Yellowstone National Park Fall Activities

Here’s a list of our favorite Yellowstone National Park fall activities: hiking, scenic drives, wildlife watching, photography, and more!

Fall in Yellowstone National Park is a special time of year. The air is crisp and the colors are vibrant, making it an ideal time for outdoor enthusiasts to explore this incredible natural wonderland.

Use this Yellowstone National Park travel guide to plan your trip: weather, things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more for your fall vacation!

fall activities in Yellowstone National Park

At Yellowstone in the fall fall enjoy hiking, fishing, exploring geothermal features like Old Faithful Geyser, and watching the bison rut and elk rut!

With so much to see and do, planning your trip can be overwhelming – but don’t worry! We’ve put together this guide on fall activities in Yellowstone National Park that will help you make the most out of your visit.

Use our Yellowstone National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear your fall vacation! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Yellowstone packing list Optin box
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A Photo Tour of Yellowstone Waterfalls

Take a visual tour through Yellowstone National Park to see the stunning landscape and waterfalls you’ll find in the park!

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Fall

Yellowstone in September you’ll find all the park roads, services, and campgrounds are open. Visitation numbers in September are high so be prepared for crowds during the day. We always recommend entering the park early in the morning, or even later in the afternoon.

Yellowstone 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.

Yellowstone in November most of the roads close the first of the month. From the beginning of November to mid-April, all roads except from the north entrance in Gardiner to the northeast entrance in Cooke City are closed.

There is one constant at Yellowstone – the Yellowstone National Park Weather is never predictable! In the fall you need to be prepared for cold to freezing temperatures with rain or snow at any time!

  • September temperatures: low 30 and high 64 degrees F
  • October temperatures: low 22 and high 51 degrees F
  • November temperatures: low 12 and high 34 degrees F

Layers are key when exploring Yellowstone during the fall months. Reference our winter clothing guide so you can enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s cold! We recommend at the minimum:

Yellowstone National Park Map

Use printable and interactive Yellowstone maps to help navigate through the park. Yellowstone covers a large area with long drive times from area to area.

Yellowstone map

Yellowstone National Park Fall Activities

In September all Yellowstone roads, services, and campgrounds are open. During the month of October a lot of Yellowstone services and lodging begin to close.

In November the only services available are along the road from the North entrance to the Northeast entrance. Always check the Yellowstone operating hours and seasons for the most updated information.

Here’s a list of fun things to do on your Yellowstone fall vacation:

Yellowstone Visitor Centers in the Fall

Be sure to check which Yellowstone Visitor Centers and information stations are open during the fall months. 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.

Pelican Creek at Yellowstone in the fall
Yellowstone in the fall

Yellowstone Scenic Drives in the Fall

Yellowstone covers over 2 million acres of land! It’s divided into 2 main sections and 9 areas. The best way to experience the park is exploring the beautiful Yellowstone scenic drives in the park and surrounding areas.

You’ll find the most crowds along the Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop. There are three entrances to access the southern loop of Yellowstone: West (West Yellowstone), South (Grand Teton), and East (Cody):

  • Madison
  • Old Faithful
  • Lake
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • Grant Village
  • Canyon
  • Norris

**The Southern Loop closes toward the end of October.

There are two entrances with direct access to the Yellowstone National Park Northern Loop: North (Gardiner) and Northeast (Cooke City).

There are four areas in the northern loop of Yellowstone:

  • Mammoth
  • Tower-Roosevelt
  • Lamar Valley
  • Canyon
  • Norris

**The Northern Loop closes toward the end of October except for the road running from the North Entrance in Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City.

If you are looking to drive through Yellowstone yourself, but want to hear all the fun and educational information about this National Park, we recommend the the Yellowstone GuideAlong App. It will automatically tell you stories, tips and directions as you drive that will help enrich your Yellowstone National Park experience. There’s no need for cell service or wifi signal while touring. Tours are downloaded to your device for easy offline use.

hiking in Yellowstone in the fall
Hiking at Yellowstone in the fall

Fall Hiking in Yellowstone

You can find a hike at Yellowstone no matter your age, ability, or skill level. Exploring the Yellowstone National Park easy fall hikes is a terrific way to explore this amazing park!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when hiking at Yellowstone:

  • Check with the rangers at the Visitor Center to get current trail conditions.
  • 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:

grand prismatic yellowstone
Grand Prismatic

Yellowstone Geysers and Hot Springs in the Fall

There are five types of hydrothermal features you’ll see 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 places to see these wonders:

Undine Falls
Undine Falls

Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Fall

Most of the Yellowstone waterfalls don’t require hiking to see them. In the fall, the waterfalls aren’t as full as they are in the spring, but they are still spectacular!!

Here’s a list of the main waterfall attractions:

  • Canyon: Lower and Upper Falls, Brink of Upper Falls
  • Firehole Falls
  • Gibbon Falls
  • Kepler Cascades
  • Lewis Falls
  • Moose Falls
  • Tower Fall
  • Undine Falls

Yellowstone Wildlife in the Fall

Animals can be found throughout the park at any time. Check out our detailed guide for the best places to see Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park!

During each season at Yellowstone you’ll see a wide variety of birds and mammals at Yellowstone. We find May, October, and the winter are the best times to visit Yellowstone for wildlife.

In September you’ll experience the bison rut and elk rut! Remember the parameters to keep you and the animals safe, especially during the rutting season!

  • 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. You may need to use a spotting scope to see wildlife in Yellowstone.
  • 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.

Here’s a list of camera gear we recommend if you’re serious about photographing wildlife at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Tours in the Fall

Some of the Yellowstone summer tours are still operational in early fall. When you join a tour, the expert guides share their knowledge of the park and you’ll learn amazing things from them.

Yellowstone fly fishing
Yellowstone fly fishing

Yellowstone Fishing in the Fall

During the fall season, you can try fly fishing at Soda Butte Creek for some Cutthroat Trout fish. While fishing at Yellowstone you need to make sure that you follow the regulations in the guide book because you can only keep nonnative fish. 

If you love fishing, Yellowstone is a must because nowhere else will you find such a wide variety of fish for you to catch all in one place. 

Mammoth campground
Mammoth Campground

Fall Camping at Yellowstone

If you’re interested in Yellowstone National Park camping in the fall, be aware that some campgrounds begin to close as early as the first of September. There are a few open until mid-October

With numerous campgrounds throughout the park, you’ll find a variety of Yellowstone campsites ranging from full-service to primitive.

All campsites at Yellowstone’s 12 campgrounds require advanced reservations except Mammoth Campground from October 15 to April 1 when it’s first-come, first-served. It’s recommended you make your reservations far in advance due the demand for camping at Yellowstone.

If you can’t find a spot in the park, check out the RV parks near Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone maps and guides

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

Places to stay in West Yellowstone

Places to stay in Gardiner

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate

plan your dream vacation to yellowstone

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