Health Advocate Blog

Explore, enjoy, repeat: Tips for enjoying local and national parks

Exploring national and local parks can be a rewarding experience, offering a chance to connect with nature, learn about history, and enjoy a variety of recreational activities. Plus, studies have shown that spending time in nature can significantly improve both physical and mental health, reduce stress, improve moods, and enhance overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your park visits and reap these health benefits while enjoying the great outdoors.

  • Choose your park. Use tools like the National Park Service’s Park Finder to select a park based on your interests and location. Consider the weather, the length of your trip, and the activities you want to do.
  • Find out if you need reservations. Some parks require reservations for entry or specific activities. Check the park’s website for details and book in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Know before you go. Research the park’s regulations, trail maps, and any alerts or closures. Download the National Park Service app for up-to-date information.
  • Commit to the “Leave No Trace” principles. Read about the principles here to help you prepare for your park trip.
  • Plan appropriately. Depending on how you’d like to spend your time at the park, make sure you’re prepared for the day.
    • Always let someone know your plans and expected return time.
    • 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 on 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
    • Be prepared to avoid common health hazards; click here for tips
    • Know how to keep summer bugs at bay with help from this blog post
    • Bring your camera to capture memorable moments and beautiful landscapes, but be mindful of your surroundings and other visitors
  • Enhance your experience. Participate in ranger-led tours and educational programs to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and ecology.
  • Consider giving back by volunteering. Many parks offer opportunities to help with conservation efforts and visitor services.

Taking care of our local and national parks when you visit them will help protect them so that everyone, including future generations, can enjoy them.