With Summer vacation in full swing, many questions can come to mind. You may be wondering: where to go on a trip, what to do, how to dress, what to bring? It appears, lately, that the nation has been waking up and remembering the great outdoors. A spark has been rekindled and tourists are blazing the trails to experience America’s majestic national parks. Many folks are on their way from big cities or are new to, well, being outside. There is a lot to think about when venturing out to visit a national park. Some things to consider:
Location, Location, Location
Deciding which national park you want to visit first can be daunting. Conveniently, there are many national parks that can reached within a reasonable distance from an airport. Not everyone can or wants to have to fly to their destination. Several travel agencies have recognized renewed interest and have again started promoting train excursions as a one-way or roundtrip getaway to one, or a series of national parks. Some even come with amenities provided along the journey. For those who prefer the good ol’ fun of a road trip, every park offers parking. A vacation can cost as much as you let it, but can always be worth more in the end.
Camping or Lodging?
A misconception of visiting a national park is that all you can do there is camp. This isn’t true at all. Though there’s nothing like sleeping under the stars and putting your bug spray to good use, it is very common for many lodging accommodations to exist nearby and they come fully equipped with beds and plumbing. Non campers, fear not. Some lodging facilities even offer shuttle rides to the park. If roughing it isn’t your thing, but you still want some breathtaking views, consider seeking a touring company. They know all of the good spots, it’s literally their job to know the national parks inside and out. It’s not unheard of for lodging sites to offer discounted rates on tours and dining to keep the tourists coming so, don’t be afraid to ask when looking around.
Dressing and Packing Accordingly
Something to remember about national parks is they, more often than not, contain many types of environments. Always research the park you’re interested in visiting and pay attention to the weather forecast. It’s possible you may be interested in a national park that has mountains that cause the weather to change at any moment or maybe you want to visit a southwestern park and you’re not aware of the cold nights. Whichever location it is, you’ll want to plan accordingly to save yourself a miserable trip and missed opportunity. Calling the local Park Ranger office or a local lodging establishment for advice is a great tip.
Five things you can never go wrong in bringing:
- Bug spray: no matter where you go, they’re there.
- Sunscreen: the sun, it’s everywhere.
- Extra water: some hikes are longer than you thought.
- A whistle: no one likes to be lost.
- First-aid kit: it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Lions and Tigers and Bears are Real
While it isn’t very likely to encounter a wild tiger, the threat of lions and bears in American national parks is not a joke. A lot of people know that bears will seek food wherever it can, but not many know they can smell food from more than a mile away or that mountain lions hunt at dawn and dusk. Looking after the well-being of yourself and your loved ones can best be done by being prepared. After checking with the local authorities, it may be wise to carry mace or an air horn to scare off predators in the event of an encounter. Keep in mind that while these and other animals may be scary, you are in their home and as long as you respect their rules, you most likely won’t be considered a threat to them, nor them to you. Ask local Park Rangers for advice on how to handle possible situations and be aware of and be sure to read the informational and warning signs posted throughout the national park you are visiting. Educating yourself prior to an experience is the safest option for you and the animals.
Dangerous Plants and Bug Bites
Another important factor when hiking or camping in the national parks, is the foliage. Educate yourself about the area you choose to visit with which plants you may come across that can be poisonous or cause serious reactions. Depending on which national park you go to, you may want to consider long pant legs and shirt sleeves. While some climates won’t easily allow for it, staying covered is your best protection from brushing against a plant that you shouldn’t.
It’s not a big secret that bugs, biting insects, and nature go hand in hand. They are an important part of keeping their ecosystem alive, but when you enter their world, you can pay for it. One of the most important parts of vacationing to a national park is remembering your bug spray. There are countless accounts of amazing vacations being ruined by the ever-looming bug population. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to the world of DEET (which you probably are since you’re visiting a national park), No No-See-Um Natural Insect Repellent has you covered. It repels mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and biting flies using natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals. The best way to enjoy the sights and relaxing nights is to fight the bite before it ever even happens.