Get Involved

Are you planning a visit to a national park? There are many ways to ensure that you can support sustainability at national parks before, during, and after your visit.

Sustainability at Your Park
To help visitors enjoy and appreciate national parks sustainably, many parks have produced park-specific sustainability tips and guidelines. Find your favorite park’s web page for visitor information and details about their sustainability initiatives.
NPS Green Initiatives
The NPS leads several sustainability initiatives and partners with agencies and organizations across the country to support visitors in making park visits as "green" as possible. These programs, initiatives, and partnerships include:
Tips to Green Your Visit
Visitors play a vital role in protecting and conserving our national parks. Whether you are taking a day trip to a nearby park or are planning an extended journey through several parks, there are many ways to make your visit a sustainable one.

Minimize Your Environmental Impact
During your visit to a park, be conscious of your impacts on plants, animals, and other visitors, and take steps to minimize them:
  • Review the seven Leave No Trace principles, which encourage practices to reduce environmental impacts and protect the natural world.
  • Leave rocks, shells, plants, and artifacts as you find them. If you are looking for a souvenir, consider purchasing locally made goods that support the community.
  • Properly dispose of waste. If no waste or recycling bins are available, pack up your trash and take it with you when you leave the area.
  • Do not dispose of waste by burning it in campfires, as this can pollute the air.
  • Keep your hike on a designated trail to avoid inadvertently harming plant or wildlife. In addition, staying on marked trails will ensure that you do not encounter unsafe conditions on your route.
  • Treat wildlife with respect—do not follow, approach, or feed any animals you encounter.
Learn more about reducing your environmental impact while visiting national parks:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Clean Cities Initiative includes Propane Grounds Equipment
As a participant in the Clean Cities National Park Initiative, Great Smoky Mountains National Park now features propane mowers and electric vehicle charging stations.

Photo: NPS

Explore Sustainable Transportation Options
When traveling to, from, or within a national park, consider ways to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:
  • Reduce travel-related carbon emissions by carpooling, using park shuttles (where available), or driving an Electric Vehicle (EV) at parks with charging stations like Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Plan the most efficient travel route possible. Whether you are planning a cross-country road trip or visiting a cluster of parks, driving more efficiently can reduce your vehicle’s carbon emissions, while also saving money on fuel costs.
  • When driving, reduce vehicle idling time, which lowers fuel economy and pollutes the air.
While in the park, consider taking a bike or walking tour instead of driving between points of interest.

Learn more about greening your ride while in national parks:
Plan Ahead for a Sustainable Visit
When preparing to visit a national park, review this checklist prior to your trip to set the stage for an environmentally friendly visit.
  • Reduce strain on the environment by scheduling your trip outside of the peak season.
  • Green your stay by researching hotels and tour companies committed to sustainability.
  • Check your park’s web page to find information about the park’s sustainability initiatives and learn what you can and cannot recycle at the park.
  • Explore sustainable transportation options to reduce GHG emissions both en route to your destination and within the park.
  • Instead of paper maps, try using a smartphone application with national park maps. Many of these map apps allow users to download maps and use them offline.
  • Consider borrowing, renting, or buying used camping or hiking gear, rather than purchasing new equipment.
  • Bring a reusable bag for trash and recycling to ensure that waste is properly disposed of, rather than left at a trail or campsite.
  • Reduce waste generated from single-use plastics by packing reusable versions of the following: Refillable water bottle, Travel mugs, Cloth bags, Containers (reusable plastic containers, jars, etc.) for food and snacks, Utensils, Washable napkins, Reusable straws, Silicone snack pouches.
Learn more about planning a sustainable visit:

Last updated: December 17, 2021