On its 100th birthday, the National Parks System is more popular than ever. A record 307 million people visited its 410 sites in 2015. With that many visitors trampling through, of course some of them are going to be ignorant, ill-prepared, or just plain dumb—putting flora, fauna, and themselves in danger. After a recent incident involving tourists loading a bison calf into their SUV (more on that below), we felt compelled to make this guide for what to do …and importantly, what not to do the next time you visit Acadia, Yellowstone, or any of the country’s parks and monuments in between.

01

Don’t touch the critters

Last week, two Yellowstone tourists spotted an abandoned bison calf by the road and decided to put it in their car and drive it to a park ranger. Bad move. The poor little guy had to be put down because its new scent prevented its herd from taking him back. Oh, and no selfies either. Bison injure more people in Yellowstone than any other animal, and last year, two selfie snappers got headbutted when they turned their backs on bison.

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Last week, two Yellowstone tourists spotted an abandoned bison calf by the road and decided to put it in their car and drive it to a park ranger. Bad move. The poor little guy had to be put down because its new scent prevented its herd from taking him back. Oh, and no selfies either. Bison injure more people in Yellowstone than any other animal, and last year, two selfie snappers got headbutted when they turned their backs on bison.

02

Bring water with you into the desert

Venturing into America’s deserts can be an other-worldly adventure, but a sandy walk will quickly turn deadly if you’re unprepared. Last summer, a family hike in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument turned tragic when a mother and father apparently died of heat exposure while attempting to keep their 9-year-old son hydrated with only two bottles of water (the child survived).

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Venturing into America’s deserts can be an other-worldly adventure, but a sandy walk will quickly turn deadly if you’re unprepared. Last summer, a family hike in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument turned tragic when a mother and father apparently died of heat exposure while attempting to keep their 9-year-old son hydrated with only two bottles of water (the child survived).

03

Don’t swim in the rivers

Sweaty travelers might be enticed by a dip in the river, but they shouldn’t underestimate the power of a current. In 2012, two young campers drowned after wading into the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. According to a Wonkblog analysis of National Park Service data, drowning is the leading cause of death in National Parks.

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Sweaty travelers might be enticed by a dip in the river, but they shouldn’t underestimate the power of a current. In 2012, two young campers drowned after wading into the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. According to a Wonkblog analysis of National Park Service data, drowning is the leading cause of death in National Parks.

04

Don’t go backpacking if you’re a total noob

Emergency rescuers responded not once, not twice, but three times to satellite tracker calls of one group of Grand Canyon backpackers in 2009 despite there being no real emergency. The first time, the hikers feared they ran out of water. Upon finding a water source they called again fearing the water tasted too salty. Finally, they called a third time got a helicopter lift out of the canyon.

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Emergency rescuers responded not once, not twice, but three times to satellite tracker calls of one group of Grand Canyon backpackers in 2009 despite there being no real emergency. The first time, the hikers feared they ran out of water. Upon finding a water source they called again fearing the water tasted too salty. Finally, they called a third time got a helicopter lift out of the canyon.

05

Check the weather before heading into the wilderness

Weather is often unpredictable in wild areas—if storms are remotely in the forecast, don’t risk it. When one group of canyoneers in Utah’s Zion National Park left to belay down Keyhole Canyon, weather reports noted a moderate chance for flash flooding, but by the time that warning went up to probable, the group was out of cell phone range. The group was later found dead after drowning in the canyon.

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Weather is often unpredictable in wild areas—if storms are remotely in the forecast, don’t risk it. When one group of canyoneers in Utah’s Zion National Park left to belay down Keyhole Canyon, weather reports noted a moderate chance for flash flooding, but by the time that warning went up to probable, the group was out of cell phone range. The group was later found dead after drowning in the canyon.

06

Don’t light campfires (unless the Park Service says you can)

We’ve all gotten the memo from Smokey the Bear, but some people just don’t listen. Investigators tracked the origin of the devastating 2013 Rim Fire around Yosemite National Park to a hunter’s illegal campfire. Four hundred square miles burned, adding up to $127 million of damage.

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We’ve all gotten the memo from Smokey the Bear, but some people just don’t listen. Investigators tracked the origin of the devastating 2013 Rim Fire around Yosemite National Park to a hunter’s illegal campfire. Four hundred square miles burned, adding up to $127 million of damage.

07

Pay attention to the road

Yes, the view is stunning, but if you’re behind the wheel, pull over before taking it in. In 2014, the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shenandoah National Park saw over 300 car accidents, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

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Yes, the view is stunning, but if you’re behind the wheel, pull over before taking it in. In 2014, the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shenandoah National Park saw over 300 car accidents, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

08

Don’t graffiti on rocks or trees…in nature, it’s never art

Parks like Joshua Tree and and Arches boast stunning rock formations that make for some of the best rock climbing in the world. But those rocks are not there to be carved into, even if you consider yourself an artist. Both parks have reported an increase in vandalism in recent years, including one carving found in Arches last month that is so deep it might be impossible to remove.

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Parks like Joshua Tree and and Arches boast stunning rock formations that make for some of the best rock climbing in the world. But those rocks are not there to be carved into, even if you consider yourself an artist. Both parks have reported an increase in vandalism in recent years, including one carving found in Arches last month that is so deep it might be impossible to remove.

09

Don’t steal rocks or plants from nature

A critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish, whose species lives only in one pool in Death Valley National Park, died after three drunk dudes broke into their protected habitat with alcohol and a shotgun, leaving behind vomit and floating underwear.

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

A critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish, whose species lives only in one pool in Death Valley National Park, died after three drunk dudes broke into their protected habitat with alcohol and a shotgun, leaving behind vomit and floating underwear.

10

Don’t fly your drone into geysers or near wildlife

The NPS has issued a temporary ban on recreational drones in national parks, but that hasn’t stopped tourists from trying to capture Planet Earth-worthy shots with their flying devices. In 2014, one person’s drone ended up at the bottom of a 121-foot deep Yellowstone hot spring.

Chris McKay/Getty Images

The NPS has issued a temporary ban on recreational drones in national parks, but that hasn’t stopped tourists from trying to capture Planet Earth-worthy shots with their flying devices. In 2014, one person’s drone ended up at the bottom of a 121-foot deep Yellowstone hot spring.

Link – 

The Essential Guide to Not Ruining a National Park for Everyone