Make reservations, arrive early, research the park's predators, acquire any necessary permits and pack wisely are some tips for camping in federal parks managed by the National Park Service. Park rules and regulations may vary depending on the season or for specific parks. Any questions about park rules, weather conditions, restrictions or warnings can be answered by contacting the specific park by telephone or by going to the agency's website at NPS.gov.
Most national park campgrounds allow campers to make advanced reservations, which is recommended especially during holidays or times of high seasonal traffic such as summer. Some park campgrounds do not offer reservations. Regardless of reservation status, it is a good idea to arrive early in the day to a chosen park campground to ensure both the campsite availability for those without reservations and the best choice campsites available from reserved sites.
Backcountry camping requires securing a special permit in advance for most national parks. Campers choosing to venture into the backcountry are advised to become familiar with the predators of the area, including bears, mountain lions, wolves and raccoons, so they can take proper precautions with food and other supplies that may cause an unwanted encounter.
Campers should carefully plan their trip, including a specific meal plan and a supplies checklist. This helps ensure that they have everything they need but are not lugging around unnecessary items.