What to pack for Yosemite National Park

Brimming with rugged peaks, lush alpine valleys, cascading waterfalls and glistening glacial lakes, Yosemite National Park is one of the crown jewels of US national parks. If you’ve been to Yosemite National Park before, you’ll know the drill when it comes to packing. However, if this is your first trip, you might be wondering what clothing, footwear and other essentials to bring. We’ve put together this list of essential items so you can spend less time stressing about packing and more time getting excited about your trip. 

Yosemite essentials

1. Hiking boots

Hiking is one of the best ways to experience all that Yosemite has to offer. There are trails for everyone, from flat, paved trails to advanced paths up granite monoliths. A sturdy pair of hiking boots or runners will protect your feet and ensure maximum comfort while you're exploring on foot. Try to bring a pair of boots that support your ankle and have decent grip to prevent slips and trips. If you’re buying new boots, make sure you break them in before you go. The last thing you want is a pesky blister.

2. Water shoes 

Summer in Yosemite is hot and you’ll most likely want to go for a refreshing dip in the river or splash around in one of the alpine lakes to cool down. There are plenty of water activities, such as kayaking and white water rafting on offer, so you might want to bring a pair of waterproof sandals to protect your feet. Flip-flops often don’t cut it (let’s face it, we’ve all had to wave goodbye to a flip-flop as it gets taken by the river), but water shoes are a great option as they cover your toes and protect the soles of your feet from any jagged rocks you come into contact with. You could save money by buying a pair of hiking sandals that double up as water shoes. 

3. Hiking pants 

Long, lightweight (and preferably waterproof) hiking pants will save your legs from loose branches. They also add an extra layer to protect your skin from the sun and any pesky mosquitoes. Hiking pants are also lightweight and quick-drying and will help you stay comfortable even when you're sweaty or get sprayed by a waterfall. 

4. Raincoat

A lightweight rain jacket is essential for any US national park trip. It rolls up super small and you can pop it in your daypack for easy access in case it starts raining. Avoid buying a rain jacket that is water-resistant (make sure it's waterproof) – we’ve made that mistake before, and it wasn’t fun. 

5. Warm and cold clothing layers 

The temperature in Yosemite can change quite quickly, especially in the mornings, evenings and at higher elevations. Bring clothing that you can layer up or down, such as t-shirts, shorts, long-sleeved shirts, leggings and a sweater. If you're visiting in winter, you'll also need proper winter gear as it's cold and snowy. 

6. Sunglasses, sun hat and sunscreen

Make sure you're protected from sunburn and heatstroke by bringing a good pair of sunglasses, plenty of high-SPF sunscreen and a sun hat that covers your entire face, head and neck. The sun can be particularly strong in the summer and early fall.

7. Reusable water bottle 

There are water refill stations dotted around the park, so be sure to bring a decent-sized reusable water bottle. It's very important to stay hydrated throughout the day. especially when you're hiking, and you may even want to bring sachets of electrolytes with you on big hikes to keep your energy levels up. 

8. Quick-dry towel

A quick-dry towel is super handy to bring on a hike in case you fancy taking a dip along the way. It's lightweight and dries in no time, and is way more practical for camping than a regular towel. 

9. A daypack

A lightweight daypack is a must for every adventurer. You don't want anything too big, but big enough to pack your water bottle, raincoat, snacks, towel, camera and whatever else you need with you. Look for breathable daypacks that have smart packing compartments.

10. Laundry bag

It's a simple hack, but bringing a small drawstring laundry bag is super handy to separate your clean clothes from your sweaty hiking clothes. 


1. Camera 

Yosemite is so beautiful, that you'll probably want to whip out your camera every five minutes to take a photo. Smartphones take some pretty impressive photos these days, but if you're into photography or want to capture epic photos, bringing a proper camera is a good shout. 

2. Binoculars 

Yosemite is brimming with wildlife and is home to an impressive 90 species of mammal alone. If you're a wildlife enthusiast, you might want to bring a pair of binoculars to see wildlife up close.

Check out our ultimate packing guide for a full list of packaging essentials and packing tips.

Our tours in Yosemite National Park

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