The parks offer a variety of activities in a natural environment. Learn about and plan ahead for some of the hazards you may encounter on your trip. BE PREPARED and have a safe visit!

Have the kids play two new National Park Service Junior Ranger WebRanger games to learn about rip currents and general water safety. They can be found at Play a Game, Save a Life - NPS Introduces Online Water Safety Lessons at

Dangerous Rivers!

Most park deaths result from drowning in rivers. Many drowning victims were playing near rivers and unexpectedly fell in. Rivers present a far greater danger than lakes or pools. Surfaces may look calm, but strong currents often run below. Be cautious walking near rivers as rocks can be smooth and slippery or shift unexpectedly. Getting out of a cold, swift river is often impossible.

Air Quality

Ozone and other air pollutants are an increasing problem in the parks. Each day, the park issues an air-quality index forecast available in visitor centers. Ozone levels are highest from May-October and peak in late afternoons. If the air quality index is poor, consider restricting your activities. View today's air quality...

Driving Mountain Roads

Extreme elevations over short distances with changing weather conditions require special preparedness on mountain roads. Learn more...

Weapons and Firearms in the Parks

Firearms are allowed in many national parks. People who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law may be able to possess them in a national park depending upon state laws. State and local firearms laws vary. Visitors who would like to bring a firearm with them to a national park need to understand and comply with the applicable laws. (Note: More than 30 national parks are located in more than one state, so visitors need to know where they are in those parks and which state's law applies.)

Federal law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in designated "federal facilities" in national parks, for example, visitor centers, offices, or maintenance buildings. These places are posted with "firearms prohibited" signs at public entrances.

While the law allows visitors to possess firearms, it does not allow for the use of firearms in national parks and does not change existing hunting regulations. Hunting is not allowed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Prior to February 22, 2010, firearms were generally prohibited in national parks - except in some Alaska parks and parks that allowed hunting. Laws & Policies


Lightning is common in central California where storms can start suddenly. As soon as you see dark clouds or lightning or hear thunder, move inside a large building or a vehicle (not a convertible). If safe shelter is not available, crouch down on the ground. (Don't lay down.) Don't stand near large, solitary trees, and avoid being the tallest feature especially in areas such ridges, on Moro Rock, or in meadows. Stay away from open water, wire fences, and metal railings which can carry lightning from a distance. Be aware that lightning can strike ahead of a coming storm - even when there is blue sky overhead.

Falling Objects

Branches and entire trees may fall at any time. A pine cone falling from a great height can be dangerous. Rocks may tumble from above you. Be observant of potential hazards while you are out exploring the parks.

Did You Know?