Snow Chains and Rental Cars in Yosemite Park

Do I Need Snow Chains in Yosemite Park?

US car hire customers heading to California in winter often plan a trip into beautiful Yosemite Park.  November to March is the stormy season and the park rules are particularly strict about preparedness.

The rules are slightly conflicting when driving a rental car. Such that you must have snow chains present in the vehicle to access parts of the park. But, you are not allowed to put snow chains on a rental vehicle!  Chain requirements in the park – and the Sierra Nevada mountains – are very strict. Notices posted on the roads give an indication of the conditions ahead.

Yosemite Park Road Notices

  • An R1 notice requires that you have either snow tires fitted or snow chains in the car. Rental car suppliers fit All Season tires to cars
  • An R2 notice means you must either have snow chains fitted. Or, if you are in a 4 wheel drive or All wheel drive, you may proceed if you carry snow chains.  A rental vehicle is not 4 wheel/all wheel drive can not therefore proceed.
  • An R3 notice means that every vehicle must have snow chains fitted, so again, no rental vehicle can proceed here.

Please note these important points:  Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV’s) rentals are not necessarily 4 wheel or all-wheel drive. In fact, availability of either a 4 wheel or all-wheel drive, cannot be guaranteed and will always be ‘subject to availability’.

For current weather conditions, planned closures etc, see this page: Current Conditions – Yosemite Park

If you plan to drive in the park, or on roads that might have similar conditions such as Highway 120 or Highway 41, please let us know when you book your car through Trip Wheels, and we will put in a request for a suitable vehicle for you. Sadly, a request does not guarantee availability.  If snow chains notices are posted in the park and you don’t have chains, you will be turned away from those areas.