Best time to travel to Yellowstone National Park

Migrating Bisons in Yellowstone National Park

Herds of bison that inhabited the Great Plains of the United States and Canada range from the Great Slave Lake in the north to as far as Mexico

Best time: December–February

Migrating Bisons
Migrating Bisons
Migrating Bisons
Migrating Bisons

Regardless of the formidable appearance and the status of largest wild mammal found across North America, American bison or buffalo feed on grass, flowers, herbs, and shrubs.

The need for fresh grass forces them to spend their lives in migration. But these animals love to graze leisurely, so they never haste and rarely move on more than 3 km per day. That slow pace is typical for a "nomadic migration."

A good viewing spot for American bison is the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. It's possible to track grazing mammals via wildlife safaris.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park to witness the migrating bison?

Yellowstone National Park recommends visiting in December, January, or February to see the migrating bison. Winter forces the bison to lower elevations in search of food, making them easier to spot. The park advises visitors to follow guidelines and stay safe while observing the bison from a distance. Show more

Where is the Lamar Valley located in Yellowstone National Park?

Lamar Valley stretches from Tower Junction to Northeast Entrance near Yellowstone National Park's northeastern entrance. Bison are a regular sight and visitors can capture the beauty of the valley from roadside and overlook views. Show more

How far do American bison migrate each year?

The distance American bison migrate each year varies but is generally around 60 miles when searching for food in lower elevations during winter and moving back to higher elevations in summer. During migration, bison typically move about 3 miles a day foraging for food. Show more

When do American bison typically migrate to Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park?

In Yellowstone National Park, American bison usually move to Wyoming from December through February searching for food in lower elevations due to the abundance of snow at higher elevations. Visitors can witness this migration during these months and are urged to exercise caution and follow guidelines to ensure the safety of themselves and the animals. Show more

How can I view the migrating bison in Yellowstone without disturbing them?

Visitors can view the migrating bison while adhering to safety guidelines. It is recommended to stay at least 25 yards away from the bison and if in a car, maintain a distance of at least 100 yards while turning the engine off. To avoid disturbing the bison, refrain from making sudden movements or loud noises. Visitors can opt for wildlife safari tours to observe the bison safely while learning about their habitat, food habits, and migration patterns. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin