Driving back home from Deadwood earlier this week, my wife mentioned that we should probably try to take the kids to Yellowstone this spring. We don't visit YNP all that frequently, but it's nice to go check it out every couple of years. Our last visit was in July 2020, when we were all looking for things to do while "socially distanced."

We somewhat naively believed Yellowstone wouldn't be quite as crowded as usual. Haha. That was dumb. The park was packed with people and it will likely bust attendance records again this year. An early spring trip can be a good time to experience the park with slightly less congestion. Just keep a few important dates in mind.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media

Not all roads open at the same time.

A common question on Yellowstone National Park fan pages is, "when does it open?" Montanans know that it never really closes, perse. However, most of the roads to drive through the park do close in the winter months. The major roadways in Yellowstone National Park re-open with staggered dates. Here are the biggies:

  • April 15  West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village
  • May 6 (Mother's Day Weekend)  East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village
  • May 11  Cooke City to Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
  • May 13  South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall
  • May 27  Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass), Beartooth Highway

All dates are subject to change due to weather. For the latest information - before you hit the road - visit Yellowstone's Park Roads page.

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Bring a coat.

The image above is in the town of West Yellowstone in April and that's typically what you'll see in most of the park this time of year. Lots of snow. Winter weather conditions can frequently occur in April and May (even June!), so prepare accordingly.

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