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  • Writer's pictureMarie Williams

What To Bring When Visiting A National Park

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When visiting a National Park one should always be prepared to bring a number of items with them on their journey. After all, you will be in a vast, cell-free, open,and wild area that is home to countless animals. In addition, mother nature can sometimes be unkind with extreme heat, cold temperatures, and bugs that like to bite. Not to mention, if you are like me and accident prone, tripping over a stick or a rock can occur while out on your adventure, and no one wants to trek back to the nearest visitor centre to get a bandaid or bug spray.

Any backpack will be able to hold the items needed for hiking/walking any National Park. My husband normally carries a large backpack with most of our supplies while I carry a smaller backpack containing some of my necessities. First and foremost is a water bottle for each person hiking. Depending on the length of the hike ,and the temperature, one should bring at least 32 oz of water for a two hour hike. The next most important item is a first aid kit. Small first aid kits are sold at many stores and always come in handy. I will list the remaining supplies that we normally bring on a 1-3 hour hike. Each item links you to the item on Amazon:

  • Backpack

  • Water bottle with water

  • First Aid Kit

  • Suncreen

  • Bug Spray

  • Bear Spray (see below)

  • Camera

  • Phone

  • Wallets

  • A small amount of t.p. in a plastic bag (nothing is left in a park)

  • Snacks (granola, granola bar, fruit)

  • Binoculars

  • Sunglasses

  • Rain Poncho if rain is in the forecast

  • Hat

  • Female urination device - oddly necessary and easy to use

  • Hiking shoes

I love my USA National Parks Journal and Passport Stamp Book. Keep a record of your visit and the areas you explored.

Bear proof trashcan

Bears in Some National Parks - Black/Grizzly

When visiting a National Park that is located in bear country, bear spray is a must to carry with you. Bear spray can be rented or purchased at all National Parks that have bears located in their respective park. If you live within driving distance you can purchase on Amazon. The container will state exactly how to use the bear spray. And, believe it or not, one uses bear spray only when a bear is at a 25-35 feet distance. On our last visit to Glacier National Park our tour guides were very knowledgable about when and how to use bear spray. (We were in grizzly bear territory so one should educate themselves about bear behaviour prior to hiking) First, keep your bear spray on your belt and ready to be used. You don't want to look through your backpack for bear spray while a bear is charging you. The best way to deter a bear from coming near you is to make your presence known. Bears will normally attack out of fear or being startled, so sneaking up on a bear is never a good idea. Talk to your hiking buddies or sing a song while on the trail so bears in the vicinity will hear you. IF you do come upon a bear while hiking DO NOT RUN!!!!!! This seems like a great idea, but it's not. The bear will chase you and will catch up to you. Therefore, stand your ground and do not look the bear in the eyes. If you are with someone, group together to make yourselves look big. The bear will check you out and try to determine if you are a threat to it. The bear may start swaying back and forth and pouncing the ground. It is doing this to provide it's muscles with more oxygen because it could be preparing to charge you. If the bear starts to charge you, hold your ground and do not move. More than likely the bear is bluffing and will suddenly stop, however, sometimes it's not a bluff and they will continue. At this point, be prepared to spray them with your bear spray. It is a one shot spray, so make it count and wait until the bear is within about 25 feet away from you. If this happens more than likely the bear will run away from you. Thank goodness!!!! If not, fall into a ball with your back up. Your backpack will be able to protect you. Always protect your head with your hands. The bear will sniff you and hopefully walk away.

Coming in close contact with a bear sounds unsettling and I hope this information does not deter you from hiking bear country. My first time in bear country I purchased a tour for us with tour guides that knew the area and what to do when a bear may appear. They were able to calm my fears about bears and helped me to understand bears habits and at one point wish that I could see a bear in the wild. I actually did see a grizzly bear with her cubs at Yellowstone National Park. Fortunately, it was near Old Faithful and a few park rangers were there guiding us to safety.

What to Wear While Hiking

What you wear while hiking is also very important. Wear clothes in layers and that are comfortable to you. I normally prefer to wear rugged denim jeans and layers of shirts. If you get hot/cold you are able to add or remove layers. Always check the weather, and, if applicable, bring a hat, gloves, or jacket if needed. Hats with a brim are helpful to keep your eyes shaded, especially when you are in a forested area that isn't too bright. Wearing sunglasses in a forest can be very dim and not the best for sightseeing. Tennis shoes are great for hiking as long as you have good traction on the soles of your shoes. However, since we hike a lot, I purchased a pair of Merrell hiking shoes. While they may cost a little more than the average shoe, they are like walking on a cloud.

You'll love this poster if you are a National Park traveler!!!!


The only place you can hike without seeing a snake is in Hawaii's national parks. (Another reason why I love Hawaii) On the mainland there are all types of snakes, venomous and non-venomous. If you will be hiking in an area where there are venomous snakes be careful when walking over fallen trees or rocks (they like to hide under them.) If bitten by a venomous snake seek medical attention immediately. Take a photo of the snake and sit down until Emergency Medical Service can attend you. If bitten by a non-venomous snake it is still advisable to seek medical attention. You could have an allergic reaction or not be certain if the snake was venomous or not.

In all, remember always, safety first. Packing the items you will need for your adventure will ensure your trip will be enjoyable and safe. No one wants to ruin their vacation with a mishap that could have been prevented.

I love this gadget for taking pictures or videos with both of us in the frame. No need for anyone to take pictures for you. Just place your phone on the tripod, pair your phone with the bluetooth remote clicker and snap away.


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