Summer Season

Siloutte of a bison filled with illustrations of park images including a sun rising over mountains in a desert with wildlife

The days are longer and the opportunities are greater to enjoy parks. Summer is traditionally a very lively time in national parks with people coming out to enjoy vacations. This year, to have the best experience, it is more important than ever to plan ahead. Fortunately, some of the most visited parks are sharing their top ten tips—some insider recommendations from the people who know the parks best!

Share your park experiences on social media using #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque, including your summer tips, recommendations, and memories!

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Taking a Trip in Summer 2021?

Ranger holding up a sign reading

Plan Like a Park Ranger

Park rangers share their top 10 insider tips to #PlanLikeAParkRanger when visiting their parks this summer! Get the insider scoop.

Horse rider crossing a stream

Ways to Play Outside

There are many activities you can enjoy in the great outdoors! Find guides, tips, and more to be prepared before you leave home.

Infographic titled "Plan Like a Park Ranger"; detailed alternative text is on the webpage

Designed by NPS

The graphic is titled "Plan Like a Park Ranger" and lists ten tips for planning a trip to national parks. It includes the social media hashtag "#PlanLikeAParkRanger". The top illustration is of a map pinpoint on a mountain range.

Tip 1 includes an illustration of a map with a pinpoint and marked trail. Text reads "Have a Plan...And a Backup Plan. For us, a park visit begins at home with a stop to NPS.gov. Park websites have ideas about where to go, what to see, and what to do, and most important, what we need to include in our planning. Flexibility and a backup plan are key, too, in case of changing weather conditions, road closures, etc."

Tip 2 includes an illustration of cars lined up at a park entrance station. Text reads "Pack Your Patience. During our visit, we try to enjoy the ride and allow for extra time to get from one place to another. This season, parks are already bustling. Like lots of places this year, we may not yet have the ability to offer the same level of service available as we emerge from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And keep in mind that people who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside park buildings and in crowded outdoor areas."

Tip 3 includes an illustration of a trail near a signpost and trees. Text reads "Travel Off the Beaten Path. There are more than 400 national parks across the country. We love exploring the lesser-known ones. They can be a great option for travelers looking for all the beauty of nature, hiking trails, and rich history, with fewer crowds and lines."

Tip 4 includes an illustration of a tent. Text reads "Reservations May Be Needed. We love reservations. Many campgrounds and lodges in well-known parks and in nearby communities are already fully booked. Making sure you have a reservation guarantees you won't arrive at a park only to find out that you need an entrance reservation, there's no place to sleep, or a popular trail is closed."

Tip 5 includes an illustration of a park ranger hat. Text reads "Ask a Ranger. Have a question? Ask a ranger. (Yep, we ask other rangers about visiting their parks.) Rangers are here to help. We can answer questions, share park stories (we're always happy to point you to the nearest restroom), and we can let you know what activities are available and sites not to miss."

Tip 6 includes an illustration of a person's hands using a smartphone displaying a picture of a park. Text reads "Explore the New NPS App. We nerded out over our own app—it's very cool. You can even access it offline if you plan ahead! The new NPS App offers tools to explore more than 400 national parks...interactive maps, tours, accessibility information, and more. And we're adding new content all the time!"

Tip 7 includes an illustration of a person running after an airborne camera. Text reads "Keep Safety in the Picture. We love to take photos. (Have you seen our Instagram?) But we like surviving the process, too—so we're careful to take them where it is safe. Some popular trails and views may be especially crowded this year, so an unobstructed photo might require a bit of a wait."

Tip 8 including an illustration of two bison. Text reads "Don't Pet the Fluffy Cows. Bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and run up to 35 miles per hour—and they can really hurt you. We can't run that fast and are pretty sure you can't either. Keep your distance from wild animals, never feed the wildlife, and when taking pictures, use your zoom and give them room."

Tip 9 includes an illustration of a thermal pool. Text reads "Leave Only Footprints. We know that each of us—rangers, volunteers, visitors, everyone—plays a vital role in protecting YOUR national parks. Whether it's carrying out what we brought in (including our pooch's...well...you know), leaving the spots we visit as we found them, or staying on the trail, we're careful to respect these incredible places."

Tip 10 includes an illustration of a person walking a dog. Text reads "Ruffing It? This one's for the dogs. Many parks allow pets on leashes and in campgrounds, some even have kennels. But sometimes these furry friends are best left at home. Discover what you can (and can't) do with your pet and follow the B.A.R.K. principles."

We are all ready for a vacation and to get out of the house. National parks offer endless opportunities for recreation and enjoying the great outdoors. It’s especially important this summer to plan your visit before you head out. National parks and the communities around them may still be building up their services or already be sold out or at capacity. There are many amazing summer adventures to have in national parks, so here are some tips for visiting parks in 2021.

For us, a park visit begins at home with a trip to NPS.gov. Park websites have ideas about where to go, what to see, and what to do, and most important, what we need to include in our planning. Flexibility and a backup plan are key, too, in case of changing weather conditions, road closures, etc.

Learn more > Tools of the trade for planning your visit

We always remember to allow ourselves extra time to get from one place to another and enjoy the experience. This season, national parks are already bustling. Like lots of places you go this year, we may not yet be able to offer the past level of service as we emerge from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And keep in mind that people who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside park buildings and in crowded outdoor areas.

