Trip Planning 101: Introduction

A group of students out on a hike with their chaperones and a park ranger.
A group of students from Clark Elementary School on a field trip at Shenandoah National Park.

NPS Photo

Make your fun adventure a safe one too! No one plans on getting hurt while out exploring in a National Park. However, nature is unpredictable, structures are historical, and your equipment can unexpectedly fail. Planning ahead can be the key to a fun and safe adventure. Remember, safety starts with you!

Know before you go. You and your group should be informed about the national park you are visiting and the activity you are participating in. Be prepared so that you can fully enjoy your time.

Use the NPS Trip Planning Guide and Checklist to help plan your trip. The guide provides key safety considerations you can take to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when visiting national parks. The guide is divided into the four phases of your trip and provides a checklist at the end which summarizes the key safety considerations:


We also have additional articles to help you with selecting the Ten Essentials, preparing your Trip Plan, and Emergency Planning. Don't miss reading these to help you be prepared for an emergency!

NOTE: This guide was prepared to give a general idea of planning actions to consider for a trip to a park with a group to avoid some of the most common mistakes people make. Be aware that the actions in this guide may need to be adjusted to meet the needs of your group members, the park you are visiting, the time of year you are visiting, if you extend your trip for more than one day, and any other special considerations.
NPS Trip Planning Guide PDF
Access the complete NPS Trip Planning Guide which includes the step-by-step overview of trip planning, a checklist which summarizes the key actions in the guide, and the emergency plan.

Last updated: March 30, 2018