As you’re planning, you’ll want to consider what you need to pack for your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Regardless of whether you’re staying in a lodge or at a campground, the last thing you want is to be in the middle of the park and realize you forgot something incredibly important.
We put together some of the items we think are must-haves for a trip to Yellowstone and are sharing some of the mistakes we made so you don’t have to.
Yellowstone Packing List Essentials
Halfway to Yellowstone from Oregon, we realized we forgot our binoculars. 🤦♀️ Thankfully, we were still in an area where we could swing by a Cabela’s and pick up an additional pair, but that was an expensive mistake.
This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I (The Stoke Fam) earn from qualifying purchases. Read more. We encourage you to follow all state and federal guidelines during your adventures. As status continues to change, we suggest you double-check to ensure destinations are open and have the amenities you need prior to heading out.
Binoculars or Spotting Scope
When you’re heading to a park with as much wildlife as Yellowstone, you’ll want binoculars and/or a spotting scope so that you can spot animals in the distance. We saw 2-3 bears while we were there, and two of them were very difficult to see without binoculars.
You’ll definitely want to have a camera to take pictures of your adventures! We actually went with just our cell phones, but I’d recommend taking a camera with a telephoto lens if you have one. We have this Sony camera and it will definitely be coming with us next time.
If you plan to do any hiking during your visit, you should have the 10 Essentials, as always. Bring a daypack to carry it all and make sure to add bear spray to your gear when hiking in the park.
- Navigation items, such as
- Don’t forget extra batteries (AAA for the one above, but make sure to double check your headlamp!)
- Sun Protection, such as:
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Shelter and/or Bivy
- Gear Repair Kit and Knife or Multitool
- Fire/Heat Source
- Extra Water and/or filtration device
- Extra Food
- Extra Clothing
Hiking Shoes or boots
Making sure to have a good pair of hiking shoes is essential if you plan to do any hiking. We love KEEN and Altra hiking shoes for our family. The KEEN sandals are great for summer hiking, as well as water.
If you need a suggestion for a lightweight, packable day pack we’d recommend either the WANDRD VEER or one like this from REI. If you’re looking for something a little larger or sturdier, here are some great options as well.
If you get eaten alive by mosquitos like I do, make sure to take bug spray.
Yellowstone is home to black and grizzly bears, so carrying bear spray and being prepared is essential. That means making sure you have your bear spray where you can reach it and following wildlife guidelines.
When you’re packing clothing for Yellowstone, we suggest packing lightweight, breathable layers. If you can, avoid cotton and lean towards wool or synthetic blends designed to wick moisture away from your body. They are beneficial in both winter and summer to help regulate your body temperature.
- Socks (We love Darn Tough, Stance, and Smartwool)
- Hiking Pants (These are my favs and here’s what John wears. For the kids, we usually try to find a deal since they grow so fast – these are some great options.) and/or shorts, depending on the season
- Breathable Shirts
- Fleece or down midlayer
- Waterproof outer layer
- Wool or synthetic baselayer pants and top – these are perfect if the weather changes to layer under your hiking pants and shirt, but also make great pajamas.
- Wool or synthetic quick-dry socks
- Hiking shoe or boot
- Flip flops for showers (if they are open). You could also use KEEN Sandals for this!
- Water shoe, such as KEEN Sandals
- Walking shoe. This might be optional if you take the right sandal and hiking shoe. For instance, we often will take hiking shoes like our Altra Lone Peak’s because they are perfect for hiking, but still comfy for walking. Between those and our KEEN sandals, we’re good to go for most situations.
Everyone’s toiletries will vary slightly, but these are the basic items we’d make sure to have and then add in any additional items you prefer.
- Face cleanser
- Face moisturizer
- Deodorant and/or Body Wipes
- Comb or brush
- Lip Balm or Conditioner
- Prescription and Over the Counter Medications, including ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, acetaminophen, etc.
- Hydrocortisone cream, diphenhydramine cream, and/or AfterBite
- Aloe Vera
More Essential Items
Aside from the essential clothing and hiking gear, these are some items we found extremely handy to have with us.
- Quick Dry Travel Towels – There are several different versions of these, but we like these from Rumpl or these from Volcom (but they seem to be sold out right now 😢). They are great because they take up very little space, are very absorbent, and dry quickly so they can be packed away ASAP.
- Water bottles (plus extra) – Sometimes access to water can be a long way away in the park. We took a water bottle for everyone, our hiking water bladders, LifeStraws, and also had a gallon of water that we could refill. That way, we knew we would always have plenty of water, no matter what.