Learn more > Information about the NPS response to the pandemic and operational updates

There are more than 400 national parks across the country. We love exploring the lesser-known ones. They can be a great option for travelers looking for all the beauty of nature, hiking trails, and rich history, with fewer crowds and lines.

Learn more > Advanced search for a park by topic, activity, or even close to you in your state

We heart reservations. Many campgrounds and lodges in and around well-known parks are already fully booked. Having a reservation guarantees you won’t arrive at a park only to find that you need an entrance reservation, there’s no place to sleep, or a popular trail is closed.

Learn more > Check the park website for details or visit recreation.gov

Have a question? Ask a ranger. (Yep, we ask other rangers about visiting their parks.) We’re always here to help. We can answer questions, share park stories (we’re always happy to point you to the nearest restroom), and we can let you know what activities are available.

Learn more > Ask a Ranger (Really, that’s the page name.)

We nerded out over our own app—it’s very cool. You can even access it offline if you plan ahead! The new NPS App offers tools to explore more than 400 national parks...interactive maps, tours, accessibility information, and more. And we’re adding new content every day!

Learn more > One app, every park at your fingertips

We love to take photos. (Have you seen our Instagram?) But we like surviving the process, too—so we’re careful to take them where it is safe. Some popular trails and views may be especially crowded this year, so an unobstructed photo might require a bit of a wait.

Learn more > Great tips for photography in parks

JK, but bison can weigh up to 2,000 lbs and run up to 35 mph—and they can really hurt you. We can’t run that fast and are pretty sure you can’t either. Keep your distance from wild animals, never feed the wildlife, and when taking pictures, use your zoom and give them room. #SafeSelfie

Learn more > Super ideas about what equipment to bring and how to protect yourself and those cool critters

We know that each of us—rangers, volunteers, visitors, everyone—plays a vital role in protecting YOUR national parks. Whether it’s carrying out what we brought in (including our pooch’s...well...you know), leaving the spots we visit as we found them, or staying on the trail, we’re careful to respect these incredible places.

Learn more > Seven principles to leave no trace

This one’s for the dogs. Many parks allow pets on leashes and in campgrounds, some even have kennels. But sometimes these furry friends are best left at home. Discover what you can (and can’t) do with your pet and follow the B.A.R.K. principles.

Learn more > Yep, your pet can be a BARK Ranger (See what we did there?)


Seasonal Celebrations and Happenings

Many cultures, communities, and families also have summer traditions and celebrations that are shared in national parks. Here are a few nationwide celebrations but check the calendar of events to find even more. If visiting a park, remember to plan your visit ahead of your trip for a more enjoyable experience.

Soldiers in a color guard standing in a cemetery

Memorial Day

Explore military history in national parks, learn about our military heritage, and find opportunities for everyone in our public lands.

Park Ranger holding a pride flag in a parade

Pride Month

During June and throughout the year, discover stories, places, and events that celebrate or reflect on our nation's LGBTQ heritage.

Horse rider crossing a stream

Great Outdoors Month

June is a time to get outside and celebrate the great outdoors! Explore nature in national parks and learn how you can get involved.

Otter floating on its back

National Ocean Month

During June or anytime, dive into learning about the ocean's rich natural resources and maritime heritage found in parks.

Blue firework near a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Independence Day

Celebrate the nation's birthday in some of its most scenic landscapes and historic places. Join July 4th festivities across the country.

Group of youth wearing life jackets on a boat

Latino Conservation Week

During the third week of July, everyone is invited to celebrate Latino stewardship and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Back of a ranger hat on a ranger in the desert

National Park Service's Birthday

Another year older on August 25. Join us in looking back at our history and looking ahead to our future.

PoP for Health

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the partnership between the National Park Service and the US Public Health Service, we are encouraging everyone to explore the power of parks for health all year. During summer, consider how national parks and outdoor spaces in your community can transform your personal physical and mental health. Try a new activity, learn the health benefits of being outside, set goals for long term health, find new places to play outdoors, and discover many other ways you can enjoy parks for your health.

Kid walking on a dirt trail in a desert area

Health Benefits of Parks

Take your first steps into learning how parks can help your health and how being out in nature is good for you.

Group of students looking at a marsh area from a bridge

Join the PoP for Health Campaign

Celebrate the Power of Parks for Health with us! Learn how you can get involved throughout the year.

Line of Youth Conservation Corps members hiking on a desert trail

PoP for Health Roundtables

Join us for a series of roundtables that we are hosting throughout the year to share diverse perspectives on parks and health.

Join Our Team

Looking for ways to stay busy during the summer months? Consider spending it with us as part of our National Park Service community! There are many opportunities to become an employee, volunteer, intern, or partner. You may need plan ahead because many positions may have an application process.

Park ranger going over a Junior Ranger book with a kid

Become an Employee

Learn more about permanent and seasonal jobs with the National Park Service in a wide range of career fields.

Volunteer wearing a Search and Rescue team shirt while kneeling with her two dogs

Volunteer

Help care for your national parks by volunteering during a one-time event or on a reoccurring basis.

Intern laying on a rock looking at GIS information

Internships

Check out internship opportunities for youth of all ages to get hands-on experience in a variety of career fields.

Group of kids on a boat stern

Partnerships

Create possibilities to preserve America's treasures in national parks and communities across the country for all Americans to enjoy.

Calendar of Events

Set the calendar to summer months to see what events are being hosted in national parks or online. Remember to plan ahead and check for any safety and health considerations.

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News

Stay caught up on some of the summer news happening in national parks. Find even more national park news stories.

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