The great outdoors has been one of the biggest saving graces for people all around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with many international borders shut down or accompanied with stringent quarantine requirements, a variety of North American residents turned to local travel by visiting a national park. Even factoring in the lockdowns of the last year, there were over 237 million recreational visits to national parks across the country throughout 2020 in the United States alone – and those numbers are only expected to rise as restrictions ease.
There are hundreds of parks across North America that can offer people of all ages and fitness levels a chance to explore nature and discover the beauty that is in our backyards. Keep reading for our top tips on how to make the experience a memorable one.
Plan as far ahead as you can
The increased interest in outdoor activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic means that visiting national parks is remaining quite popular. However, capacity for campers and visitors may be slightly decreased to comply with lingering restrictions. For this reason, it could take a while for the park to accommodate your trip, so it is a great idea to get planning as soon as you have the itch. There are some parks that are better to see during different times of the year, so make sure you don’t wind up at a park when the attractions are not at their prime – you won’t want to drive to a national park revered for their seasonal blooms when it isn’t wildflower season.
Some parks stretch out for thousands of square kilometres, and in these locations, visitors are unlikely to be able to see everything the park has to offer in one trip. In this regard, it is important to do some research and decide on which elements are at the top of your list to avoid any disappointment. Some national parks in Canada have example itineraries that visitors can use for inspiration.
The last year has taught us that being flexible is one of the most necessary traits to managing the pandemic. As much as it might seem this way, we are not out of the woods yet with COVID-19 limitations. There could very well still be some restrictions that change with little warning, so it is imperative to keep an open mind that there may be some elements of the trip outside of your control, and to go with the flow as much as possible. Have some back-up plans in your pocket just in case arrangements change at the last minute.
Use technology to your advantage
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning a park visit, but thankfully there are many helpful technologies that can help make the process more comprehensive. If the national park you are planning on visiting uses member management software such as Univerus PLAY, you can book time slots and manage reservations, receive park updates and connect with staff all from within the same program, either on your phone or desktop.
Having a functional mobile phone with you at all times is also critical. In addition to providing timely intel about directions and weather, there are a number of handy mobile phone apps that can help elevate your experience.
Come prepared and leave no trace
Because there may be limited opportunity to buy items once you enter a national park, the best route is to come prepared with the essentials for your stay. That means adequate food, warm clothing and proper footwear, bug spray and sunscreen, a way to charge your phone and camera, and more – you can see a great suggestion list here.
While it may be tempting to bring each item you think you might need, try your best to par down, as you will be responsible for taking out everything you bring in. One of the most fervent pieces of park etiquette is to leave no trace behind. This means visitors are expected to bring all their garbage and gear out of the park with them and do their very best to not disturb the natural landscape around them. National parks are precious landmarks and must be protected at all costs.
Universe PLAY is a strong advocate for outdoor activity and recreation in all its forms and provides our partners member management software that allows them to meet their customers needs. Contact us today to learn more.