Summer is here and outdoor enthusiasts are ready to hit the trails, explore the backcountry and spend some time in nature. As you prepare for your next outdoor adventure, Dr. Kelly Goonan, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation at Southern Utah University has a few tips to stay safe and happy.
“With long days and open schedules, summer is the time of year for many people to get outside,” said Goonan. “It is also the busiest time of year for many of our parks and other recreation areas. With the following tips, you can have an enjoyable experience while staying safe and helping protect these special places.”
Do your research and plan ahead
Do you want to visit a national or state park this summer? Perhaps a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Forest Service recreation area? Before you go, do a quick Google search and learn about the area. The best sites to visit are the official agency sites like nps.gov and stateparks.utah.gov, as these sites are regularly updated and should have correct, accurate information (like entrance fees, trail advisories, and information about recreating with pets). Planning ahead will help you be better prepared for your outdoor adventure.
Check the weather
Summer in Utah can vary greatly, with intense sun and heat during the day and dangers of lightning and heavy rain during the monsoon season. Start your trip early in the day to avoid the hottest temperatures, carry plenty of water (1 gallon per person is recommended), bring salty snacks, wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and wear light colored long-sleeve shirts to protect your skin.
Rain storms in the desert can be spectacular, but also dangerous. Lightning can strike from miles away, especially at higher elevations. If you hear thunder, head for lower elevations.
Rain that falls in the desert runs into streams and canyons, and these areas can quickly “flash” and become very dangerous. Pay attention to flash flood warnings and know the weather conditions in your area. Stay away from slot canyons, streams, and dry washes during a rain storm and move to higher ground.
Protect the place by leaving no trace
Outdoor recreation activities have an impact on the land, and with so many people enjoying the outdoors during the summer, it’s important to make an effort to minimize your personal impact. Visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles to learn about Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics and how to minimize the impact of your visit to help protect our special places.
Above all, Goonan recommends to enjoy the journey without distractions. To take the time to notice the small things on the way to “the view.”
“Nowadays, most people are seeing our landscapes and cultural sites through lenses (or screens) instead of through their eyes with #nofilter (except for maybe sunglasses). While it’s fun to take photos to share your experience or remember your adventure, try to take time to view the place with your eyes and not your camera. If you have the time, find a spot to sit and let it all soak in: the plants, birds, wildlife, smells in the air. You’ll be surprised what you notice when you slow down and focus on the moment instead of the destination, and it will make the destination all the more spectacular.”