Bears and Food Storage
Yosemite National Park is home to hundreds of American black bears; these bears have a voracious appetite. They also are incredibly curious and have an amazing sense of smell. This combination tempts them to seek our high-calorie food. Sometimes bears that routinely get our food become aggressive, and sometimes have to be killed as a result. By storing your food properly, you can prevent a bear's unnecessary death.
Please note that these food storage regulations have the force and effect of federal law: Failure to store your food properly may result in impoundment of your food or car and/or a fine of up to $5,000 and/or revocation of your camping permit.
What is Food?
"Food" includes any item with a scent, regardless of packaging. This may include items that you do not consider food, such as canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, ice chests (even when empty), and unwashed items used for preparing or eating meals. All these items must be stored properly.
How to Store Your Food...
In your car
You may store food inside your car (out of sight, with windows completely closed) only during daylight hours. You may not leave food in a pickup truck bed or strapped to the outside of a vehicle at any time. Do not store food in your car after dark: use a food locker. Remember to clear your car of food wrappers, crumbs in baby seats, and baby wipes--and even canned food and drinks. Think about packing all your food and related items together for easy removal from your car upon arriving in Yosemite.
Food lockers are available at Curry Village parking lots and at nearly all trailhead parking areas.
In campgrounds, Housekeeping Camp, and Curry Village tent cabins
You must store all your food in food lockers. Bears may enter campsites even in your presence (see photo above), and some will even check lockers to see if they’re latched.
Food lockers are available at every campsite, Housekeeping unit, and Curry Village tent cabin.
Food may be stored out of sight in hard-sided trailers and RVs, as long as windows, doors, and vents are closed when you're not there. Food may not be stored in pop-up or tent trailers, or other soft-sided campers.
In your hotel room or cabin
You must keep all food inside your room; if you are not in the room, the windows and doors must be closed. Bears can easily break into cabins through an open door or open window.
Photo by Sean Crom
In picnic areas and while hiking on the trail
Always keep your food within arm's reach and don't turn your back to your food; never leave food unattended. Bears may investigate picnic areas or backpacks for food even in your presence, so be alert.
While backpacking in the Wilderness
Bear resistant food containers ("bear canisters") are required for overnight hikers throughout the Wilderness (counterbalance food hangs are no longer legal). In Yosemite and the southern Sierra, bear canisters are the only effective and proven method of preventing bears from getting human food. Read more...
Did You Know?
Descending from Yosemite Valley, the Merced River becomes a continuous cascade in a narrow gorge littered by massive boulders. Dropping 2,000 feet in 14 miles, canyon walls rise steeply from the river and have many seasonal waterfalls cascading down to the river.