If you live in Maricopa County, odds are that you enjoy at least one outdoor activity. Whether you like to hike Camelback Mountain, ride ATVs in the desert, or head north to take advantage of some of our lakes, Arizona is a great state for outdoor enthusiasts. If you like any of the national parks contained in our state, the upcoming National Parks Week will be great news for you as it means that 15 national parks will offer free admission.
National Parks Week will take place between April 16 and April 24 this year which means the celebration includes a full work week with both the leading and trailing weekends. Annually, National Parks Week allows Americans to enjoy some of our country’s best outdoor areas without cost for two days but this year, the entire celebration will be free to mark the centennial celebration of the national park system which turns 100 years old on August 25, 2016.
The 15 parks that will offer free admission are Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, Pipe Spring National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Tonto National Monument, Tumacacori National Historical Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument.
Attendance at each of these parks is expected to be significantly higher than normal while they are free to the public, and with that both positive and negative impacts are anticipated. On the positive side, more people than average will be able to take advantage of the beauty that makes up Arizona, and those who otherwise may not be able to spend time in a national park will be able to enjoy it without concerns related to the cost.
However, vehicular and pedestrian traffic in and around these parks is suspected to increase substantially, leading to possibly dangerous situations where car accidents may take place. The combination of a high traffic load mixed with drivers who are unfamiliar with where they are heading can mean that collisions will happen without warning, possibly leading to injuries among those involved. If you will be participating in National Parks Week or if you will be driving near a national park, you should keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Slow Down: Speed is believed to be a factor in approximately 50 percent of all car crashes, including those that happen in and around Phoenix. If you will be driving, slow down so that you have more time to react to changing traffic conditions and any hazards that may appear in the roadway.
- Expect the Unexpected: When people are going to new places or trying new activities, they are less likely to focus on the roadway and their surrounding and may be more likely to engage in risky behavior. Therefore, you should expect pedestrians to walk out in front of your vehicle as you drive, motorists to fail to yield the right-of-way, and detours or road closures. Put simply, expect the unexpected if you will be driving in or near a national park later this month.
- Plan Ahead: Take some of the guesswork out of your trip by planning ahead. If you will be using a national park, look into route guidance and parking suggestions so that you have an idea of where to go before you leave home. Remember that some parking areas may fill up quickly so be prepared to be flexible with your plans if needed.
- Stick Together: The parks will be crowded and it will be easy for parties, especially those with young children, to get separated. If you will be taking advantage of a national park, use the buddy system or stick as a group to ensure that no one gets lost or loses their way. Confused and disoriented park patrons are at an increased risk for personal injury so it is best to prevent people from wandering on their own when possible.
Do your best to remain safe and injury-free if you will participate in National Parks Week or if you will be driving in the area of a park with increased patronage and enjoy all that Arizona has to offer.
Prior Blog Entry:
Honda Fit Recalled for 6th Time over Safety Concerns, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 7, 2016.
Free admission during National Parks Week, April 16-24, Scott Craven, The Republic/azcentral.com, published April 7, 2016.