Summer is the peak season in Yellowstone National Park; some of its facilities are only open from mid-June through September. However, as with all national parks, Yellowstone’s corridors can also be extremely crowded with families off for school holidays and others on summer vacation—so packed, in fact, that cars sometimes move at a crawl for many miles.
While the weather isn’t always reliable—there’s a chance of snow anytime of the year here—visiting just before the masses descend in early June can be immensely rewarding, with a number of wildlife sightings and not a whole lot of people to scare off these “locals.” Keep in mind that due to weather, some of the main corridors (such as Dunraven Pass, Beartooth Highway and Pass, Sylvan Pass, and the park entrance at the east gate near Cody, Wyoming) can be closed during this time due to icy roads and rock slides.
Spring can also be a delightful time to make the trek out to Yellowstone, as it offers the best chance to see wolves and grizzlies in Lamar Valley. During both spring and fall, certain access to the park is restricted due to road and weather conditions.
Winter travel to the park is a less crowded, cheaper way of seeing the area in a different setting—not surprising, as most wheeled vehicles are prohibited from entering the park from December through February. While access is very limited during these months, there’s rarely a more beautiful sight than ice-capped Yellowstone Lake surrounded by banks of fluffy white snow. Plus, if you’re into outdoor sports, you can take your backcountry skies and explore the soft terrain—or see it via snowshoe or snowmobile tour.