Yellowstone in spring is one of those not-so-secret secrets. Scenic beauty as the natural world wakes up from winter, fewer crowds, and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities make for a trip that's well worth visiting in the shoulder season. This year, with the COVID recovery underway, and an extended winter season, we will see these conditions continue into summer.
We want you to be safe, and even take advantage of our Basecamp for Recovery Sale. We're sure you will have a quality adventure, whether you stay with us, or inside the park. As long as you pack for any weather and come prepared to be flexible with your plans, you can't beat a trip to Yellowstone in the coming weeks. Here are a few of the benefits of visiting at this time of year.
Yellowstone is popular for a reason (it is one of the most stunning natural areas in the country, after all). But most of that popularity means high visitation in the summer months. On average, about 44,000 people visit the park in March, but that number spikes to almost 1 million visitors during July in any given year.
Now, not all park roads are open to vehicles currently, and many seasonal services won't open until just a little later. But if you're willing to pack a lunch, bring your own coffee into the park, and spend some time biking or hiking instead of driving, you don't want to miss out on having the park more to yourself in spring. Just be sure to have a plan before you go, let someone know where you're headed and when you expect to be back, and prepare the ten essentials and bear spray. A home base of Gardiner or Livingston for a spring trip means you still will find plenty of places to dine and pick up essentials, even in the shoulder season.
Spring is the time when animals start waking up from hibernation, or just getting more active after a long winter, making this an ideal time to spot wildlife. Baby animals are being born too, so you have the best chance of seeing some extra cute critters—from a safe distance, of course. The road through the Lamar Valley is open and plowed year-round, so even in the early spring, you can head out to do some wildlife watching. The Lamar Valley is one of the best places to spot the park's wolves, do some birding, observe bison, or see a moose doing its thing. There's always a chance to spy a bear, too. As you drive through, scope out where others are already looking and check-in to see what's around.
Wild waters during the runoff season make waterfalls even more spectacular. As snow melts and fuels the rivers, the wild tumble of water can inspire and excite.
As early as mid-May, rafting companies can start making trips down the Yellowstone River's rapids, the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. Be sure to sign on for the early-season excitement.
We mentioned that roads in the park remain closed in the spring for plowing, but that doesn't mean you can't use them. As plow crews work, bicyclists can pedal their way through the park to access some of those more remote sections in an unusual way.
Before you set out, make sure to read up on the park regulations regarding road closures, and come prepared to be self-sufficient in a backcountry area. After all, the peace and serenity of seeing these areas of the park in all its beauty is something to get excited about.