3 Things to Consider before Your Next National Park Adventure

Although I enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, sometimes a getaway to spend time in nature is just what I need to relax and recharge. It’s quite something to be able to wake up to the sound of the waves, getting an unobstructed view of the sunsets on the lake, or watching the rolling green clouds as a storm approaches.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked at a national park for a few summers as a student, and there is definitely a variety of people who show up, from experienced hikers to day trippers, to those who are getting outside for the first time in ages. It’s been a great experience overall to spend every day working, walking and exercising in the fresh air and with people who also want to be surrounded by nature. On the other hand, it can be frustrating to be painted as the bad guy by visitors who didn’t think to plan ahead. Curious? Then follow the trail of 3 Things to Consider before Your Next National Park Adventure!

1. Consider the Purpose of Being Surrounded by Nature

Sometimes life feels like it’s slowed down when you are in nature and it allows you to be more in the present. You learn to get excited about the small things, such as helping a turtle cross the road, or spotting a rare plant species.

It’s not surprising that a lot of people are out of touch with nature with populations concentrated in cities with their 24/7 availability of technology. For example, I’ve spoken to visitors who book a day trip to a remote island and the first thing they ask is where they can charge their phone, rather than asking for suggestions of which hiking trail would suit them.

Nature is full of different sights and sounds that you probably don’t get to see and hear on a regular basis. So, if you’re on a hike, think about the environment you’ve surrounded yourself in and enjoy it with the people you’re with, rather than the next playlist to blast through your speaker or what your selfie pose will be when you reach the main attraction.

Check out the video below for stunning views and things to see at a few of the world’s popular national parks!

2. Adjust Your Expectations

A lot of the time, the beauty of spending time in nature is being able to get away from the city, which often means driving a couple of hours to get there. If the destination you’re going to is popular, such as a national park, check to see if you need to make a reservation a couple weeks or even months in advance to avoid disappointment. Every day people are redirected home because the parking lots have been fully booked.

Locations that are more remote also don’t operate at the same speed as they do in the city and will not have all the same amenities that you’re used to. For example, if there is no running water, there may be outhouses or compositing toilets instead, and unfortunately there is little that can be done about the smell though.

Service may be slower than you’re used to, which may be due to the difference and ratio between the number of staff to visitors. During the pandemic there was a surge in the number of visitors going to parks because of travel restrictions, however the number of staff on hand actually decreased from the previous year.

You also need to get used to being less reliant on your phone. Often, parks and trails have maps posted nearby and sometimes there might even be a visitor guide you can take with a list of things to do. The maps will usually tell you the distance of each trail and how long it will take to traverse. Sometimes cell coverage is spotty, so it’s important to be able to read a map or at least know generally where you would like to go.

Check out this video if you need some tips on planning your next national park adventure!

3. Learn About the Area Before You Go

Check out this video above to learn more about the importance of protecting national parks. It’s important to learn a bit about the area you’re going to beforehand. For example, during this summer a visitor said that they saw a bear near their campsite, so they fed it because they felt bad for it. An incident like that is very unfortunate because the bear will keep coming back, which is something that is explained to visitors upon arrival. There are other safety concerns to look out for as well, such as terrain and water temperatures. Make sure that you are wearing proper footwear and have a water bottle with you!

If you do some research before you go, such as learning about the ecosystems in the area you’ll be visiting, it might make your experience better. Some parks even have guided tours to help you learn about the area. Plus, it might make you less likely to dump your garbage in the middle of the forest. It’s sad to see the amount of garbage that piles up every day and to clean it up because visitors can’t pick it up themselves.

If you already do all these things during your outdoor excursions, good on you and keep it up! If not, it’s never too late to start! Love taking adventure park treks or walks? Comment your thoughts below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

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