7 Tips for Using Social Media on Public Lands

1/3/2017

National parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands are some of the most beautiful places in America, and we love hearing about your adventures on social media.

To keep you safe while still having fun, here are top tips for using social media on public lands:

1. Follow the rules for your safety.

Rules on public lands aren’t there to stop you from getting the ideal photo; they're there to protect you and the landscape for current and future generations to enjoy. Not following park rules is illegal, could result in fines -- or much worse consequences like injury or death. Do your research about park- or refuge-specific rules before your trip. Have questions? Reach out to that location on Facebook or Twitter.

two ladies explore a cave with headlamps
The Chosa Draw Area of Critical Environmental Concern contains 2,200 acres of hydrologically-important gypsum karst. These two ladies wear proper gear while exploring the area. Photo by Burea of Land Management.

2. Keep wildlife wild.

We can all agree, animals are cute in photos and videos. But what you don’t see is that photographers use huge zoom lens that make it seem like they are closer. And often these photos are taken from a vehicle. In real life, it’s important to respect these wild creatures and observe them from a distance. Never approach or chase animals to take their picture (or get a selfie with them), and do your part to keep human food away from animals. Learn more about how to keep wildlife truly wild.

bison walk along a road
A bison jam in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.

3. Stay on the trail.

Trails and boardwalks are designed to let visitors get the most out of nature while reducing their impact on the environment. Follow the signs -- even if they seem silly. In some places, trails protect plants and soils from trampling and erosion. If you’re not sure about the trails, check a location’s website or talk to a ranger. They’re full of great hiking tips!

day hikers in Grand Canyon National Park
Day hikers climbing windy ridge on the South Kaibab trail in Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

4. Only take photos.

Who doesn’t love a souvenir from a trip? When visiting public lands, remember the only souvenirs you can take are photos, drawings and your memories. While it might seem like no big deal to take a rock, leaf or feather, think what would happened if every visitor took something. Leave what you find, and instead share your adventure on social media.

photographer takes in the sunset on the beach
Photographer takes in the sunset at Olympic National Park's Second Beach. Photo by Yan Li (www.sharetheexperience.org).

5. Plan for the unexpected.

Remember that public lands are wild and come prepared. Cell phones don’t always work and weather can change quickly. Bring plenty of water and snacks, wear layers and let others know where you’re headed and when you’ll be back. Snapping your trip? No problem even without the cell connection -- let your snaps fail and re-upload them when you’re back in range.

man stops and looks at a waterfall
A hiker stops along Mildred Point Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Daniel Rogers (www.sharetheexperience.org).

6. Share the views.

Photography in national parks is nothing new, but it has become an increasingly popular activity in recent years. Who doesn't want the perfect Instagram photo? If you find yourself photographing a scene with other visitors, remember that parks belong to everyone. Always try to make room and/or share the epic views with others.

visitors dot the landscape at Arches
Photographers dot the landscape in front of Delicate Arch at Arches National Park. Photo by Lee Garrison (www.sharetheexperience.org).

7. Spread the love of public lands.

Help your friends and family fall in love with public lands -- invite them on an adventure with you and show them someplace new. While you’re at it, teach them how to be good stewards of Mother Nature and to leave no trace when exploring. Some places like Yellowstone have a pledge you can take to help protect yourself and the park. Take the #YellowstonePledge today.

kayaks on the shore
Two kayaks sit on the shore of Isle Royal National Park, waiting for an adventure. Photo by Adam Jewell (www.sharetheexperience.org).

And don't forget to check out Interior on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr.