After the Labor Day holiday, the incessant tourist crowds in Yellowstone National Park will dwindle, and solitude can again be found on the roads, rivers, and hiking trails. Yellowstone National Park is a wonderful place to be in the fall. The leaves of the trees begin to turn yellow and add a new layer of depth to the endless greens of spring and summer. The roads are more open and comfortable to navigate, and if you enjoy spotting animals from the roads while you drive through the park, the cooler weather allows most of the animals to be more active for longer periods of the day.
The elk of Yellowstone get active in the early fall and when the rut is peaked, you can spend a full day watching a big bull elk chase and herd cows in grass meadows. Bugling bulls are commonplace in the rut, and if you spend any time camping in the park, and elk are nearby, it may be difficult to sleep with the nighttime and early morning bugles. Although, listening to bull elk bugle back and forth is an inspiring experience.
The rivers of Yellowstone feel more open and the cooler weather will trigger Blue Wing Olive and Midge hatches throughout the fall fishing season. The cutthroat trout that inhabit rivers like the Lamar, Yellowstone, and Gardiner Rivers on the northeast end of the park, and the Madison, Gibbon and Firehole Rivers of the west, will come up to the surface to feed on the insects in the late mornings and afternoons. A handy tip for fishing Yellowstone National Park, and it applies at any time of the year is: if you hike out of sight of the road, and you start fishing at that point, continuing to work your way from the road, most of the fish will be fresh and rested, because most everyone who visits the park for vacation rarely adventures more than one hundred yards from the nearest road.
Regardless of what your reasons are for being in the park this fall – the dramatic colors, the active animals, or the solitude – Yellowstone is an incredible place to spend any amount of time. And remember, Yellowstone is a wild place, and you should always be prepared for anything.
As always, when visiting one of our fantastic National Parks or enjoying the great outdoors, please be sure to bring along your UDAP Bear Spray.