June is all about taking the time to explore outdoor historic national treasures. Starting in June of 2019, the US Senate officially honored this summer month as Great Outdoors Month.  Our country is full of unique parks, trails, forests, mountains, and more. One of the best ways to discover nature is by visiting a National Park Service (NPS) Location. With so many options across the US, you’re sure to find something that sparks excitement for the Great Outdoors.

Plan Your Visit

Before embarking on your next adventure, take time to plan for your visit. You’ll want to consider things like climate, terrain, available facilities, necessary gear, and current weather. The NPS offers a great planning guide on their website. Having a plan before you hit the trail will ensure you are well prepared before, during, and after your trip. Cell phones aren’t always reliable sources for maps, flashlights, compasses, or other necessities. Think about bringing these actual items with you instead. You’ll also want to consider packing for proper hydration and nutrition. Don’t forget to “pack in, pack out”, meaning any trash you accumulate along the way should be thrown away or repacked to take back with you to dispose of in a proper trash receptacle. Keep our parks clean!

Have an Adventure

Hit the Trail. Local, State, and National parks are full of trails to walk, hike, and even bike. Exploring these trails is a great way to see nature up close while getting a good workout. Find out any important information such as trail length, difficulty, permit or fee requirements, and if pets and bikes are allowed before choosing your trail. Apps like AllTrails are great for researching trails across the country.

Create a Scavenger Hunt. Looking for a family-friendly activity to do outside? Make a list of things you might see at the park you’re visiting. Then, go searching and cross them off as a family as you see them. Not only will this add a little adventure to your trip, but it is also a great way to teach kids about the nature around them. Just be sure to stay on marked trails.

Go Camping. There are few better ways to learn about nature than living in it for a day or two. Grab the family, put up a tent, and enjoy some snacks by a campfire. Again, be sure to do your research of the campground beforehand to see if permits or reservations are required.

Be a Volunteer

Keeping our parks in great shape allows us to continue enjoying them for generations to come. This is a great time of year to think about doing some volunteering at a park near you. The NPS offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups. You can even use volunteer hours to work towards a National Parks Pass. If you’re unable to volunteer at a park, you can still do your part to keep parks clean by picking up trash and leaving nature as untouched as possible.

Whether you’re taking a walk at a park down the street or planning a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trip, embrace this opportunity to explore nature. Enjoy the great outdoors and be safe!

Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP