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Cody Yellowstone is one of the wildest places on Earth, with free-roaming bison and wolves, endless miles of undeveloped wilderness, and sometimes-crazy weather than can turn from rain to snow to warmth and sunshine, sometimes all in one day. 

So how do you pack for a road trip through this northwestern Wyoming destination? With a little common sense and planning, road-trippers can be sure to have everything they will need for the day. And if you remember something after you arrive, the town of Cody features a variety of stores where travelers can purchase last-minute items like food, outdoor gear, and extra layers.

If you’re preparing for a Cody Yellowstone adventure, here’s what you need to pack.


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Daypack. There’s nothing better than a good daypack for stashing essentials. Choose a pack with at least one – preferably two – water bottle pockets, or pick one with a hydration pack. Keep daypacks with you whenever you exit your car, and you will always have the essentials handy. 

Water. We can’t over-emphasize the importance of staying hydrated in Cody Yellowstone. Did you know dehydration can slow you down and make your heart work harder? You’ll have more energy to enjoy a day in the wilderness if you keep downing water. So bring more than you think you’ll need and keep on sipping throughout the day. 

Layers. Layering is key to staying warm and dry no matter what time of the year you are visiting. Synthetic clothing or wool is better than cotton during colder months. Choose a midweight base layer close to your skin and layer up. Make sure jackets are waterproof and warm. Better to have too many layers than not enough. 

Rain Gear. Even if your jacket is waterproof, it’s a good idea to have a rain poncho or jacket handy just in case monsoon rains hit. Extra points if you add rain paints to the mix. 

Food. Pack food as if you will have no other dining options that day. Protein bars, apples, and jerky for an energy burst are all good ideas. Pre-made sandwiches and wraps can be purchased at delis and stores in Cody. Add some fun snacks to the mix. Your dentist may not appreciate this but stop in at the Cowtown Candy Company in downtown Cody to pick up some old-fashioned fudge, caramel corn, and candy for the road. 

Binoculars. During a typical day inside or outside the park, you’re going to see some wild critters like bison and elk. A good pair of binoculars will let you observe the animals in safety — yours as well as the animals’.  

Basic first aid kit. Your first aid kit doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. Include band-aids, topical antibiotics, allergy and other medications, and pain relievers. If you’re feeling fancy, add elastic bandages and some insect bite ointment. 

Bug spray. If you’re susceptible to insect bites, bug repellent is essential. You can purchase bug sprays in Cody and at park stores. 

Common sense. If there’s anything you can count on during a day in Cody Yellowstone, it is that your day will be unpredictable. You may encounter lots of traffic, wildlife jams, long lines, and long days. If you want to take a closer look at an animal, wait until there’s a pullout. Never stop in the middle of the road. If you encounter a herd of bison walking along with traffic, roll up your windows and get your camera ready to snap close-ups. But never use your car to try to rush an animal. If you see a problem, such as an injured animal or a human needing assistance, find a park ranger to help. 


A family relaxes near Artist Point in Yellowstone National Park

Maps. You’ll receive a paper map of Yellowstone National Park when you enter. Keep it handy for quick reference when you’re not sure exactly where you are. 

Gloves/hand warmers. Even in summer, temperatures can drop rapidly. Gloves and hand and toe warmers are a great way to keep those appendages toasty. 

Rechargeable backup batteries. Keep a couple of these nifty devices fully charged in your daypack, and you’ll never run out of juice on your phone, even when you’re on a long hike. 

National Parks passport. About the size of a regular passport, these booklets can be purchased at any National Park Service visitor center, and you can collect stamps that show the date and location of your visit. Then someday, when you’re not in Cody Yellowstone, you’ll have a reminder of your adventures.

Bear spray. Move this item up to the essential category if you’re taking a long hike. Bear spray can be handy in the backcountry for those just-in-case scenarios. Be sure you know how to use it, though. Spray can be rented in Cody and the Canyon Village Visitor Center in the park. 

Flashlight. Sure, you have one on your phone, but a small flashlight can do wonders when you’re in your car after dark. Or for when you’ve lost your phone in the car. 

Bags to pack it out. Hikers, you know what we mean. 

Wipes/tissues/hand sanitizer. See above. You never know when you’ll want clean hands. 

Multi-tool and duct tape. Take it from us…these two items will get you through countless unforeseen situations like torn clothing, ripped backpacks, and broken equipment. And if you only have room for one of these items, choose the duct tape. Because duct tape is like The Force. There’s a dark side and a light side, and it holds the universe together. 

Before You Pack, You Need to Plan

The best way to plan for your Cody Yellowstone adventure is by requesting your free Cody Yellowstone Vacation guide! It’s full of travel tips, itinerary ideas, information on what to see and do, and more! Get your free copy today

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Cody Yellowstone soon!