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Planning our first trip to Yellowstone was an adventure in itself. We had no idea what we’d need, what we would wear, were there stores close to stock up? Well, we figured it out and we want to help you know exactly what to bring to Yellowstone.
Table of Contents
1. Bear Spray – The #1 Thing to bring to Yellowstone
If you plan to get off the main road (which we hope you do!) it is smart to have a can of bear spray with you just in case. This is pretty much a no-brainer to bring to Yellowstone. You’ve seen the documentaries.
If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent them at Canyon Visitor Center. You can order the bear spray from Amazon or find them at most outdoor stores (Gander Mountain, Cabela’s, etc.). We paid $40 for our can. Be sure to read the label on how far the spray shoots. You want it to shoot at least 30 feet…unless you’re feeling brave.
2. Water shoes
If you plan on hanging out at the beach or doing any of the swimming we recommend in our 10 Unique Adventures Guide (sign up below!), you’ll want a pair of shoes you can wear in the water. Most of the rivers and hot springs have sharp, jagged rocks at the bottom and didn’t feel nice on bare feet. We all got a pair of the Keen H2 sandals and they work great for hiking and in the water!
3. Child Backpack Carrier
This is a big one. We used our Ergo Backpack Carrier on every hike we took and even when we knew we’d be just walking or standing a lot. Bryanna and I both wear one with a kid on both of our backs. Our 5-year-olds still fit in them, so they’re a great investment!
4. Fanny Pack
Yep, we’re trying to bring them back! Actually, I like to refer to mine as a hip pack. Way cooler, right? Well, if you’re going to wear a kid on your back, there isn’t really room for a backpack, so a hip pack is the way to go. And sorry ladies, I’m taken.
5. Walkie Talkies
You would be lucky to have cell service in Yellowstone. Even if you do, the chance you have it throughout the whole park is pretty much impossible. If you are traveling with other families/cars a Walkie Talkie is a great idea to bring to Yellowstone!
The grocery stores in the park are REALLY expensive. If possible, stock up on as many groceries as you can before you come. As far as I know, the hotel rooms do not have fridges but they do have ice machines.
Even though it is cooler, you are that much closer to the sun. I am not a fan of sunscreen, so we just made sure to have our shoulders and heads covered if we were out for long stretches.
If you are someone who normally goes on hikes and trips like this, you will most likely have brought a pair of binoculars. If you are a normal traveller (and more worried about making sure everyone has enough underwear and clothes to wear) you will probably forget about them and really regret that when you spot a grizzly 200 yards away! If possible pick the kids up a pair too! Otherwise, the kiddos will be using yours the whole trip!
9. Yellowstone GyPSy Driving Tour mobile app
My mother-in-law found a really cool app that uses your gps location to tell you about the area of the park you are in. It was neat to hear all of the history that happened at different places around the park. The app costs $4.99 and is available on both Android and iOS.
Let me tell you, the first couple of times you see a buffalo in the road it is really cool! By the 10th time you are like “Come on already! Just go around it!” Buffalo traffic jams or really any animal siting can cause a traffic jam that could last for over an hour! There are only single lane roads in Yellowstone so there aren’t many options. Be prepared for this and know that getting anywhere is probably going to take longer then you think!
The weather is unpredictable. It can be 45 degrees at night and then 85 during the day. But that nice 85 can drop to 60 quickly. So be prepared and bring to Yellowstone quite a few layers.
12. Camera Lenses
Rent a big lens for your camera if you can. I believe you can rent them online or they were offering them for rental in Gardiner at the Yellowstone store when we were there (this was the first year they tried it – so if interested I would call before you go to make sure they are still doing it).
Other than that, we recommend making sure you understand the rules around the animals – the map you get at the entrance will have information about the animals and how far you should stay away from them. Listen to what it says and add another 25 yards to their recommendations!
Yellowstone is an amazing place. And if you do forget something they do have stores within Yellowstone and the gateway cities have a few stores too. So embrace the fact that it isn’t like “home” and come as prepared as you can and enjoy your trip!
Be sure to check out our Yellowstone National Park page for more information on the park and what to do in Yellowstone with kids!