National Park Safety
From pristine beaches, maritime forests and moss laden swamps to snow-capped vistas and wide alpine meadows to dusty desert rock formations, stalactite caverns and underground waterfalls, National Parks provide amazing opportunities to experience the natural beauty of different landscapes, environments and habitats. As a visitor to these parks it is important to remember that these are natural environments that present unique perils. In order to protect visitors, the natural environments and wildlife, parks have specific rules set in place to preserve these natural wonders. It is the duty of the visitors to abide by park rules to ensure the present and future conservation of the parks. To “Leave No Trace” follow these park etiquette tips for your next visit to preserve both your safety and the sanctity of all our National Parks.
- Be aware for the animals you might encounter in the park.
- Remember, animals are wild and should never be approached, no matter how calm they appear to be. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk. Never leave small children unattended near wild animals.
- Never feed wildlife, or leave food/garbage unattended. Animals that become habituated to human food may display aggression toward people and have to be killed.
- Never put yourself between an adult animal and its offspring.
- Do not disturb or investigate animal habitats—caves, ground burrows, nests or nesting sites, or beaver dams.
- Practice responsible animal etiquette while traveling through the park; do not leave food or backpacks unattended for even a moment.
- Avoid making excessive noise and surprising wildlife while hiking.
Hiking and Trails
- Stay on specified boardwalks and trails. This is for your own safety and to prevent erosion.
- Do not enter unauthorized areas.
- Keep your children close.
- Pets, if allowed, should always be leashed. Be sure to bring water for them too.
- Be careful while walking around lakes, rivers, streams, hot springs or along steep ravines.
- Don’t hike alone or, if hiking alone is unavoidable, stick to well-travelled paths and trails where you can be easily found.
- Take a map, drinking water, a compass, pocket knife tool and extra clothing.
- Be prepared with appropriate equipment (ice ax, hiking boots, crampons, etc.)
- Tell someone or record in the trail head log where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Take your trash with you. Whatever you “pack in” you need to also “pack out”.
- Wear a helmet at all times.
- Ride only in authorized areas. Almost all public roads allow for cyclists to “share the road” but certain trails, pathways and boardwalks are for hiking only.
- For biking trails heed the direction of travel—this can vary by day and by means of travel (bike or foot) and serves to avoid trail collisions between cyclists, runners and hikers
- Properly dispose of cigarettes, cigars, or pipe tobacco. Grind them out before throwing them away.
- Only build campfires in designated areas, monitor them and before you leave, make sure the fire is completely extinguished.
- Obey posted fire restrictions and take extra caution in times of drought.
If You Get Lost
- Stay calm and stay put.
- Attract searchers by making noise and signaling with colorful clothing or a mirror. A field or large, open space is ideal, as it makes you easier to spot.
- If someone is injured, provide whatever treatment you can. If possible, do not leave the injured party alone.
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