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5 Signs You're a National Park Beginner

Updated: Jan 27

Come walk with us through a number of National Parks as we share 5 things we see that let us know you’re still a beginner. We’ve been through a lot of National Parks and there are a number of things we see that are beginner mistakes. But, even some of the most seasoned travelers will still make these mistakes. Let's Get Started! If you would like the video version of this post click here otherwise continue reading below:

What are Some of the Most Viral Mistakes Shown From the National Park Beginner?

We think we see the Animal Whisperer gone wrong most of the time. You hear of the animal whisperer in Yellowstone often. They are trying to get that perfect selfie with a bison herd or bear with cubs and inch ever closer to get the right shot. Or there is an animal in the road and this person chooses to get out of their vehicle to shoo a 2,000 pound animal out of their way. But, maybe it’s just someone rolling down their window to yell at a bear on the shoulder of the road. National Park beginners don’t know or disregard the posted signs to keep away from wildlife.

But, It's essential to remember that wildlife are wild, and our life and the life of the animal depends on us observing from a safe distance. So, put down that selfie stick and let the animals go about their day undisturbed. But if you are in your car, be patient with the windows up so that the bears and other wildlife don’t mistake your lowered window as an opportunity for a picnic basket. When our brood was younger and even today we tell them to make sure there is another human between us and the animal we are watching. But, the national park has a general rule of staying at least 25 yards away from bison and other animals and at least 100 yards from wolves and bears. Unfortunately, these distances aren’t that obvious to our kids. Throughout our time in Yellowstone, Custer State Park, and others we saw these rules violated daily.

But most people decide to stay away from the large animals. Did you know some of the most deadly animals in National Parks are Elk and Moose. Check out this picture of Elk in Mammoth Hot Springs. Stay until the end as we’ll talk about a small animal that is the deadliest mammal in the Grand Canyon.

How are Many Deaths and Injuries Caused in the National Parks?

A lot of hikes and overlooks in our national parks are great for taking photos and selfies. Many times there are steep cliffs or drop offs that provide these far reaching views. We found a few of these spots in Shenandoah National Park. The daredevil type will get as close to the edge, turn around, raise their selfie stick alone or with their companion and then back up to get that perfect view while forgetting where the edge is. But, jumping, making risky poses, and dancing on the edge can increase the level of difficulty. We have seen, but we’d like to know, have you seen anyone climb over the rail to get an even better shot or hike off trail to get closer to the edge for that perfect photo? Every year deaths at the Grand Canyon occur when tourists fall off the edge.

How many people have you seen backing up to the edge of a cliff summoning their inner Daredevil to get that perfect selfie?

Accidents near cliff edges are unfortunately not uncommon. Always prioritize safety over the perfect photo. There are plenty of safe spots to capture stunning views without putting yourself in danger. Remember, your safety and the safety of those around you should be your top priority. But if you choose to get a little close to the edge or if you are hiking in places with steep dropoffs be prepared. It is great packing and preparedness, to put a first aid kit in your pack but most people don’t think about a rescue rope. Accidents happen and a rescue rope may be the one thing that you can pack to save someone that slides off the trail edge and ends up below you.

Here are amazon links to the gear we use when hiking as examples.

For examples of the gear we took on our hike check out these links below for more details.

Teton Sports Hydration Pack Video Review:

Amazon Link: 2021 model

Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E hydration backpack Video Review for younger hikers:

Merrell Moab II Men's Hiking Shoes:

The First Aid Kit we carry:

Tactical Flashlights:

Here are dad joke books for great gifts: Dad Jokes Around the Campfire: 600 Funniest Dad Jokes: To view any product mentioned by us in our videos, click this link: As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases through these links and Amazon ads and banners on this page, at no additional cost to you.

If you are a pinterest fan pin this post with the photos below:

people in a national park.  two women too close to a bison resting in the distance surrounded by pine trees.  children in the foreground watching from a safe distance.

What is one Thing Many People Forget in the National Parks?

