Weather and Seasons

Springtime in Yellowstone

Visit Yellowstone during its warming-up season—spring—to explore the park when both the heat and crowds are at bay. With a little research and careful packing, you can enjoy the park during this transition season, which is somewhat unreliable in terms of weather.

2021 Dates: All opening and closing dates are subject to change based on future conditions and public health guidance. Yellowstone will continue to evaluate and adapt to changing COVID-19 guidance and adjust operations as needed. Visit www.nps.gov/yell/ for current conditions.

Spring Weather in Yellowstone

Be prepared: spring in Yellowstone is different than spring in other locales; due to its high elevation Yellowstone can feel more like winter during this period. Daytime temperatures range from the 30s to the 60s, with lows at night in the teens to single digits. Snow is common, with accumulations of 12” in a 24-hour period possible. Yellowstone’s weather is highly unpredictable—especially in spring—so come equipped with plenty of warm layers. Add ski or snowshoe equipment to your list and you’ll soon discover a sparkling winter world accessible via the park-wide network of cross-country tracks. More about weather.

Roads Close for Snowplowing

Each spring, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge closes as the park readies itself for the summer season. In 2021, it did not open for the 2021 winter season because of COVID-19.

Park roads also closed March 1, 2021 while crews clear a winter’s worth of packed snow from the Grand Loop. This totals 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance to prepare for the summer season.

 

Spring Bicycling

Spring bicycling from West Yellowstone in April
Spring bicycling from West Yellowstone in April, when the roads open to non-motorized traffic.NPS Neal Herbert

Bicycling, walking, jogging, roller blades, roller skis and similar means of non-motorized public travel may be permitted beginning sometime in late March or early April between the West Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs prior to these roads opening to motorized public travel. The first day of “spring bicycling” is never predetermined and is dependent on road conditions as determined by park staff. Read More

Spring Roads Open to Traffic

The park road from the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance is open to traffic 365 days per year.

2021 Road Closures to Snowcoaches and Snowmobiles

Park roads closed to oversnow travel by snowmobile and snowcoach at 9 pm on the following dates.

  • March 1: Interior roads close for spring plowing except from Mammoth to the Northeast Entrance.

2021 Spring Road Openings to the Public

Conditions permitting, roads will open at 8 a.m. on the following dates: On the third Friday of the month, park roads begin opening to regular vehicles. All roads open by Memorial Day weekend.

Check NPS website about current road conditions at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm

Spring Animal Activity in Yellowstone

Momma grizzly and her cub on May 15, 2014 near Daisy Geyser
Mama grizzly and her cub on May 15, 2014, near Daisy Geyser.NPS/Jim Peaco

Riders and hikers alike should be aware that the park’s awakening—marked by the opening of interior roads and campgrounds in May—also signifies the awakening of its large mammal populations: bears, bison, elk, wolves, and other wildlife. These inhabitants include females preparing to give birth, according to the NPS, “The beautiful red colored baby bison arrive first, followed by baby elk and then the emergence of mother bears and their cubs (born during the winter).” See photos and video of Baby Animals

25 minute old elk calf at Mammoth Hot Springs.
25 minute old elk calf at Mammoth Hot SpringsNPS/Jim Peaco

As spring is a time of wildlife activity, drivers should watch for bison migrating back into the park north of Gardiner; slower speeds and extra caution are encouraged. Furthermore, be advised that bears are active in the spring as they emerge from their winter dens and begin searching for any food source that will help them restore fat reserves lost during torpor. Bears aggressively defend food sources—such as winter-killed animals, wildflower buds or burrowing rodents—from perceived aggression. Therefore, all park visitors should follow bear safety precautions when skiing or hiking.

Spring Camping in Yellowstone

For those interested in camping, note that the Mammoth Campground is the only year-round option. The other campgrounds will follow a graduated opening schedule beginning in early May and continuing through the end of June.

2021 Projected Opening of Campgrounds

Note: The dates below are estimated dates based on prior years. Check nps.gov/yell for campsite opening dates before making any summer plans since COVID-19 has impacted what services are open in the park and when.

Open Year-round: Mammoth Campground
Closed all 2021: Fishing Bridge RV Park, Norris Campground
April 30: Madison Campground
June 11: Bridge Bay Campground
May 21: Canyon Campground
TBD: Tower Fall Campground
June 18: Grant Village Campground
June 11: Indian Creek Campground
June 15: Pebble Creek Campground, Slough Creek Campground, Lewis Lake Campground

Please check Yellowstone National Park Lodges for changes in openings and closures for 2021 at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/summer2021/.

Spring Lodging in Yellowstone

The park has a plethora of food and lodging options, though only a handful of these amenities are available year-round. Most of the facilities—key locations and offerings listed below—begin opening in May, in step with the rest of the park. Mammoth Hot Springs offers the only year-round service station, general store, and clinic.

The dates listed below are generalized from previous year openings for trip planning purposes. All dates are subject to change! For lodging inside Yellowstone please contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts at (866) 439-7375. Learn more about lodging inside Yellowstone.

2021 Projected Opening of Hotels and Cabins

Opening and closing dates are subject to change based on future conditions and public health guidance due to COVID-19.
April 30: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
May 7: Mammoth Hot Springs Cabins
June 4: Old Faithful Inn
May 14: Old Faithful Lodge Cabins
May 7: Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins
May 28: Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins
June 18: Grant Village Lodge
May 28: Canyon Lodge
TBD: Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins
June 10: Lake Lodge Cabins

See complete list of facility opening dates at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Please check Yellowstone National Park Lodges for changes in openings and closures for 2021 at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/summer2021/.