With record numbers of folks visiting our public lands this year, it’s as important as ever to recreate responsibly and take care of these lands so future generations can enjoy them as much as we do. Recently, Discover Kalispell invited Chelsea and me to spend the weekend in and around Kalispell. While the full lowdown on everything to see, do, eat, and drink in Kalispell will be coming soon, let’s start by refreshing on the principles of recreating responsibly. My friends at Discover Kalispell have an amazing resource with even more information on respectfully visiting on their website here: Recreate Responsibly.
In addition to their great tips, here are some of my own.
Research, Research, Research
The first course of action for any adventure during this busy summer is to research the rules, closures, weather, and everything else before even leaving the house. Did you know that Glacier National Park implemented an entry ticket system for Going-to-the-Sun Road this summer? If you didn’t and you showed up expecting to drive one of the most beautiful roads in the world it could ruin your whole vacation. Summer in Montana also means road construction and other events (including wildland fires). Plan ahead and get the most out of your vacation! Pro tip: this also applies to knowing if there are any fire restrictions in the area before setting out to prove that you can make the perfect s’more.
Every time I head out on a hike, whether it’s a mile or to summit a peak, I always carry at the bare minimum these items: a water bottle, a rain jacket, snacks, a small first aid kit, my bear spray, and, of course, my camera. The weather moves quickly in the mountains and a blue sky day can quickly turn into rain and thunderstorms within minutes, so a rain jacket is always essential. Bear spray is also a mandatory piece to the puzzle because no matter how popular the trail is, it’s important to understand that we are visitors to bear country. There are even places to rent bear spray in the area, including at stands inside of Glacier National Park.
Leave No Trace
Take only pictures, leave only footprints (but don’t leave those footprints off-trail). I have a great blog on all six of the main principles of LNT on my blog which I encourage you to read here. With droughts hitting the West hard this year, it’s as important as ever to know how to properly have a campfire and to extinguish it to the point where the coals are cool to the touch.
Let’s spread out
Our National Parks are the most visited lands in the USA for a reason – they’re incredible. But with all of the traffic comes wear and tear on these lands as well as long lines, full parking lots and lots of traffic, which is why I’m a proponent of enjoying the other incredible public lands in an area as well. Adjacent National Forest land is often just as pretty as their National Park relatives, but typically come with far less people. By spreading out not only are we lessening our impact, but we’re also able to enjoy a little more solitude. For instance, we hiked the Foys Notch Trail just minutes from Kalispell for sunset and only saw one other person the whole hike.
Have patience and a little grace
These rules don’t just apply to out-of-staters and are just as important for Montanans to follow as well (if not more important as we should be good role models for those visiting). So, let’s show some Montana hospitality and treat everyone with respect and kindness this summer.
I hope you learned something from this article, but don’t be afraid to reach out with questions.
Until next time,