Skip to main content

USAGov’s Tips for Safely Enjoying America’s National Parks

Date: August 19, 2019
A bison stands in wild nature. Brought to you by USAGov.

Whether it’s a quick drive or camping for a whole week, time spent at a national park can turn any ordinary day into an unforgettable experience with friends and family. 

On the National Park Service’s (NPS) birthday each August 25 and at other special times throughout the year, you can enjoy free admission to the parks. But whenever you go, it’s important to keep these tips from USAGov in mind to stay safe as you explore the land and encounter wildlife along the way. 

  • Keep your distance. National parks are home to many creatures. And the NPS recommends giving them a little space. A simple pat or scratch behind the ears could feel threatening and cause a dangerous reaction, so keep back from most wild animals at least 75 feet. That’s about the length of two school buses. With animals like bears or mountain lions, keep back at least 120 feet or three bus-lengths. Wild animals don’t get yearly check-ups and can carry diseases, ticks, and can injure you or damage your property. Always be aware of them and your surroundings when hiking or exploring an area populated with wildlife. 
  • Don’t feed any animals. Feeding some, like moose or deer, might not seem like a big deal. But this well-intended action can encourage wildlife to seek humans for food rather than naturally hunting or foraging for their food. This increases the risk of danger for you and for them. 
  • Always clean up. Whether you’re camping or hiking, it’s important to clean up any food, clothes, or trash left behind. Leaving food unattended or behind on a trip attracts animals that will keep coming back to campsites or popular hiking paths. Strive to leave the park cleaner than you found it. And discover volunteer opportunities year-round to help keep national parks safe and beautiful. 
  • Follow safety signs. Obey any warning signs put up by park staff if you’re on foot, riding a bike, or driving. They’re meant to keep you and any wildlife safe. Staying on boardwalks and designated trails prevents the risk of injuries and getting lost. Plan any camping trips with that in mind and know how to contact officials in case there’s an emergency.
  • Stay hydrated! Make sure you’re prepared for any long hikes. Even if you go during sunrise or sunset, temperature changes and humidity can affect your health. Make sure you bring enough water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. Check this list from NPS before heading out. 

 Most parks are open year-round, so you can plan an escape whenever you want. Find a park near you or someplace you’ve always wanted to visit and start planning your adventure.

Are you capturing photos from your national park trips? Share them with USAGov! Tag @USAGov on Instagram and Twitter with your snapshots and we’ll feature our favorites. Be sure to also subscribe to our email newsletters for timely information on a variety of topics all year long. 

You might also like …

  • Get Answers to Your Travel Questions

    Since a lot has changed with travel during the pandemic, know the latest requirements and recommendations from experts across the government. Follow this guide for answers to your latest travel questions before you go.

  • Four Government Apps for Times of Emergency

    These days, there are mobile applications for every situation that help make your life easier. Did you know there are apps developed for you by the U.S. government to prepare before, stay safe during and recover after an emergency?

  • Understand Government Benefits for Different Stages of Life

    Every phase of life has unique challenges that can change at any time. As you experience big transitions like retiring from a long career or losing your home, understand what government services can help along the way. Search through the latest guide to navigate through any event life throws your way.

  • Six Tips for the 2022 Tax Season

    As the federal tax deadline approaches soon, you may still have questions about filing your federal, state and business taxes in 2022. Use USAGov’s tax season guide to understand steps you need to take to successfully file by the April 18 deadline.

  • Protect Yourself From the Ways Love Can Go Wrong

    Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show the people in your life love, care and what they mean to you. Unfortunately, the excitement and romance of it all can have a bad side. If you or a loved one is looking for love online or experiencing domestic violence, know how to stay safe from the ways love can go wrong.

Share This Page: