1. You try to do it all in one day.
Can you “do” Zion in one day? Sure, but you’re going to miss a lot. Don’t be tempted to try to schedule four parks for one weekend - take your time and thoroughly explore each one. They’re all so beautiful and diverse that they’re well worth it. Hey, you live here after all. You can always visit another park on your next trip.
2. You dress inappropriately.
No, I’m not talking about that tank top your grandma hates. I’m talking about taking steep hikes on slickrock wearing flip flops. Hiking Angel’s Landing without a hat and sunscreen. Failing to bring a jacket if you’re going on a day-long hike. The weather at our parks is often unpredictable and the terrain can be tough.
3. You skip the other cool stuff nearby.
Some of Utah’s coolest small towns are near the national parks. Stop in at the local cafe or check out the art gallery. Make some time in your itinerary for the state parks and national monuments, too. They’re often less crowded and offer some amazing beauty and recreation.
4. You’re so busy playing on your cellphone that you forget to see the real thing.
In our cell phone-obsessed world, it’s pretty easy to spend an entire day texting, Facebooking and talking on your phone. If you find yourself at the top of Angel’s Landing and you’re ON YOUR CELLPHONE, it’s time for an intervention. Put that thing in your pocket and enjoy the hike. Sure, use your phone to take plenty of pics, but enjoy it all in real time, too.
5. You forget you’re in a wild place.
Our national parks are vast, wild places. Remember that, and respect it. Don’t try the steepest hike if you’re not in very good physical shape - every park has tons of easy trails suitable for all fitness levels. Rescue crews can’t always get to you quickly if you have medical issues, or if you’re screwing around and fall off a cliff. Be smart, be safe and have fun, while remembering where you are - in the great outdoors! (These Utah Army National Guardsmen are practicing rescue drills - hopefully you’ll never need their service!)
6. You bemoan the lack of privacy.
I often get comments asking me to stop sharing info about Utah’s prettiest places because, “then I won’t be able to enjoy them in solitude anymore.” I get that you want some solitude in the great outdoors, but there IS a way to do it! Get away from the paved trails near the Visitor’s Center. Do more than just pull over at the lookouts. Get there early in the morning, or visit during off-season. Hike into a more remote area of the park. You have to earn your solitude, but it’s there.
7. You don’t keep an eye on your kids.
This sign at Bryce Canyon National Park isn’t kidding - the edge of Bryce is crumbly, and the fall could be deadly. Our national parks are the perfect place for family bonding, but make sure you keep your kids on the right side of guard rails and chains. Don’t let them throw rocks off the sides of cliffs or run past other hikers on steep trails. The national parks aren’t amusement parks - make sure your kids understand the appropriate behavior to keep themselves and others safe.
8. You don’t say hello at the visitor center.
What’s one way to make sure you see all the best things about one of our national parks? Ask a park ranger! Rangers love their jobs, are passionate about their park and are more than happy to share some tips with you to make your visit the best ever. Also, if you’re planning an extensive hike into a more remote area, check in to get a weather and trail update.