This week in Yellowstone National Park, we will see some awesome things. Summer is in full swing and despite a few thunderstorms in the afternoons, it’ll be warm and wonderful. Wildflowers are popping off in the high country, the bison are entering their mating season in full force, and things are still green!


The Bison Rut!

There are few things as unique to watch as the bison rut. While I could recommend things like remote waterfalls, or special to me picnic areas that I know you’d love, this week and probably next week too are all about the bison rut. If you can, head to Lamar or Hayden Valley to witness this event. The bison rut can start in June and last until September, but the best time of the year to witness it is right now! Bison only breed seasonally, and when they do so, they not monogamous in the least. Instead, they are described as polygynous- bull bison mate with as many females as they can, but females will only mate with one bull. 

Because of this, the bulls are super aggressive toward other bulls, battling with them bellowing into the air to show how tough they are, and wallowing in urine soaked dust to give themselves that irresistible musk. Think of it as Axe Body Spray for bison. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is to be able to watch this event happen each year and hope you take the time to check it out. 

The National Park website about the rut has this to say: 

Bulls begin to court females through a variety of behaviors such as sniffing female genital areas and face-to-face lip curls. Wallowing behaviors also increase, where males will roll violently on the ground to display aggression. This wallowing behavior can cause so much dust to rise that the herds can disappear behind clouds of dust! A bull’s tail also indicates mating status and behavior. A tail held high in a “question mark” fashion indicates a threat or challenge. This question mark signal is commonly seen as bulls lead a female away for mating.

Once a bull finds a receptive female, he will form a tending bond to keep other bulls ways from her. These bonds can last from a few minutes to a few days, depending on when the female will accept copulation. During these tending bonds, the bull demonstrates intolerance for all other group members through a variety of bellowing, wallowing, and threat displays. Unlike other species, such as elk, elephant seals, and baboons, that form harems—animal group consisting of one male and multiple females—male bison will remain part of the large group during the rut expect for these temporary tending bonds. It is documented that higher male copulation rates are associated with higher social dominance. Females are more willing to copulate with larger, more dominant males than with smaller males.

The rut is an exciting time of year. Bellows fill the air, the group buzzes with activity, and male-male clashes can be seen. As the fall leaves begin to turn yellow and orange, the mating activities being to die down. But only 285 days later, reddish-orange baby calves are born, bringing excitement once again to the landscape.

Sunset crowds at Old Faithful


Avoid the Crowds at the Popular Spots!

Want to see Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic and all those other must-see locations in the park without as many people? The way to do it is quite easy, but requires a bit of planning. 

To see these spots with the fewest amount of people in the summer, you’ll need to do one of two things: Arrive early, or stay later. 

How early? 

Honestly, the earlier, the better. First light is around 5:30am and sunrise is a little later at 6am, so if you can be at, or at least heading to a popular spot right after sunrise, you will have some early morning solitude. 

How late? 

The good news here, for those who don’t take up early, is that around 5pm, a lot of park visitors start to leave the park and head back to wherever they are staying. Typically, they are leaving to go have dinner and to unwind from the day. Those who pack a dinner with them can use this to their advantage. Once everyone starts leaving, the popular spots in the park also start to thin out. With sunset not occurring until after 8:30pm, you’ll have three hours or so to see the must-see areas with much more ease.


Predicting weather for the entire park is pretty much impossible, but the trends are usually accurate. The weather this time of the year is pretty consistent, but this is what you’ll need to know. It’ll be warm, with highs in the 70s and 80s in most spots in the park. Lows may be in the 50s or 40s. Anticipate thunderstorms in the afternoon on most days, as this is the season for them and they can pop up anywhere. 

A more detailed forecast, that could change, is the following. 

The weekend of the 29th and 30th looks to be pretty sunny and warm with a small chance of thunderstorms each day. The 31st also looks to be the same. August 1st is currently also looking good, with a storm potentially starting to roll in that night or the next morning. 

The stormy days are currently coming on August 2nd, August 3rd. August 4th. Lows in some spots will drop to the low 40s and maybe even the upper 30s. Highs will be in the 60s in many spots. Expect rain. 

A generic forecast for the park can be found at the National Weather Service Website. 


Driving in the park this week will be a challenge for three reasons: Construction, Wildlife, and Crowds. This following is a recap of information found at the Yellowstone Park Roads Website. Please check that link before you enter the park each day, as it is updated constantly. 

Construction wise, the following locations will see backups and delays: 

  • Mammoth to Norris: On August 1-2, crews will repair a section of road through Golden Gate Canyon, about 5 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs in the northern part of the park. Drivers should expect up to 30-minute delays between 6 a.m.- 6 p.m.
  • Tower to Slough Creek: Expect occasional and short delays over the Yellowstone River Bridge, roughly one mile from the junction as you head toward Slough Creek. 
  • Northeast Entrance Road: Expect up to 30-minute delays to fix severe flood damage from 2022. This project includes the completion of work to address flood-damaged areas of the Northeast Entrance Road. Construction will include completion of a two-lane realignment in Lamar Canyon, paving a second lift north of the Trout Lake Trailhead, stabilization of stream-banks adjacent to the road, and work in the Pebble Creek Campground and Warm Creek Picnic Area. Additionally, some guardrails, culverts, and other drainage structures will be replaced.
  • Biscuit Basin to Grant Village (Including Old Faithful to West Thumb): Expect up to 30-minute delays. This project includes the rehabilitation of over 20 miles of the Grand Loop Road between Biscuit Basin and Grant Village, including Old Faithful and West Thumb. This is one of the most heavily traveled road corridors in the park. Construction will include repaving the roadway and replacing guardrails, culverts, and other drainage structures.
  • Lewis River Bridge near the South Entrance: Expect up to 20-minute delays. This project includes the removal and replacement of the Lewis River Bridge. The existing bridge will be removed, and a new bridge will be constructed immediately downstream, with additional parking and viewing opportunities.

Please remember that when driving in the park, speeding is not only illegal, but dangerous to you and wildlife. Animals can and will jump out in the road anywhere at any time. Cars may be stopped on the road around blind corners. Please, please please observe speed limit signs, use pullouts if you are the slow car and causing a backup and do not stop on the road. 

For up-to-date information call (307) 344-2117 for recorded information, or sign up to receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions). Anticipate possible road closures due to inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions.

Camping Info

Of the 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park, 8 are open. Mammoth, Norris, Pebble Creek and Tower are closed. Of those, Mammoth is the only one that could potentially open this year, but it probably won’t be happening this week, so don’t get your hopes up. 

The eight open campgrounds are also filling daily, so locating an open site will be more luck than anything else. Because of that, if you are planning camping and don’t have reservation, you probably should look outside the park. I would look into campgrounds and boon docking sites out of the park on National Forest Service lands. 


The Bison Rut is Upon Us!!

If you are heading to Lamar or Hayden Valley this coming week, expect some wild bison action. The bison have entered their rut (mating season) so they are super active and all over the place. While most of the year sees the park’s ~6,000 bison spread around the park, this time of the year has most of them in the two aforementioned spots. 

Bears are hanging out around the Canyon and Tower areas, as well as out in Lamar and Hayden Valleys. They can be spotted anywhere, though, typically in the morning and evening hours. 

If you are hoping to spot a wolf, your best bets right now will be to go to Lamar Valley or Hayden Valley. They have been spotted here quite frequently, especially early mornings in Lamar. 

The main wildlife question I have been getting recently is where one can see a moose. While you may be able to spot a moose during your park visit, out by the NE Entrance or maybe around West, they are hard to see this time of the year. Your best bet, if you are dead-set on seeing a moose, is to head down to the Tetons, where they are constantly spotted. 


Wildflowers continue to dazzle, mosquitoes continue to bite, and snow is getting harder and harder to find. 

As with last week, the wildflowers in the park are putting on quite a great display. While the lower areas of the park are seeing some of them begin to leave, the higher elevation trails are still breathtaking and smell incredible. If you haven’t hit a trail with wildflowers in the area, definitely consider doing so ASAP! 

For more wildflower details, please click here to head over to the official wildflower page for Yellowstone National Park. For pictures and names of all the wildflowers you may spot in Yellowstone, check out this website.


As of July 28th:

  • Riverside Loop Trail near West Entrance: Strong Bear Warning on this day hiking trail. 
  • Cache Creek Trail: Hikers reported a bear bluff charged them near the Cache Creek Cabin on 7/24. Bear frequenting area warning for Cache Creek campsites. 
  • Pelican Valley/Turbid Lake: Strong bear warning in effect for the northern Pelican Valley. This strong bear warning will not impact the overwhelming majority of hikers in the park, as the region is not one of the well-trodden spots in the park.
  • The Sepulcher/Beaver Ponds/Snow Pass area has bear frequenting area warning signs up. 
  • The Natural Bridge Trail in the lake area currently also has bear frequenting area warnings.


All information is gathered from the Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Situation Report website. Please check it often, as it is updated daily and conditions constantly change. 

  • Osprey Falls: Closed for the foreseeable future due to serious erosion after the 2022 floods. 
  • Lost Creek Falls Trail: Access to the falls is not allowed due to a washed out bridge. 
  • Garnet Hill Loop: Closed for the foreseeable future due to serious erosion after the 2022 floods.
  • Lone Star Geyser: Closed at the main parking area for construction. Parking is available at DeLacy Creek Trail, Howard Eaton Trailhead or from Keppler Cascade.


The mosquito inundation continues, but is slowly diminishing. While this week will still more than likely require some bug spray, the warmer weather will start to dry out some of the wetter areas and seasonal ponds. From reports from others and hikes I have been on, there really isn’t a spot where you won’t find them.


Snowpack? What snowpack. It is the end of July and the start of August. The snow has mostly melted from everywhere except the highest mountains of the region. This is normal. Snow will start to return to them in September. 


Would you rather hike the trails with a knowledgable expert on the park?

I offer private guided hiking services in Yellowstone and would be happy to help you have an amazing time out in the wilds of the park. Feel free to reach out to me directly, or check out my current guided hiking options!


Enjoying this information, but want even more?

I have a wildlife watching guidebook and a hiking guidebook to the region available at my store.

Both ebook and paperback copies are available.