- Hand sanitizer – Always a good idea, but even more important right now.
- Mask – Many locations will require you to still wear a mask, especially if you go inside any buildings. You can find current requirements here.
- Portable phone charger – Even if you have a charger in your vehicle, it’s nice to have a backup, especially if you’re hiking or camping.
- Headlamp – If you don’t already have one as part of your hiking gear, you’ll want one! it gets very dark in Yellowstone, even in campgrounds. We love having headlamps because it keeps our hands free for setting kids in bed, making dinner, etc. while still providing plenty of light.
- Waste Management Gear – Unfortunately, bathrooms aren’t going to be around every corner and, especially if you go into the backcountry, you’re going to need to have the gear to properly manage your waste. We like to keep a Tinkle Belle (for me), a small roll of biodegradable toilet paper, a trowel for digging a hole, and hand sanitizer on hand at all times. If you don’t have biodegradable paper, be sure to pack out your paper as well.
Consider These Helpful Items as Well
- Outdoor Shower/Rinse Kit or Body Wipes – Unfortunately, campground showers remain closed at this time. You can check current status here . However, an outdoor shower or body wipes are great when you don’t have access!
- Packing cubes – We find it so much easier to pack everyone in packing cubes. It’s so much easier to pull out one cube at a time than to dig through a full suitcase.
- Inflatable Kayaks or SUPs – If you have an inflatable kayak or SUP and the room to bring it, I’m sure you’ll be glad!
- Tablecloth – We often travel with a tablecloth to put down over our picnic tables when we are cooking. It’s not absolutely necessary, but is nice to have!
- Travel Insurance – Over the last year, I think we all understand how things beyond our control can happen to derail our travel plans. Making sure you have travel insurance to cover cancellations or injuries during your trip can be so helpful for peace of mind.
- Card Games – We love to take a regular set of cards and games like Play 9 for hanging out at our campsite.
- Tarp & paracord – It’s never a bad idea to have a tarp and paracord to be able to string up for shade or shelter from the rain. 😉
- Cooler – We used our cooler the entire time. It was so nice to have our food with us and be able to stop and eat when we needed to (or when we wanted to wait for crowds to clear out)!
Additional Items to Remember for Yellowstone
A few more items you might want to consider bringing with you on your trip are:
Camping Items for your Yellowstone Trip
If you’re planning to camp for the duration of your trip, there are items you’ll want to have in addition to this list, like a tent, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags. Head over to our post on What to Bring Camping for a complete list of things to take if you’ll be in a campground.
What not to bring
- Drones – They aren’t allowed within the park.
- Dress up clothes – They aren’t needed. Everyone pretty much wears hiking and outdoor gear. 😉
- Electronic wildlife trackers or elk calls – They are illegal in the park.
Want a Printable Packing List & Trip Planner?
Grab a copy of our printable Yellowstone National Park Trip Guide & Itinerary to take the stress out of planning – it even includes links to our personal Roadtrippers maps already done for you!
Just download your maps ahead of time, print (or download) the guide, and off you go!
Our Yellowstone National Park Trip Guide & Planner is a round-up of our most popular posts, organized to make your planning easier.
Plus, we’ve added a bunch of sweet bonuses (of course)!
- 50+ Page Printable Trip Planning Guide. You can also download it to your iPad and use with an app like Goodnotes!
- 2021 updates & info
- Quick tips, FAQ’s and things to know before you go
- Must-see attractions & activities
- Suggestions & tips for where to stay
- Tips on activities, attractions, and lodging
- Detailed 3-Day Itinerary and suggestions for alternate trip lengths
- A link to the Full 3-Day Roadtrippers map with all points mapped for the entire trip
- DetaDetails & Confirmation Page to track your reservation information
- Plenty of pages for brainstorming & notes
- BONUS: Customizable Yellowstone Packing List
- BONUS: Kid Activities: Yellowstone Trip Journal & Road Trip Bingo
Additional Resources for Your Yellowstone Vacation
With this Yellowstone Packing List, you should be well on your way to a fabulous vacation. But, if you’re looking for more information, we’ve put together some more resources for you to help you plan all the details!
- Getting Started: Planning a Trip to Yellowstone
- Tips for Visiting: Don’t Visit Yellowstone Without Knowing These Things
- Where to Stay: Where to Stay in (and Near) Yellowstone
- Itinerary Suggestions: Yellowstone 3-day Itinerary (Plus Suggestions from 1-7 Days)
- Things to Do: 10 Activities You Shouldn’t Miss in Yellowstone National Park