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A Yellowstone summer vacation will always be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

But planning the perfect Yellowstone vacation can be a little overwhelming because the park is so large and there is so much to see and do!

We have visited Yellowstone many times so let us help you with the basics if you’re planning a summer trip.

  • What to pack for the summer
  • Summer weather
  • How to avoid the crowds
  • How long to stay
  • Things to see
  • List of fun activities

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yellowstone vacation planner

WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK VACATION IN THE SUMMER

DOWNLOAD our US National Park checklists to make it easy to pack what you need for your next trip!

1. US National Parks Pass

You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.

→ BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

2.  Hiking Gear

3. Clothing – Layers

4. Daypack

5. Other

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. 

Is Yellowstone Crowded in the Summer?

You will definitely see more people at Yellowstone during the summer months.

Our number one 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 try visiting Yellowstone in the winter!

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 and more Yellowstone vacation tips!

Things to see on your Yellowstone summer vacation

See the Waterfalls

It’s no secret that we are a huge fan of Yellowstone waterfalls.

During the summer you will need to be a bit more patient to see the waterfalls because of the number of people visiting the park, but it’s still worth the wait. 

Be sure to pack your bug spray to avoid getting bit by the mosquitos and bugs that are out in the summer! 

Scenic Drive

With Yellowstone being over 2.2 million acres you will not be able to see it all while on foot, so thankfully there are some great scenic drives that you can go on to explore Yellowstone National Park.

While driving around the park you do not want to miss driving in Firehole Canyon to see Firehole Falls. 

We also recommend Firehole Lake Drive where you can see hot pools and geysers from the car!

CHECK OUT these other scenic drives in Yellowstone, and surrounding areas!

Lower and Midway Geyser Basins

Lower and Midway Geyer Basins are a must on your to-do list while visiting Yellowstone in the summer. 

Grand Prismatic Spring is the most popular attraction here. It’s a huge oval pool that has colorful algae bands and travertine terraces.

You can go on a half-mile boardwalk trail that goes part of the way around the spring. You can also hike the 1 mile trail to the overlook that’s accessed by the Fairy Falls trailhead.

Don’t forget all the other hot pools and small geysers to be found as you explore these areas! 

Watch Old Faithful Geyser Erupt

You can’t go on your Yellowstone summer vacation and not see the Old Faithful Geyser erupt. People travel far and wide to see this magnificent sight. 

Luckily it’s easier for you to see this beauty on your vacation because it’s one of six geysers that park rangers can actually predict. 

Try watching Old Faithful erupt from the viewing area at the boardwalk that wraps around the geyser. 

There are so many things for you to see at Yellowstone while visiting in the summer. So be sure to check out how to plan the perfect Yellowstone vacation for more must-see places. 

Activities for your Yellowstone summer vacation

There are so many activities to do while visiting Yellowstone during the summertime.

The busy season starts around Memorial Day and runs through the fall.

You will find a variety of fun activities for everyone in the family to do on your Yellowstone summer vacation. 

Fishing

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

If you are wanting adventure on your Yellowstone vacation then perhaps you should try river rafting

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. 

→ River Rafting Tours at Yellowstone

Hiking 

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 one that the whole family can do together. 

 Be sure to check out these favorite hiking spots: 

  • Canyon North Rim Trail
  • Fairy Falls Trail
  • Trout Lake
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Trail
  • Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail

Biking

Biking is a great way to explore and a great way to see the beauty of Yellowstone up close and personal. Bring your own bike or rent some at Yellowstone National Park Lodges by Old Faithful. 

There are plenty of bike paths to explore, which you will want to try and stick to especially during the summer months because the roads will be pretty congested with cars.

Be sure to follow and adhere to the rules Yellowstone has for bike riding around the park. 

Your Yellowstone summer vacation will be one your family will never forget with so much to do and see while visiting Yellowstone National Park! 

Plan a Yellowstone Vacation

Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:

Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone

ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone

Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone

→ CHECK OUT more West Yellowstone hotels!

Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:

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!

→ CHECK OUT more Gardiner hotels!

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:

Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!

Mountain View Cabin, Cooke City – great views and we enjoyed having a washer and dryer!

High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!

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