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How to Plan a National Park Trip

The weather’s great, Mother Nature is calling and it’s time to go to the park, but where do you start and how do you make sure you have a beautiful trip with no complications?</br></br>Sometimes it’s not as easy as it should be, but there are several tips you can use to ensure the perfect national park vacation.</br></br><strong>Tip 1: Plan Ahead</strong></br></br>This probably seems obvious, but it bears mentioning that these days you can’t just up and drive to Yellowstone on a whim. Well, you can, but you may face any number of logistical hiccups like:</br></br>- Traffic</br>- Weather</br>- Closed Roads</br>- Seasonal Park Restrictions</br></br>And that’s just a partial list. So, it’s very important to do a little research before piling the kids into the ol' Family Truckster.</br></br><strong>Tip 2: Get Your Permits</strong></br></br>The last thing you want to do is try to get your permits at the park on the day of your arrival. First, it may not even be possible. Second, even if it is possible it’s going to suck up more precious daylight than you’re willing to invest.</br></br>Instead, buy all the permits you’ll need online (yes, you may need more than one!) and print them out so you have them at the ready to place on your vehicle for parking, or show to the ranger upon entry.</br></br><strong>Tip 3: Pack Appropriately</strong></br></br>This could mean all sorts of things depending on the duration of your visit, terrain and other factors, but there are a few must-haves no matter where you go:</br></br>- Water</br>- Food</br>- First-Aid Kit</br>- Flashlight/Lantern</br>- Lighter</br>- Extra Gas</br></br>Have you ever run out of gas in a national park? It’s not the most awesome thing that can happen.</br></br><strong>Tip 4: Don’t Feed Animals</strong></br></br>It’s never a good idea to feed wild animals. Their fear of humans and need to find their own food are essential survival traits, and when people feed them it puts the animals <em>and</em> visitors in danger.</br></br>This also means all food items must be sealed and stowed at all times, even if you intend to throw it away. Foraging animals are emboldened by leftovers, which tends to bring them into closer proximity with humans.</br></br><strong>Tip 5: Never Forget Your Map</strong></br></br>Always keep a park map handy. Your phone will eventually die and your car GPS stops working when it does, which is why a paper map is always good to have.</br></br>You can usually find them at the ranger station, but you can also print them out online when you get your permits.</br></br>Use these five tips for a happier, safer adventure the next time you visit one of our beautiful national parks.
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