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11 Ways to Not Be A Jerk While Hiking the National Parks This Summer

1. Stay on the freaking trail.

Simpsons Hiking Lost

Do you really think you know better than the National Parks Service about where is and isn't a good place to hike? Don't be one of those people that hikes off the trail just to spite the sign in front of you that says "Please Stay On Trail." If you accidentally walk off a cliff and die, well, obviously that's not good.

2. Tone it down with the selfie sticks.

You might be trying to savor this beautiful moment in the wilderness, but your giant metal tree of a selfie arm is obstructing the view of the actual trees. See the irony?

3. Spare us your cell-service complaints.


Really, you're bitching about not being able to post that new nature Insta? This is the moment to unplug instead of upload. (Your brain will thank you for it, we promise.)

4. Don't bring your dog if pets aren't allowed, and don't you dare leave his poop on the trail.

Most National Parks in the U.S. actually don't allow pets in order to protect the wildlife in the area, so look online before you bring Fido. If you do leash up, make sure you clean up after him. Oh, and his manners had better be on point (read: no tripping people with his leash, please).

5. Try not to park like an a-hole.

Remember, you're not the only one trying to hike. Don't take up more than one parking space—those things are limited in the first place.

6. Know your physical limits.

Hiking slip fail

If it's been awhile since your last trek, hiking a high peak is probably not the smartest idea. So do everyone a favor and evaluate your limits beforehand—no one wants to give trail-side CPR or coordinate an airlift to get you out. (That being said, you should still try to crush these top-notch American Hiking Trails To Do Before You Die.)

7. Stop picking wildflowers, stealing sticks, and ripping up grass.

Nature is the place to romp around and get roughed up, sure, but that doesn't mean you have to rough it up in return. Treat the parks like a museum; you wouldn't go into the Louvre and take the Mona Lisa just because you felt like it, right? If you want to take a small stone home from a hike summit to remember the momentous occasion, we're not stopping you. But ripping out a bouquet of fresh wild flowers? Please, no.

8. Leave the boombox at home.

Boom Box Dancing GIF

Bluetooth speakers might be the best music tech ever invented, but not everyone on the trail wants to hear you blasting Kanye (even if he does pump you up). Other people might actually want to hear the sounds of nature.

9. Don't even think about bringing your hoverboard.

We hope this goes without saying, but you're kinda sorta disturbing the ~peaceful wilderness vibe~ for everyone. Not to mention you're not actually, you know, walking on that thing.

10. Stop trying to pet the animals.

Feeding Crocodile GIF

Despite how cuddly they look, deer, bison, and other creatures are big, wild, and have the power to totally crush you. Just let 'em be. For your own safety (even the little guys, like squirrels or rabbits).

11. Save your epic wolf howl for another time.

Believe it or not, it's against the rules at National Parks like Yellowstone to imitate elk calls or wolf howls. If you dare to do it anyway, we won't fight off a pack of hungry ones for you. #YouveBeenWarned


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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