Travel Tips 

National Park Guidelines for a Fun and Safe Visit

From the beginning, national parks have been created and established to help preserve natural areas. And throughout the years, they have protected precious wilderness from being destroyed and erased by expanding human activity. In the interest of keeping these reserves around for years to come, we’d like to share some of the best ways to help maintain them. So, please, follow these general guidelines and inform yourself about specific for the national park you plan to visit.
Prepared By:

Visit USA Parks

Adventurer & Photographer

1: Follow the rules set up by national park rangers.

A ranger explaining national park guidelines.

While we might become annoyed by excessive or strict rules and regulations, they’re necessary in national parks. Specific park rules may include acquiring necessary permits for fishing, boating, and other activities. They may also dictate quiet hours or restrict the places where you can camp or hike. Remember, all guidelines are designed to maximize your fun by ensuring your safety. So do yourself and the parks a favor by obeying them!

2: Follow Leave No Trace Principles

A silhouette cartoon figure throwing trash away.

This is a simple, though often overlooked, national park guideline. Keep your campsite clean and the surrounding areas debris-free to ensure that plants and animals in the vicinity stay healthy. Try to leave your campsite a little better than you found it, as a courtesy to future guests. And that also helps ensure the national park will still be in excellent shape when you decide to return! If you’re camping overnight, plan ahead to have meals with minimal clean up and waste.

3: Do not feed or disturb animals.

Bears in a national park, showing one of our nature photography tips.

Though it might be tempting, it’s dangerous to feed food scraps to birds and animals in national parks. It makes animals dependent on humans for food (which means you’re more likely to have frequent furry visitors). And this, in turn, disrupts the natural ecosystem. Keep your food to yourself and your human friends and family.

4: Stay on the trail

A hiker staying on trail, a national park guideline.

Just because some influencer took a picture in a field of wildflowers does not mean you should. That kind of behavior, or even walking off a trail, can damage fragile wildlife and ecosystems. Leave wildflowers alone, uncrushed, and unpicked. Not only are you protecting the environment, but you are leaving it for others to discover!

5: Check in

woman, map, navigate

If you’re heading into any kind of wilderness area, you want people to know where you’re headed. Leave your route/hike information with family or friends, and check in at a national park guard station and leave your information as well. Keeping a record of your location makes it far safer if your plans go south.
Want to know more? Read about rock climbing guidelines in national parks! For more general national park guidelines, check out the resources provided by the National Parks Service.

What did we leave out?

Leave us your favorite national park tip below!

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