Gateway Activities

Hiker at Joshua Tree National Park
Take a hike and explore over 21,000 miles of trails in national parks.

NPS/Hanna Schwalbe

Want to explore a national park but aren’t sure what to do? Ease in by trying one of the five gateway activities - running, bicycling, hiking, camping, or fishing. These gateway activities are ways to stay healthy and enjoy nature at a steady pace.

We use the term “gateway” because studies have proven that individuals that incorporate these activities into their childhood will continue to engage in them in their adulthood.

Outdoor recreation does not have to be as extreme as rock climbing or white water rafting. Consider getting your kids and grandkids into running, bicycling, hiking, camping, and/or fishing in their early years so they can reap the benefits for a lifetime.
People running on road in race
Skip the treadmill and take your run outdoors.

NPS Photo

Did you know? The top 3 reasons that people want to get outside are:

  1. Get exercise.

  2. Be with family and friends.

  3. Keep physically fit.

Whatever motivates you to explore the outdoors, spending time in nature can have a positive affect on your health. So head outside and get active in our parks!
Cyclist and person walking on a path at Lake Mead
No matter your activity level, there is a gateway activity you can enjoy in a park.

NPS Photo

Who can benefit from gateway activities in our parks?

People of all ages and abilities can benefit from parks. This is especially true for populations who use parks infrequently including:

  • minorities
  • low-income populations
  • people with disabilities

Other priority populations who can benefit include:

  • youths
  • seniors
  • active military and veterans

The National Park Service has identified gateway activities as a Healthy Parks Healthy People promising practice. Healthy Parks Healthy People promising practices are science-informed programs and policies in parks that can help people lead happier, healthier, more productive lives.

Last updated: August 3, 2020