The state park system, consisting of more than 8000 sites, received 807 million visitors in 2018. In 2019, there were more than 327 million recreation visits to national parks in the United States according to the National Park Service data. Whether you want to go tracking wild wolves at Yellowstone or kayaking with whales Alaska-based, or you simply want to watch the Sandhill crane migration in Nebraska, staying safe should be your top priority. That means researching your destination thoroughly, packing enough supplies, and learning basic survival tactics. This article lists a few safety tips to help you stay safe when visiting parks.
Conduct Thorough Research
Before making any financial commitments, it’s important to conduct thorough research and prepare in advance. Learn everything you need to know about the park you’re about to visit and pay attention to important warnings, such as not camping during bad weather or hiking at night. Consider the season you’re visiting the pack and determine whether it will be safe. Do not take risks. Check updates on the park’s website and social media platforms to explore any ranger activities you might be interested in and book early enough.
Create a Trip Plan
To get the most out of your trip, consider planning in advance. Your plan should include a packing list that includes everything you need in your trip, how to get to your destination, the timeframe, and the activities you will be carrying out. Your trip plan should also include emergency supplies. Nature can be unpredictable; create a plan that will allow you to communicate with your family. In case of weather changes or animal attacks, rescuers can search and find you on time.
Read and Obey Park Rules
Park rules were created to help keep visitors safe and preserve the park’s natural state. Most parks are relatively wild with clear dangers but packed with plenty of safety information online. You will also find well-marked trails that you can follow to avoid getting lost or getting attacked by predators. Dangerous areas are marked with warning signs to keep visitors off and prevent accidents. If you’re planning to hike, listen to park rangers, especially if you’re hiking parks with slippery slopes, deep canyons, or crumbling cliffs. Stay alert for any warnings, and beware of your surroundings.
Pick Your Activities Wisely
Explore ways to enjoy the park. Never change your plans. If you do, let someone know in advance. If you have never camped before, don’t go camping alone. Similarly, only take on activities you’re comfortable with and check group size restrictions, warnings, age requirements, and permits before choosing an activity. Most risky activities have limitations and require ranger supervision. Don’t forget your emergency practice plan. Always think about what could go wrong and what you could do before choosing an activity.
When it comes to packing, make sure you have a list to avoid leaving essentials behind. If you are camping for several days, you might want to carry enough food, water, a first aid kit, warm clothes, sunscreen, a flashlight, and emergency supplies such as batteries, duct tape, jumper cables, a toolkit, knife, extra cell phone, and an inflated spare tire.
Stay Away from Wildlife
While it can be exciting and picture-worthy hanging around wild animals, it’s never worth the risk. Most public parks are home to wolves, bears, and bison. When they feel threatened, animals become more dangerous and may attack you if you get too close to them. Remember, it’s illegal to feed, touch, frighten, attack, tease or intentionally disturb wildlife. Stay on trails to help rescuers find you in case of an animal attack.