Do Your Homework: Preparation and planning is the make-or-break moment of a hiking trip.
Check the weather to determine what kind of clothes and shoes you need. The caves and caverns have their own microclimate and the weather is prone to change rapidly. Remember, it is always cooler down in the caverns and caves. No matter the weather, we always recommend shoes with good traction to keep you from slipping on the trails.
Every season brings new ways that preparation is needed: In the spring and summer ensure that you are taking care to drink extra water, and wear breathable shoes. In spring there may be mud so solid traction with your shoes is necessary. Winter hiking requires trekking poles or hiking stick and crampon spikes are an absolute necessity!
Bring plenty of snacks and water for your hike! You may want to keep going once you experience the excellent trails and by packing extras you will be able to continue fueling your body for extra hiking.
Cellphone service in the parks is spotty at best. Bringing paper maps from the Welcome Centers and taking photos at the trailheads are great ways to make sure you know where you are going. Pro tip: give your friends and family an estimated time that you will return and let them know where you are headed for an extra layer of safety.
Please be aware and respect that many private properties border the parks.
When looking for fishing and hunting locations, familiarize yourself with local laws and designated locations for these activities.
Do you want a more quiet and secluded experience? Try going in the early morning and mid-week. Check the weather conditions before you pack and head out for the day. Learn more here.