We really like visiting Yellowstone in October because there are fewer people, cooler temperatures for hiking and greater wildlife activity. It’s a stark contrast to the crowds of summer.
Use this Yellowstone National Park travel guide to plan a trip in October: services available, weather, and things to do.
In October, the Yellowstone lodges, stores, gas stations, and roads begin to close for the season. Be sure you know in advance what to expect for all park services.
We share things to do, what to pack, where to stay, and more for a trip to Yellowstone in October.
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Visiting Yellowstone National Park in October
Visiting Yellowstone in mid-October is so nice because tour buses are few and you often have the roadways and trails to yourselves.
As nature and wildlife enthusiasts, we spend our days searching for new photographic opportunities of the park’s mountains, lakes, rivers, and volcanic hot spots.
Yellowstone Weather in October
The average temperatures in October at Yellowstone are highs around 56 and lows around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be prepared for rain or snow at any time in October. Layers are key when exploring Yellowstone in October. Reference our winter clothing guide so you can enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s cold! We recommend at the minimum:
Yellowstone Roads in October
In October you may find road closures due to inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions. For up-to-date information on roads call (307) 344-2117 for recorded information, or sign up to receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).
Yellowstone roads will close the end of October or beginning of November each year to prepare for winter. Be sure to check the Yellowstone Fall Closing Dates for the most current information.
The road from the north entrance in Gardiner to the northeast entrance in Cooke City remains open year-round.
Yellowstone Services and Lodging in October
Here’s a list of services and lodging available in October at Yellowstone:
Canyon Village and the Grand Canyon:
- Canyon Lodges and Cabins: close early to mid-October
- Canyon Visitor Education Center: closes the end of October
- Canyon General Store and Post Office: close early October
- Canyon Service Station: closes the end of October – credit card fueling available 24-hours
- Fishing Bridge RV Park: closes early October
- Fishing Bridge Visitor Center & Trailside Museum: closes early October
- Fishing Bridge Service Station: closes early October – credit card fueling available 24-hours
- All Lake hotels, cabins, dining, and post office close early October
Madison and the West:
- Madison Campground: closes mid-October
- West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center (NPS Desk): closes the end of October
Mammoth Hot Springs and the North:
- Albright Visitor Center: open year-round
- Mammoth Hot Springs General Store and Post Office: open year-round
- Mammoth Campground: open year-round
- Mammoth Clinic: open all year, weekdays only in October
- Mammoth Hot Springs Cabins and Terrace Grill: close mid-October
- Mammoth Service Station: closes early October – credit card fueling available 24-hours
Norris Geyser Basin:
- Norris Geyser Basin Museum, Information Station, and Bookstore: close mid-October
- Old Faithful General Store and Post Office: close mid-October
- Old Faithful Clinic: closes early October
- Old Faithful Inn, dining, and gift shop: close mid-October
- Old Faithful Lodge Cabins, cafeteria, and gift shop: close early October
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge, dining, and gift shop: close the end of October
- Old Faithful Visitor Education Center: closes the end of October
- Old Faithful Service Station: closes late October – credit card fueling available 24-hours
Tower-Roosevelt and the Northwest:
- Slough Creek Campground: closes mid-October
- Roosevelt Service Station: credit card fueling available 24-hours
West Thumb, Grant, and the South:
- Grant Village Lodge, dining, and gift shop: close early October
- Grant Visitor Center: closes early October
- Grant Village Service Station: credit card fueling available 24-hours
- Lewis Lake Campground: closes mid-October
- West Thumb Information Station: closes early October
Always check the Yellowstone operating hours and seasons for the most updated information.
Yellowstone & Grand Teton AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Things to Do at Yellowstone in October
While all the roads are still open, here’s a list of things to do at Yellowstone National Park in October.
Hiking at Yellowstone in October
Before exploring any Yellowstone hiking trails in October, we recommend you check with the rangers at the Visitor Center to get current trail conditions. Also tell someone your hiking destination, route, and estimated time of return.
Stay on trails: taking shortcuts causes trail erosion and is dangerous. In hydrothermal areas, stepping on thin crust may plunge you into boiling water.
Here’s a list of hikes in Yellowstone by region:
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- Old Faithful
- Canyon Area Day Hikes at Yellowstone
- Lake and Fishing Bridge
- Tower and Northeast
- West Thumb and Grant
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Photography Gear for Hiking
- Best Cameras for Hiking
Yellowstone Waterfalls in October
Experiencing and photographing the various Yellowstone waterfalls is always at the top of our must-do list. Most of the time we were able to enjoy the sounds and serenity of the waterfalls at Yellowstone in October with no other people around.
