Kelsey is a freelance writer based in Southern Virginia. She enjoys traveling with her family to destinations from national parks to amusement parks and loves sharing tips and stories from along the way.
National parks are some of the most beloved and iconic destinations in the United States, attracting millions of visitors each year. However, despite their popularity, many people still believe myths and misconceptions about these parks. Let’s set the record straight! Read on to learn to separate fact from fiction when it comes to national parks!
Myth: National Parks Are Always Free To Enter
Many people believe that national parks are free for all to enter. While some parks are free, there are over 100 park sites that have an entrance fee, according to the National Park Service. These fees usually range in price from $5- $35 per car, but they vary. You may also have to shell out some cash for camping fees, parking fees, or permits.
Fact: Fourth Graders And Their Families Can Enter National Parks For Free
While not every national park offers free entrance, there are some little-known ways to save on admission. For example, fourth-grade students and their families can get into any national park free of charge for the student’s entire fourth-grade year and the summer that follows.
Myth: National Parks Are Just For Camping And Hiking
It’s true that many national parks offer excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping and hiking, but there is much more to these parks than that. National parks are also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including rare and endangered species, and they offer opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and stargazing, among other activities. They’re also often home to historical sites and educational programs. In short, national parks are much more than just places to pitch a tent or hit the trails.
Fact: Stargazing, Fossils, and More
In reality, national parks are home to a wide range of exciting and interesting experiences. For example, at Badlands National Park in South Dakota, visitors can join a fossil preparation lab and help prepare real dinosaur bones for study and display. At Joshua Tree National Park in California, visitors can take part in a “night sky festival” and enjoy stargazing, astronomy talks, and other nighttime activities. And at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, visitors can participate in a “wolf howl” and listen for the park’s resident wolf pack to respond.
Myth: National Parks Are Totally Safe
People may believe that, as popular tourist destinations, national parks are totally safe and without danger. In reality, there are many potential dangers that visitors should be aware of. These can include things like falls from cliffs or waterfalls, encounters with wild animals, and accidents while hiking or rock climbing.
Fact: Over 1,100 People Have Died In National Parks Since 2010
Myth: National Parks Are Only For Experienced Outdoorsmen
National parks are open to people of all skill levels and interests. While some parks offer challenging hikes and backcountry adventures, many also provide accessible trails, scenic drives, and facilities suitable for families, children, and individuals with limited mobility. There are options available to cater to a wide range of interests and abilities.
Fact: National Parks Can Be Accessible For All
While some people may assume that national parks are only for the young and able-bodied, many parks are taking steps to make their facilities and activities more accessible to visitors of all abilities. This includes installing wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms, providing audio and tactile exhibits for visitors with visual impairments, and offering sign language interpretation for ranger-led programs. In addition, many parks have adaptive equipment available for rent, such as all-terrain wheelchairs and hand-cranked bicycles, that allow visitors with mobility limitations to explore the park’s trails and scenic drives.
Myth: National Parks Are Like Zoos
Some people may mistakenly believe that national parks are solely dedicated to housing and displaying captive animals. In reality, national parks aim to protect and preserve natural ecosystems, allowing wildlife to live in their natural habitats. While visitors may encounter wildlife, it is not the primary purpose of national parks to serve as zoos.
Fact: You Shouldn’t Interfere With National Park Wildlife
While spotting wildlife in national parks is an exciting and memorable experience, it comes with a few important rules. Don’t approach or interfere with the animals, and definitely never try to pet, feed, or take a photo with them. Doing so is dangerous for you and can have dire consequences for the animals.
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