After booking your trip to Yosemite, you now need to figure out what to take with you. This ultimate Yosemite packing list covers all of the essentials you need before you head off on your bucket list adventure.
Yosemite National Park is like no other place on Earth and has many amazing photo spots. It features majestic views of the Western mountains and lakes, while also containing sequoia trees and glaciers. The sequoias are some of the largest trees in North America, with some standing at over 300 feet tall.
There is no doubt you are going to be close to nature. You might even decide to camp or trek one of the best hikes scattered around the park. Your packing list needs to consider where you stay when you are planning your trip and your itinerary.
There is a lot to take into consideration and it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. This ultimate Yosemite packing list takes you through everything you could ever need when you are visiting Yosemite National Park either by yourself or as part of a tour.
What to Pack For Yosemite
To make it easier to follow, the list is split up into seasons. Some of the advice might overlap, but there are noticeable differences between the seasons too. December January, February and March is going to look a lot different than May, June and July.
Before you head off though it is advisable to always check the weather and pack accordingly as the weather can change from one day to the next.
There are also sections that include what to pack when you are staying in a hotel, camping or staying in an RV. Your list might also change depending on whether you are visiting Yosemite with kids or whether rafting is part of your Yosemite itinerary.
What to Bring to Yosemite in Summer
The weather in the summertime at Yosemite is hot and dry. The temperature is around 91°F but temperatures can reach up to 104°C. The evenings are cool with temperatures dropping to around 55°F. There isn’t much rain in the summer. In fact, it usually only rains a few days in June, July and August combined.
Knowing the weather is helpful in figuring out what clothes to bring and any other necessities you need.
- Top of your list should be suncream . There are not many shaded areas in Yosemite so it is important you protect your self from the sun. If you plan on dipping your toes in the Merced River or you are brave enough to go for a swim, then choose one that is waterproof. The same applies if you are hiking, choose a suncream that is sweatproof and suitable for sports or a kid-friendly one.
- It shouldn’t surprise you that there are mosquitoes and other bugs in Yosemite. after all, Yosemite is 3900 miles of wilderness. Packing a bug repellent is an essential item in summer when these insects are in adundance.
- Sunglasses are one of those items that we know should pack but are too often forgotten. If you do forget them, it won’t take you too long to remember when you are trying to shield your eyes from the sun.
- Knowing what to wear in Yosemite in June, July and August is important as you want to keep cool during the day and warm in the evening. This means you want light clothing that can be layered easily.
- A light rain jacket is always a good idea. It can keep you warm, it is easy to carry and there in case of a light shower.
- As it is hot in summer, you don’t want to be wearing heavy hiking boots. Hiking sandals can grip the ground easily while letting your feet breathe. Many are also suitable to wear when you want to get your feet wet too.
- Last but not least is a sunhat. They are great for prtecting both your head and your hair from the sun. Some even provide protection for your neck.
Yosemite National Park Packing List for Autumn
The weather is mild in Yosemite in fall. In fact, if you are not bothered about seeing any waterfalls then it is one of the best times to visit the park. This is primarily due to the weather making it great for hikes. There are usually fewer crowds at this time too.
Your packing list might look a little different depending on the month you visit. At the start of fall, the temperature is still fairly hot at around 82°F during the day and 50°F at night. In October expect it to be 68°F in the day and then 41°F at night. November has the lowest temperatures at 55°F during the daytime and 32°F at night.
Rainfall is also at its highest in November, with very little in September. If you are coming at the start of the month then you may want to pack a few of the recommended items for summer. However, if you are coming in November, then the winter packing list is appropriate.
- Hiking is likely to be top of your list at this time of year. Good hiking shoes are essential especially if you are planning any long or difficult hikes.
- Day packs are great to carry as well to keep all your essentials on your hike or as you travel about the park.
- You want to wear light clothing in the day and warm clothing at night. A light jacket may have been fine in summer, but at this time of year you may want to pack a few sweaters.
- Autumn is also the start of fishing season. Many people come to fish in the river and the lakes scattered around Yosemite. You need the right gear for this so come prepared.
- The colours in Yosemite in Fall are magical. With warm oranges and reds, it is a wonderful time to snap a few photos in the best photo spots in Yosemite. So don’t forget your camera.
