The National Parks in the US are diverse, stunning, and picturesque. We share this first timers guide to visiting a national park, so you can have the best trip to your chosen park.
Why visit a national park?
Visiting a national park can be exciting, especially if it’s your first time. You can see wonderfully rare views of nature, be in awe of the wildlife, and appreciate history. You should make the most out of your first trip. Even if you can revisit it anytime, there’s nothing like seeing a USA national park for the first time.
You need to do several things to make the expedition memorable and worthwhile. Aside from thoroughly researching the national park you’re visiting, you need a checklist of supplies to bring. You must decide when to go, how to get there, where to stay overnight, and even what to wear. To help you out, this article serves as a guide to visiting a national park for the first time.
Best National Parks in the USA
Tips for visiting a National Park
Prepare Enough Power For The Trip
If you’re planning to camp around the national park, having plenty of power supply will surely come in handy. Losing power during your trip can be inconvenient. Even if you’re trying to stay off-grid, it’ll be nice to have extra power in emergencies.
Since you’re going to an open-air park, you’ll likely get a good amount of sun supply. If you plan to stay there for a few days, take portable solar panels and the best overland power station. This way, you can get power with the available solar energy.
Plan The Perfect Time For Visit
Not every national park is open throughout the year. Depending on which national park you’ll visit, you need to check their availability. There’s nothing more frustrating than being excited about arriving only to learn that it’s closed for the foreseeable future.
If you’re bringing your kids, summer may be the best time to take them out because they have no school. Pulling them out of school for a trip may be difficult. However, visiting during summer may not be everyone’s preference, especially since this is the peak season for visits. To avoid the crowd, you can bring your kids during the end of summer or early fall.
If you’re planning to visit the national park to truly enjoy nature and appreciate its beauty, you should go around spring or fall. If you like the busy season, visiting during summer is best.
Book Your Trip In Advance
Some national parks cannot accommodate walk-in guests as they’re already full of visitors from early booking. To avoid disappointment, you should book your trip in advance.
Plenty of websites can offer early booking for at least a year before your scheduled date of visit. However, this may be risky as you cannot predict what can happen in a year. But if you’re confident that this trip is something you love to take, you should book it in advance.
Pack Your Things Efficiently
If you plan to camp or stay at the lodge, you should pack your things efficiently. You should avoid using luggage; switch to backpacks instead. This should allow for a better camping trip as you’re minimizing the things you bring with you.
Depending on how long you plan to stay, pack at least an extra pair of clothing for an additional day, just in case of spills or extended stays. You should also try to keep everything compact by switching to travel-friendly containers. It’ll be helpful if you organize your clothing by day so you can just pull out your organizers instead of rummaging through your entire bag.
Consider A Guided Tour
Since it’ll be your first time visiting a national park, having a guided tour will help you get the most out of your trip. Tour guides can give you every detail you need from the national park.
This can include the things and places you need to avoid and some shortcuts to get you to different places. While this may be an added cost, it can make your entire trip worthwhile.
Safety is another factor to consider. Tour guides are trained in first aid and emergency response.
Being out in public isn’t an excuse to throw your litter anywhere you want. Even if you cannot find a nearby trash bin, you shouldn’t leave your trash anywhere.
Preferably, you should carry your own trash bag. If you forgot one, keep every piece of rubbish with you until you find a decent place to throw them away. You should respect the national park and its unmatched beauty by keeping it clean all the time.
Do Not Interact With Wildlife
Seeing wildlife while you’re at the national park is exciting. However, you can never know how they’ll respond once they interact with humans. Even if they look friendly, you shouldn’t interact with any wildlife as they can surprisingly harm you.
This can cause accidents and trauma to you and the people around you. When you see wildlife, keep a safe distance, avoid bringing attention to yourself, and continue your journey without interacting with them.
Do Not Touch Anything
You shouldn’t touch anything that belongs to the national park. The only thing you should do is appreciate them through your eyes. You can take as many photographs as you want, just don’t touch or make any physical contact with them.
This means not touching the cave walls, climbing the trees, disturbing the artifacts, or leaning on dwellings. Even if these feel adventurous, you should keep your hands to yourself and avoid disturbing nature and history.
Do Not Loiter Around
While it seems fun to wander around and go off track, this can lead to bigger problems if you get lost. Apart from losing track of where you should go, you may encounter some wildlife or unsafe tracks, which can put your life at risk.
To avoid such scenarios, you should stay on track and don’t loiter around. Every national park includes tracks you can go to, which helps keep you safe. The last thing you’d want to happen is not to enjoy your trip because you cannot return to where you’re supposed to go.
Visiting a national park for the first time can be quite tricky. You should visit at the right time, or it can ruin your experience. Moreover, you need to book in advance to ensure your slot and day of visit. While some aspects of the visit may require extensive planning, it’ll help guarantee a safe and comfortable visit that you’ll remember for years.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.