National Park Activities

Here you'll find a list of the various recreational activities found in the many parks searchable through this site. If any of these activities seem interesting to you go ahead and click it to begin your search for new recreational areas.

Pick your favorite activity to begin a search for national parks with that activity.

BIKING

Imagine touring the red sands of Utah's Arches National Park on your mountain bike. Or how about riding though the Black Hills of South Dakota on your road bike - Then there are the beautiful carriage trails of Acadia National Park that you can explore on your hybrid. America's public lands offer a multitude of different types of cycling.

Contact your destination to find out whether bicycles are allowed and what kinds of trails are available. Licensing, fees and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For detailed information on a particular site, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Biking:
  • Wear your protective gear, such as: helmets, pads, gloves, and reflective clothing
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing the trail or roadway with other cyclists and recreationists
  • Do not operate your bike or cycle on unauthorized trails or roadways
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

BOATING

Each year, an estimated 74 million Americans enjoy the pleasures of recreational boating. Your public parks, lakes, and rivers provide excellent boating opportunities. Boating is a great way to enjoy America's coastal and river-front scenery. It can be as easy as relaxing in a boat or as rigorous as paddling the Arkansas River in a kayak. If you do not own a boat, there are many opportunities to rent one. Licensing, fees and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For detailed information on a particular site, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Boating:

  • Wear your personal floatation device (pfd) and make sure that your passengers wear theirs, too!
  • If operating a houseboat, be careful of carbon monoxide build-up around the boat
  • Obey the posted speedlimits and wake warnings
  • Do not operate your watercraft on unauthorized waterways
  • Never consume alcohol while operating a watercraft
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

CLIMBING

Rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, and mountaineering are technical and unique ways to experience America's public land. Our parks, forests, and wilderness areas offer experiences that cater to every ability level from beginner to expert.

Take a guided climb or simply hone your skills and have fun at a climbing wall. Climbing fees and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For information about a particular site, please call that site directly.

Safety While Climbing:

  • Wear the proper safety equipment, such as: helmets, harnesses, gloves, and other climbing safety gear
  • If you are new to climbing, find a buddy to climb with
  • Do not climb in unauthorized areas
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

HISTORIC & CULTURAL SITE

America's public land recreation areas provide a wonderful way to explore our history. From the birthplace of our nation at Independence Hall in Pennsylvania to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Colorado, many parks, forests, and other public lands feature cultural and historic sites that offer outstanding educational opportunities. Please contact that site directly.

Entrance fees and visitor hours vary from site to site. For detailed information on a particular site, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Attending Educational Sessions:

  • Stay on the designated paths or trails when nature walking
  • Pay attention to the instructor or educator... you don't want to wander into a patch of poison ivy by mistake!
  • Do not feed or take home any wildlife you may encounter
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

CAMPING

There is nothing quite like spending an evening away from home at one of America's thousands of public land recreational area campsites. Whether you seek the solitude of a backcountry camping site or a convenient place for you and your family to pitch a tent or park an RV, there are plenty of places to camp in our parks, national seashores, lakeshores, forests, and wilderness areas.

Campsite fees, visitation fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. In some cases, campsites can be reserved in advance. For detailed information on a particular location, please contact that recreation site directly.

Safety While Camping:

  • Check with local park, forest, or public lands agents to see what precautions need to be taken in regard to storing food away from wildlife
  • Do not feed the local wildlife
  • Take precautions against camping in an area that may be dangerous in the case of sudden flash floods. Check with local rangers to find a safe and legal camping area
  • Remember to take along non-perishable food that won't make you ill if it spoils
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing public lands with other campers and recreationists
  • Do not camp on unauthorized areas
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

FISHING

Fishing continues to be a favorite pastime in the United States. One of the widest known pastimes in America. This is where you come to relax and get in touch with nature. Or get excited to be bringing home some dinner. Bring the kids, teach them about the world, and give them a sip of their first beer. Be sure to follow local laws and fishing regulations.

