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