The sight of steam rising up from the ground in the chilly morning hours, the sound of bugling elk in the crisp evening air, and the feel of fleece against your skin as you dress for a day hike, all herald the arrival of fall in Yellowstone National Park.
Fall is a great time of year to visit. But visitors should check conditions beforehand, pack appropriately, and stay flexible in case conditions change. In response to the change in weather and lower visitation, park facilities and services are beginning to close for the season.
• Get information about road closures at current conditions and (307) 344-2117;
• Download Yellowstone’s app before you arrive;
• Go online to see which campgrounds are open;
• Know the weather forecast and plan for cooler days and freezing nights.
The park’s wildlife adapts to the change in seasons, too. Some animals migrate. Some stock up on food while others rut (mate). Bison and elk move to lower elevations as snow accumulates. Grizzly bears and black bears usually move to higher elevations to feed on food like whitebark pine seeds that will sustain them through winter hibernation. Bull elk bugle and spar with other males. Bulls are much more aggressive toward people and vehicles this time of year and can be a threat to people and property. Watch for wildlife throughout the park.
• Stay 100 yards away from bears and wolves;
• Stay 25 yards away from all other wild animals, such as bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and coyotes;
• If the animal mover closer to you, you must back away;
• A bear doesn’t care if it is fall, so carry bear spray, and know how to use it.
The road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction will be closed due to construction until Oct. 6 at 7 a.m. When it opens, there will be delays of up to 30 minutes throughout the day and night until all park roads (except the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance, which remains open year round) close for the season on Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. Dunraven Pass, on the road between Canyon and Tower Junctions, will close on Oct. 10 at 8 a.m.