What to wear and what to pack for Yellowstone in summer

What to Wear and What to Pack for Yellowstone in Summer


Looking for advice on what to wear or what to pack for Yellowstone in summer? We spent four days in Yellowstone with kids at the end of July – beginning of August last year, and in this post I am sharing our experience-based tips for packing for Yellowstone in summer.

Yellowstone is known for extremely cold winters, but it can get really hot there in summer. Despite high altitude, we experienced temperatures above 80°F (27°C) during the entire stay. On the other hand, just a week or two before we visited, they had some snow on Mt. Washburn (not that it stayed for long).

My best advice for Yellowstone in July or August is to pack summer clothing for outdoors. Make sure to also carry a sweater and a thin rain jacket just in case it gets colder or you get caught in the rain.

What to wear in Yellowstone in summer

First, let me tell you that the dress code in Yellowstone (including all Yellowstone accommodations) is very relaxed. So no need to pack any smart clothing, unless maybe for dinner at the more upscale restaurants at the Old Faithful Inn or at the Lake Hotel.

If you are wondering where to stay in Yellowstone, make sure to check our complete guide to the best accommodation options in and near Yellowstone National Park.

And now back to outdoor clothing. For Yellowstone in summer I suggest packing lightweight functional sports clothing and shoes that you can hike in.

Some advice on footwear for Yellowstone:

  • Sandals will be ok for most areas in Yellowstone where there are boardwalks (e.g. The Grand Prismatic or the Upper Geyser Basin).
  • You don’t really need hiking boots for Yellowstone in summer (I would definitely pack them in spring and autumn though), unless maybe if you are planning to hike to the top of Mt. Washburn.
  • There are some really nice short walks that you can do all over Yellowstone, and in those cases it’s better that you wear closed walking- or sports shoes with a good grip.
  • I also suggest to pack water shoes for swimming (you’ll thank me later, or will end up chasing a flip-flop in the mountain river like I did 😉 ).

Here you can find more information in regards to hiking, swimming and other must-do activities in Yellowstone.

What to pack for Yellowstone in summer

This is a short packing list for Yellowstone in summer to help you prepare for your trip. Make sure to check the ‘Don’t forget’ section below for some Yellowstone – specific packing tips.

Best footwear for Yellowstone in summer:

Summer clothing packing list for Yellowstone:

Don’t forget – Yellowstone packing essentials:

  • Reusable water bottle. There are many places where you can refill you water bottles in Yellowstone (as well as in other National Parks and many hotels). It saves you a lot of money, on top of that it’s better for the environment.
  • Sunscreen lotion. Sun can be really harsh in Yellowstone. We advice to use SPF50 sunscreen lotion.
  • Sun glasses
  • Quick-drying travel towel is a nice to have if you are planning to go swimming in Yellowstone.
  • Bear spray and/or bear bell. Bear spray is not really a must in Yellowstone, although they do advice that you carry one if planning to do any hiking in the less popular areas and less popular times. You can buy a bear spray in Yellowstone as well, or you can rent one (at Grant Village and at the Canyon Village). Renting is quite expensive, however, especially if you need it for a couple of days. It’s definitely easier and cheaper to buy one in advance (just don’t pack it in your carry-on on the plane).
  • Mosquito repellant. Yes, there are mosquitoes in Yellowstone in summer, so you do need a good mosquito repellant.
  • Camera gear and an extra battery pack and/or a power pack for your smartphone. Good camera gear is a must in Yellowstone!
  • Telephoto lens with min. 200mm zoom is essential for wildlife photography. Make sure to also check our guide for the best camera gear for wildlife photography.
  • Binoculars. I keep saying this every time – binoculars is the best way to keep your kids interested and entertained during any nature trip. And definitely in Yellowstone, where there is so much wildlife.
  • Small day backpack with rain cover. Even if the forecast predicts sunny weather, you might get caught in a short but heavy rain shower, as we did. We got soaking wet, but the rain cover saved our camera gear.
  • Planning to picnic in Yellowstone? There are many designated areas where you can picnic, so you may want to take your picnic basket or a cooler. Also camping chairs seemed to be very popular, especially with people watching wildlife in Hayden and the Lamar Valleys.
  • First aid kit and a Swiss knife are the musts for any outdoor trip as well.

So, this is our guide on what to pack for Yellowstone in summer. I hope that these extra tips will help you have a safe and more enjoyable trip. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave a reply below.

