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What is the Climate in Yellowstone National Park — Ooh!

Climate is the overall culmination of daily weather in a specific area or region.

Weather includes temperature, humidity, precipitation, snow or rain accumulation, visibility, sunshine, cloudiness, wind speed, wind direction, and barometric pressure. 

The first weather observation made in Yellowstone National Park was recorded in 1887 by the U.S. Army. More specifically, this was recorded in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.

Since then, we have had 134 years of recorded weather observations in Yellowstone National Park

This information helps us to have a firm grasp of knowledge of the actual climate of the park.


What is the Climate in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is classified as a Continental Subarctic climate. It’s predominantly cold, with many short and clear days, long nights, and little precipitation. Yellowstone’s precipitation usually comes as snow rather than rain. Yellowstone’s average temperature each year is 32.3°F (0.2°C).


Yellowstone National Park’s Precipitation

Yellowstone National Park gets an annual average of 20 inches of rain. The wettest month is June, with 2.1 inches (53.3 millimeters).

October’s the driest month, with a 1.4 inch (35.6 millimeters) average. Yellowstone receives approximately 164.5 inches (417.83 centimeters) of snow.

However, the higher elevations in the park can receive more than 400 inches yearly.

Almost fifty percent of their snow falls in January, with 32.2 inches (81.7 centimeters) of snow falling during this month alone. 

If you plan to visit, regardless of the time of year, bring warm layers. It has been known to snow year-round, most notably, “Christmas in August.”

A sizeable blizzard on August 25th in the early 1900s stranded many visitors, so they threw a Christmas in August celebration to pass the time. 


How Long Does Snow Last in Yellowstone National Park

While it has snowed within all twelve months of the year inside Yellowstone National Park, mid-September to mid-June are generally the coldest months of the year. 

The snow falling late in October or early in November usually sticks around until late March or early April. 

The average duration for snow cover is 213 days a year for elevations of 7,000 feet (2133 meters). For every increase of 1,000 feet (304 meters) in elevation, snow accumulation lasts an additional 29 days. 


What Causes Yellowstone’s Climate

Yellowstone’s climate is due to its location, elevation, and mountainous, forested terrain. 

Yellowstone is situated well within the North American continent. The oceans usually moderate the climate, but Yellowstone is too far away to receive the Pacific Ocean’s influence. 

The latitude of the Park usually indicates hot summers, cold winters, and an arid climate; because the park is at a high elevation (7,900 feet), the heat of the summers and precipitation is more moderate. 

In July, Yellowstone’s average temperature of 55°F (12.8°C). In Yellowstone’s coldest month of the year, January, it has an average temperature of 10.9°F (-11.7°C).

The record high for Yellowstone was 99°F (37°C), and the record low temperature was -66°F (-54°C). 


How do Weather and Climate Differ

Weather varies every moment and every season. 

The climate is the overall culmination of weather. It is the average of all days in a season and the average of all seasons over many years. 

The climate allows us to set general expectations of what the weather should be like at any point in time. Weather is what you actually get. 

Weather changes are short-term. Climate changes are long-term. 


How Yellowstone’s Climate Compares to the Rest of the United States

Yellowstone averages 184 sunny days a year. The United States averages 205 sunny days yearly.

Yellowstone averages 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) of rain. The United States averages 38.1 inches (96.7 centimeters) of rain. 

Yellowstone averages 164.5 inches (417.83 centimeters) of snow. The United States averages 27.8 inches (70.6 centimeters) of snow. 


Frequently Asked Questions About the Climate in Yellowstone National Park


When is the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park? 

It is best to visit Yellowstone National Park when the crowds are smaller, the weather is mild, and when fewer roads are closed. July and August are the most popular months to visit, the crowds are the largest, but the weather is the best, and all the roads are usually open.


How is Yellowstone’s Climate Changing?

Since 1950, scientists have recorded a temperature increase of 2.3°F. Snowpack is decreasing, the winters are shortening, the summers are lengthening, and wildfires pose a much more significant risk.  It’s estimated that park temperatures are as high or higher than any period over the past twenty thousand years.


How Does Climate Change Effect Yellowstone National Park? 

Annual snowfall has decreased by two feet (0.6 meters) since 1950. The warmer temperatures and decreased snowfall have resulted in an earlier spring thaw, with stream runoff occurring a full eight days earlier than it did in 1950. It is so warm now that much of the precipitation that should be snow is now rain.



Yellowstone National Park’s climate is cool in the summer, profoundly cold in the winter, and receives almost six times as much snowfall as the rest of the United States. 

Yellowstone is a special and unique piece of land that offers so much to its flora, fauna, landscape, and the people who visit the Park every year.