The Carefree Wanderer is the next beginner on our list. This person loves to lose themselves in the beauty of nature. But, they are easily forgetful of their surroundings and the trouble it can present. A moment of distraction can lead to a backpack disappearing faster than you’d imagine. But in just a minute we’ll give you another reason why leaving a backpack is a problem. Anyway, we’ve never experienced theft in the parks but we always keep our backpacks and belongings in view. They could just as easily be misplaced. Our brood is forgetful and if they leave something on a bench or next to them during a water break it could easily stay there when we move on. But the bigger problem that most people don’t realize is that the wildlife is resourceful and are more daring than you might expect. Here in Zion National Park at Angel’s Landing it is a popular place to take a break after Walter's Wiggles and before the chains to use the bathrooms, eat a snack and take in the view. Here we saw a squirrel open a backpack zipper and snack on the contents of the unattended bag. We never saw the owner of the backpack and think they left it on the ground while they hiked Angel’s Landing. Keep your belongings next to you at all times but even better keep them attached and cinched to your body for the best balance and hiking outcome.

We have a couple more to go but what do you think of this format? We share posts and videos in a walk and talk format of all the national and state parks we’ve been to so you get the most views of the hikes you can expect on your trip. If this format is up your alley, subscribe above and on YouTube and when you're gearing up for your next national park adventure, you’ll find us at the top of your search results. Let’s get right back to another sign you’re a national park beginner.

As a Beginner you may be wondering

What is the Best Way to Preserve the National Parks?

Anyone who has been to the National Parks has seen the trash and human wear and tear on the land we travel to enjoy. The Eco-Apathetic person doesn’t realize the gift of the national and state parks and doesn’t notice the destruction of the national parks by neglectful tourists. We see this person in a couple of different ways. Trash is the main one we can all see and relate to. But the behavior that we see the most are people using plastic water bottles on their hikes and adventures in the parks. These bottles are wasteful almost all the time and people still use them. We take hydration backpacks or reusable water bottles into the parks with us. Everywhere we’ve been to we’ve found bottle fill stations or have been able to pack in enough water to get through our day hikes.

But one of the most destructive acts of visitors of the national and state parks are people hiking off trail. In Hocking Hills, Ohio Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve is one of the best places to hike. We like it because it is a nature preserve and has special protection. Here hikers don’t leave the trail and you can notice the vegetation next to the trail is thriving. This is the only place in Hocking Hills where you will find the forest thriving this spectacularly. Most people don’t realize that the purpose of National and State Parks have two or three mandates. One is for the recreation of its citizens and to promote tourism today. But the other is to conserve the land and wildlife for the sustainability of the park itself but also for the enjoyment of future generations. So, stay on the trail and use reusable water bottles to protect the park and the wildlife in it.

Have you seen beginners in the national parks? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments, how you can tell a beginner in the national parks?

Have you ever wondered,

What is the Most Dangerous Animal in the Grand Canyon?

We hinted on this next one earlier in the post but read until the end of this section for the main reason this is a beginner mistake. The Nurturer just can’t help but offer a snack to a furry friend that introduces itself in the parks. We’ve seen this many times out West. Here in the Grand Canyon you’ll find opportunistic squirrels waiting not so patiently for a handout. Feeding the squirrels is a classic rookie move. If you can't resist sharing your trail mix with every critter you come across, you're not alone. But you are making the squirrel dependent on humans for survival. If they learn to eat from humans you are preventing them from learning and remembering where their natural sources of food and nutrition are located. You are also making them more aggressive towards others that follow in your path. Especially, little ones. We’ve seen squirrels practically dance on kids shoes for a morsel of food. But there is a bigger risk to these rodents. They are actually the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon based on emergency room visits. Park Rangers have described them as unforgiving and absolutely ferocious. They carry disease. They’ve been known to bite when they don’t get their way and can transmit the bubonic plague.

To learn more about hiking in the national parks read this next!

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