Best time to visit Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park

Large and beautiful, settled in the heart of the park, Yellowstone Lake is a great spot for marveling at the beauty of nature

Best time: May–October

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake

The biggest body of water in Yellowstone National Park and the largest freshwater lake in the region is located in the centre of the park. Yellowstone Lake is positioned at 2 km above sea level and covers an area of more than 352 square km. The average deapth is 42 metres, while the deepest spot is 120 m. The shoreline of this huge lake is 180 km long.

It is a great place to watch the diverse wildlife of Yellowstone. As the lake is influenced by the geothermic activity of the West Thumb, a part of it doesn't freeze in winter. This fact draws animals to its shallow southern shores. The rest of the lake stays frozen till early July. The ice reaches around 1 m thick during this period.

There is a variety of fish inhabiting in the lake. Among them are the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and the longnose dace. This is a famous trout angling destination. The most popular activities on Yellowstone Lake are fishing, boating, and kayaking. Be wary though as the water in the lake is often quite cold and there can be unexpected heavy winds that create large waves. Be careful and don't paddle too far, you should be an experienced boater to enjoy it fully and safely.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Yellowstone Lake and why?

The best time to visit Yellowstone Lake is during summertime, which falls between May and October. The weather is warmer during this period, and the lake is free from ice, making it perfect for outdoor events such as kayaking and fishing. As for winter, the lake is mostly covered in ice, making most outdoor activities limited. Show more

Where is the best spot to observe the diverse wildlife of Yellowstone Lake?

The best place to observe the diverse wildlife of Yellowstone is on the shallow southern shores, which also offer a better view during winter. These shores remain warm due to geothermic activity that makes it possible for the animals to find food easily. Besides, the Northwestern shores of the lake make for a great view of the peaks, the forests, and meadows around the lake. Show more

What type of fish can be found in Yellowstone Lake?

Different types of fish species can be found in Yellowstone Lake, with the Yellowstone cutthroat trout being the most popular game. Other types include mountain whitefish, arctic grayling, lake trout, and longnose dace. The lake has had the Yellowstone cutthroat trout for an estimated 10,000 years and is its native habitat. Show more

When does the ice on Yellowstone Lake usually thaw?

The period from December to early July is when Yellowstone Lake is mostly frozen, and the ice can reach 1m in thickness. The thawing process typically starts at the shallow southern shores influenced by thermal activities. By mid-July, most of the ice has thawed, making it the perfect period for water activities on the lake. Show more

Where can you access boats and kayaks to explore Yellowstone Lake?

Visitors looking to access boats and kayaks to explore Yellowstone Lake can do so through the two marinas: Bridge Bay Marina and Grant Village Marina. Boat rentals are available for half-day and a full day, while Grant Village Marina allows for boat tours. Kayaks are available for rent, and enthusiasts can explore the lake on their own. However, beginners are advised against kayaking on the Yellowstone Lake. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Yellowstone Lake (Map)

Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin