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Exploring Yellowstone in Spring

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park located in northwestern Wyoming and south-central Montana, is one of the most well-known and visited places in the United States' National Park System. While most of the visitation occurs in the summer months, Yellowstone's geysers, hot springs, high mountain passes and wildlife viewing opportunities can be fully appreciated at any time of the year.

To visit Yellowstone during the spring season, which runs from approximately mid-March through Memorial Day every year, you need to plan ahead. Your visit is likely to be rewarded with sightings of newborn animals such as elk and bison (and possibly even bear cubs -- hopefully from a distance!), as well as the annual "greening-up" of the bottomlands that so many westerners yearn to witness come March. Seeing the park covered in snowpack and the steam rising off of the hot springs and geysers on a chilly but sunny spring morning is a sight that you will not soon forget.

Springtime exploration of Yellowstone is not always for the faint of heart, particularly during the early weeks of spring as the Park Service works to clear roadways for the coming summer season. Typically in mid-March, a portion of the roads are open to non-motorized travel only (bikers, hikers, roller bladers, etc.). As spring progresses and the spring runoff season begins in earnest, park roads will gradually open to all areas of the park and motorized vehicles will be allowed on all roads by mid-May. Keep in mind however that road closures during the April-May season are common and can occur at a moment's notice.

If you wish to visit Yellowstone in the spring, you will be rewarded with many impressive sights. As with all trips of an outdoor nature, you do need to be prepared. Weather conditions can change quickly so be sure to stay abreast of the latest reports to avoid being stranded within the park. If you will be exploring outside of a motorized vehicle, carry a precautionary can of bear spray as animals emerging from hibernation are hungry and anxious about the welfare of their offspring. Throughout the month of March, there are typically no services within the park. Most of the dining and lodging facilities return to full service operation by mid-May, so if visiting before then, be sure to pack refreshments. And last but not least -- don't forget your camera. A springtime visit to Yellowstone is a once in a lifetime experience for most individuals. The beauty and peace found there will stay with you forever.

For more information and travel planning guides, please visit the National Park Service's
  • Online Guide to Visiting Yellowstone.
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