Yosemite National Park is a bucket-list destination for many travelers. And Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) is one of the most popular places to stay within the park. I visited in April 2019 and was surprised to find that there wasn’t much information about what to pack for Half Dome Village, or what to expect once I arrived.
So after experiencing it firsthand, I put together a quick guide!
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Half Dome Village Tent Cabins: Heated or Unheated?
Half Dome Village is made up of around 400 tents and cabins. It is located in Yosemite Valley, approximately 45 minutes from the park entrance.
I originally booked two nights in an unheated tent in Half Dome Village because heated wasn’t available for the weekend we were planning to visit Yosemite. Unfortunately, heavy snow damaged the park over the winter and they cancelled our reservation.
Lucky for us, we were able to rebook with one night in a heated tent and one night in an unheated tent. While moving was a pain, now I can tell you what to pack for Half Dome Village in either type of tent!
The tents are essentially the same, with two differences. The heated tent has heat (duh) and an electrical outlet inside. The unheated tent has neither.
If you don’t snag a tent with an outlet, I recommend bringing a portable charger for your phone, camera and any other small electronics. My personal favorite is the Anker PowerCore 10000. It’s small, lightweight and can charge my phone multiple times. Alternatively, you can charge up in the guest lounge, dining hall and even the bathroom at Half Dome Village.
While the heated tent was a nice luxury, we were honestly fine in the unheated tent with sleeping bags and an extra blanket on top, even with temperatures in the 30’s Fahrenheit. So if heat isn’t available during the colder months, don’t worry too much!
What Comes in the Tents at Half Dome Village?
If you’re wondering what you DON’T need to pack for Half Dome Village, here’s a list of what’s already going to be in your tent or available in the village’s facilities:
- Pillows (1 per bed, 2 per double bed)
- Blankets (NOTE: the blankets are warm and sufficient, even in mid-April, but definitely not plush or cozy; they are a little rough to the touch)
- An overhead light (in both heated and unheated tents)
- A bear box for safely storing food away from critters
- A safe for your valuables
- A padlock for the door, with a key for each guest
- A stack of individually wrapped plastic cups
- One electrical outlet (heated tents only)
- Shampoo & body wash (in the communal showers)
- Food for meals – there are multiple restaurants at Half Dome Village and throughout Yosemite. While you can bring your own snacks or wine, cooking isn’t allowed in the village. So for meals you’ll be forced to purchase them or eat only uncooked items
- Cards and board games are also available at the registration desk if you’re looking for something to do at night after a long day of exploring
So, What to Pack for Half Dome Village?
Now that you know what’s already in the tents, I’ll share some tips on what to pack for Half Dome Village. Based on my experience, I’d recommend bringing the following:
- A padlock for the bear box (the bear box keeps bears out, but the lock keeps thieving humans out!)
- A keychain for your tent key (they literally just hand you a key, which I proceeded to lose multiple times)
- A small cooler for storing any food that you wish to bring that can fit in the bear box, like the Igloo Contour 30-Quart cooler (as mentioned, no cooking is allowed in Half Dome Village but if you wish to bring any snacks, beer, etc. that require refrigeration, bring a cooler. Ice is available for purchase in the village)
- A headlamp and/or flashlight for walking around at night (especially for late-night trips to the bathroom!) and extra batteries, just in case
- Warm socks or slippers for walking around inside the tent, so you can leave your gross hiking boots at the door
- Flip flops for the showers
- Closed-toe shoes for wearing around camp and to the bathroom. Flip flops are probably OK in the summer, but if it’s during winter or a rainy time, you’ll want shoes that you can slip into with socks without getting muddy on your trek to the bathroom
- Hiking boots with good traction + hiking socks if you’re planning to embark on some of the longer, more challenging trails in Yosemite. Many can be muddy, wet or icy so the right shoes are a must!
- A battery like the Anker PowerCore 10000 for charging your phone and other electronic devices. The heated tents come with one outlet (unheated have 0) but if you’re traveling with multiple people, it’s nice to have multiple plugs
- Warm pajamas for sleeping, including long pants and a long-sleeve shirt
- Clothing for hiking + something fresh to change into after, since laundry is not available
- An extra blanket, if you so desire (although I found the blankets provided to be sufficient, they definitely were not luxurious!)
