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How to Visit a National Park

Thoughtful planning of your trip to a national park will ensure you get the most from your vacation and enjoy North America's most wondrous natural treasures.


  • Step 1: Plan in advance Plan in advance, especially when visiting the most popular parks and wilderness areas, because permits for access to certain areas are limited.
  • Step 2: Decide where to stay Decide where you will stay and how long you need in order to see the sights. Then make reservations as soon as possible, whether you're staying within or outside park boundaries.
  • TIP: Visit a national park during the off season to avoid crowds.
  • Step 3: Make list Make a list of what to bring depending on your planned activities, keeping in mind the basics, such as cash, bug repellent and sunscreen, and that gear may be rented near the park.
  • Step 4: Check pet restrictions Check pet restrictions before leaving home if you plan to bring the family pet. Pets are prohibited from some areas.
  • Step 5: Stop at visitor center Stop at the visitor center when you arrive to obtain a pass, learn the latest on park conditions, and obtain any needed permits.
  • TIP: Seniors 62 and older who visit national parks qualify for a $10 lifetime National Park pass.
  • Step 6: Challenge yourself Challenge yourself in nature's wonderland in America's 390 national parks and sights where endless options to climb, swim, hike, bike, and ski will help you explore your own limits and potential.
  • FACT: President Grant signed a bill on March 1, 1872 establishing Yellowstone as the country's first national park.

You Will Need

  • Permits
  • Reservations
  • Cash
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Visitor center

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