JACKSON, Wyo. — Several factors come into play when planning a hiking excursion. Whether a novice or an expert, both backcountry and frontcountry experiences require preparation. Risk factors while out in the wilderness include thunderstorms, lightning, surprise snowstorms, dangerous wildlife or unstable rocks at the edge of a cliff.
While having proper gear, being in good physical condition and remaining cognizant of your surroundings may make you feel secure, there are countless unknowns that remain on the trail.
The following are a few key hiking safety tips that individuals should consider when planning an outing.
Before Hitting the Trail
- On the day of a hike, check online or with a local park/ forest ranger to obtain updates on current trail conditions, and to see if there’s any recent bear activity
- Check the weather forecast and expect wind at higher elevations in the park
- Notify family or friends of your itinerary and provide an estimated time of return. If you do not return with the expected time have them contact the Grand Teton National Park Dispatch at 307-739-3301
- Experts recommend to not hike alone. Find a partner or a ranger-led hike
- Carry a first aid kit and know what to do in the case of an emergency
- GTNP is a high altitude park where elevation increases the risk of altitude sickness, dehydration, and severe sunburn. Drink several quarts of water and bring sunscreen or sun protectant layers
- Always have a fire source
- Bring a flashlight or lamp
- Understand some basic behavior of bears and what to do if an encounter occurs
On the Trail
- When in a group, keep the hiking party together, moving only as fast as the slowest member in the group
- Stay on a designated trail
- Keep a steady pace, don’t overexert early on
- Start hiking early to reduce the risk of losing daylight
- Exercise caution around all snowfields
- Use extreme caution around water
- Reduce the risk of hypothermia by staying dry
- Never approach a wild animal
- Avoid surprising bears and other wildlife by making noise while hiking
To read further information on safety in Grand Teton National Park click here. For a comprehensive list of hiking and emergency gear to take with you on your next hike, click here.
The valley has heard the cautionary tales, don’t become one.