Summer is the perfect time to explore Yellowstone National Park, with its stunning natural beauty and abundance of activities.
Here’s a list of our favorite Yellowstone National Park summer activities – there’s something for everyone! Use this Yellowstone National Park travel guide to plan your trip: weather, things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more for your summer vacation!
From hiking and fishing in the park’s many rivers and lakes, to camping under starry skies and exploring geothermal features like Old Faithful Geyser, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy your summer in Yellowstone.
With so much to see and do, planning your trip can be overwhelming – but don’t worry! We’ve put together this guide on summer activities in Yellowstone National Park that will help you make the most out of your visit.
Use our Yellowstone National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear your summer vacation! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!
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A Photo Tour of Yellowstone Waterfalls
Take a visual tour through Yellowstone National Park to see the stunning landscape and waterfalls you’ll find in the park!
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in the Summer
In early summer, the Yellowstone roads, services, and lodges are starting to open. It will be important to know in advance what’s available for the timeframe you’ll visit the park.
You will definitely see more people at Yellowstone during the summer months. Our number one Yellowstone vacation tip to avoid the congestion is to enter the park early and head to the popular sites ahead of the crowds.
Be prepared for slow cars and bison or bear jams. Pack your patience and enjoy the scenery!
Additionally, you can further reduce your encounters with park crowds by visiting Yellowstone National Park during nonpeak hours, which are either before 9:00 am or after 3:00 pm.
Yellowstone Weather in the Summer
In early summer the Yellowstone National Park weather can still be unpredictable – we’ve encountered snow in June! Temperatures are usually between 70 and 80 degrees during the day then drop into the 40s or below at night. On average July is the hottest month of the year, but you don’t really see the temperatures getting into the 90s.
Yellowstone National Park Map
Use printable and interactive Yellowstone maps to help navigate through the park. Yellowstone covers a large area with long drive times from area to area.
Yellowstone & Grand Teton AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Yellowstone National Park Summer Activities
Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. When planning a Yellowstone summer vacation, especially July and August, the park will be busy so be patient driving the road, looking for parking, and sharing the boardwalks and trails with many other visitors.
Yellowstone Visitor Centers in the Summer
We recommend visiting the various Visitor Centers in the park to get updated information on the points of interest, hiking trails, and other activities to do in each area.
- Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
- Canyon Visitor Education Center
- Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center
- Grant Village Visitor Center
- Madison Information Station
- Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth
- The Norris Geyser Basin Museum and the Museum of the National Park Ranger
- West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center
Many of these visitor centers also contain park stores that sell a variety of different souvenirs: books, artwork, and educational materials.
Yellowstone Scenic Drives in the Summer
Yellowstone covers over 2 million acres of land! It’s divided into 2 main sections and 9 areas. The best way to experience the park is exploring the beautiful Yellowstone scenic drives in the park and surrounding areas.
You’ll find the most crowds along the Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop. There are three entrances to access the southern loop of Yellowstone: West (West Yellowstone), South (Grand Teton), and East (Cody):
- Old Faithful
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Grant Village
There are two entrances with direct access to the Yellowstone National Park Northern Loop: North (Gardiner) and Northeast (Cooke City).
There are four areas in the northern loop of Yellowstone:
- Lamar Valley
If you are looking to drive through Yellowstone yourself, but want to hear all the fun and educational information about this National Park, we recommend the the Yellwstone GuideAlong App. It will automatically tell you stories, tips and directions as you drive that will help enrich your Yellowstone National Park experience. There’s no need for cell service or wifi signal while touring. Tours are downloaded to your device for easy offline use.
Summer Hiking in Yellowstone
Some Yellowstone hiking trails might still be wet and muddy in early July. Most of the Yellowstone National Park easy summer hikes should be good!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when hiking at Yellowstone:
- Check with the rangers at the Visitor Center to get current trail conditions.
- Tell someone your hiking destination, route, and estimated time of return.
- What to Bring on a Day Hike: hydration pack, raincoat, warm hat, fleece jacket, insect repellent, sunscreen, bear spray, and a first aid kit.
- Stay on trails: taking shortcuts causes trail erosion and is dangerous. In hydrothermal areas, stepping on thin crust may plunge you into boiling water.
