How To: First National Park

Tips and essentials for your first day hike in a National Park

Tips and essentials for your first day hike in a National Park

Thinking about visiting your first national park this year? Already have an amazing trip planned? You can never be too prepared, especially in new outdoor terrain.

There are regulations in place to keep the park, its wildlife and visitors safe, so take a peek at the national park’s tips for trip planning here before your visit. We know we all have busy schedules, so we did some of the legwork for you and spoke to a Kathy Kupper, a Public Affairs Specialist with the National Parks System to find out what top 3 things every day hiker should have on hand.

You might have an idea of what to pack, but it’s hard to plan for the unexpected.

“Many short hikes take longer than anticipated and sometimes things happen that are not anticipated - be prepared and carry a pack with basic supplies. It's worth its weight.”

Together, we’ve gathered three essentials and three must dos for first-time, day hikers in a national park.

Must Haves:

  • Hydration - take loads of water, whether you choose multiple water bottles or one large one. Pro tip: drink before feeling thirsty.

  • Nutrition - pack a full lunch or protein-packed snacks, even for short hikes.

  • Navigation aids - a reliable source of illumination (aside from your cell phone flashlight), maps, compass and a whistle.

So you’re all packed...

Must Dos:

  • Plan ahead - know yourself and your limitations to pick a hike that fits you. Then, plan your route and map it out (on a physical paper map you can bring along). For safety reasons, always let someone know where you’re going and how long you should be away, especially in places with bad cell service. Most Parks are in remote locations, plan for NO CELL SERVICE.

  • Wear the appropriate gear - utilize the layering system to stay comfortable and prepared on your hike. Always bring a jacket and sturdy footwear.

  • Take safe selfies - No selfie is worth an injury or losing your life over, which has unfortunately happened in recent years. Be aware of your surroundings, stay on the path, don’t get too close to edges and watch out for water hazards.

There are several other tips and must dos, like proper sun protection and other essential day hiking supplies. But these are the absolute MUSTS for all National Park visitors.

Now that you’re all set for your first trip, or learned something new for your next one, get out there and explore! Be sure to tag us on Instagram @LadyHikerUS or #Ladyhikers.