Packing List for Yosemite in Winter
Winter is when the snow starts to fall, the roads start to close and the temperature drops. In Yosemite this is in December, January, February and March. It is more than likely that you stay in the Valley as many other places are not accessible. The temperature in the valley is around 50°F during the day and then they can drop as low as 30°F in the evenings.
Don’t let the cold weather put you off. Not only is there still plenty of things to do, but the park is also magical at this time of year. Have a look below at some of the things you may need to bring with you to enjoy this time of year.
- You can also still camp at this time of year, so remember to bring camping gear that is suitable for cold temperatures. An insulated sleeping bag should be included.
- The roads to the park are liekly to be icy. Before you leave, you may need to fit your vechicle with tire chains.
- This is the time you want to add vests, long sleeved t-shirts, and sweaters to your list. You still want easy layers so you can take them off if needed especailly if you stop at a restaurant for a bit to eat.
- Don’t forget your head! It is cold so packing a warm hat ensures you keep it protected.
- One thing that is often forgotten is gloves. Get well fitted ones and ones that keep you warm.
- You are going to need a warm jacket as well. if there is snow on the ground, then choose an insulated one.
- Skiing is availble at Badger Pass from December. If this is part of your itinerary then make sure you pack the right ski gear.
- You can still hike at this time of year. It is a little more difficult but snowshoes can make it easier. They grip the ground better and make it easier to walk.
What to Take to Yosemite in Spring
Spring is unpredictable one day it may be warm and the next cold. The start of spring is more like winter but Yosemite Valley is usually snow-free by around April or May. Spring is also the time to visit to see the wonderful waterfalls in the park or try out rafting.
The waterfalls are not flowing all year as they are caused by snow melting. they have usually dried up by summer. You may need to add a few winter items to the list as the temperatures can be as low as 35°F.
- The nights are still likely to be dark at this time of year. A torch is important in case you need to find your way in the dark or even alert others to your location.
- Pack warm clothes to keep you warm on cold nights. There can also be the occasional snowstorm in Spring so it’s best not to leave without a warm jacket.
- With the wildlife waking up around this time you might get to see a few birds or deer at the park. If nature watching is part of your plan in Yosemite bring some binoculars with you so you can get a closer look.
- As the river and the waterfalls will be at their best, many visitors hike to see them. Getting up close means getting wet. Carrying a light weight towel is great so you can dry off easily.
Things to Take to Yosemite for Hiking
Whether you are taking a short kid-friendly hike, planning an all-day hike or just looking for the best hiking gifts, taking the correct items with you is important. It is likely hiking is top of the list on any Yosemite itinerary.
- There are so many benefits to using poles when you are hiking. They are especially good when you are coming downhill or hiking in the winter.
- No matter which hike you are on you are going to need to stay hydrated. Packing several water bottles might be your first thought but hydration reservoirs are more lightweight and practical.
- Remember you need around one litre per hour that you are hiking. If you think you are going to run out then pack some water purification tablets or water bottles with a built-in filter. That way you can drink from any of the natural streams or creeks.
- You need to know where you are going. There is not great service in Yosemite so you could download a trail from ALLTRAILS before you set off or you could bring a paper map instead.
- A headlamp should be packed in case your hike takes longer than you think especially in fall and winter when the nigths get darker earlier. It could be very dangerous trying to find your way back in the dark.
- Hiking can make you sweat and with many of the trails in the direct sunlight you might start to feel the heat. A cooling towel is easy to carry and it can help cool you down.
- You could also wear a range of quick drying clothes. These are perfect for all typs of weather and great if you plan on hikes that last a few hours.
- A day pack is perfect for short hikes, but if plan on hiking for most of the day you are going to be carrying a lot more. In this case you need more room so a back pack is definetly a better choice.
What to Pack to Yosemite When Camping
Camping is very popular at Yosemite and many of the campsites are fully booked months in advance. Most people stay in one of the many campgrounds or RV Parks near the Valley. If you are lucky to reserve a place, then you may be wondering what you need to bring. Below is a few items to take to make the most of your trip.
