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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:08:55 08/05/17

In Reply to: Early October posted by Red Hot Mama

Red Hot Mama,

Weatherwise, the first week of October can produce weather ranging from sunny and comfortable, with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s primarily, to snowstorms, and everything in between, so come equipped for the gamut. It is not unusual to have a snowstorm dump enough snow to create traffic havoc one day, and then see the sun come out and melt the snow within hours, or, at least, the next day. The early and late hours of the day will be noticeably cooler than midday. The east side of the park will be noticeably cooler than the west side, due to the difference in elevation. The north side of Yellowstone will be noticeably warmer than the rest of the park for the same reason, as well as some unique topology.

Many wildlife species will have disappeared from the landscape, either via hibernation or migration. The elk rut will still be under way, but nearing its conclusion. What few deer and pronghorn remain on the Northern Range will likely be moving toward the exit, migrating to winter range north of the park. Many wolf packs will have left their rendezvous sites, with the pups now mature enough to travel with the pack. Bears, both black and grizzly, will be hyperphagic, meaning eating 7x24, trying to pack on the pounds before hibernation. That is a double edge sword, in terms of bear viewing. If a bison or elk carcass appears on the landscape, it can produce a procession of bears feeding on it. On the flip side, many bears are temporarily up high, flipping rocks for whatever goodies may lie beneath, and dining on whitebark pine nuts.

To get a handle on what facilities are open or closed in early October, go to the linked page on the NPS website. It shows that the Bridge Bay, Grant Village, and Tower/Roosevelt areas are all or mostly shut down by early October. Two of the three cafeterias in the park (Lake Lodge and Old Faithful) will have closed, but the Canyon cafeteria will be open. Fall closings are done similarly to spring openings, meaning they are done gradually, in a step fashion. Closings commence as early as Labor Day Weekend, and continue into mid to late October. The good news is that enough facilities will still be open the first week of October to enable your visit without undue hardship. You just have to pay attention to the schedule to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to visiting in early October is the noticeable decrease in the crowd. You will actually be able to find a parking spot at virtually all the attractions. There will still be a bit of congestion in a few select places, like Mammoth, Old Faithful, and the West Entrance Road late in the day, heading back to West Yellowstone. The first week of October is typically the very last week we see sizeable visitation in the fall. The closing schedule for numerous seasonal operations outside the park reflect that, with many closing their doors at the end of September.


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