Three Reasons to Visit Yellowstone Every Month of the Summer

rafting in yellowstone

If you are still deciding which month of the summer to visit Yellowstone Park, you are not alone. Weighing the benefits of visiting Yellowstone during certain times of the summer can be challenging based on several factors including schedules, weather, and the goals behind your Yellowstone adventure. Perhaps wildlife watching is the motive behind your trip or taking advantage of the best fly fishing, whitewater rafting, or hiking conditions. Any time you decide to visit Yellowstone is an amazing choice, and we have outlined some of the highlights of each month below!

Visiting Yellowstone in May

Reason #1: Fresh Tracks

May is the least busy time of the summer for Yellowstone travel. The roads to Yellowstone’s interior are freshly cleared of snow, and Park traffic is light. Reservations for lodging and activities such as whitewater rafting and horseback riding are much easier to schedule.

Reason #2: The Thaw

Spring has sprung, Yellowstone is waking up from her long winter, and the Park is coming alive! Mornings are cool, and native plants begin to bud and blossom. The Park is a vibrant green, and the snowy mountain peaks in the distance make a backdrop more majestic than any other in the Lower 48. May is an excellent time to visit Yellowstone if photography is a motivator behind your vacation.

Reason#3: Wildlife

May is the time of year when Yellowstone’s local fauna begins to stir. Bears emerge from their dens, rejuvenated from their winter slumber. They are highly motivated to find food during this time and can be seen in the valleys looking for winter kill, fresh grasses, and roots to replenish the weight lost over the long winter months. Wolves also remain down in the meadows closer to the road this time of year, taking advantage of the cool mornings and evenings to hunt before the heat of summer kicks in. May is a great month to see wildlife activity close to the road all day long as Park traffic is low and the days are long and cool.

bears in yellowstone

Visiting Yellowstone in June

Reason#1: Everyone Loves Baby Animals

The Park’s bison and elk begin to calve! After a long and harsh winter, new life abounds. The bison and elk calves are abundant in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley; seeing this new life in such abundance is an incredible experience. The bison calves, or “red dogs”, are a deep red, and the elk calves have fresh white spots. June is your best chance to see black and grizzly bear cubs, all trying to learn a few life lessons by tagging along with their mommas. The road to Lamar Valley is an excellent place to see bear cubs in Yellowstone, particularly around Elk Creek, Tower Junction, and Slough Creek.

Reason #2: The Melt

June is your chance to see Yellowstone in her most impressive and powerful state. The days are warm, and the Park’s rivers swell with snowmelt spilling from the mountain peaks. The Upper and Lower Falls of Yellowstone River cascade tens of thousands of gallons of water every second over the edge of the upper 110’ waterfall and the lower 308’ precipice. To experience the Falls in full, we recommend a hike down Uncle Tom’s Trail. This trail takes adventurers down to the base of Lower Falls for a breathtaking experience!

Reason#3: Whitewater Rafting on the Yellowstone River

With spring runoff comes some of the best whitewater in the Yellowstone area! Rafting is one of the most popular activities in the region throughout the summer, and there is no better time to experience the Yellowstone River.

During June, thrill seekers opt for the 18-mile or overnight raft trip, which takes paddlers through the area’s premier whitewater stretch: Yankee Jim Canyon.

For first-timers or those traveling with young children, an 8-mile rafting trip is a great option. This shorter trip is an excellent introduction to whitewater rafting. It consists of big rolling waves, great splashes, and several scenic stretches to allow paddlers to kick back and relax.

Although the water is chilly this time of year, we provide wetsuits, splash tops, and all other necessary gear to keep you comfortable on the river!

horseback riding in yellowstone

Visiting Yellowstone in July

Reason #1: Let’s Hear it for Summer!

