Parks are at the center of so many experiences and memories. Whether you’ve explored local parks in your community or visited some of the monumental national parks elsewhere in the United States, these beautiful spaces are often where we learn about nature, gather with family and friends, exercise and be active, escape from stress, and so much more! In celebration of these special places, July is designated as National Park and Recreation Month. The tips below will help you maximize your enjoyment of local and national parks.
Decide where you want to go. Choose a local park you’re familiar with or search for a new one to visit.
- Search for national parks here by location, activity or topic.
- Download the National Recreation and Park Association Park Path App to find local parks, trails and recreation centers. Click here to learn more.
Once you decide where you’d like to visit, check out the park’s website to familiarize yourself with the layout and rules of the park, as well as the amenities offered. There may be options to rent paddle boats, canoes, or kayaks, enjoy a picnic at designated pavilions and barbecue areas, take fitness or craft classes, access guided nature trails, and more.
Remember to be mindful of the park rules—they’re in place to help protect you and other visitors, as well as protect the park. This is especially important in parks where there is dangerous terrain or large wild animals. Stay at appropriate distances from wild animals, be sensible while taking pictures, know your physical limits, and stay out of places that are off limits.
Plan appropriately. Depending on how you’d like to spend your time at the park, make sure you’re prepared for the day:
- Pack nutritious snacks or a healthy meal, plus plenty of water or sports drinks to hydrate (as permitted by the park).
- Wear and bring appropriate gear. If you’re walking trails or hiking, make sure you have the right shoes; if you’re using a volleyball net or ball field, bring balls, bats, rackets, etc.—whatever is appropriate and necessary for the activities you plan to do at the park.
- Consider bringing a first aid kit in case of injuries.
- Bring sun protection like sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Click here to learn more about how to stay safe from the sun.
Leave the park as you found it. Properly dispose of any trash that you may create. Avoid taking rocks, plants, or flowers (unless permitted to do so). Return any gear or equipment you may have rented or borrowed from park services.
Visiting and taking care of our local and national parks will help protect them for future generations and the enjoyment of all.