For most visitors, the Wild West state of Wyoming is at its best during the summer, when the mountains and lakes are at their most welcoming, hiking trails are clear and campgrounds are heavy with the smell of burning smores. This is also the season when the state celebrates its rich frontier and Native American heritage with powwows, mountain man rendezvous and staged shootouts, setting the backdrop for a perfect family vacation.
To avoid the crowds at the state’s biggest draws – the famous Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks – consider the quieter spring and fall seasons, especially if you can get to grips with Yellowstone’s complicated opening and closing schedule. Winter is beautiful in Wyoming, if you are equipped for the cold – Yellowstone is particularly magical under a blanket of snow, while the skiing in sophisticated Jackson Hole ranks among the nation’s finest.
Whether you are headed to Wyoming for epic hiking and camping, downhill skiing in Jackson Hole, or seeking the highlights of Yellowstone and Grand Teton without the crowds, here are the best months to come.
The high season (June–August) is the best time for hiking, rodeos and family camping trips
High summer is easily the most popular time to visit Wyoming, with national park visitor numbers, temperatures and room rates all hitting their peak. July to September are also the best months for snow-free hiking and backpacking, as well as for lowland water sports, cultural festivals and some epic road tripping. Just remember to pack mosquito spray.
You’ll need to book summer accommodation well in advance for Yellowstone and Grand Teton but elsewhere "peak season" is a relative term in Wyoming. Even in July, you can have large parts of this under-appreciated state to yourself.
The shoulder Season (April–May & September–October) is the best time to beat the Yellowstone crowds
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the in-the-know times to visit Wyoming's biggest draws: Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Jackson Hole. September is hands down our favorite single month for travel in Wyoming, with cheaper accommodation rates, easier availability, better wildlife watching and refreshingly crowd-free trails.
The weather is less predictable in April and October, but is often mild – just pack a range of clothes for sudden changes in the weather. Wyoming campgrounds are generally open from May until mid-September or October.
The low season (November–March) is the time for epic downhill skiing and winter sports
Thanks to Wyoming’s extreme continental climate, winters are long and harsh, but for the well-equipped, a huge range of outdoor activities are on offer, often with incredible backdrops. Take your pick from Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and winter wildlife-watching. Jackson Hole is the most famous stop for world-class skiing but it's also a great place for non-skiers, with winter sleigh rides through the snow adding a romantic touch.
January is for legendary powder
The year’s coldest month brings legendary powder to Jackson Hole’s three premier ski resorts – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain in Jackson town, and Grand Targhee Resort on the far western slopes of the Tetons. The ski season runs from December to the first week of April and there’s also world-class backcountry skiing and heli-skiing on offer.
Key events: Saratoga Lake Ice Fishing Derby
February is for the quirky activity of skijoring
The frozen conditions continue state-wide in February, promising fantastic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This is also the month to enjoy skijoring, an eccentric Norwegian-invented winter sport in which a skier is towed by a horse at high speed over a series of jumps and through slaloms.
Key events: Pinedale Winter Carnival, Sheridan Winter Rodeo
March is for cycling in Yellowstone
The end of winter is finally in sight but snow lingers on the ground in much of the state, requiring some flexibility (and cold-weather gear) if you are heading outdoors. From mid-March to mid-April the Mammoth to West Yellowstone road in Yellowstone National Park is open to non-motorized traffic only, making this the perfect time for fit cyclists to explore.
Key events: Drift Race (Cora)
April is for wildlife spotters
As spring takes hold, Yellowstone National Park’s roads start to open, beginning with the western side of the park. April and May are great months for spotting wildlife, including the chance to snap some shots of some incredibly cute baby bison.
Key events: Jackson Hole Rendezvous Spring Festival
May is for those who can't wait for summer
May is the month for early birds eager to get a crowd-free jump on the national parks. By mid-May, all of Yellowstone’s roads should have opened and most of the main roadside attractions are accessible, though many hiking trails are still snowbound at higher elevations.
Key events: Elkfest (Jackson Hole)
June is for road tripping
Summer is finally here, with some snow remaining on higher ground, but temperatures warming up quickly in the sagebrush prairies. If you are heading to Devils Tower National Monument, note that there is a voluntary climbing ban here in June, as many Native American ceremonies take place at this sacred site during this month.
Key events: Cody Plains Indian Museum Powwow, Riverton 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous, Eastern Shoshone Indian Days
July is for cowboy culture and powwows
The dog days of summer bring celebrations of Native American and frontier culture across the state, from the ten-day Cheyenne Frontier Days (book your accommodation well in advance for this popular rodeo extravaganza) to the family-friendly mock Wild West shootouts that take place all summer in Cody and Jackson.
Key events: Pinedale Green River Rendezvous, Lander Pioneer Days, Ethete Celebration Powwow
August is for Rocky Mountain highs
High summer in Wyoming means glorious hiking and camping in the world-class mountains of the Grand Tetons, Bighorns and the Wind River range. It’s also a prime month for river running, paddling and boating, though keep an eye out for afternoon thunderstorms.
Key events: Wyoming State Fair (Douglas)
September is for crowd-free national parks
September – specifically, the period after Labor Day – is the time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton without the crowds. Fall colors, the sounds of bugling elk and a refreshing lack of both mosquitoes and crowds make for a great month state-wide – providing you don’t mind chillier nights when camping and fewer ranger-led programs in national parks. Park accommodations, campgrounds and restaurants start to shut down throughout September.
Key events: Jackson Fall Arts Festival, Northern Arapaho Powwow (Arapahoe)
October is for bargain (and other) hunters
Temperatures start to drop in October but so do off-season accommodation rates across the state and both Yellowstone and Grand Teton remain open. The fabulously scenic Beartooth Highway to Montana closes in mid-October due to snow. Hunters replace hikers at many national forest campgrounds, meaning extra safety considerations for hiking.
Key events: Wyoming Film Festival (Sheridan)
November is for peace and quiet
November is a quiet month, with ski season only kicking in after Thanksgiving. Park entrances and roads in Yellowstone and Grand Teton start to close for winter, as does the Snowy Range Scenic Drive in the southeast of the state.
Key events: Cheyenne Christmas Parade
December is for family holiday fun
Christmas in Yellowstone is a magical time to visit – bundle up for a scenic snow coach ride to Old Faithful and then snowshoe out past frosty bison herds to explore steaming geyser basins. December is also a great month for soaking at the relatively temperate resort of Thermopolis, home to the world’s biggest hot spring.
Key events: Christmas and New Year festivities statewide