Summer is here! Yellowstone Park is back to its usual hustle and bustle with no shortage of activities in Yellowstone or the surrounding areas. Independence Day activities are plentiful, including the Livingston Rodeo over the Fourth of July Weekend (talk about an incredible fireworks display!) and surrounding rodeos in Cody and Jackson. The area has several great concert venues, and the set lists in July are fully booked! Check out the talent coming to The Old Saloon or Pine Creek Lodge for a great show in scenic Paradise Valley. Whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River is in full swing, and the weather is perfect for a trail ride on horseback in Yellowstone country.

Reason #2: The Salmon Flies

For fly fisherman, the salmon fly hatch in Greater Yellowstone is the year’s biggest event! Salmon flies are big, clumsy, gentle bugs who exist primarily to feed fat and hungry trout.

These bugs spend the better part of their life cycle underwater but when the water temps hit the magic number, they hatch into their terrestrial form. Trout look forward to this event all year, and there is no better place to fly fish than Yellowstone during those first couple of weeks in July.

Our Yellowstone River fly fishing guides offers both walk-wade and float trips. We love sharing this experience with anglers of all skill levels and abilities!

Reason #3: ‘Splorin

July is the best time of year to stretch your legs and hike in Yellowstone. Ample daylight is a big factor (about 16 hours worth!), and this is generally our best weather of the year. All the snow has melted from the trails, which means smooth sailing to whichever destination you choose.

Yellowstone has over 1,000 miles of established hiking trails. Although big-ticket items such as Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic are must-sees, we believe the best way to get to know the Park is by burning some boot leather in a new place. The suspension bridge at Hellroaring Trail provides an excellent view of the Yellowstone River. Other local favorites include Slough Creek Trail, Osprey Falls Trail, and Bunsen Peak.

fishing in yellowstone

Visiting Yellowstone in August

Reason#1: Fishing (Again?)

Although we touched on Yellowstone’s renowned salmon fly hatch in July, we couldn’t mention the month of August without fishing. August is hopper season, boasting the best dry fly action for big cutthroat trout in the Park!

Early mornings and late afternoons tend to be better fishing, but if you can find fish when they are feeding, those hungry trout will have difficulty resisting a well-drifted fly floating overhead.

The Lamar River, Soda Butte Creek, Yellowstone River, and Madison River are great fishing options in the Park.

Reason#2: Get in the Water!

What a great time to get on the water! Daytime temps keep the water in the high 60s this time of Summer, and a dip in one of the Park’s lakes or rivers is a refreshing way to fully “submerse” yourself in the spirit of Yellowstone.

Whether you choose a rafting trip with the Flying Pig, a canoe trip on Yellowstone Lake, or a swim in Phelps Lake, we encourage you to take the plunge! You can always warm up with a soak at Yellowstone Hot Springs or Chico Hot Springs!

Reason#3: The Rut

Although August is quite warm in the daytime, the crisp evenings remind us that Fall is approaching. With this change of season comes one of the more spectacular events involving Yellowstone’s ungulates. Bison begin breeding in mid-August, and the chances of seeing two bulls square off in a battle for a cow are high. Enormous bulls roll in the dirt sending clouds of dust billowing in all directions. Their body temperatures rise, making them even more ornery than usual. The animals snort, grunt, and show aggression toward other bulls, putting on a show for anyone fortunate enough to see them this time of year.

The elk also sense that fall is in the air and begin to stage for their mating season. Although elk start the breeding season in September, the bulls begin separating from bachelor groups in late August and emerge from the mountains to search for cows in the valleys. August is a great opportunity to see these magnificent monarchs in Yellowstone in peak physical condition.

We’ll Help Plan Your Yellowstone Trip

There is no right or wrong time to visit Yellowstone, as each season has amazing attractions to offer stewards. When you start planning your Yellowstone trip, the Flying Pig would love to be a resource for you and your family!

Whether you are looking for ideas for activities, searching for local intel, or hoping to go on a whitewater rafting trip, we would love to help plan your Yellowstone adventure. See you this summer!

Flying Pig Adventures