Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a National Park
Visiting a national park can be a mesmerizing experience. With beautiful landscapes, stunning wildlife, alluring colors, and astonishing mountain ranges, glaciers, and coral reefs, these natural wonders are spectacular places worth visiting.
Before immersing yourself into this nature adventure, be sure to prepare well. To get the most out of the trip there are a few things you should keep in mind. So, let’s dive in!
The majority of the national parks in America are free to enter all year long - out of the 419 units in the National Park Service, 112 parks charge an entrance fee. But, even these parks offer free admission to everyone five days a year. Getting an annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass will save you a substantial amount of money while allowing you to visit all national parks as many times as you want.
To avoid any extra expenses consider the cost of the trip, entrance fees, insurance, food and beverages, a camping place, and membership for an activity you want to attend.
Plan in Advance
If you plan your trip during the high season, be sure to make hotel reservations as soon as possible. Staying at a national park lodge offers an incredible and unique experience but these tend to fill up well in advance, so try to book early.
The same goes for camping under the stars, an experience that you wouldn’t like to miss. You get to bond with others and reconnect with nature on an entirely different level.
Some national parks allow reservations for camping, while others offer campsites to first-comers.
In case you dread summer crowds and traffic jams, consider paying a visit in spring or fall.
Pack Like a Pro
Proper equipment and gear are crucial when planning outdoor activities.
And remember: less is more so try to pack lightly. What you bring with you is what counts. A comfortable backpack is a must-have. Pack a water bottle, headlamp, lighter, pair of binoculars and some batteries.
Since laundry facilities are available in most parks, you don’t have to bring all your clothes. Still, make sure that you have several pairs of good hiking shoes. For an elaborate insight into the best outdoor footwear visit Walk Jog Run Blog.
Watch Out for Warning Signs
If you happen to spot wildlife, keep your distance. Animals in their natural habitat can be unpredictable and some are known to be dangerous, like bears. Bear in mind that visitors die every year in encounters with animals in America’s National Parks.
Wearing fragrances and perfumes attracts the bugs, and can even trigger aggressive behavior in some creatures, so avoid using them.
Keep the Park Clean
Leave the park as you found it.
Collect your garbage in one bag and dispose of it in a trash can in your camping area or in your garbage can when you get back home if there are no designated trash cans at the campsite.
Take care of our planet.
Safety Precautions & Health
To be fully prepared for some unexpected situations and minor accidents, be sure to pack a first aid kit. Bandages, alcohol and standard antibiotics are essential if you are traveling outside the country.
For extra safety, inform your family or friends about your plans to visit the park, so they can alert the authorities if they don’t hear from you within the specified timeframe.
Make sure to follow park safety guidelines to the letter.
Sudden weather changes aren’t uncommon, so prepare for biting cold as well as excessive heat. Call the park to find out if there are any trails that are closed due to the bad weather or maintenance.
Contact Park Rangers Upon Your Arrival
To ensure your trip goes down smoothly, check in at the visitor center when you first arrive. They’ll inform you about everything that you need to know and warn you about potential dangers.
Make sure to bring some old-fashioned maps and guidebooks with you. The cell service might be spotty in the park so remember not to rely on your phone’s GPS.
Cellular maps are a great way to get a general overview of cellular service availability.
Exploring the country’s greatest treasures with your family, friends, an organized group or even alone can be an experience of a lifetime.
With the scientifically proven physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature, there is no time to waste. Pick your favorite activity, look for the places you wish to visit, and plan your trip ahead of time.
Bio: Nemanja Marinkoff is editor-in-chief and TheGearHunt and WalkJogRun. He's a marketing expert, and he's interested in all things related to basketball. He also loves marzipan, although his wife hates it. You can find him on Twitter.