Ten Must-Haves for a National Park Hike


Ice Box Canyon Panoramic

Being from Illinois it often pains me that we have no national parks. We have state parks, but they’re just not as magnificent as what the rest of the country has to offer. Whenever I travel I can’t help but wonder what the heck I’m thinking choosing to live in such an unremarkable state. Then I quickly remember I choose it because that’s where my family is. So instead, I travel to visit more desirable locations. My most recent hike was at Red Rock National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada. My favorite trail was Ice Box Canyon. It was a moderate to strenuous hike that got progressively more difficult as we made our way back into the mountains. This 2.5-mile hike had at ton to offer and I highly recommend it. Here are ten things you should bring along with your map to be prepared for a hike in any national park: 

  1. Cooler with Ice – Keep this in your car, which you can use as a base to store the next few things on the list.
  2. Backpack – You’ll want one that’s light and breathes well along the back so you don’t create any unnecessary heat and discomfort. Good shoulder straps with a buckle that connects them in the front and a waste strap are other good features to look for.
  3. Water – Bring at least a gallon per person. You don’t have to carry it all with you. Leave some on ice in a cooler in the car. Many pro-hikers will use a CamelBak backpack to carry what they need along with the built-in water reservoir.
  4. Lunch and Snacks – Pack a light lunch like a sandwich, veggies, and some good energy carbs. Toss a couple Clif bars and a banana or two in your backpack for snack breaks.
  5. Hiking Shoes – Boots are good for when there are large boulders to hop around on and you need the ankle support. Otherwise hiking shoes will be great. Make sure they are water resistant, have a good grip, and a nice firm sole.
  6. Sunscreen – It gets sunny on the wide-open trails. Lather up.
  7. Poncho – Just in case a bunch of rain comes out of nowhere bring a small poncho that you can keep in your pocket.
  8. Chapstick – The wind can be a doozy, so protect your lips with some good old-fashioned balm. Burt’s Bees is one of my favorites.
  9. First Aid Kit – Grab a small one with Band-Aids, insect bite wipes, some antibiotic ointment, and ibuprofen.
  10. Camera – Your smart phone can be a great way to capture photos, including panoramic shots, but I strongly recommend a good DSLR camera. You’ll see some breathtaking vistas and won’t regret it. Just pack your favorite lens and make sure your battery is charged and storage card is empty.

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