Yellowstone National Park is one of the topmost visited parks in the US and set new visitor records this summer, outperforming previous years and pre-pandemic levels. While summer brings the most visitors, autumn is Yellowstone’s quieter season with thinning crowds, bright sunny days, cool crisp air and a vibrant display of golden aspens contrasting the coniferous forests and roadside waterfalls.
Prime time for fall foliage in Yellowstone is from mid-September in the higher elevations above 7,000 feet through to mid-October in the lower valleys. The best way to see the autumn glow is on one of the many Yellowstone National Park hikes with ample leaf-peeping opportunities, wildlife viewing and panoramic vistas. The Bunsen Peak Trail south of Mammoth Hot Springs boasts 360-degree views of the Gallatin Mountains and Yellowstone River Valley. Safety first! Be sure to carry bear spray at all times and know how to use it!
More than half the world’s hydrothermal features (more than 10,000!) are preserved at Yellowstone National Park from hot springs and mud pots to the world-famous geysers. “Geyser Gazers” flock to Yellowstone throughout the year to view these geological wonders. Top geysers easily accessible on a day trip to Yellowstone from Big Sky include the spectacular Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful to the south and Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser and the terraces and thermal pools of Mammoth Hot Springs up north.
Fall is the best time to see the Iconic Yellowstone wildlife, with best viewing times at dawn and dusk. Herds of elk and humpbacked bison migrate from higher elevations to the valleys for winter grazing, bears forage for food in preparation for winter hibernation and the hawks and raptors begin their annual fall migration (best seen in the Hayden Valley). Mid-September to mid-June is prime time for wolf watching in Yellowstone and the musical bugle of the elk during rutting (breeding) season can be heard from September and often as late as mid-October (best seen at Mammoth Hot Springs). Safety first! Stay well away from wildlife (the park suggests 100 years from bears and wolves, 25 yards from all other animals).
Big Sky Vacation Rentals offer a premier portfolio of vacation rentals near Yellowstone, an easy drive from the west entrance on Highway 191, and our local team are ready to help you choose the perfect home-away-from-home and best tour of Yellowstone National Park for a memorable autumn escape and fall-foliage trip to Yellowstone National Park.