If you are planning a trip soon, you may want to check our best suggestions for Yellowstone itinerary for one, two, three, four, or five days.

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Complete guide on what to pack and what to wear in Yellowstone in summer

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  1. Hi,
    I went through your blog. We are 3 adults planning our trip to Yellowstone and grand Teton starting 9th September.
    After reading informations provided by you, we have planned following:
    Reaching Teton around 1pm and want to spend 5hrs so suggest what would be the best course of itinerary there?
    Then we will be staying overnight at Grant village for 2 nights(9th and10th) please suggest what to cover during this period?
    Then we will be staying next 2 nights (11th and 12th) at Old Faithful snow inn, how we should plan?
    And then finally last night(13th September) we will be staying at Canyon village
    Then drive back to Salt Lake City on 14th morning
    Reading your blog , we realised that the stay at Canyon village should have been longer but we planned it very late so could get these bookings only last week
    Anyway suggest, how we can utilise it best as we do not want to make it very hectic. Let it be more relaxed or say 6-7 hrs of activity each day
    Waiting for suggestions so as to give final shape to our trip.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Author

      Hi Sushil, sounds like an amazing trip you have planned. I think Yellowstone will be magical in September!
      I have SO much work at the moment that I really have no time to help you with the itinerary. Here you can find all my Yellowstone itinerary suggestions and here you can read about visiting Jenny Lake in Grand Teton – I’m not sure if the boats run in September, but if they do, it’s a really nice way to spend a day in Grand Tetons.
      In Yellowstone, following our itinerary suggestions, pick the places that are closest to your accommodation for any given day so that you can limit driving time. Here you can find more detail for the best things to do in Yellowstone and don’t miss Boiling River!
      Don’t worry too much about having the exact itinerary figured out in advance. Pick a few highlights that you must see each day and leave some time for the unexpected encounters and discoveries along the way.
      Have a wonderful trip!

  2. Hi this is Ellie how is the weather like in November? I live in Southern California !

    1. Author

      Hi Ellie, November is really winter in Yellowstone with rain, snow, and also freezing temperatures. Also, many roads and hotels are closed, so you really need to do some research if you’re planning a trip. I think it can be magical to see all the geothermal features and animals in the snow, but you need to know what to expect and be prepared for it.
      If you are wondering in terms of what to wear in Yellowstone in winter, I’d go for winter boots, winter coat, lots of wool, etc. It can get really cold there in winter.
      Hope this helps.

  3. I’m so overwhelmed planning this trip! Thanks so much for ALL your suggestions! They are awesome, our trip is planned for summer of 2019 with FOUR boys so it should be quite an adventure!

  4. this post is so useful. THANK YOU! I’m prepping for a Labor Day trip to Yellowstone and working on my packing list and this has helped so much – I’m actually about to rent my telephoto lens now! And soooo good to know that it gets so cold at night – definitely packing a packable puffer jacket!

    XO Sahra

    1. Author

      Good to hear this helped you prepare for your trip to Yellowstone, Sahra. Enjoy it!

  5. Do people get altitude sickness

    1. Author

      In Yellowstone? Never heard of it. It’s not really that high there that altitude sickness would be an issue I think.

  6. Your suggestions are great!! I just don’t know if we would want to carry chairs, cooler, etc. How would that work?

    1. Author

      Well, I guess it depends on where you come from and how you arrive in Yellowsyone. If you are an American traveling by car, then just pack everything you want with you. If you are renting a camper, it’s possible that some of these things will be included or can be rented. If you are visiting Yellowstone in a rental car as we did, just improvise and pack a picnic lunch and a picnic blanket. 😉

  7. This info has been of great help. Will be going in 2 weeks.

    1. Author

      Glad you found this useful, Gail. Enjoy the trip!

  8. I didn’t even know you could get fast drying towels – now that’s something I need to look into!

    1. Author

      They are really great when traveling, Alex! Light, compact, and dry fast. Just don’t place them on the ground, as grass sticks to the surface and it’s very difficult to get it out.

      1. Hey so when I went to Yellowstone it smelled like sulfur everywhere so some perfume or cologne might do you some good

        1. Author

          That might be a good idea, thanks for sharing Nelly.

  9. Great packing essentials! Also help to any outdoor and camping adventure around the world. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Arianne. Yes, I think you are right, most of this would apply for many other outdoor trips in summer.

  10. Great tips, Jurga! I’d love to go to Yellowstone and when I do, I’ll get back to your posts about it!

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