- A sleeping bag (unheated tent in winter months only)
- A warm hat (unheated tent in winter months only)
- A travel hair dryer – this might seem over the top for glamping/camping. But especially if you’re staying in an unheated tent during the winter months, you won’t want to go to bed with wet hair. There are outlets available in the shared bathrooms
- Conditioner if your hair gets gnarly – the bathrooms only have shampoo
- Plastic bags for packing out any trash or toilet paper while you’re hiking. Most of the trails do not have trash pickup and require you to pack out your trash. Do your part in keeping Yosemite amazing!
- Snacks, bars, portable fruit like apples or bananas, and sandwich materials. While you can’t cook in Half Dome Village, the cost of meals can easily add up. A picnic lunch for your hike will run you $13 and breakfast isn’t much cheaper. We ended up bringing Clif Bars and turkey and cheese sandwiches to have for lunch each day
- Note: there is a full grocery store near the Visitor Center in Yosemite.
- Refillable water bottle (water is available in the dining lodge)
- Bottle opener if you’re planning to consume your own beer and wine while visiting Half Dome Village
- Bug spray, if visiting in the summer
- Cards and board games, or a book. While games are available at the front desk I can imagine that during busy weekends they go quickly, so to be safe, you may want to bring your own. While Half Dome Village claims to have WiFi it rarely worked and there’s no TV, which means you’ll want plenty of offline entertainment! May I recommend my personal favorite, Bananagrams?
Know Before You Go: Half Dome Village
In addition to what to pack for Half Dome Village, there are a few other things you should know.
The Food Situation
I’ve already mentioned that cooking is not allowed in Half Dome Village, but have no fear: there’s plenty to eat. The main dining hall in the village has many options for breakfast (starting at 6:30am) and dinner. There’s also a bar and Pizza Patio open until 9pm. And, you can walk or drive to other restaurants in the park, like The Loft at Degnan’s, which offers everything from tacos (see photo below) and burritos to tofu rice bowls and pepperoni pizza.
If you’d prefer to cook your own meals, you’ll be better off staying at Housekeeping Camp or, if you have your own tent, an actual campsite.
There is a small grocery store in Half Dome Village where you can buy beer, wine and some pre-made meals. However, you’re only allowed to consume your own food and drinks outside or in the guest lounge.
Quiet Hours Are from 10:00 to 6:30
Half Dome Village enforces quiet hours from 10:00pm to 6:30am, which basically means, you’re in bed at 10. If you’re exhausted after a long day of hiking that shouldn’t be a problem. But night owls will probably want to bring a book and reading light for their tents. There are no indoor common areas open for you to hang out inside after 10pm when the guest lounge closes. And sound really carries in the village, so talking isn’t allowed.
The Bathroom and Shower Situation
You’ll also want to take note of the bathroom cleaning hours. For some insane reason, the bathrooms closest to our tent (by the pool) were closed from 9:30 – 11:00pm every night. Why you’d close the bathroom just as everyone is going to bed is beyond me, but be prepared!
There are other open bathrooms, but they were a bit of a walk away.
And speaking of bathrooms, they are heated and offer hot water, shower stalls, changing stalls, toilets, sinks, lockers and outlets for plugging in a hair dryer. And I found them to be surprisingly clean and well-stocked.
Proper Food Storage
Half Dome Village is incredibly strict about food storage and with good reason. Improperly stored food can attract rodents and even bears, which is obviously quite dangerous.
They define “food” as anything that is scented, and that includes toothpaste, deodorant and even chapstick. This is all stuff you’ll want to keep in your bear box (I just left my entire shower caddy in there).
And don’t think you can get away with leaving stuff in your car. A bear can easily rip off a car door. So if you leave food in there overnight you may be due for an unwelcome surprise come morning.
So now that you know what to pack for Half Dome Village and what to expect when you get there, I hope you have an amazing time at Yosemite! It truly is a beautiful and special place.
And after reading my guide on what to pack for Half Dome Village you’re thinking it’s not the right fit for you, there are plenty of hotels and home rentals both in Yosemite and just outside the park.