Packing for a national park visit can be overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be with our Yellowstone packing list.
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Today, we’re sharing a specific list of what to pack for Yellowstone. This is where packing lists come in handy; to make sure you don’t forget anything that would make your trip more enjoyable.
Before I start to pack, I gather all of my clothes, toiletries, and other gear and lay it out on the dining room table. Next, I go over everything one by one as I check it off my list before I pack it in my packing cubes, suitcase or duffle. This is an easy way for me to ensure that I have everything I need when I arrive at my destination. Believe it or not, it also helps me not to overpack and ensures my shoes match- more about that another time.
What to Wear to Yellowstone
The most important thing to keep in mind when packing for your Yellowstone trip is layering. The temperature and weather change often at Yellowstone National Park, so be sure to be prepared for anything.
If you visit Yellowstone in the summertime, you need to still have at least a rain jacket, sweatshirt or fleece jacket, and pants to keep you warm at the higher elevations where it is colder.
If you visit Yellowstone in winter, be sure to bring many layers of warm clothing that will move with you if you plan on doing any adventuring.
My husband and I visited Yellowstone in mid-July and found the temperatures chilly in the morning and evening, cold at night (we even built a fire in the stove in our cabin to stay warm) and hot during the day. We found it to be chilly around the lake at any time of day.
Yellowstone Packing List Must-Haves
1. Rain Jacket – The weather in Yellowstone is unpredictable. In addition to a fleece jacket and lots of layers, a rain jacket is essential. Especially during the summer when afternoon storms are a common occurrence.
2. Waterproof Phone Case – I don’t know about you, but I tend to take hundreds of photos when I’m traveling. Not only do I pack an extra SD card for my phone, but I also like to make sure my phone is protected from the occasional rain shower with a waterproof phone case. I like this brand because it is waterproof, snowproof, dustproof, and sand-proof so the way I look at it you can take it pretty much anywhere.
3. Powerbank Portable Charger– A portable charger is a must when I travel and is my key to ensure my phone stays powered up. This portable battery charger may come with a higher price tag but it’s my favorite because it charges my phone quickly and multiple times. If you don’t want to spend quite so much, this charger by the same brand is a great alternative. Don’t forget to bring a cord to connect your phone!
4. Hiking Boots– If you’re planning on hitting the Yellowstone hiking trails, I don’t have to tell you that hiking shoes or sturdy footwear are a must when visiting the national parks. Make sure you break them in at home so you are comfortable throughout your trip.
If you are planning to spend time near the water, bring some good, quality water shoes and definitely bring some comfortable tennis shoes for the times spent walking around the park.
5. Hiking Socks– A great pair of hiking socks can make a world of difference in comfort and foot care when hitting the trails.
6. Hiking Daypack– When you are hiking in Yellowstone, you will need a sturdy, comfortable backpack to carry your waters, snacks, extra clothing, and First Aid essentials. Once you’ve chosen a hiking daypack, give it a test run at home to ensure it’s comfortable when loaded up with your gear.
7. Hiking Waist Pack with Water Bottle Holder– This is ideal for those short walks or hikes where you won’t be going far. Water is a must and a hiking waist pack allows you to toss in a few snacks, bug spray, and your phone for photos.
8. Water Bottle– I don’t think I need to tell you how important a water bottle is when hiking. Even the shortest hikes can get miserable if you aren’t properly hydrated. It’s not safe to drink straight from lakes and streams, which is why I recommend a water filter. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a great option for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. It will filter the water as you drink it, so you can easily refill your bottle in the nearest lake or stream.
9. Binoculars – When visiting our national parks, a pair of binoculars is a must that allows you to maintain a safe distance when viewing wildlife. These lightweight, impact-resistant binoculars are compact and won’t take up a lot of room in your backpack. For serious wildlife spotting, you might consider a spotting scope.
10. Bear Spray– If you’re hiking in Yellowstone it’s recommended and a good idea to carry bear spray. Make sure it’s easily accessible and that you are able to reach and deploy it quickly if needed.
12. Hats– It’s amazing how much shade a good hat can provide, not to mention if you happen to get caught in the rain it can provide some relief from rain hitting you in the face.
13. First Aid Kit – it’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand when hiking. In addition to standard bandages, you can upgrade to a trauma kit which includes gauze to assist the blood in clotting, tourniquets, and more.
14. Survival Gear Kit – This survival gear kit contains a knife, wire saw, mini flashlight, emergency blanket, compass, and more. These things may seem like overkill, but they can save your life if you have to spend the night outdoors unexpectedly.
15. Emergency Whistle – this emergency whistle can be heard up to a mile away.
16. Headlamp/Flashlight– A headlamp is nice at night to keep your hands free, especially if you’ll be doing any climbing. Look for one that is waterproof and comes with several light settings.
17. Sunscreen– even when it’s chilly outside, the sun is really strong in Yellowstone, especially at higher elevations. Don’t let a sunburn ruin your Yellowstone trip.
18. Bug Spray– at certain times of the year, bugs can be pretty bad at Yellowstone. Bug spray is always on our Yellowstone packing list…just in case.
19. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks Guide – Before you hit the trails in Yellowstone, you should do a bit of research to know how difficult the trails are, what you may expect to see. Park guides like this one offer tips from those who have traversed the trail before you.
20. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. Good for a full year after purchase, this pass allows the driver and passengers and up to 3 additional adults (children 15 and under are free) admittance to sites managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. Plus, if you purchase your pass through REI.com the company donates 10% of the proceeds to the National Park Foundation.
Fun and Helpful Items For Your Yellowstone Packing List