Chouinard is also a surfer, kayaker, and falconer and is particularly fond of tenkara fly-fishing.

He has written about climbing issues and ethics and on mixing environmentalism and business.

Chouinard's father was a French-Canadian handyman, mechanic, and plumber.

In 1947, Yvon and his family moved from Maine to Southern California. They were Catholic.

His early climbing partners included Royal Robbins and Tom Frost.

A Sierra Club member, in his youth he founded the Southern California Falconry Club, and it was his investigations of falcon aeries that led him to rock climbing.

To save money, and make adaptations for the way he was climbing, he decided to make his own climbing tools, teaching himself blacksmithing, and eventually started a business.

Chouinard was one of the leading climbers of the "Golden Age of Yosemite Climbing.

He was one of the protagonists of the film made about this era: Valley Uprising (2014).