Getting outdoors is always important, and in 2020 it seems even more critical for peace of mind. Our bodies are begging for some fresh air after being cooped up from quarantine. Thankfully, most State and National Parks have opened their gates to allow for recreation. Since we’re not totally in the clear yet from coronavirus, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before you go. Here’s what you need to know before going to a park this summer.
Check Guidelines Before
While many parks across the country are mostly open, there are some that have incredibly limited services or are closed entirely. First step: make sure you check to see if the park is open before driving off.
Check out our post on Hidden State and National Park Gems to get inspiration on where to go!
Choose Off-Hours and Days
A great tip to avoid crowds on the trail? Go on off-hours! Make a quick breakfast to eat on the road and get to the park first thing in the morning. Or wait it out – head out late afternoon around dinnertime. Not only will this help avoid other people but it’s also more comfortable temperatures for hiking. If you can be flexible on your days, that would be great too – weekends, naturally, are busier than mid-week.
Plan Your Trail Ahead of Time – and Have a Backup
It’s always a good idea to review the available trails before you make your way to the park. This way, you can see what works best for you and anyone else you’re traveling with. Have your kids or dogs with you? Look ahead for easier, shorter trails. Be sure to have a backup or two in case your first choice is overcrowded.
If the Parking Lot is Full, Move On
You can sometimes head out on a trail without seeing another person. But it’s fairly safe to say, if the trail you have in mind has a full parking lot, you’ll probably come across a hiker or two. By opting for a quieter spot, you increase your chances of not seeing many other people on your hike. It’s also a guideline straight from many parks. So if cars are really piled up, keep driving – there will be a trail for you!
New to hiking? We can help! Here’s a beginner’s guide to hiking to get you started.
Have Your Mask Handy and Keep Your Distance
If you’re hiking on a fairly deserted trail, you may not think it’s necessary to have your mask. However, you’ll want to keep it handy in the event you do come upon someone. There are times while hiking you may find the trail becomes narrow, and it’s hard to distance yourself but having a mask will help protect you and your fellow hikers. And if you’re on a wider trail, take advantage of that – put space between you and others!
If you’re out in your RV, here are some tips we’ve gathered from the CDC to keep your rig clean and sanitized!
Prepare to Be Self-Sufficient
As we mentioned earlier, parks may be open, but services are still fairly limited. This includes accessibility to bathrooms, visitor centers, and limited staffing, so you’ll want to be as best prepared to be self-sufficient. Make sure everyone goes to the bathroom before you leave. Bring plenty of water with you as well as hand sanitizer and even a first aid kit. Cell phone reception can be spotty depending on what park you go to, so screenshot directions ahead of time.
‘Tis the season.. for ticks! Be careful of this nasty little bugs – here are 5 tips to avoid ticks this year.
The summer of 2020 definitely is different than most of us could have imagined, but there are still ways to find pockets of joy! It’s an opportunity for us to slow down and take stock of what is most important – and a big piece of that is reconnecting with nature. Enjoy it and stay safe out there!