What to Pack for a Trip to Yosemite?

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When it comes to visiting Yosemite, a little preparation goes a long way. With the right packing list, you can better expect a safe and comfortable experience, whether it’s your first trip to Yosemite or your twentieth. 

5 Essentials to Pack for Any Yosemite Trip 


1. Good walking shoes 

Whether you’re spending a week in Yosemite or just one afternoon, count on walking a lot during your visit. Though trails and walkways are generally well-maintained in Yosemite, it helps to wear water-resistant shoes that have traction. Even if you’re not planning on doing strenuous hikes, be sure to break in your shoes before your trip. 


2. Water

Staying hydrated is key to feeling your best and having enough energy to explore Yosemite to the fullest. According to health experts, adult women should drink 88 ounces of water everyday, whereas adult men should aim for 128 ounces. If you’re planning on doing more rigorous activities in Yosemite or visiting during the summer when it’s particularly hot, plan on drinking even more water. 

You can bring your own water or purchase bottled water at stores inside the park. If you’re using a reusable water bottle, you can find free water refill stations throughout Yosemite Valley. 


3. Sun protection 

Yosemite is generally sunny year-round. Daytime temperatures can reach 100°F with a UV Index up to 11 during the summer. At the very least, wear sunscreen and remember to reapply as directed. For the most protection, consider wearing a hat and sunglasses, as well. 


4. Paper maps 

GPS signals can be spotty in some areas both inside and surrounding Yosemite. This can be problematic especially if you’re driving at night and unfamiliar with the roads, many of which have signs that are hard to see without light.  You can get paper maps from the Park Ranger when you first enter the Yosemite gates, as well as at other visitor centers in the valley. 


5. Rain jacket  

Yosemite’s climate is typically quite dry (thanks to its location in the heart of California’s beautiful Sierra Nevada), but it does rain occasionally.  Definitely bring a rain jacket that can be rolled up and carried with you, especially if you’re visiting in February, Yosemite’s wettest month on average. 



What to Bring for a Winter Visit

Although you may not immediately think of Yosemite as a winter destination, winter is a wonderful time to visit mostly because of the abundance of winter sports and the smaller crowds. 

If you decide to visit during winter, be sure to check weather conditions before your travel as you may likely need some extra essentials. 


Snow chains


When snow sticks to the ground, snow chains may be required to ensure your car has better traction when stopping and starting. 

Installing chains is simple if you plan ahead and know what to expect. But if you’d prefer not to drive your own car, you can instead take the YARTS service into Yosemite and enjoy the free shuttles within the park.


Snow-friendly clothing 

Winter weather in Yosemite can range between 50°F (10°C) and sunny to 20°F (-7°C) with snow. Wearing layers of the right clothing can help you stay comfortable no matter what the temperature is. 

If you live in colder climates or do snow sports, you’re likely familiar with how to dress for winter activity, but if not, here’s a suggested list:

  • a base layer (thermal or long-sleeved shirt)
  • mid-layer (flannel or fleece)
  • insulated coat or jacket
  • waterproof jacket 
  • wool socks
  • waterproof shoes 
  • waterproof gloves or mittens 
  • scarf
  • warm head covering (beanie) 


Packing list for a camping trip

Looking to sleep under the stars? Yosemite has 13 popular campgrounds that are available on a first-come, first-served reservation basis. 

When camping, be sure to bring the following items with you, or stock up at stores in the valley:

  • Fire starter 
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit 
  • Tent and sleeping bag 


What to Bring for a Family Vacation 

All of the items we’ve talked about so far also apply to kids, but here are some additional suggestions. 


Baby carriers for little ones 

With all the walking you’ll do in Yosemite, consider bringing some sort of hands-free baby carrier if you have babies or toddlers. Strollers are too bulky for trails and hikes. 


Kid backpacks 

If you have older children, giving them their own backpack can make it easier for them to get water, snacks, and other items.


Inflatable rafts and life jackets

During the summertime, rafting down the lazy Merced River is a must-do family activity. The cool spring water is perfect for cooling off from the hot sun, and the river’s route provides for countless photo opportunities in front of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and other attractions. 

You can bring your own rafting supplies or rent them at Curry Village Raft Rentals. If you’re staying with Scenic Wonders, many of our homes provide these items, so feel free to ask when making your reservation. 



Packing for Yosemite doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you plan ahead and check weather conditions before getting on the road, you can expect wonderful and unique experiences in Yosemite year-round. 


To enjoy the magic of log cabin homes suitable for groups of all sizes, consider staying with Scenic Wonders. Our 125 cabin homes and condominiums are located throughout Yosemite West, Wawona, Bass Lake and Fish Camp, providing convenient access to Yosemite’s must-see sites. 

Check out our properties or give us a call at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to learn more.

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