In some parks and forests parking is strictly regulated, and permitted only in lots and designated places. In other areas it’s allowed freely along roads and elsewhere. To avoid the possibility of your car being ticketed or towed away, make sure it’s legal before parking outside of an approved lot.
Parking areas are often located at trailheads, trail crossings, and points where there’s easy access to rivers or lakes. At times it’s also necessary to travel some distance from a parking spot to get to a particular trail or water route.
Trailheads may or may not be well-marked. Sometimes there are prominent roadside signs, making them almost impossible to miss. Elsewhere trailheads are indicated only by paint blazes or small signs. Some searching may be required to locate the trail.
A map or guidebook will usually be of help here. You might also be able to get directions from a ranger or other park employee. Since trails are occasionally relocated, be aware that older maps and guidebooks may not show the trails correctly.
In certain areas it’s wise to ask a ranger about how safe it is leave your car overnight in a particular location. Break-ins are sometimes known to occur, whether in remote regions or near major highways. Such problems are thankfully rare in some parts of the country, but unfortunately much more common in others.
A parking place next to a ranger station or other facility is usually the most secure place to leave a car. If you’re visiting an area where break-ins or vandalism have occurred, it’s sometimes suggested that you find a nearby resident or business owner who will keep an eye on your car for a nominal fee.
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