Your Safety

NPS Trip Planning Guide

Make your fun adventure a safe one too! No one plans on getting hurt while out exploring in a National Park. However, nature is unpredictable, structures are historical, and your equipment can unexpectedly fail. Planning ahead can be the key to a fun and safe adventure. Remember, safety starts with you! Learn more about how you can be prepared for your adventure!


Many come to the North Cascades to enjoy its rugged beauty and remote wildness. Recreating in natural areas, however, has inherent dangers and responsibilities. Conditions in mountainous areas can change very rapidly, even during a day trip. These travel tips can help you have a safe and responsible journey so that you, and future travelers, can enjoy the landscape to its fullest.

Plan on hitting the trail? Be prepared. No matter if it is a short day hike or a longer backpacking trip, plan for your safety.


Safety Tips

  • Use caution on access roads: watch for obstructions such as rocks, sudden bends, and parked vehicles/pedestrians.
  • Safeguard your possessions by keeping them out of sight. Lock your vehicle.
  • Carry the ten essentials listed below.
  • Stay on trails. Wear adequate footwear and use a topographic map/compass.
  • After hiking, check yourself for ticks which may carry lyme disease.
  • Horses can startle easily. When stock approach, make your presence known and stand on the lower side of the trail.
  • Report down trees or washouts to the nearest ranger station.
  • Do not depend on cell phones as there are many 'dead spots'.
  • Always tell a friend your travel plans including destination and expected return time.

Safety with Children

  • Children should remain with adults. Establish rules for keeping together. If separated, the child should hug a tree near an open area and stay put.
  • Pick trails and adjust goals to children's ages and abilities.
  • Bring along the ten essentials. Have children help develop an emergency kit and make sure they are familiar with how to use each item.
  • Help children develop responsible outdoor practices.


Do not approach wildlife, no matter how tame or calm they appear. Always obey instructions from park staff on scene. You must stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other large animals - elk, mountain goat, deer, moose, and coyotes. Do not feed any animals. It harms them and it is illegal.

Mountain goat are protective of their young, keep a safe distance and use caution around goats.

Bear Safety in the North Cascades - Safety tips for travel in bear country


The 10 Essentials

  • Food and Water: Carry high-energy snacks and plenty of water. Treatment pills can be used, but only boiling kills giardia.
  • Clothing: Weather can change dramatically in the mountains. Carry rain gear and warm clothing including wool socks, gloves and hat.
  • Navigation: Carry and know how to use a topographic map and compass.
  • Light: Flashlight with spare batteries and bulb.
  • Fire: Waterproof matches and fire starter such as a candle.
  • Sun Protection: Sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • First Aid: Make sure to include any special medications.
  • Knife: Folding pocket knife.
  • Signal: Carry both an audible and visual signal, such as a whistle and a metal mirror.
  • Emergency Shelter: Plastic tube shelter or waterproof bivouac sack or emergency blanket.

Winter Travel Safety

Winter driving conditions in the North Cascades can be hazardous, particularly due to water, frost, snow, and/or ice on the roads. Roads may not be regularly plowed. Always evaluate current and expected conditions and make safe and conservative travel decisions.


Avalanche Safety

There is potential for avalanche hazard along State Route 20 beyond the closure gates. Take caution when recreating along the road during winter. For more information visit Northwest Avalanche Center.

Be extra prepared - even if you are headed out for a day hike only, pack 3-5 days worth of survival gear in your vehicle in case of a road blockage or other winter travel hazards.

  • Warm layers of clothing
  • Extra food and water (for 3-5 days)
  • Sleeping bag or warm blankets
  • Medications

Additional Resources:

Prepare for winter driving - Washington Department of Transportation
What to Carry flyer - Be prepared for winter travel

Last updated: June 7, 2018

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Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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