The Biggest Dangers Of Visiting National Parks In The Summer And How To Avoid Them

Summertime is a terrific opportunity to see something new, so much so that more than 50% of Americans plan at least one summer vacation. It comes as no surprise that many vacationers head to the great outdoors for their adventures. A great number of them, more than 300 million, choose national parks as a vacation destination. Yet, there are hazards when visiting these parks in the summertime. 


National Parks Service Spokesperson Grace Hassler spoke exclusively to Islands, and said there is a lot to do and see in America's nearly 430 national parks, with every destination option from historic sites to beaches. You can venture into lesser-known national parks to avoid crowds or set off to one of the most iconic ones of all. This could be the summer you find out what makes the Grand Canyon so grand. 

Before you hit the trail though, Hassler suggests making a few plans to keep yourself safe. First things first, acquaint yourself with the park. "Parks are wonderful places to visit and recreate, and there are many things visitors can do to ensure they have the best possible experience while visiting them," Hassler said. "[And] visit the park's website in advance to learn about alerts and park rules." You could even screenshot or print out important information to have on hand in case you lose cell service in the park or your battery runs low.


Come prepared for heat

Regardless of where your national parks adventure takes you in the country, summertime often means a lot of heat. Even in Alaska, it isn't uncommon for temps to hit 90 degrees. That's one reason why Grace Hassler recommends visitors be mindful of their personal safety while exploring. For those heading to national park trails only meant for experienced hikers, these preparations are especially vital. 


"Summer is the most popular time to visit most parks, but it's also the hottest and comes with some additional safety concerns," Hassler said. "Wherever you find yourself, be sure to keep cool and beat the heat by monitoring the weather, bringing plenty of water, wearing sun protection, taking lots of time to rest, and staying in the shade whenever possible." 

Should you need additional assistance or have safety questions, Hassler recommends checking out the park's website or asking a park ranger for help. These safety recommendations are doubly important if you plan to visit a desert environment like this underrated national park in Arizona, where summer temps can jump beyond 100 degrees in the daytime.  


Other summertime considerations when visiting national parks

Beyond the more practical safety tips, Grace Hassler also suggested that visitors be aware of national park fees. Hassler explained that the majority of national parks are free to visit, but some do have entry fees. She added that if a park does have an entrance fee, the NPS holds free entrance days throughout the year you can consider too. 


"There are several fee-free days throughout the year where every national park is free to visit! ... For example, national parks are free on August 4 in honor of the Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act," she said. 

Hassler also suggests making use of the NPS App for planning and adventuring through the parks. "You can access basic information about the park, what to do, where to stay, upcoming events, contact information, and so much more," she said. "You can even download content like maps from entire parks for offline use!" The app also includes accessibility information, including accessible trails and audio descriptions of exhibits.