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Yellowstone Packing List: What to Wear & What to Pack in Summer

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Yellowstone Packing List: What to Wear & What to Pack 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, 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 the 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 a 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.

TIP: 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 or sneakers 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 packing water shoes for swimming (you’ll thank me later, or will end up chasing a flip-flop in the mountain river as I did).

TIP: Here you can find more information in regards to hiking, swimming, and other fun activities in Yellowstone.

What to wear to Yellowstone - clothing packing list and tips
 

Yellowstone Packing List

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 your 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 advise using SPF50 sunscreen lotion.
  • Sunglasses
  • Quick-drying travel towel is 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 advise 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 and also our travel photography tips.

 
  • 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 visiting Yellowstone in summer and wonder what it’s really like and how to avoid the crowds and make the best of your trip, make sure to check this article where we share our experience visiting Yellowstone in July/ August and our top tips for your visit in summer. Take a look!

 
More information for your trip to Yellowstone:

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

Wednesday 6th of November 2019

Hello Jurga, Wonderful adventure blog. Thanks for the tips. Do you have any suggestions on what to wear in Yellowstone in winter as well?

Jurga

Thursday 7th of November 2019

Hi Lili, I haven't been to Yellowstone in winter, but from everything I read, it's really very cold. I think that my packing list for Norway in winter contains exactly what I'd pack for Yellowstone in winter. Hope this helps.

Joanna

Tuesday 23rd of July 2019

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

Jurga

Thursday 25th of July 2019

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

Miranda GREENWELL

Tuesday 4th of June 2019

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

Jurga

Thursday 6th of June 2019

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

Jillinda Janeway

Saturday 6th of April 2019

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

Jurga

Saturday 6th of April 2019

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.

Tania

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

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.

Jurga

Thursday 4th of April 2019

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.

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