SALT LAKE CITY — The summer holidays are the perfect time to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and escape to some of Utah's amazing public lands where you'll find beautiful vistas, plentiful wildlife, a slower pace of life and pretty much everyone else who is also trying to do the same thing.
Dealing with the public while enjoying public land can sometimes take the fun and peace right out of your outdoor experience or a long weekend away. Here are five tips to help you better enjoy Utah's public lands while sharing them with the public.
Even though you've left home in an effort to find some peace and relaxation, the stresses of work and home may easily follow you on vacation. When you arrive to your destination, whether that be a popular trail head or camp site in a state or national park, it's a good idea to close your eyes and do some controlled breathing. You're here to have fun and spend time with family and friends.
There is always going to be someone who does things differently than you would. Whether that is a terrible parking job at the trail head or someone who has no clue he's continuously photo bombing your family portrait, you need to remember to be patient. The horrible parker will be gone soon as will the unsuspecting photo bomber. You didn't come all this way to the great outdoors to be in a hurry.
Don't Be Selfish
The best way to ensure you enjoy your valuable time in the out-of-doors is to make sure you're thinking of others. What are you doing that could possibly be ruining or putting a damper on someone else's day? Are you talking on your cell phone in a loud voice? Listening to your headphones with the volume so high other trail users can't communicate with you to pass you or let you know they're coming? Are you traveling too fast on a popular trail on a high traffic day?
We've all been guilty of one of these at some point in our lives, but if we all headed into our public lands and wild places while thinking of others, I'm positive we'd all end up having a more enjoyable time. Do yourself a favor and make sure all of those enjoying the same trail, campsite, lake or reservoir as you are having a good time.
There's a lot of truth to the old adage, "failing to plan is planning to fail." Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, especially on a busy holiday weekend. Feeling rushed is the first step to having a lousy outdoor weekend.
Plan to leave at a certain time and leave at that time. Plan to encounter traffic or long lines at campsites and boat launches. When you then encounter all of the hordes of people, you'll be ready for it. If you expect to have a lot of traffic, when you do happen to find trafficless highways or empty camp grounds, you'll feel like you won the lottery.
The second step to giving yourself a lousy outdoor weekend is forgetting something important — maybe it was the camera or the marshmallows for your s'mores. Plan ahead and make lists of all the crucial items that might ruin your weekend if forgotten.
Don't take yourself so seriously. Chances are you're not a professional climber, mountain biker or trail runner. You're a weekend warrior like the rest of us. No one cares if you've been coming to this campsite for 30 years or if this is your first time. As a taxpaying citizen everyone else is as entitled to Utah's public lands as you are.
Don't let little things bother you. Look around and remind yourself how lucky you are to live in one of the most beautiful places on the entire earth. Then, when the family in campsite four decides to have a dance party, instead of being annoyed, you'll thank them for the soundtrack.
If you follow these tips, you'll have crowded weekend after crowded weekend of outdoor fun.
What are some ways you have learned to share the outdoors with the masses? Share your tips on the comment board.
Tim Kofoed is a native of Utah and the founder of GearGenius.com, a website dedicated to outdoor gear, reviews, hints, tips, how-tos, industry and outdoor news, adventure and action sports. Check it out at www.geargenius.com