7 Must-Have Items For Your Family Trip To Yellowstone National Park

Wesley Aston_Yellowstone NPYellowstone National Park was the first national park to be established and offers an incredible opportunity for family vacations. President Grant recognized in 1872 the innate value of a forestland rich in lodge-pine timber and an area that gives birth to twelve major rives. The park is one of the richest national parks in mega-fauna. Moose and grizzly bears are known to roam the park, as well as wolves and cougars. Yellowstone is a popular vacation destination; visitors frequently exceed three million per year. The park’s astonishing geological features, such as the active thermal areas and geysers and enormous caldera, as well as its standing as the only land-based super-volcano in the world, draw visitors eager for a once in a lifetime experience.

Responsible hikers and experienced woodsmen would recommend the inclusion of seven must-have items before setting off within Yellowstone. While your family’s needs may vary, based on your specific goals within the park regarding recreation, sightseeing, and lodging arrangements, these items can help ensure you have an impressive, but safe, vacation. You can also contact the park directly should you have questions prior to your visit or upon arrival.


Yellowstone is 10,308 feet above sea level. Weather during the summer is often temperate and pleasant but can be dangerously chilly in early morning and after dusk. A lightweight, lined jacket or parka is essential to maintain optimal body temperature during hiking.

Camping Stove

Open fires are permitted within designated areas. During especially dry periods there may be a moratorium on open fires to avoid the risk of forest fire. Currently, no such restrictions are in effect but it’s still a good idea to call ahead so you can pack the necessary cooking utensils and camp appliances.

Flare Gun

A flare gun is an absolute necessity to relay your location reliably if you become lost or a member of your party is injured. If you witness a flare, notify a park ranger immediately.

First Aid Kit

With the miles of uninhabited forestland in all directions, this should be included on any trip. Blisters, ticks, and sore muscles are very common complaints.


While you can certainly visit Yellowstone without GPS, it can make your stay more pleasant and memorable. Check with park rangers for navigation systems and smartphone apps that function well within Yellowstone National Park.

Bear Spray

Visitors to Yellowstone should be well-versed on safe bear practices, bear behavior, and how to confront a grizzly bear that enters camp before considering camping within the park. Bear spray or pepper spray should only be used as a last resort but can save a life during a confrontation.

Fresh Water

Water within the park may contain giardia. It is vital that all parties hiking or backpacking within the park verify they have enough water for all members prior to setting out. Boiling or treating water can provide a back-up method in unforeseen circumstances but this should also be a last resort.

For more information on Yellowstone National Park or other national parks, visit www.nationalparks.org. For free  national park guides featuring great hikes, parks for family fun and inspiration for adventures in lesser-known parks, go to www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/download-center-registration for the latest Owner’s Guide edition with information  about the National Park System.

Yellowstone NP: Photo by Wesley Aston, Share Experience Photo Contest

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  1. Sarah C. says

    I can’t wait to take my daughter on a trip here. Thanks for the list. Some of these items are good to have in the car at all times anyways. :-)