GRAND CANYON, ZION AND BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
At Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, safety begins with the visitor. Be aware of the natural hazards present, your physical condition, and the weather and natural conditions that can influence your health.
CLIMBING AND CLIFFS
Steep cliffs, slippery and gravely slopes, and crumbling rock formations are found throughout Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It’s best to stay away from cliff edges and on the trail, avoid throwing or rolling rocks, and avoid climbing rocks or sliding down cliff slopes—the last being illegal as well as dangerous.
Overall, wear appropriate hiking clothing and boots with proper ankle support. In Bryce Canyon National Park, the number one cause for injuries and rescues is inappropriate footwear.
Make sure to carry enough water with you on your outdoor adventures as the environments can be extreme. It’s best to drink 1 liter/quart ever 1-2 hours. Don’t drink untreated water found within the parks.
HEAT STROKE AND EXHAUSTION
You experience heat exhaustion when your body loses more fluid than it takes in. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, fatigue, and clammy skin. If you or someone in your party experience these symptoms, find a shady, cool area to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat something.
Advanced heat exhaustion leads to heat stroke, when your body can no longer cool itself. Disorientation, confusion, and possibly seizures can be symptoms of heat stroke.
Pack plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Also, pre-check for hydration station locations before hiking.
Hypothermia, occurring when your body cools to dangerous levels, remains a hazard in both parks—particularly in narrow canyons where travelers are often immersed in water. It’s helpful to have a change of clothes with you in such situations.
Weather in both parks can be extreme—with fluctuations between the daily high and low reaching as much as 50˚F.
With high elevations and low oxygen levels, it’s easy to become over-exerted when physically active. It’s wise to turn back on a trail before you become tired—particularly in Bryce where return hikes are largely uphill. Overall, be aware of your own physical limitations and make wise decisions.
It’s always wise to watch wildlife from a safe distance and avoid feeding animals—even small ones. Fed animals can become quite aggressive, with even small bites or scratches putting visitors at risk of transmitted diseases.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Many of Yellowstone National Park’s incredible natural wonders also serve as potential safety hazards for its visitors. It's always best to be aware of the unique natural hazards present, the natural conditions and weather, as well as your own physical health.
Simple regulations exist to protect you as well as the park:
- Stay on trails and boardwalks around thermal areas
- Never approach wild animals
- To watch wildlife, use pullouts to avoid blocking traffic
- Never leave food or waste unattended
- Never feed animals
FURTHER SAFETY INFORMATION
Scalding, acidic water underlies the delicate, breakable crust protecting Yellowstone’s thermal formations. To avoid accidents, keep children close, remember that pets are not allowed near thermal areas, avoid swimming in thermal formations, and be aware that toxic gases may exude from hydrothermal areas.
When doing any outdoor activities in bear country, it’s always important to be alert and aware of your surroundings. When hiking in bear country, it’s best to make noise, hike in groups, carry bear spray, and avoid running. When watching wildlife along the park’s roads, stay in your car after pulling over in a pullout. When camping in bear country, use bear-proof containers to store garbage and food.
In terms of wildlife, bison remain Yellowstone’s greatest safety hazard to humans and have injured more visitors than any other animal. Bison are fast sprinters and can be unpredictable, and so it’s best to watch bison from a pullout in your car.