- First and foremost you need a tent. it should be suitable for your party size. You should also practice putting it up before you arrive.
- You need to keep warm at night so choose the right sleeping bag for the season.
- Campfires are allowed all year round although there are time restrictions at certain times of the year. You can collect firewood in the campground, but you may want to pack some firestarters.
- Food can be bought in the nearby towns, but they are usually a little more expensive. There is also a select choice so it is best to pack the food you want before you arrive.
- Yosemite has grills and designated areas for campfires, but you need to bring your own pots and pans if you want to eat hot food.
- A plate and cutlery set for eating your meals. Choose one that it easily washed and reuseable.
- Most people plan in making their own food. Cooking utensils are essental items for any camping trip.
- Campgrounds provide food lockers and all food must be locked away in the evening. However, if you are backcountry camping then bring your own along with you.
Yosemite Packing List for a Hotel Stay
The great news about staying in a hotel is you don’t have to bring as much with you. Many hotels even have toiletries so you could skip them too.
Some places are self-catering but they usually provide all of the utensils. If however, you are planning at eating at the restaurants there may be a dress code.
For example, if you dine at the Awanhee Dining room then men must wear long trousers and a shirt with a collar. Women are required to wear a dress, skirt, or long trousers with a blouse. Wearing shorts, T-shirts, tank tops, flip-flops, and baseball caps is not allowed in the evening.
If you are visiting Yosemite with kids then children over the age of four are asked to dress for the occasion as well.
Packing for Yosemite Your Personal Belongings
It’s more than likely that you already know to take your clothes and socks. But we wanted to give you a few tips on what personal belongings might make packing a little easier.
- Packing cubes are also a great idea for separating each person’s clothes. It makes it easy to unpack at a hotel or keep things organised when you are camping.
- If you are travelling with kids then might already have a pack of wipes with you. However, if you are not then it might be that one item that you leave at home.
- One small pack would probably do the trick although it depends on your party size and how many you are travelling with.
- The small packs are probably best as they are light and easy to carry.
- You probably don’t want to be carrying all of your toiletries with you especially if you are just visiting for a few days. Putting small amounts into travel bottles allows you more room for the essential items.
- Towels are another item that are bulky. Microfibre towels are lightweight and roll up well. They also dry quickly.
Packing for Yosemite with Kids
While your packing list might look the same, there are a few extra things you can take to make the trip to Yosemite extra special for kids.
- Whenever you first mention Yosemite, your kids might not be excited. For them to have an idea about the park and what they can do give them an age appropraite book. My Yosemite introduces the history of the park to children and tells them what they can do there.
- Little ones are sure to be exhausted by the end of the day, but other kids might need to be entertained in the evenings. Travelling board games are great for all of the family.
- Yosemite also has the Junior Ranger program. It is a free activity, but parents need to purchase the book for a small fee. First, kids complete the book then they attend a ranger program and pick up trash. Once they have achieved all three they are given a ranger’s badge.
- A first aid kit comes in handy with kids. If they suffer any minor injuries then you would have the tools you need to help. Most come with plasters and banadages. Howver, you could add more to it even some extra items like pain killers.
Packing for Yosemite Must haves
- Even though the signal at Yosemite isn’t great, you still might need to charge your phone or your other devices. A solar-powered battery charger can charge multiple devices and there is no need for electrical points.
- With picnic tables scattered throughout the park, there is a high probability that you use one. Bring a picnic table cloth along just in case. You could also use it on its own at the lake.
- A whistle could be useful especially if you get separated from your group. As we mentioned the signal is not great in Yosemite. A whistle could alert people to where you are and help them find you in an emergency.
You might be wondering why there is no bear spray on our Yosemite packing list. This is an item that you should leave at home. Bear spray is not allowed at Yosemite and is considered a weapon.
Bear bells are also popular with hikers but there is no need for them at Yosemite National Park. The park is home to hundreds of black bears and bear bells are for grizzly bears. If you do see a bear, rangers advise you to make noise and scare the bear off. Never run and always call a ranger.
As you can see your Yosemite packing list can look very different depending on what you plan to do there, when you arrive and who you are coming with. The above is just a guideline. Always make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave so you can plan your Yosemite Packing List accordingly.
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