Any time you visit this amazing park it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Here’s what you can expect when you plan a Yellowstone summer vacation.
This Yellowstone National Park travel guide includes everything you need to know to plan a trip in the summer. We share fun things to see, do, and photograph in the summer as well as weather and temperatures, what to pack, where to stay, and services available.
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.
Use our Yellowstone National Park packing list to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the summer! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!
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Visiting Yellowstone in the Summer
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!
If you want to be adventurous and really avoid the crowds, you should plan a Yellowstone winter vacation!
Yellowstone Weather in the Summer
A Yellowstone summer vacation is the perfect way to escape the heat. The summers are typically mild and the nights are cooler.
During the summer the temperatures are usually between 70 and 80 degrees during the day, making it the perfect exploring weather and then drop into the 40s or below. On average July is the hottest month of the year, but you don’t really see the temperatures getting into the 90s.
How Long Should I Stay on My Yellowstone Summer Vacation?
In order to really soak in Yellowstone, you will want to be there for more than 2 days, especially in the summertime.
We suggest when vacationing during the summer months at Yellowstone that you plan to go for at least 4-5 days. This way you are not rushed and you can be a little more patient with the crowds of people knowing you have time to see everything.
Not only that, but 4-5 days gives you time to relax, fish, hike, and really experience Yellowstone for everything it has to offer!
Here’s our favorite Yellowstone 4 day itinerary!
Things to See On Your Yellowstone Summer Vacation
By the end of May all roads in Yellowstone should be open, depending on weather. Know in advance the regions of the park that are open for the dates you’ll visit in the summer.
Here’s a list of things to Do at Yellowstone National Park during the summer months.
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Summer
May is one of the best times to see and take pictures of all the Yellowstone waterfalls. The rivers and waterfalls are full and raging from the snow runoff. You can see, hear and feel the power of the water as it rushes by.
Most of the waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park don’t require hiking to see them. 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 & 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.”
Summer Scenic Drives in Yellowstone
Yellowstone covers over 2 million acres of land! It’s divided into 2 main sections and 9 areas. You’ll find two scenic drive loops within the park, as well as other stunning Yellowstone scenic drives outside the park!
Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop Scenic Drive: There are three entrances to access the southern loop of Yellowstone: West (West Yellowstone), South (Grand Teton), and East (Cody).
There are seven areas in the southern loop of Yellowstone:
- Old Faithful
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Grant Village
Yellowstone National Park Northern Loop Scenic Drive: There are two entrances with direct access to the north loop of Yellowstone: North (Gardiner) and Northeast (Cooke City).
There are four areas in the northern loop of Yellowstone:
There are so many points of interest to see along these drives! We HIGHLY recommend downloading the Yellowstone GuideAlong Audio Tour App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location in the park!
Yellowstone Geysers and Hot Springs in the Summer
The color in the hot springs really stand out in the sun so the summer months are a great time to see these amazing attractions!
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
Wildlife to See in the Summer at Yellowstone
Most wildlife heads up to high mountain elevations during the summer. You might need to use a spotting scope to see some of the wildlife this time of year.
In the summer months the best places to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are Hayden and Lamar Valleys. We recommend you continue past Lamar Valley to Cooke City and even drive along Beartooth Highway. Look for bison, elk, bear, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, coyote, fox, and badgers! Fly fishing is a big draw during this time of year.
Remember these guidelines while viewing wildlife 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.
- 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 are some helpful resources for watching and photographing wildlife in Yellowstone:
- Best time to visit yellowstone for wildlife
- Best cameras for wildlife photography
- Best tripods for wildlife photography
- Best lenses for wildlife photography
Yellowstone Photography in the Summer
When it comes to photography, be prepared for anything! That way you are ready to capture the moment when it happens. We always have our camera ready to go because the wildlife you may see won’t wait for you to find the camera in your car.
The weather could still be unpredictable in early summer. Conditions can change from day to day, or even hour to hour! You could experience sun, snow, clouds, fog, and frost that will create mood to you landscape scenes.
Of course you’ll want to photograph the waterfalls, rivers and look for reflections when taking pictures at Yellowstone.
Fishing in the Summer at Yellowstone
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.
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 Hiking in Yellowstone
No trip to Yellowstone is complete without hiking the trails of Yellowstone. You are guaranteed picturesque views while hiking the trails at Yellowstone as a family.
With over 240 hiking trails in Yellowstone, you are sure to find a Yellowstone National Park easy summer hike that the whole family can do together.
Be sure to check out all the hiking trails around the various areas of Yellowstone:
- 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
Your Yellowstone summer vacation will be one your family will never forget with so much to do and see while visiting Yellowstone National Park!
Yellowstone Tours in the Summer
Taking a tour helps you see many parts of Yellowstone that you might not see on your own. Here’s a list of Yellowstone Summer Tours you can book:
- Yellowstone Lower Loop Tour
- Yellowstone Rafting Tours
- Yellowstone Kayak Tours
- Yellowstone and Grand Teton Wildlife Safari Tours
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!
As you’re looking for places to stay at Yellowstone National Park, definitely check out all the camping options in the park!
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: