America’s national parks attract visitors from all over the world—and with good reason. On top of the dramatic views, fascinating landmarks, and incredible wildlife, these areas are often rich with history and culture. The chance to explore such meaningful places is invaluable. As such, visitors must treat these parks with the respect they deserve. Make your trip a good experience for everyone by checking out these things to know before visiting a national park.
The Park Deserves Respect
National parks preserve some of the most awe-inspiring natural expanses in the country, so you’ll come across remarkable flora and fauna during your trip. One of the most important things to know before visiting a national park is how to treat these natural spaces and their inhabitants with respect. Obey park rules and boundaries. Learn the safety tips for encountering wildlife throughout the park. A cute photo opportunity isn’t worth provoking the animals. Even cute herbivores can do a lot of damage if you aren’t careful. Finally, strive to leave the park exactly as you found it. Clean up after yourself, stick to paths and other public areas, and avoid taking plants or rocks as souvenirs. If you want a memento of your trip, buy one from the park’s Visitor Center—or just bring a camera.
There’s Something for Everybody
Some people hesitate to visit national parks because they think they’re not outdoorsy enough or that the kids will be bored. The truth is that national parks have something for everyone, no matter their age, experience, or reason for visiting. You don’t have to rough it through the mountains with nothing but a heavy-duty backpack full of gear. Many parks have beautiful and comfortable lodges ready and willing to host visitors. If they don’t, you can always rest your head in the closest town. As for the kids, parks offer plenty of activities for people of all ages, including Junior Ranger programs, easy but adventurous hiking trails, and seasonal events. No matter who you are or where you come from, there’s a place for you at the national parks.