Travel Tips

What to Prepare before Visiting a State Park

Get Some Tick Repellent

Especially if you’re going to a park in the northern half (or so) of the state, you will need tick repellent. Most such products also take care of other pesky bugs too – like mosquitoes.

You have three basic options when choosing a product that will keep the ticks (and/or other insect pests) away.

  1. DEET
  2. Picaridin
  3. Permethrin

Yes, there are a few other choices, but it seems that these three are the best of the best.

You’ll find that the actual product comes in a variety of brands – Off!, Sawyer, REPEL, and others.

DEET-based (more smelly) and picaridin-based (less smelly) products you apply to your skin. Permethrin you apply to your clothing. So, you can see that there are pros and cons to using each.

Deep Woods OFF!

Check the pricing and availability of Deep Woods OFF! at Amazon.

Pack Your Camera

I’m not talking to those of you who only use your cell phone to take pictures – not that there’s anything wrong with that. This section is for those of us who shoot film, have a DSLR, or own a mirrorless camera.

Make sure your camera battery is charged and bring along a spare, if you have one and intend to keep your camera powered up for an extended period of time. If you’re staying overnight (camping maybe?) and will have access to an electrical outlet, you might even consider bringing your charger along.

If your camera uses an SD card, check that it has enough space to hold all the pictures you plan to take, especially if you shoot RAW. I realize that some cards can hold an amazing amount of photos, but it’s better to have more space than not enough. Got a second card? Bring it along for the ride too.

Many photographers – even amateurs, like me – have multiple lenses. Before I started my state parks journey, I got a camera bag that could hold all of them and everything else photographic that I wanted to take on my trips. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these bags available. Make sure you have one that suits your needs. Maybe you’ll even want more than one for different lengths of state park visits.

Do you have a tripod that you want to lug along the trail? Personally, I haven’t found this necessary so far, but I could imagine that it would be a requirement for some photographers. Some camera bags can accommodate a tripod. If yours doesn’t, you might have to carry it in its own bag. Either way should work.

Camera Bag

Check the pricing and availability of a camera bag (like mine) at Amazon.

Getting from Point A to Point B

Besides hiking, there are many ways to get from one place in a state park to another, depending on the season.


Check the pricing and availability of the bicycles for sale at Amazon.

Each of these activities obviously requires specialty equipment that you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. In some cases, you may be able to rent the equipment at the state park.

If you’re bringing your own gear along, check that it’s in good condition, that you secure it to your vehicle properly, and that (if needed) you have enough fuel to make it run for a while.

Cross-Country Skis

Check the pricing and availability of the cross-country skis for sale at Amazon.

Collecting Wild Critters

Fishers fish. Hunters hunt. Trappers trap.

Again, each of these activities needs gear specific to the sport. And again, you should make sure it’s in good condition before you pack it in the truck or SUV.

Licensing is important here too. It really goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – buy your license to make your fishing, hunting, or trapping legal. And then only fish, hunt, or trap in allowed locations and at the permitted time.

Fishing Poles

Check the pricing and availability of the fishing poles (and other gear) for sale at Amazon.

If you’re in the market for a new rifle scope, check out the reviews at Optics Oasis.

Campers Camp

I’ve never seen the allure of camping. I’ve got nothing against those who love it. It’s just not for me. (The same thing applies to hunting and trapping for me.)

Whether you camp in a tent, a trailer, or an RV, you know there are all kinds of things you need to prepare before heading to the park. I’m not going to try to list them all here. I’m not going to get into the world of glamping here either.

Camping Tents

Check the pricing and availability of the camping tents for sale at Amazon.

Maybe the best way to go about it would be to make your own checklist that covers everything, no matter how far away the park is, how long you’re going to stay there, what you intend to do while there, what kind of shelter you use, and how many times you’ve done this before.

What to Check after Visiting a State Park

Check for Ticks

You may have applied some form of tick repellent beforehand, but there still could be that one obstinate little critter (and maybe even his friends) that wants to tag along for a ride.

If at all possible, don’t let him/them!

Process Your Photos

As soon as possible, process those pictures you took before something unheard of happens to them.

If you have the good habit of making backup copies of your shots, that’s probably the best thing to do first.

After you’ve run them through post-production processes, share them with us. We’d love to see what you saw.

After You’ve Been to Point B

Many times your transportation equipment of choice will need cleaning after you’ve ridden it. Taking care of this task is better done sooner than later, while it’s still fresh in your mind and while the dirt is still fresh on the equipment.

Don’t wait until it’s gotten all crusty and musty. You’ll just have to work twice (or more) as hard to get it all shiny again.

Process Your Carcasses

If you were fortunate enough (okay…skilled enough) to catch some fish, shoot that deer, or trap that…critter, process the meat properly as soon as you can when you get home. (I realize that in some cases this will be at least partially done while you’re still at the park.)

Since I have zero experience with this kind of thing, I won’t offer any more advice along these lines. If you need further assistance, I’m sure you can find it elsewhere online or in person.

Striking Camp

Much of what you need to remember to do when you’re done camping takes place before you leave the state park. Be sure you don’t leave anything behind, other than properly-disposed-of trash. If you started any fires, check that the embers are cool so that nothing can flare up after you’re gone.

When you do get home, if you have anything that needs to go into storage until the next time you use it, see that it does get packed away properly. It’s amazing how much nicer and easier it is to take such things out of storage the next time when you’ve taken the time to put it away correctly now.