Winter, spring, summer, or fall: Yellowstone truly is a four-season destination. Each season has its allure, but there’s something extra special about a springtime visit. You can't go wrong between wildlife, wildflowers, and wild landscapes. Here are just a few of the draws that a spring Yellowstone trip holds.
Yellowstone’s top visitation month is July, averaging nearly a million visitors alone and making up nearly a quarter of the annual visitors in just one month. By comparison, April sees only 1.10% of yearly visitors, May has 9.99%, and even June has just 19.42% on average. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have the whole place to yourself, and there can be some wacky weather to contend with too, but overall, you’ll find less crowded boardwalks and fewer traffic jams.
As animals wake up from hibernation, migrate back to their summer ranges, or move from nearby winter hangouts to summer spots, spring brings plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching. Bears are coming out of hibernation, elk are following the snowmelt, and baby season is in full swing. Even before most of the Grand Loop Road opens to vehicle traffic, you can still drive from the North Entrance through the Lamar Valley, a prime spot for wildlife watching year round.
Before park roads open to vehicle traffic, but once they’re clear of snow, the pavement of Yellowstone becomes a playground for cyclists. You can bike in peace, with only the occasional passing park vehicle. Just be sure to pack your bear spray because grizzlies and black bears are starting to wake up and move around at this time of year. There isn’t a set date for the start of spring biking season, but you can usually plan on a start in early April, running through the latter part of the month when roads open to public vehicles. Check in with the NPS website for current road conditions, but the 49-mile stretch from Mammoth to the West Entrance is typically an ideal route.
The benefit of shoulder season trips comes through in your budget. Everything from gas to hotel stays, flights, and rental cars can cost less when it isn’t peak season. So by visiting in spring, you can save big on your trip. Take some time to comparison shop for dates and see if you can score a budget-friendly deal at this time of year.
The fact is, not all seasonal businesses will be open if you plan a trip in early spring. That means you need to pack a lunch rather than relying on in-park cafes and restaurants, and you may need to stay in a nearby gateway community rather than in a park lodge or campground. But that’s where the fun really starts. You can support local businesses with your travel dollars, explore new neighborhoods from Gardiner to Livingston and Bozeman, and enjoy a wider-reaching experience on your trip.
When you’re ready to start your search for spring lodging options near Yellowstone, check out the range of sustainable stays with Starry Night Lodging. Book your stay, and enjoy all the park has to offer.