Yellowstone in Summer: The Complete Guide

Written by August Croft
Updated: May 18, 2023
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Key Points

  • Summertime is the most popular time to visit Yellowstone, so expect a lot of crowds.
  • Some of the best activities to do in summer at Yellowstone include hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming, fishing, animal watching, and horseback riding.
  • There are many incredible must-see spots including Old Faithful, Mammoth Valley Hot Springs, the Northern Ridge, and various waterfalls.

There are so many things to do in Yellowstone in summer. Whether you have an interest in hiking, fishing, swimming, or simply want pleasant weather for visiting this National Park, summertime is arguably the most popular time to visit Yellowstone. But what should you know about visiting during this particular time of year, and how can you best prepare?

In this article, we will give you some expert advice and knowledge when it comes to visiting Yellowstone National Park in the summer. We will go over some of the top activities to do and places to see, as well as what you can expect from the local wildlife. Finally, we will give you some insider information for planning your trip. Let’s get started!

Yellowstone in Summer

If you are an active individual hoping for the maximum amount of opportunities possible while visiting Yellowstone, you should definitely plan a trip in the summertime.

©goodluz/Shutterstock.com

Yellowstone National Park: SummerActivities and Information
Top ActivitiesWildlife viewing, photography, hiking, guided tours, swimming, fishing, backpacking, excursions
Must-See SpotsNorthern Ridge, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, geysers and thermal waters, Boiling River, Mammoth Valley
Best WildlifeElk, bison, deer, wolves, bears, rabbits, foxes, frogs, marmots, birds, fish
Closures/OpeningsAll roads, services, and lodging open by the end of June
Tips and TricksMake a list of must-dos and get up early- it’s going to be crowded!

An Overview of Yellowstone in Summer

Yellowstone in Summer

The reason so many people visit Yellowstone in summer is likely because of the weather and the ability to access all portions of the park using your own vehicle.

©iStock.com/IngerEriksen

Yellowstone National Park experiences more than half of its annual visitors and tourist activity during the months of June, July, and August. When you consider the fact that millions of people visit Yellowstone annually, planning a summertime trip means that you should expect one thing: crowds. You will be visiting with the majority of other tourists should you choose to explore Yellowstone during these summer months, so keep this in mind first and foremost!

The reason so many people visit Yellowstone in summer is likely because of the weather and the ability to access all portions of the park using your own vehicle. During the colder months, Yellowstone closes roads to tourist traffic and has buses to transport guests, something that you may not be interested in doing.

If you are an active individual hoping for the maximum amount of opportunities possible while visiting Yellowstone, you should definitely plan a trip in the summertime. You can do just about anything that doesn’t involve snow, and hiking and camping activities are fantastic during these months. But what other activities does Yellowstone offer in the summertime? Let’s take a look! 

Yellowstone in Summer: Top Activities

Yellowstone in Summer

By July, all camping locations should be open in Yellowstone, so you can always pitch a tent at the end of a long day! 

©Colton Stiffler/Shutterstock.com

Yellowstone is all about the great outdoors, especially in the warm summer months. There are countless activities to enjoy in Yellowstone during the summertime, particularly if you like camping and hiking. Wildlife viewing is also great during this time of year, as many animals begin their mating seasons and partake in the lush lower valleys.

You can drive throughout the park, which is a feat in and of itself, given just how large Yellowstone is. If you bring your own kayak, you can paddle certain lakes and rivers, or feel free to rent an option through Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding, fishing, backpacking, llama excursions, and Ranger-led tours are also extremely popular. Just make sure to pack some sunscreen!

While they may fill up quickly, you may also enjoy staying at a number of different lodging opportunities within Yellowstone. There’s the Old Faithful Inn as well as the Mammoth Hot Springs resort, but make sure to reserve well in advance. By July, all camping locations should be open in Yellowstone as well, so you can always pitch a tent at the end of a long day! 

Yellowstone in Summer: Must-See Spots

Yellowstone in Summer

Any location in Yellowstone that allows swimming will be particularly popular during the months of July and August.

©Susanne Pommer/Shutterstock.com

Besides all of the geysers and notorious waterfalls that are lush and beautiful in the summertime, there are a number of other must-see spots in Yellowstone National Park. Visiting both the Hayden and Lamar Valleys in the summertime will likely lead to some fantastic wildlife viewing, as well as any late-season wildflowers.

Mammoth Valley Hot Springs is also a top destination in Yellowstone, but be sure to arrive early in order to avoid the crowds. Speaking of crowds, any location in Yellowstone that allows swimming will be particularly popular during the months of July and August. The Boiling River swimming area is one of only a few designated swimming spots, and the parking lot fills up extremely fast! 

Finally, the Northern Ridge area of Yellowstone is one of the best locations to see wildlife, particularly carnivores. If you are hoping to see wolves or bears in Yellowstone National Park, spend some time in this area during dusk and dawn. These are peak hunting times and grazing times for just about every animal in the park. 

Tips and Tricks for Visiting Yellowstone in Summer

Yellowstone in Summer

Outside of the occasional thunderstorm, Yellowstone National Park is beautiful and warm during the months of August and July, a huge change from the rest of the year! 

©Cody Linde/Shutterstock.com

One of the main reasons that people visit Yellowstone during the summer time is because you don’t have to worry about the weather. Outside of the occasional thunderstorm, Yellowstone National Park is beautiful and warm during the months of August and July, a huge change from the rest of the year! 

However, this also means that most people choose to visit during this time of year so that they can avoid the snow. Yellowstone National Park is the busiest during these summer months, and you should keep this in mind as you plan your trip. Make a list of priorities and things that you must do before you arrive, and know that you will likely be waiting around in traffic or lines for significant portions of your day. 

Booking lodging and activities, such as rentals, well in advance is also a good idea if you are visiting Yellowstone in summer. Whether you plan on staying within the park or in any of the nearby towns, book your stay early so that you don’t miss out!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/IngerEriksen


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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