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River and Stream Safety

From the National Park Service

Stewardship Monday, June 3, 2024

Rivers and streams can be a refreshing way to experience national parks. You can swim, boat, fish and so much more!

On the surface, rivers and streams can seem calm, warm or shallow. Yet every year even the most experienced park visitors become victims to deceptively strong currents, cold water temperatures, and unexpected changes in depth. Whether you’re floating down a lazy river, fishing, or cooling off from a long day's hike, it is important to understand water safety in and around these tempting waters.

Be Prepared Before You Go

Use the NPS Trip Planning Guide and Checklist to help plan your trip.

The NPS Trip Planning Guide provides key safety considerations to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when visiting national parks. Learn about the park’s environment, pick the right activity for your skill and experience level, and pack the right gear and equipment for your activity.

Find out which water activities are allowed

Visit the park’s website to learn which water activities are available. Take note of park recommendations for specific recreation sites. For example, swimming may not be recommended or may even be prohibited because of the hazards in the water.

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