whats more, only the North and Northeast entrances operate during the winter.
On the other hand, you can enjoy seasonal activities such as snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are the only two lodges open during winter.
How Does That Benefit You
- Attractions will be free from overcrowding .
- You stand a much better chance of booking into a hotel, cabin or campground inside the park.
- In Summer, you can expect to see anywhere between 70-100 thousand visitors per month just from tour buses. We saw a grand total of 1 tour bus in October.
- Hiking trails will be empty, which means better wildlife spotting opportunities.
- The roads wont be backed up every time you try to get anywhere.
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Winter Weather In Yellowstone
Winter weather in Yellowstone can be extreme. Temperatures typically range anywhere from zero to thirty degrees Fahrenheit and often dip below zero, especially in the interior and at higher elevations. No need to worry. With proper planning and the right clothing, your winter adventure will be unforgettable, and comfortable :). Bison can do it, and so can you! To help, weve put together some Fun Ways to Stay Warm During Your YNP Winter Visit.
What Is The Best Hotel In Yellowstone
There are excellent mid-range hotels in two towns around Yellowstone, one of the best being the Kelly Inn West Yellowstone. The Kelly Inn is within walking distance of the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center and the Grizzly and Wolf Research Center. It offers spacious rooms, an indoor pool and a continental breakfast to start the day.
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Wolf Watching In Yellowstone
Winter is the best time to look for wolves in Yellowstone National Park. The elk come down from the high country in winter and the wolves follow. You can take one of the Yellowstone winter wolf tours or do it on your own.
Simply drive up and down the Lamar Valley looking for groups of people with spotting scopes. Where there are wolf watchers, there are often wolves. You may need a good spotting scope to see wolves in Yellowstone. And youll need a huge lens to get good photos
What Is There To Do In Yellowstone In Winter
There is a lot to do in Yellowstone Park in the winter. Scroll up for all the details.
- Soak in a hot spring
- Walk, ski, or snowshoe around the Mammoth Terraces
- Become a Winter Junior Ranger
- Cross-country ski or snowshoe
- Watch for the Yellowstone wolves and other wildlife
- Enjoy one of the snowcoach tours Yellowstone is famous for
- Join a Yellowstone winter photography tour
- Snowmobile Yellowstone
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