DO you need a rain jacket in Yellowstone National Park?

Do you need a rain jacket in Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone Grand CanyonEvery year millions of people visit the world’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park. Located in the of the Northwest region of the United States and shared by three states (Wyoming 96%, Montana 3% and Idaho 1% of the park) Yellowstone has amazing mountains and valleys, beautiful streams filled with fish and an abundance of wildlife that draw visitors from all around the world.

So should a rain jacket be on your packing list of essentials for visiting Yellowstone National Park? Yes, with over 3,472 square miles, Yellowstone is known for having extreme and unpredictable weather patterns all year round – including rain.

Even if you are not hiking or exploring the backcountry trails, there is so much to do in Yellowstone that requires you to get out of the car. If you are not prepared for the rain your trip could be miserable and necessarily cut short.

So what kind of rain jacket do you need when visiting Yellowstone?
Every year, I take my family to Yellowstone. We’ve been there in the sunshine, rain, and even snow… sometimes experiencing every type of weather in the same day! I have seen individuals use oversized trash bags, ponchos, quality rain jackets and even extremely expensive fishing rain jackets for protection against the rain.

Depending on your situation, you can determine which one of these options will be better suited for you. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each below.

Oversized Trash Bag

While I think this is quite resourceful, let’s leave this for desperate measures or worst case scenarios.  (Note: Everyone has a camera in Yellowstone and you never know where a photo of you dressed in a trash bag could end up.)

Charles River Apparel Style 9709 Pacific PonchoPoncho

I’ve used ponchos before. Mostly at scout camp or when I have been on a backcountry camping trip. Ponchos are inexpensive and tend to get the job done. There are several different types and styles of ponchos on the market today.

The two main types are:
1- Disposable: Disposable ponchos are small, inexpensive and compact. Designed to be used once and then thrown away. They are great to have in your emergency pack, car or travel bag. In fact, I have one in my fly fishing pack in case I ever need it.

2- Reusable: Reusable Ponchos are slightly larger, much more durable and slightly bulkier than the disposable ponchos. While much more expensive than a disposable poncho, they are typically cheaper than a rain jacket. Despite the “bulkiness”, reusable ponchos are designed to be compactable and a great option for your emergency pack, car or in some cases your travel bag.

Here at, we carry a few different ponchos designed by Charles River Apparel. They are:
1- Youth Pacific Poncho 8709
2- Women’s Pack-N-Go Poncho 5800
3- Adult Pacific Poncho 9709

PRO: Inexpensive, compactable, protects a greater portion of your body. Can be used for more than a poncho (tarp). You can cover your back pack so that you and your pack are dry.

CON: Doesn’t protect you against the wind as much, not as fashionable, can be awkward to do other things while wearing a poncho.


Charles River Mens new englander rain jacketQuality Rain Jackets

This is by far my preferred method of rain protection. I love how the jackets protect you from the rain and WIND. Additionally, most rain jackets are designed with style and functionality. For example, My rain jacket, the Charles River New Englander Rain Jacket 9199 has zippered pockets to keep my hands warm and small objects, such as my keys, from falling out.

I recently wrote an article about my experience using my rain jacket while fishing in the snow this year. You can read that article HERE.

This is by far the most popular option for park visitors, including myself, for rain gear when visiting Yellowstone National Park.

We carry a few different types of rain jackets here at that are high quality, fashionably designed and economically affordable. Browse our shop and find a good fit for you.

The most popular rain jackets are:

PRO: Wind and Waterproof, designed with pockets and other features, compactable, and fashionable.

CON: More expensive than a poncho, doesn’t protect your legs against the elements like a poncho, and can only really be used as a jacket and not a tarp.


Outdoor/Fishing Rain Jackets

These types of rain jackets are designed for individuals who spend a lot of time in the rain. Designed with several pockets or even little tool/attachments such as built-in lanyards, LED lights and retractable mechanical reels. I have one of these types of rain jackets and I only use it when I am fishing.

While we carry a lot of high-quality rain jackets, currently, we don’t carry fishing rain jackets. If you’re looking to get an outdoor/fishing rain jacket, I highly recommend checking out Cabela’s or Bas Pro. Know what you will be using the jacket for and ensure that it is design for that purpose.

PRO: 100% Wind and Waterproof, designed with multiple pockets and other features, compactable, and highly durable.

CON: Extremely expensive, Designed for a specific use. It can be awkward when using the jacket for other purposes than fishing or exploring.

Conclusion: Rain jackets are a must when visiting Yellowstone National Park, even in the summer. Standard yet high-quality rain jackets is the most common type of rain gear warn by park visitors.

If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, Check out this website! With a truly interactive map, you are able to plan out your Yellowstone vacation so that you don’t miss out on anything!  Click the image below to start planning your vacation today. – Don’t forget to take a rain jacket!