The National Parks Service expects to have a busy season in 2021 and is looking to ensure park visitors know what to expect as restrictions continue to ease across the country and traffic at parks picks up.
“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,” the National Parks Service said on their website.
As travel has started to pick up, with vaccination rates rising, many have found their way to national parks across the country. Because of the heavy influx of traffic, some visitors have been unable to enjoy the sites they originally planned on seeing.
“Anywhere you go, there’s going to be a line,” Libby Preslock said to the Wall Street Journal. On a recent Thursday, Preslock arrived at 9 a.m. at Arches National Park in Utah, where she was met with recommendations to come back in four to five hours due to the number of people present. Not giving up, she then headed to Canyonlands National Park, where she waited about half an hour to get inside.
The National Parks Service is aware of the influx of visitors. Because of this, they are recommending and asking visitors to be mindful of the following before making their way out to a park.
1. Make a plan and a backup plan.
Those who visit a park should make plans via nps.gov/planyourvisit to ensure that the park you are looking to see is open and that you are aware of any restrictions still in place. Visitors can also download the NPS app and take advantage of the tools built into it to do the same.
2. Take the lesser-known path.
With more and more people making their way to parks this summer, the National Parks Service encourages visitors to take the path less traveled or find one of 400 national parks that fits what you are looking for. This way, you will see more than just crowds of other people while experiencing the beauty of the parks. Visitors can find routes and parks across the country here.
3. Reservations may be needed.
Some national parks are still requiring reservations, and even still, visitors are seeing lines lasting hours. Before you visit a park, make sure to check and see if a reservation is currently needed.
4. Be aware of what restrictions are in place.
Currently, the National Parks Service requires that anyone who is not vaccinated wear a mask, but those who are vaccinated are not required to. Check the website for the national park you are visiting beforehand to know what is needed.
5. Keep your safety in mind.
Whether attempting to pet a bison or looking over a cliff for an Instagram photo, the National Parks Service is emphasizing that visitors be safe and while they tour the parks.
And remember that as restrictions ease, travel to the preserved lands will continue to increase. Before you go, make sure you know what you are in for at the park you’re visiting and be patient.