While I’ve always been pretty open about my on-again-off-again relationship with working out, one thing that I truly enjoy that can be a great source of exercise is visiting national parks. I would much rather get my exercise among the mountains than in a gym where half the machines look like torture devices (technically they are, based on who you’re asking). And if that doesn’t convince you, all pictures in this post are from a national park.
I’ve been to Zion National Park, Shenandoah, Acadia and more. When I first starting going to national parks I almost always forgot to pack something. So if you’re the type of person that enjoys packing lists then I have you covered. Feel free to even pin this for later so when you do find the time, you’ll be all set!
This may seem obvious to some people but when I went to Zion I completely forgot to pack a CamelBack, let alone a regular backpack. Pretty much everyone will have one – it’s great for carrying all your stuff, leaving you hands-free to get some great shots, and brace yourself from falling. Don’t forget to have the bladder for your water as you’ll need to stay plenty hydrated. Most parks have multiple refill stations throughout the park so don’t worry if you feel you didn’t pack enough water.
No matter what national park you visit, chances are there will be opportunities for some killer photos. Double check the hike you’re about to go on to see if you’re comfortable bringing your camera. I wouldn’t recommend bringing your $400 DSLR on a hike through a river like the Narrows in Zion (learn from my mistakes, friends!). GoPro’s are a great camera to bring if you’re looking for some video content.
When you’re in a national park there’s not a lot of places to grab a snack on a 10-mile hike. It’s great to be able to stop for a second, get a drink of water and eat a banana when you feel like you’re on the verge of passing out. Happened to me more than a few times. So don’t forget to pack some munchies. Think foraging like food – nuts, bananas, protein bars, grass, etc.
Visiting a national park typically means you’ll be there for most of the day. So don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat. It’s easy to forget when you’re hiking all day that you’re also exposing yourself to the sun.
Finally, while chances are you won’t have to use a first aid kit, as the saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. On my last visit to Acadia National Park, I wasn’t wearing the right sneakers (there is such a thing as hiking boots – add these to the list!) for a difficult climb and I ended up slipping and busting my knee. Luckily, my brother had a first aid kit so it was easy to clean it up and keep it moving. National parks are more treacherous than your everyday workout spots so it never hurts to be prepared!
Bonus: Download the app Chimani: National Park. It works offline and provides maps and trails of all natural parks!