Before you hit the trails
1. Always pack water. Avoid dehydration by drinking water often throughout your hike. A good rule of thumb is to pack one gallon of water for a full-day of desert exploring.
2. Dress appropriately. Desert temperatures can hit extreme highs and extreme lows in a 24-hour period. Wearing layers helps slow dehydration and limits your sun exposure. Always wear closed-toe shoes. Wearing a hat and sunglasses are also recommended.
3. Apply sunscreen – often. Even in the winter months, Arizona’s direct sunlight can cause severe burns.
4. Hike with a friend or in a group. If heading out solo, let someone else know of your plans or alert the ranger where you plan to hike.
5. It is very common to pick up cactus needles during your hike. Pack a fine-tooth plastic comb for removing the needles – never use your fingers!
Out in the desert
6. Never stray from the designated trail. Desert terrain is rugged and unpredictable. Most parks offer maps and marked guides along the trail.
7. Use trail etiquette at all times. Runners and hikers yield to equestrians. Bicyclists should yield to everyone. Downhill traffic should yield to uphill traffic. When in doubt, give other users the right of way.
8. Be alert! The desert is full of critters that will attack if approached. Watch for rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and scorpions to name a few. If necessary, make noise so critters know of your presence. Be mindful of their surroundings and treat them with caution and respect.
9. Pack out what you pack in. Deposit trash in receptacles and leave no garbage behind.
10. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. Most parks are equipped to alert services and promptly execute a desert rescue.
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