Warm daytime temperatures, abundant wildlife, and long daylight hours provide ideal conditions for exploring Yellowstone’s wonders during the summer season. Along with the magnificent sightseeing and adventure opportunities, there are plenty of fun and family-friendly activities to participate in. For example, you’ll find free daily ranger programs, campfire talks, interpretive walks, staff-led painting activities, and an endless selection of programs and tours to choose from through the Yellowstone Forever Institute.
Additionally, you can view our summer 2020 calendar of events that highlights road openings and closures, retail store openings, and author book signings.
Wildlife Watching in Yellowstone
Yellowstone is renowned for incredible wildlife watching opportunities, and for good reason. It is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states (67 species). Not to mention nearly 300 species of birds, 16 species of fish, five species of amphibians, and six species of reptiles. Visitors who are willing to get up early and stay out late will maximize there chances of seeing some of the park’s magnificent wild animals like bears, bison, elk, and if you’re lucky, wolves.
Remember, approaching on foot within 100 yards (91 m) of bears or wolves, or within 25 yards (23 m) of other wildlife is prohibited. Use roadside pullouts when viewing wildlife. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
Hiking in Yellowstone
Some of Yellowstone’s 900-plus miles of scenic trails start to become accessible in late-April. See our article Yellowstone Hiking 101 for detailed information on everything from short hikes to backpacking trips. Find a list of specific trail recommendations from our very own Staff Members’ Favorite Hikes. Weather in Yellowstone is notoriously unpredictable so be sure to pack accordingly and don’t forget your boots! Remember to remain alert and bear-aware when out on the trail. Carry bear spray, hike in groups, make noise.
Fishing in Yellowstone
Fly fishing season begins in the park in late May. Yellowstone is a world-class fishing destination (the scenery is not too shabby either). Be sure to check out our fly fishing tips before heading out and casting your fly. Our Yellowstone Forever Institute is also hosting multi-day fly-fishing seminars and single day clinics this summer. Click the button below and find the seminar that best fits you!
Camping in Yellowstone
Camping in Yellowstone is a budget-friendly alternative to hotels, and also a whole lot of fun. It’s a terrific way to unplug, experience the park’s natural environment, and enjoy simple pleasures like cooking and eating around the campfire. Ready to plan your trip? Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions about staying in a Yellowstone campground.
Yellowstone Forever Park Stores
Our educational Park Stores are the number one source of information on all things Yellowstone. Staff are ready to help you plan your trip, provide information about Institute programs, and explain the different ways you can support important park projects. Stop by these 11 locations in and around Yellowstone this summer. If you are not able to visit the park, you can always shop for the same products online.
Yellowstone Park Store Locations and Opening Dates
Old Faithful – April 17
Canyon – May 10
Norris – May 23
West Thumb – May 23
Quake Lake – May 23
Art & Photography Center – May 23
Fishing Bridge – May 23
Grant Village – May 23
Madison – June 7
Gardiner, MT – Open year-round
Mammoth Hot Springs – Open year-round
Bozeman Airport Store – Open year-round
Yellowstone Art & Photography Center
The Yellowstone Art & Photography Center is located at Old Faithful near the visitor center and celebrates the role art and photography played in the preservation of Yellowstone and many other public lands.
The Art & Photography Center will open for the season on May 23!
The Center offers staff-led activities, art lecture series, and daily hands-on activities for the whole family. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit Yellowstone.org/art.
3rd Annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational
The Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational has been a huge hit and we are happy to announce it will be back for a 3rd year! Some of the nation’s best artists will paint “en plein air” (outside on-site) for four days in various locations throughout the park. Visitors will have the opportunity to attend daily painting demonstrations and a paint-out that gathers all artists to paint in one location on Saturday, September 26. Click here for a full schedule of plein-air events. This year, the Invitational will be based out of Mammoth Hot Springs.
National Park Service Activities
Social Media Meetups
Here’s your chance to meet with fellow social media enthusiasts and photographers—including the Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone Forever social media team—in iconic locations throughout Yellowstone. The meetups are a fun and laid-back opportunity to make new friends, take photos, and tell stories about the world’s first national park. All ages, levels of experience, and cameras welcome. For more details, including where to meet for each event, check out the 2020 social media meets page.
Rescue Creek hike
May 25, 6:30pm–sunset
Yellowstone Lake Sunset Cruise
July 22, 7pm–sunset
Great Fountain Geyser
August 25, 7pm–sunset
Mammoth Elk Rut
September 23, 5:30pm–sunset
Yellowstone Citizen Science Projects
For a run and rewarding summer experience, be on the lookout for ways to get involved with a Yellowstone Citizen Science project! The Yellowstone Citizen Science Initiative is a collaboration between Yellowstone Forever and Yellowstone National Park. The program calls on youth and adults of all backgrounds to collect essential data that will help park scientists and management officials better understand how the Yellowstone ecosystem is responding to changing environmental conditions. Five Citizen Science projects are in progress this summer, including pika observations and invasive weed mapping.