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Top 6 Helpful Tips When Visiting a National Park!

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While we love to “become one with nature”, we do need to consider some etiquette when camping or visiting at a National Park. Here is a top 6 list of what to do!

  1. When camping “Leave No Trace”! This is a critical point and should always be followed anytime you’re out in nature. Human waste and other forms of waste such as garbage can wreak havoc on nature, especially when it’s a part of nature that is visited by as many people as a national park is. With this idea, it is promoted to “leave only footprints, take only pictures.” Since smartphones have made all of us professional photographers, we should have no problem with that. It’s the part about leaving only footprints that people struggle with. However, awareness is the best place to start.

  2. Do not get too close to the animals. It can be very exciting to finally see animals in the wild, doing what they do! But the minute you mess with the animal, it’s not wild anymore. So always give the animals plenty of space. Getting too close to any wildlife is a federal offense in a national park. Not only is it unlawful but your safety is at risk – the animals can be very unpredictable and can react faster than you think. A good rule to remember is to always stay 100 feet away from bears and wolves and at least 25 feet away from bison, elk, and other wildlife. However, distance varies from park to park, be sure to check the rules for the specific park you’re visiting.

  3. Don’t feed the animals! While you may be tempted to feed the cute cuddly-looking animal, you would be doing far more harm than good by giving them food of any kind. In national parks it's prohibited to feed the animals and dangerous to cause habituation. You could cause the animals to lose their natural fear of people which can be a huge safety concern for the life of the animals and also for your life. The “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” signs you see around a park aren't just there for decoration. Feeding animals, despite good intentions, can severely harm animals in ways you might not be aware of.

  4. Don’t Vandalize! When we think of “vandalism” we think of extreme spray painting, intentional trash, etc. but it can also mean “anything that alters nature” is vandalism. Carving your name into a tree, for example, is prohibited. Keep Mother Nature pure and in her most natural state for everyone to enjoy. And let’s be honest: no one else cares about your initials in the tree except for you.

  5. Don’t play loud music. This isn’t as much a safety issue as it is a matter of respect. Just because you love Taylor Swift and want her to be the soundtrack to your visit to Acadia National Park doesn’t mean that everyone else does. If you want to listen to music, please do! Just keep it to your headphones.

  6. Do stay on designated trails. Some national parks have nearly 1,000 miles of trails. Why is this point so important? Because you could disrupt or even damage our lovely Mother Nature by walking around. There are lots of protected plants in national parks that you could harm by going off-trail. In addition to that, going off designated trails can also be very dangerous. The trails that are marked are known to be safe and are regularly checked by park rangers to ensure that they stay safe. When you wander off on your own, you never know what lurks around the corner and could potentially cause you some serious harm.

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