Trip Plan

A graphic showing two panels. On the left, a visitor is physically handing their trip plan document to their trusted contact. On the right, a visitor is sending an email addressed to their trusted contact with the trip plan document attached.

A Trip Plan is a written plan that captures important details about your travel itinerary and plans while visiting a national park or any outdoor wilderness area. A Trip plan can be shared with Search and Rescue authorities to help them locate you if you don’t return at the end of your activity (e.g. hike) when expected.

The Trip Plan can be written/printed on paper or emailed to your “Trusted Contact” before you go on your trip. A Trusted Contact is someone who is not going on the trip with you. You can use our fillable template below or create your own plan to include travel details, expected return date and time, and activity details. Email or share a paper copy of your plan with your Trusted Contact.

Fillable Sample Trip Plan
Click to download this sample Trip Plan Template.

The NPS Trip Plan Template is ideal for capturing details of a day-long or overnight trip. If you are planning a longer visit or are traveling with a large group, use multiple pages of the Trip Plan or use your own extra paper.

Please note that:

A Trip Plan is NOT required to visit a national park.
A Trip Plan is NOT required to seek help during an emergency.
A Trip Plan is NOT a substitute for required activity permits.

If you are visiting a park:

Use this sample template or create your own Trip Plan. The more details you provide the more help Search and Rescue authorities will have in the event of an emergency.

  1. Leave this form with a Trusted Contact who is not going on the trip
  2. Notify the Trusted Contact if you put your Backup Plan in action
  3. Notify the Trusted Contact when you complete each activity
  4. Do not leave the Trip Plan with the park, they will not accept it

If you are a Trusted Contact:

You have been selected as the Trusted Contact for a Visitor during their trip. If they do not return from their activity by the expected date and time noted in their Trip Plan:

  1. Try contacting the Visitor using the contact number listed in their Trip Plan
  2. If you do not hear from them, contact authorities and share with them the information from the Visitor's Trip Plan

Disclaimer: The Trip Plan does not guarantee your safety or rescue. It is the visitor's responsibility to accept the risks inherent with their trip and to be self-reliant in the event of an emergency. The Trip Plan relies on the visitor providing correct information to the trusted contact. Search and rescue efforts can be substantially impeded if:

  • Incorrect information is on the Trip Plan
  • The Visitor deviates from their Trip Plan
  • The Trusted Contact does not receive the Trip Plan or
  • The Trusted Contact does not contact authorities.

Last updated: July 10, 2023