The national park system comprises a total of 419 parks, spanning all states and territories (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam). A trip to any one of them is likely to be an unforgettable experience, provided the proper planning is executed beforehand. Let us go over simple steps to make the most of one’s trip to a National Park.

Decide When To Go: Deciding when to go depends a lot upon what exactly one is hoping to see. Many parks offer a different experience depending on the season. For example. While Yosemite is most popular during the summer it offers a particularly unique experience in the winter when much more of the mountains of frosted over with snow.

Deciding when to go also depends upon crowds. Each park has information about its high season and under what months it falls. Some parks can become quite crowded in high season and prospective visitors need to decide if being around large amounts of other people will negatively impact their experience or not.

Budget: Most parks require more than one day to really take in, and some are quite a bit out of the way, meaning most services, including lodging and meals, will have to be purchased on park grounds. Although not terribly expensive, people often underestimate how much these costs, along with the price of park admission, add up to. Always research costs before arriving to avoid any unwelcome surprises that could cast a bad mood on one’s park experience.

Bring Proper Gear: No one forgets to bring their camera, but many other important items can’t be overlooked. What one needs to pack depends largely on what park they are going to visit and what they are planning on doing there; those visiting Denali national park in Alaska will have greatly differing luggage content than those visiting San Juan National Park in Puerto Rico.

Dressing for the climate and conditions is very important as poor planning at this stage can be disastrous. This is especially true when it comes to footwear. The proper footwear must be used. There are many good options for men and women’s hiking boots and one really should purchase a pair that suits their needs for the specific park they will be visiting.

If one is planning on visiting multiple parks, many boots can be used for both heavy-duty hiking and light walking.

Lets Other Know: While the park services do their best at maintaining a registry, some parks receive thousands of people a day in high season. If an individual was to have an accident or get lost it may be too late by the time it comes to the attention of any park authority. 

Informing family and close friends of one’s itinerary and plans could be the difference of life or death in the event of an accident while out exploring the national park. If one is making use of the park lodging services with access to the internet, and periodic check-in with friends and family is a good idea.