Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best time of year to visit Yellowstone?
In our opinion, any time! Spring sees bears emerging from their dens and all the new babies on the landscape. Summer brings an explosion of wildflowers and the bison rut. Fall shows off with autumn colors and the elk rut. Winter in Yellowstone is simply spectacular!
2. What type of animals can I see?
Yellowstone is home to bears (grizzly and black), wolves, coyotes, foxes, bison, elk, moose, mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, otters, badgers and pika, just to name a few. Yellowstone has the largest concentration of mammals in the Lower 48 states of the U.S. Hundreds of species of birds including bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey, pelicans, geese, swans, ducks, owls, sandhill cranes and raven inhabit or migrate through the Park. *It is imperative to remember these are all wild creatures that are constantly on the move in an area that is over 2.2 million acres. There is no guarantee that you will see any specific animal or bird during your visit.
3. What's the best time to see wildlife?
At dawn and at dusk. A large percentage of animals in Yellowstone are most active just before or at sunrise, then again just before or at sunset. This is known as crepuscular behavior. *We strongly recommend starting your tour before sunrise for the best chance of seeing wildlife and for avoiding the crowds (especially in the summer).
4. What is the weather like in Yellowstone?
Ever changing - we've seen it snow in July and August! Winter air temperatures can frequently dip below -20°F, with blizzard conditions. Rain and/or snow in spring with mild temperatures. Summer temperatures can reach 80°F in August in some places in the Park. Autumn temperatures moderate quickly in early September, including unexpected snowstorms.
5. Does the Park ever close?
The short answer is no. From just before Memorial Day weekend to the first Monday of November, all 5 of the entrances into Yellowstone are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Weather can and has caused temporary closures at some of the entrances. With the exception of the North Entrance, located at Gardiner, MT, the other entrance gates will close the first Monday of November to prepare the interior roads for winter travel via snow coach or snowmobile only. The North Entrance remains open all year-round to wheeled vehicles. For up to date road conditions, visit https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm or call the road hotline at 307-344-2117.
6. I've heard Yellowstone has lots of earthquakes. Is that true?
Yes, earthquakes occur in Yellowstone on an almost daily basis. Most are tiny tremors and sometimes hundreds occur over a short period of time and are referred to as "swarms". This movement is a regular occurrence for a place that sits atop one of the world's largest super volcanoes. The last large, damaging earthquake to hit the area was in 1959 at Hebgen Lake and that is located west of the Park boundary.
7. Is Yellowstone really the world's first national park?
Yes. Established by an act of Congress (Yellowstone National Park Protection Act) and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yosemite was first protected in 1864 and management given to the state of California. It became a National Park in 1890.
8. Are there any safety issues while visiting Yellowstone?
When recreating in any wilderness area, there are certain risks, Most of these can be mitigated by obeying the Park rules/regulations and listening to the instructions from your guide. See our Acknowledgement of Risk form for more information.
9. Can I see all of Yellowstone in one day?
You could drive both parts of the Grand Loop road in a day, but you really wouldn't have time to "see" much of the Park. The road is 142 miles in a figure 8 loop, with a maximum speed limit of 45 mph, lower in a lot of areas. If you factor in delays from "bison or bear jams", it could take you an entire day to just drive those 142 miles.
10. How far in advance should I make a reservation?
We recommend you make your tour reservation as far in advance as possible. The lodging inside Yellowstone starts taking reservations a year in advance. The 2019 summer lodging reservations will begin on May 1, 2018.
11. What time of day does the tour start?
Since each of our tours are private and customized, we can begin whenever you wish. But we strongly recommend pickup before sunrise for the best wildlife viewing opportunities and to avoid the crowds. Plus, the sunrises in Yellowstone can be spectacular. It will vary, depending on the time of year, between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
12. How long are your tours?
Our customized tours will last approximately 8 hours.
13. What should I wear?
Everyone should wear sturdy, closed toed shoes or hiking boots in the Park. Dress in layers based on the season and be prepared for changing weather. We will discuss the recommended apparel for the time of year that your tour will take place.
14. What do I need to bring for the tour?
We recommend you bring your camera equipment, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, in addition to the proper apparel. We will furnish everything else for the tour, including plenty of drinking water as it is very important to stay properly hydrated at this altitude.
15. Can I carry a gun for protection against bears while on your tour?
No. Carrying any type of firearm in our company vehicles during a tour is strictly prohibited by company policy. We carry bear spray which is proven to be an effective, non-lethal deterrent.
16. Can I smoke while on your tour?
No. Company policy prohibits smoking, including e-cigarettes, in our vehicles during any tour.
17. Can I bring our family pet on the tour?
No. There are no family pets allowed on our tours or in our company vehicles for various safety reasons. We appreciate your understanding.