Here’s a list of hikes in Yellowstone by region:
- Easy Hikes in Yellowstone National Park
- Old Faithful Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
- Canyon Area Day Hikes at Yellowstone
- Mammoth Hot Springs Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
- Lake and Fishing Bridge Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
- Madison Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
- Grant and West Thumb Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
- Tower and Northeast Area Day Hikes in Yellowstone
Yellowstone Geysers and Hot Springs in the Summer
There are five types of hydrothermal features you’ll see in Yellowstone: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, travertine terraces and fumaroles. Check out the NPS website for the latest geyser eruption predictions!
Here’s a list of the best places to see these wonders:
- Old Faithful, Upper and Lower Geyser Basin
- Grand Prismatic (Midway Geyser Basin)
- Norris Geyser Basin
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Mud Volcano
- Fountain Paint Pot
- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Summer
Here’s a list of the main waterfall attractions:
- Canyon: Lower and Upper Falls, Brink of Upper Falls
- Firehole Falls
- Gibbon Falls
- Kepler Cascades
- Lewis Falls
- Moose Falls
- Tower Fall
- Undine Falls
Yellowstone Wildlife in the Summer
Animals can be found throughout the park at any time. Check out our detailed guide for the best places to see Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park!
During each season at Yellowstone you’ll see a wide variety of birds and mammals at Yellowstone. We find May, October, and the winter are the best times to visit Yellowstone for wildlife.
In the summer be sure to drive through Lamar Valley to Cooke City and on along Beartooth Highway to look for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats!
Remember the parameters to keep you and the animals safe!
- Never approach animals. The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be.
- The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk. You may need to use a spotting scope to see wildlife in Yellowstone.
- Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.
- Never park in the road or block traffic. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.
Here’s a list of camera gear we recommend if you’re serious about photographing wildlife at Yellowstone.
- Best cameras for wildlife photography
- Best tripods for wildlife photography
- Best lenses for wildlife photography
Yellowstone Photography in the Summer
We recommend you have your camera ready to go because the wildlife you may see as you drive through the park won’t wait for you to find the camera in your car.
You’ll also want to photograph the geysers, hot pools, waterfalls and rivers. Here are some tips for taking pictures at Yellowstone.
- Tips for Photographing Wildlife
- How to Photograph Waterfalls and Rivers
- How to Photograph Reflections
Yellowstone Tours in the Summer
You’ll find a variety of Yellowstone summer tours. When you join a tour, the expert guides share their knowledge of the park and you’ll learn amazing things from them.
- Yellowstone Lower Loop Tour
- VIP Jeep Tour from West Yellowstone
- Yellowstone Tour from Jackson, Wyoming
- Yellowstone and Grand Teton Wildlife Safari Tours
Yellowstone Fishing in the Summer
During the summer season, you can try fly fishing at Soda Butte Creek for some Cutthroat Trout fish. While fishing at Yellowstone you need to make sure that you follow the regulations in the guide book because you can only keep nonnative fish.
If you love fishing, Yellowstone is a must because nowhere else will you find such a wide variety of fish for you to catch all in one place.
Yellowstone River Rafting in the Summer at Yellowstone
If you are wanting adventure on your Yellowstone vacation then perhaps you should try river rafting in Yellowstone. Families love exploring Yellowstone this way as they see incredible views, wildlife, and more while going down the river.
You will experience varying sizes of rapids dependent on the water levels so take that into account when deciding who is going to go white water rafting in the family.
Summer Camping at Yellowstone
With its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, a favorite summer activity is Yellowstone National Park camping! There are a variety of ways for camping at Yellowstone: tents, RVs, and even rustic cabins!
With numerous campgrounds throughout the park, you’ll find a variety of Yellowstone campsites ranging from full-service to primitive.
All campsites at Yellowstone’s 12 campgrounds require advanced reservations except Mammoth Campground from October 15 to April 1 when it’s first-come, first-served. It’s recommended you make your reservations far in advance due the demand for camping at Yellowstone.
If you can’t find a spot in the park, check out the RV parks near Yellowstone National Park!
Yellowstone Maps and Guides at Amazon:
Where to Stay Near Yellowstone
Places to stay in West Yellowstone
- Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone
- ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone
- Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone
- West Yellowstone hotels!
Places to stay in Gardiner
- Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
- Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
- Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
- Gardiner hotels!