7 Things to Know Before Heading to the Parks

Preparing you for whatever park adventures lie ahead…

To continue our conversation on all things National Parks, and to ensure that future generations can also #LoveYourParks, we created a simple list of “need to knows” before you head out on your wilderness escape. Read on to learn how you can protect these beautiful spaces for years to come.

Pack it in, pack it out. 

We, lovers and patrons of our national parks, are fully responsible for their future. When it comes to food, trash and other belongings, make sure to always take it with you when leaving. Not only will it harm the environment, it may even prove toxic to wildlife. There is nothing worse than hiking to a beautiful vista with wrappers scattered along the way. So remember, if you packed it in, you can pack it out!

Keep pets at home.

Dog, cat, pet hamster? Whatever your house pet may be, your furry friends must stay at home. Most national parks are not necessarily hospitable venues for pets — especially if your buddies were to scare or harm native animals. Plan a mini-vacation for your pet next time you’re headed to the parks, and keep them with loved ones while you adventure into the great unknown (or a clearly marked trail).

Leave it be.

Leave plants, animals, rocks, and soil where you find them. Disturbing these things puts the lives of animals and plants at risk and could possibly ruin their habitats. Next time you’re in a park and find yourself enamored with one of its residents, instead of taking it home, snap a photo or journal it!

Stay on the road.

Vehicles cause damage to plants and animals, and can even aggravate land erosion! Be aware of road signs and take advantage of marked pull-offs to view wildlife and landmarks. Hate traffic? Most parks provide free shuttles to and from trail heads. Beat the stress and lower your carbon footprint all at the same time!

Tread lightly.

Stay on the trail… plants and animals are harmed daily by visitors who create their own journey. With millions of visitors a year, even a small “unofficial” trail can quickly become a beaten path. In some areas, as the vegetation and roots are trampled, erosion becomes a significant problem. So honor your parks by following the signs.I promise they lead to magic.

Flowers are friends.

And food for insects and birds!! Also, by picking flowers, you have ensured that the next visitor to pass may not find the same enjoyment, and who doesn’t love a good wildflower viewing? So next time you see a gorgeous bud, give it some love, thank it for its beauty and move on.

Friends, not foes. 

The National Park Service is there to help. Before hitting the roa,d do your research and fully plan for your adventure ahead. Weather/road conditions and park access can change on the daily, so stay informed for the best possible trip, not only for yourself but also for the environment! To learn more on a specific park, contact the park service here!

Have National Park tips yourself? Let us know your favorites in the comments below…

+ Want a chance to win an annual National Park pass? Check out our FP x NPF Instagram contest here

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I’ve always thought national parks welcomed pets! Great to know now!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Really Nice Ideas.. Thanks For Sharing your thoughts
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5 years ago

Thank you so much for this post! Hate the trend of people being unsafe or disrespecting park rules and entering restricted areas so they can get a cool shot or video. Not cool! Trails are marked for a reason. Great article and tips :)

Thanks FP!