California State Parks Safety Tips
Whether you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a new one, we look forward to seeing you in California’s state park trails, beaches, lakes, mountains and deserts, but we ask that you please recreate responsibly.
- Know Before You Go: Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find current park information. Trails, roads or certain areas may be unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances. Also, check local weather forecasts and the official website or social media channels of your destination.
- Plan and Prepare: Permits may be required such as for entry, camping, certain recreational activities or transportation. Also, having and knowing how to use the appropriate gear for your activity could make or break your experience. Have a back-up plan in case your destination or activity is unavailable.
- Play It Safe: State parks are meant to be enjoyed in many different ways, but to play it safe, err on the side of caution. Make sure you not to underestimate temperatures or hiking distances. Let somebody know that you are in the park, especially if you undertake longer hikes. Enter waterbodies such as rivers or lakes in parks only if and where it is safe and encouraged. Be sure to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when recreating near or in the water.
- Leave No Trace: Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or take plants.
- Wildfire Safety: If wildfires are burning nearby, visit the park another day. Also, check the State Parks incidents webpage to find out which parks are impacted. Other guidelines include not entering close areas, as well as checking air quality (airnow.gov). To learn more on how to recreate responsibly during wildfire season, view our Wildfire Safety Tips page.
- Summer/Heat Safety: Daytime summer temperatures in many parks can exceed 90 degrees and above, so be sure to check the weather forecast prior to your visit. Start hikes early and avoid strenuous activities at times when temperatures are highest. Wear loose and appropriate clothes, preferably in bright colors that reflect the heat.Drink and carry plenty of water (a minimum of 1 quart every two hours). Leave stream, river and lake water for the park wildlife—although it looks clean and refreshing, the water can make you ill. For more tips, view our sun safety webpage.
- what3words: Visitors can now use the what3words tool, an innovative location technology app, that provides users with a simple way to communicate precise locations in emergency situations or provide directions to family and friends in any of the 280 state parks. what3words allows dispatchers with state-of-the-art technology to assist visitors in the event they become lost, stranded or who otherwise need help from emergency services. Using this revolutionary technology, State Parks dispatchers will now be able to pinpoint the precise locations of individuals who become lost with just three dictionary words, so that help can be sent quickly to exactly where it is needed. Visitors can also use the app to provide locations to events, trails or campsites. To learn more on how the app works, visit parks.ca.gov/what3words.
- OuterSpatial: Experience a safer outdoor adventure with the OuterSpatial app—your ultimate guide to California State Parks. Navigate through a user-friendly interactive map, receive accurate directions, and stay updated in real-time for secure park exploration. Connect with fellow enthusiasts, monitor your visits and earn badges via challenges like the Passport to Your California State Parks. From trail guidance to sharing experiences, the OuterSpatial app opens the door to unforgettable outdoor moments, all while emphasizing safety.