National Park Packing List: What to Bring to America’s National Parks

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If you’re planning your next trip to one of America’s National Parks, you’re going to want to make sure that you pack everything that you need! Very often, National Parks are located in remote areas, so if you forget something, you might not have access to a fully stocked store!

So what should you pack for National Parks?

Our National Park packing list includes all the National Park necessities that you’ll need. We include things to pack for hiking and camping in National Parks. And don’t forget to get your free packing list for National Parks!

National Park Packing List

National Park Essentials

Depending on the National Park you’re visiting, you’re going to want to make sure you have the required entrance passes or tickets ready to go. Many parks of free, so you don’t have to worry about an entrance pass. However, others require a daily or weekly entrance fee, which can be purchased ahead of time on the USGS Store. But many of the parks that get very busy during the summer, like Rocky Mountain National Park, require both an entrance pass and a timed entrance ticket. The timed ticket is free; however, this is a required step so you can enter the park! So make sure to plan ahead and get your required passes ahead of time.

If you’re an avid National Park goer or planning to be, consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Annual Pass. For just $80, this pass will get you into all spaces managed by the National Park Service for one calendar year. The Park Service also has discounted annual passes for the military, 4th graders, seniors, federal volunteers, and disabled individuals.

In addition to making sure you pack your entrance pass, consider purchasing a National Park Passport Book. The National Park passport program allows you to get dated stamps anytime you visit a National Park! This collector’s item is a great way to remember and commemorate your trip. We love getting our National Park Passport Book stamped anytime we visit a park!

Kathrine stamping her National Park Passport at Olympic National Park

Hiking Shoes, Footwear, and Gear for National Parks Hikes

Good footwear is essential for a National Park hike! The type of footwear you’re going to want to pack for going to a National Park is going to depend on the terrain you plan on encountering.

  • Hiking boots: Hiking boots are great for both summer and winter hiking. A good hiking boot is waterproof and durable for both wet and dry trail conditions. For winter hiking, we like Eddie Bauer’s Mid Cairn hiking boot. For summer hiking, we enjoy Lems and Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Amped Waterproof Hiking Boots as well.
  • Hiking sandals: Hiking sandals are best for when you plan on getting wet.
  • Hiking socks: It’s important to pair good hiking footwear with good hiking socks!
  • Trekking poles: Trekking poles aren’t essential for all hikes. They’re best suited for strenuous hikes or hikes that have rough trail conditions with rocks and steep elevation gain.

Hiking Clothes for Spring, Summer, and Fall for National Park Hikes

Here is what to wear at National Parks for every season! To put it simply: Layers. Layers. Layers!

When planning your visit to a National Park, make sure to check the weather so you know the conditions you’ll be encountering. It’s also important to consider the landscape you’ll be hiking. For example, if you’re climbing in evaluation, come prepared with a jacket for cooler temperatures higher up. We personally like to dress in layers during the fall, spring, and summer months so we can be prepared for both the heat and cooler weather.

Hiking Clothes for Winter National Park Hikes

For winter hikes, it’s especially important to dress warm and in layers! You never know when the weather will change in the mountains or how much snow you’ll encounter at higher elevations. Tip: If you’re going to a National Park with snowy conditions, check the National Park’s webpage for live webcams of road conditions to help you figure out how much snow there is at the park.

Hiking Backpacks and Bags

A good hiking backpack is essential for a National Park trip, so invest in one that is functional for your needs and can carry everything you need for your visit.

What to Pack in Your Hiking Bag for National Park

Now that you know which hiking backpack to bring along for your National Park trip, let’s pack it up with the essentials. When we hike, we like to be prepared for anything, so make sure to pack:

What to Pack in Your National Park Camera Bag

As photographers, we’re also bringing along our photography equipment! We never know what kind of awesome things we’re going to see when visiting a National Park so we come prepared with a range of cameras and lenses to capture what see! We also pack extra batteries and memory cards so we always have enough storage and battery power.

National Park Camping Packing List

National Parks are an awesome place for camping! Those interested in camping at a campground make sure to pack:

Your packing list for backcountry camping will likely look a little different since you’ll be carrying everything in and out. But feel free to use our packing list as a starter guide!

Now that you know what to pack for National Parks hiking or camping, let’s go adventuring!

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