Safety While Fishing:

  • If using a boat to fish, wear your life jacket and make sure that your passengers wear theirs, too!
  • Use caution when baiting and removing hooks
  • Do not fish on unauthorized waterways
  • If operating a houseboat, be careful of carbon monoxide build-up around the boat
  • Obey the posted speedlimits and wake warnings if using a watercraft when fishing
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

HIKING

Thousands of miles of trails that are as diverse as the land itself criss-cross America's recreational areas. Hiking trails range from steep technical climbs over rocks and iron ladders, to relatively flat lakeshore paths blanketed in pine needles. Hiking is an easy, low cost way to discover the great outdoors, and there are hiking opportunities for almost anyone at any age and ability level.

Many public recreational areas feature paved trails to accommodate wheelchair access. Guided hikes are also available at many locations. Fees and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For more detailed information about a particular trail, including detailed trail maps and information about current trail conditions, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Hiking:

  • Wear proper clothing and footwear, according to the terrain and season
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing the trail or roadway with other hikers and recreationists
  • Do not hike or walk on unauthorized trails or roadways
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

HORSEBACK RIDING

Western settlers explored much of America on horseback. Today, many of our parks, forests, and wilderness areas can still be explored on the back of a horse for a unique natural adventure. Many Federal recreation areas offer trail riding as well as off-trail riding. Stables and guides may be available at some public land recreation areas. Licensing, fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. For detailed information on a particular site, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Horseback Riding:

  • Wear proper clothing and footwear, according to the terrain and season
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing the trail, roadway, or public land with other riders and recreationists
  • Do not ride on unauthorized trails, roadways, or public lands
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

HUNTING

Big game, small game and bird hunting are available on America's public lands depending on the site and season of your trip. Hunting fees, licensing and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For more detailed information, directly contact the site where you plan on hunting.

Safety While Hunting:

  • Wear proper hunting gear, such as: orange vests and caps so that you are not mistaken for wildlife by another hunter
  • Complete a hunter safety course and check to see what your local and state hunting laws are
  • Always transport your hunting weapons with the safety on
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing public lands with other hunters and recreationists
  • Do not hunt on unauthorized public lands
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE

There are thousands of miles of roads and trails on public lands that are appropriate and accessible for Off Highway Vehicles (OHV's) use. OHV's are a fun and exciting way to experience America's natural treasures.

Backcountry roads and trails provide a wide range of recreational opportunities for responsible Off Highway Vehicle users on public lands. These opportunities range from vehicle touring to vehicle access for hiking, hunting, fishing, and other public land uses, as well as unconfined vehicle use at designated "OHV Open Areas". Fees and seasonal restrictions related to OHV use may vary from site to site. For more detailed information about a particular recreational area, contact the site directly.

Safety While Riding Your OHV:

  • Wear safety equipment, such as helmets, gloves, and other safety gear
  • Wear proper clothing and footwear, according to the terrain and season
  • Stay Sober. Drinking and riding don't mix
  • Take some basic car repair tools with you. A shovel can be used to dig yourself out of a lot of backcountry problems, don't leave home without it!
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

WINTER SPORTS

Unlike some of the wildlife that live within them, America's public land/recreation areas do not hibernate for the winter. Rather, many of these areas are open to a host of recreational opportunies unique to the season. Cross-country and downhill skiing as well as snowshoeing, snowboarding, and dogsledding are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy on public lands. Licensing, fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site.

For detailed information on a particular location, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Enjoying Winter Sports:

  • Dress appropriately for your sport and for the climate. You may need equipment ranging from helmets, goggles, boots, cold weather gear and other safety equipment.
  • Be mindful of the hazards that cold weather can present so that you can enjoy winter sports safely
  • Do not feed the local wildlife
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing public lands with other recreationists
  • Do not recreate on unauthorized areas
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

RECREATIONAL VEHICLES

America's public lands not only provide the scenic beauty that Recreational Vehicle (RVs) enthusiasts seek, but may include RV-ready campgrounds and sanitary pump-out stations as well as hook-ups. Also, look for special RV parking sites at many public recreation sites.

Hours, fees and seasonal restrictions may vary from site to site. For detailed information on RVing at a particular site, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Enjoying Your RV:

  • Check with local park, forest, or public lands agents to see what precautions need to be taken in regard to storing food away from wildlife
  • Do not feed the local wildlife
  • Take precautions against parking your RV/camping in an area that may be dangerous in the case of sudden flash floods. Check with local rangers to find a safe and legal parking/camping area
  • Remember to take along non-perishable food that won't make you ill if it spoils
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing public lands with other RV'ers, campers and recreationists
  • Do not park your RV in unauthorized areas
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

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AUTO TOURING

America's highways, byways, and backroads provide excellent opportunities for exploring our public recreational lands. Maps highlighting points of interest and scenic vistas for road trips are available for and at these sites. For detailed information on a particular site, please contact that site directly. Drive Safely.

