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Summer In Yellowstone Has Something for the Whole Family!

One of the most remarkable things about Yellowstone National Park is that every season brings something new to get excited about. Spring showcases the first wildflowers, animal babies, and grizzly and black bears waking up from their dens. Fall is the season of the elk rut, bright yellow aspen trees, bighorn rams, and the first dustings of snow on the mountains. Winter might be ideal if you prefer solitude, frosty skies, and wolves traversing a white landscape.

But what about summer? Images of large crowds and hot days might come to mind, but summer is much more than traffic and lines.  A dizzying array of wildflowers in bloom, backcountry accessibility, and endless pops of color in every direction allow everyone to fall in love with the world’s first national park.  An early morning start will enable us to beat the heat–and the crowds. Starting at 5:00 a.m. may sound a little crazy at first. But rest assured, after witnessing a solitary sunrise, experiencing a bison herd without another car in sight, or listening to the howling of wolves before they settle in for their midday nap, the early morning departure is worth it!

Forces of the Northern Range Interpretive walk at first light

Sunrise on Yellowstone’s Northern Range. Notice the absence of other visitors. Photo courtesy of Aleksa B.

Even as the sun rises and visitors begin to fill the park, one majestic symbol of Yellowstone remains visible – America’s National Mammal – the bison. The summer is when these majestic animals mate, and the bison rut is a sight to behold. The huge bulls, their bellows echoing through the valleys, spend their time wallowing in the dust, chasing the females, and fighting each other for breeding rights. The sights and sounds (and smells!) of the bison rut are an unmatched spectacle that is a uniquely summertime event. 

a large bull bison standing on top of a hill viewing a matriarchal herdA bull bison surveys a nearby herd of cows.  Photo courtesy of Emil McCain

Later in the day, the heat brings out some of the best Yellowstone’s offerings! On a tour of the park’s thermal features, a hot day can dissipate the steam that shrouds hot springs, geysers, and mud pots. Warmer ambient temperatures allow for an unobstructed view of Old Faithful erupting–on average– a whopping 130 feet into the air! Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin is another summertime gem of Yellowstone’s thermal features. On colder days, its beauty is hidden away by steam, but when the air gets hot, this spectacular pool’s deep, tropical blues reveal themselves fully.

a pool of water

Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin on a warm summer day.  Photo courtesy of Aleksa B

Summer is also the perfect time to take a hike into the unknown! On a quiet off-trail wander, you never know what you might find. A walk among the fields of wildflowers might turn up a rare species or color morph of a flower.  Or perhaps you’ll come across a small mammal trap set out by biologists studying Yellowstone’s lesser-viewed fauna.

a close up of a flower garden

A rare white-morph lupine spotted on a short nature walk. In the background are normal purple-blue lupine blooms. Photo courtesy of Aleksa B.               

small rodent trap

A small mammal trap was a cool find and a reminder that even the smallest creatures are worthy of biologists’ attention! Photo courtesy of Aleksa B

And speaking of fauna, watch for badgers busily digging holes and hunting for those same small mammals. If you’re lucky, you could even spot one of the park’s neatest examples of symbiosis (mutualism), as coyotes and badgers often work together to successfully flush out prey living in underground burrows!

No matter your interests, summer in the world’s first national park offers something rewarding for everyone. Our experienced and passionate naturalist guides can ensure that your summer trip to Yellowstone is genuinely unique and memorable. Check out our summer tour offerings HERE to see how we can make your trip extraordinary!

Blog by Yellowstone Wild Naturalist Guide Aleksa B

Photos courtesy Aleksa B and Emil M/Video courtesy of YW Naturalist Guide Leysa K.

To learn more about Aleksa and the rest of the Yellowstone Wild team visit our “About Us” webpage.