What to wear and what to pack for Yellowstone in summer

What to Wear and What to Pack for Yellowstone in Summer

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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.

Below you can find more detailed clothing tips and complete Yellowstone packing list. Read on!

What to pack for Yellowstone

 



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. Light hiking shoes are ideal.
  • 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 wear to Yellowstone - clothing packing list and tips

 

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 these 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

 

Comments

  1. Hi Jurga,
    I may have missed this in the comments, but what did you guys do for meals? Did you pack a cooler for breakfast & lunches or did you eat out all the time? We’ll be spending 4 days in the park and are trying to figure our options.
    Thanks,
    Joanna

    1. Author

      Hi Joanna, if I recall well, we bought some food for breakfast in the shops a few times and I know for sure we also had breakfast at the OF Lodge. For lunch, we took picnic once or twice and the other times we ate at the restaurants – it’s good way for kids to rest a bit. We had dinner at the restaurants near the lodges we were staying at. Hope this helps

  2. Thanks for the great detailed info about visiting the park. Super helpful!

    1. Author

      Good to hear that, Miranda. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

  3. Jurga,

    What type of sun hats are your boys wearing? I’m trying to find something for my 8 year old daughter. She has really fair skin and will defining your need the protection.

    Thanks,

    Jillinda

    1. Author

      Hi Jillinda, if I recall well our kids were mainly wearing their UV sun hats from Jack Wolfskin, like this. They have those for adults too. I love them because they are very easy to pack and to wash and protect better than a regular sun cap.
      There are many brands that have similar UV hats for kids, so you can certainly find something that your daughter would like.

  4. We are a family of 3 thinking of a trip to Yellowstone mid-May. Is that a good time to visit the park? I can see that some of the places you mentioned, like the Boiling River will be closed. Also most accomodation inside the park will not be open by then. Just debating if we should do it this early in the season.

    1. Author

      Hi Tania, I think that Yellowstone is amazing in any season, so if it’s a choice between going in May or not at all, I’d say go for it. There will be fewer tourists and indeed some places won’t be open yet (even some roads are just starting to open in that period – more info about the roads in Yellowstone here). There is more animal activity at that time of the year, so it can be a very nice experience. Just make sure to get a bear spray if you plan to go hiking.
      As for accommodation, if you can’t find anything inside the park, you can best stay in West Yellowstone or in Gardiner area this time of the year.
      PS check our other Yellowstone guides for itinerary ideas and more information on what to see and do in Yellowstone.

  5. Thanks for this information in July what was the weather like? Also any suggestions of eating inside the park? And last is there a hot springs to swim in?

    Thanks,
    Cherie

    1. Author

      Hi Cherie, we had beautiful summer weather end of July. Temperatures were between 77 and 86F (25-30°C) during the day, which was ok most of the time and a bit too hot for some places with no shade.
      We had rain once and only very shortly, but got soaking wet because we didn’t see it coming when we left our hotel for a short stroll :).
      It’s quite a bit colder in the morning and in the evening, so you always should carry a sweater with you as well.
      Food. There are plenty of restaurants and shops at all the main lodges of Yellowstone (Canyon, Mammoth, Old Faithful, etc). Most cafes don’t require reservations, only fancier restaurants at the OF Inn and at the Lake hotel do.
      As for hot springs, we loved the Boiling River. Also, Firehole river has a warm spot that is very popular for swimming. I have some info about it in this article.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

      1. Hi there
        Pondering a mid to late October trip. What temps or weather should we expect during that time?

        1. Author

          Hi Teresa, October is usually already winter in Yellowstone. Most lodges will be closed already and some roads might be closed as well. Please check the official website for more information.

  8. 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!

      1. Hi Jurga,
        Your blog is very helpful. Our 3 days plan in Yellowstone this summer is laid out as per your blog https://fullsuitcase.com/yellowstone-itinerary-suggestions/.

        Day 1: Old Faithful and the Geyser Loop Trail (don’t miss the Morning Glory Pool). Grand Prismatic. Norris Geyser Basin.
        Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs. Boiling River (swimming). Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass.
        Day 3: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone river (Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Lower Falls). Hayden Valley. Yellowstone Lake.

        We’re staying close to West entrance. I’ve my kid (5+ years) and wife with me, do you think first day we can only cover that much as you mentioned in Day 1 or we can cover more than that? How much time it takes on an average to complete those spots? We plan to start our day at 7 AM from our hotel. How long I can stay inside the park safely? Or by what time I should come back to my hotel?

        I’ve another question -If I reach there from Saltlake city airport around 4PM by car, can I utilize that day to visit the park after that 5 hour long journey?

        Could you also please provide the ticket information there? Do I need to purchase ticket for each day and how much is that?

        If you have any other advice for family like me, please provide.

        1. Author

          Hi San, I think that it really depends on how much time you want to spend in each location. Also, a bit on your luck – e.g. if the Old Faithful has just erupted, you’ll have to wait 1,5hrs to see it, or you can just see it as you arrive… It’s the same for the other geysers there – you can just walk around and be done in half an hour, or you might see a few of them go and then you’ll probably spend more time. Norris Geyser Basin is another place where you can spend several hours. Also the Grand Prismatic – are you planning to hike to the scenic overlook (more info on Grand Prismatic)? That will add at least 30-60 minutes… So yes, the day 1 itinerary looks about right to me. If you are finished earlier, why not go back to West Yellowstone and visit Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (more information about it here – #15 in the list of the best things to do in Yellowstone).
          As for your arrival day, keep in mind that it takes about 5hrs to drive from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone, so you’ll be really tired. I think it’s better to just take it easy and maybe jump in the pool or so ;). Otherwise, you could visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center on that day – it’s in West Yellowstone.
          And finally, if you visit several parks in the US in one year, we recommend buying a yearly pass (America the Beautiful pass). It costs 80USD and is valid for the whole family for all the parks for one year. You can buy it at the entrance gate of the park. If you only visit Yellowstone, a ticket costs 35USD per car (it usually includes the whole family) and is valid for 7 days. You can find more info here and you can also buy this ticket at the entrance of the park.
          Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

          1. Thank you Jurga. You’re marvelous!

    1. Great! we’re also going this summer.

  9. 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!

    Thanks!
    XO Sahra

    1. Author

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 😉

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

    1. Author

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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