The perfect adventure for the whole family. Pack up the car and drive your way through beautiful landscapes.

Safety While AutoTouring:
  • Obey the posted speedlimits
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Do not drive on unauthorized trails
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

WATER SPORTS

America's public lakes, rivers, and seashores offer some of the best water for recreation on our continent. Enjoy scuba diving an underwater nature trail at a National Marine Sanctuary or body surfing at a national seashore.

In addition, some recreation sites offer on-site vendors who will rent equipment, including snorkeling gear, boats, canoes, and kayaks. Some sites offer tour packages through concessionaires.

Licensing, fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site; for more information on a particular watersport, please contact that site directly.

Safety While Boating:

  • Wear your personal floatation device (pfd) and make sure that your passengers wear theirs, too!
  • If operating a houseboat, be careful of carbon monoxide build-up around the boat
  • Obey the posted speedlimits and wake warnings
  • Do not operate your watercraft on unauthorized waterways
  • Never consume alcohol while operating a watercraft
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

WILDLIFE VIEWING

More than 66 million people enjoyed watching Americas wildlife last year. Our public land recreation areas offer an outstanding setting for viewing and photographing creatures in their natural habitats.

Opportunities range from observing habits of the endangered Nene or Hawaiian Goose at Volcano National Park to admiring the power and grace of grizzly bears at state parks in Alaska. Entry fees, licensing and seasonal retrictions vary from site to site.

For more detailed information on a particular location, please contact the site directly.

Safety While Wildlife Viewing:

  • Check with local park, forest, or public lands agents to see what precautions need to be taken in regard to seasonal restrictions
  • Do not feed the local wildlife
  • Take precautions against birdwatching or viewing wildlife in an area that may be dangerous in the case of sudden flash floods. Check with local rangers to find a safe and legal viewing area
  • Be courteous and remember that you are sharing public lands with other campers and recreationists
  • Do not birdwatch or view/photograph wildlife in unauthorized areas
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

FISH HATCHERY

Fish hatcheries were established in the 1800's, to enhance the number of fish in streams and lakes where native fish populations were declining due to changes in the natural environment. "Cultured" fish were used to replace fish that were lost from natural causes (drought, flood, habitat destruction) or human influences (over-harvest, pollution, habitat loss due to development and dam construction), to establish fish populations to meet specific management needs, and to provide for the creation of new and expanded recreational fisheries opportunities.

Today, fish hatcheries also provide hope for endangered fish species as well as providing research on fish disease, habitat, and the future of fish in general. Not all fish hatcheries allow recreational fishing, so call ahead to see what activities are allowed.

Safety While Fishing and While Visiting Hatcheries:

  • If using a boat to fish, wear your life jacket and make sure that your passengers wear theirs, too!
  • Use caution when baiting and removing hooks
  • Don't kick or dislodge pebbles or other debris into the hatchery beds... these objects can harm developing fish!
  • Do not fish on unauthorized waterways
  • If operating a houseboat, be careful of carbon monoxide build-up around the boat
  • Obey the posted speedlimits and wake warnings if using a watercraft when fishing
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio

WILDERNESS

It's the wilderness... Prepare yourself


ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Educational and interpretive learning programs are offered for visitors to many of America's public land recreation sites. These programs bring science and history to life, and inspire the imagination. Educational opportunities range from learning about the geology of the Grand Canyon to understanding more about how laws are made in Washington, DC.

Rangers, guides and naturalists located at America's parks, forests, seashores, lakeshores, and wilderness areas offer campfire talks, guided hikes, museums and exhibits for young and old alike. Reservations may be required to participate in interpretive activities. Please contact the recreational site of interest to you for more information.

Safety While Attending Educational Sessions:

  • Stay on the designated paths or trails when nature walking
  • Pay attention to the instructor or educator... you don't want to wander into a patch of poison ivy by mistake!
  • Do not feed or take home any wildlife you may encounter
  • Bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cellphone or radio