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Reader Participation Day: What "Must Have" Article Do You Pack for a National Park Visit?


Are binoculars a must-have item for your national park trips?

It never fails. Before heading out to a national park, my wife and I always remind each other to grab the birding guide. And we always forget it. Which raises a question: What item do you always make sure is in your duffel for your national park trips?

Is it a bird book? Plant identification guide? Pair of binoculars? Hiking sticks?

What indispensable item do you make sure to pack for your treks to national parks?


In the Great Northwet, where snowbanks can last until Labor Day and damp vegetation often crowds the trail,
gaitors are a great comfort even on sunny days. Also, a light folding umbrella can make stops and
photography more enjoyable in the rain forest and may keep you drier than that expensive leak-tex.

Full water bottles, camera, gps, first aid kit, and even on short hikes, my very small backpacker stove... You never know...

Camera, binoculars, GPS. Not the latest and greatest of any of the three, but good enough to 1) Take documentary photos, 2) Identify birds 100 feet away or trees across a canyon, 3) Mark where I am so I can geotag the photos later.

As someone else mentioned, you can pick up most other items in the feeder town, if not the park itself. My wife and I have built a nature-travel checklist though, and rarely forget anything anymore. There are even items as obscure as "moss identification key" and "cash of local currency to tip guides/bribe locals".

Never leave home without the camera. I don't think it matters much if its a digital or on film, the pictures I've brought home never fail to bring back the beauty of our national parks (or our country for that matter).

Depending on the park, running shoes or hiking boots and a good rain jacket.

1. Map and compass. Invest in the best map u can find.
2. Water bottle frozen the night before. Make that two, to wash down your munchies.
3. Good pair of binoculars. Best if lightweight.
4. Bird guide and/or plant guide.
5. Camera.
6. Mini first aid kit, because ya never know.
7. Good sense.
8. Happy trails!

P.S. My captcha for today: "2 1/2 luminous". You betcha!

Biodegradable toilet tissue if you are going hiking. I've used everything from snow to dirty socks!!

I'll be visiting the great parks of the southwest in a few weeks. I'll be sure to take my 10" Dobsonian telescope and tripod-mounted 10 X 50mm binoculars for night sky viewing, along with a green laser pointer to show anyone I meet just where in the sky they would be looking when observing through the eyepiece of the telescope.

For daytime viewing, a digital camera and tripod will be packed along with backpack, hiking poles, and boots.

I'm getting the urge for one last venture up Angel's Landing for a picture of the eastern wall and southern end of the mouth of Zion Canyon by late afternoon sun. I'll do Canyon Overlook for sunrise.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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