Up to three million people visit Yellowstone National Park every year, and the majority of these visitors come in the summer. But the US’s first National Park is not only a summer destination – more and more people are enjoying the park in winter, spring and fall. Yellowstone is a year-round destination but you do need to plan in advance if you are traveling to the park in the off season.
If you want to visit the park in winter you can, but you need to be visiting with a commercial guide or on a snowcoach tour. Private snowmobiles are not allowed in the park. The winter snowmobile season begins in the middle of December and ends in March. During the winter most of the roads are closed to motor vehicles because of the heavy snow.
Spring season begins in March once the snowplows have been in to clear the first stretches of road. Most of the popular roads begin to open in the middle of April, with a lot waiting until May. Be careful of weather changes during the spring – the climate can be temperamental and you need to pack accordingly.
Come in summer and most roads are open and you can visit all areas of the park, save for any closed due to temporary road works, weather events or other maintenance work. During fall you may encounter snow storms and icy weather which means you need to use snow tires or chains. Some roads may be closed depending on the weather. If you are planning to travel outside the main tourist season in summer you need to plan your trip in advance, and check the opening times of lodging and other facilities. For camping in spring and fall, take the correct clothing and be prepared for bad weather.