Here’s a list of the main waterfall attractions in the park:
- Canyon: Lower and Upper Falls, Brink of Upper Falls
- Firehole Falls
- Gibbon Falls
- Kepler Cascades
- Lewis Falls
- Moose Falls
- Tower Fall
- Undine Falls
The one drawback for an October visit to Yellowstone is the waterfalls aren’t as full as they are in the spring, but they are still amazing nonetheless.
Yellowstone Geysers and Hot Springs in October
Any time of year is a good time to see the hydrothermal features in Yellowstone: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, travertine terraces and fumaroles. Check out the NPS website for the latest geyser eruption predictions!
Here’s a list of the best locations to see these these unique features:
- Old Faithful, Upper and Lower Geyser Basin
- Grand Prismatic (Midway Geyser Basin)
- Norris Geyser Basin
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Mud Volcano
- Fountain Paint Pot
- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone Wildlife in October
As snow begins to fall, male grizzlies are eating what they can before denning season, and female grizzlies are looking for possible den locations. Bison, elk, deer and other mammals build up coats of fur for the winter.
We’ve put together this resource of the best time to visit yellowstone for wildlife in case you want to see a specific animal in the park.
Remember the parameters to keep you and the animals safe!
- Never approach animals. The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be.
- The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk.
- Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas. Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. Keep your children close and don’t let them run.
- Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.
- Never park in the road or block traffic. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.
Check out this list of camera gear for photographing wildlife:
- Best cameras for wildlife photography
- Best tripods for wildlife photography
- Best tripod head for wildlife photography
- Best lenses for wildlife photography
Yellowstone Photography in October
We recommend you have your camera ready to go because the wildlife you may see as you drive through the park won’t wait for you to find the camera in your car.
In October you’ll also want to photograph the geysers, hot pools, waterfalls and rivers. Here are some tips for taking pictures at Yellowstone.
Places to Visit at Yellowstone in October
Did you know that Yellowstone is divided into regions? To avoid a ton of driving, here’s a list of the places to visit and things to do in each region to help make planning easier! Check out our done-for-you: 4-day Yellowstone Vacation Planner!
Here’s a list of places to visit in the Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop and Northern Loop.
Yellowstone Visitor Centers in October
Be sure to check which Yellowstone Visitor Centers and information stations are open in October. Talk with a ranger, learn about the park through exhibits and interpretive offerings, or get oriented to the things you can do at the park.
Yellowstone Regions: Services and Attractions
There are various regions or areas throughout Yellowstone. Each one has different lodging options, services and things to do! Remember many services and lodging options close in October!
- Scenic Drives: Dunraven Pass, North Rim Drive, and South Rim Drive
- Hydrothermal Feature: Mud Volcano
- Natural Features: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley, and Mount Washburn
- Visitor Services: Canyon Campground, Canyon Lodge, Canyon General Store, and Canyon Visitor Education Center
- Waterfalls: Lower Falls, Silver Cord Cascades, and Upper Falls
- Day Hikes, Wildlife Watching
- Scenic Drives: Gull Point Drive and Lake Butte Scenic Drive
- Hydrothermal Features: Mud Volcano and Steamboat Point
- Natural Features: Mary Bay, Natural Bridge, Sedge Bay, Storm Point, Sylvan Pass, and Yellowstone Lake
- Visitor Services: Bridge Bay Campground, Bridge Bay Marina, Fishing Bridge General Store, Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Lake General Store, Lake Hotel and Cabins, and Lake Lodge Cabins
- Day Hikes, Fishing and Boating
- Scenic Drives: Firehole Canyon Drive and Firehole Lake Drive
- Hydrothermal Features: Fountain Paint Pot, Grand Prismatic Spring, Great Fountain Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, Terrace Springs, and White Dome Geyser
- Natural Features: Firehole Canyon, National Park Mountain, Madison River, and Purple Mountain
- Visitor Services: Madison Campground, Madison Information Station, and West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center
- Waterfalls: Fairy Falls and Firehole Falls
- Day Hikes and Fishing
- Scenic Drives: Blacktail Plateau Drive and Upper Terrace Drive
- Historic Areas: Apollinaris Spring, Fort Yellowstone (historic US Army headquarters, now park headquarters), and Obsidian Cliff
- Hydrothermal Features: Boiling River, Canary Springs, and Mammoth Hot Springs
- Natural Features: Bunsen Peak, Mount Everts, Sheepeater Cliffs, and Swan Lake Flat
- Visitor Services: Albright Visitor Center, Indian Creek Campground, Mammoth Campground, Mammoth General Store, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
- Waterfalls: Rustic Falls, Undine Falls, and Wraith Falls
- Day Hikes
Yellowstone Maps and Guides at Amazon:
Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:
- Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone
- ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone
- Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone
- → CHECK OUT more West Yellowstone hotels!
Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:
- Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
- Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
- Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
- → CHECK OUT more Gardiner hotels!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:
- Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
- High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!