U.S. Travel

Rules of the Trail for Terrible People

After a spate of wildlife selfies and general landscape destruction, we put together our own set of guidelines for those lacking all human decency

At our park, there's no such thing as "overcrowding." (NPS Photo / Grand Canyon National Park)

Welcome to the National Park for Terrible People, where we encourage all of our visitors to ignore basic human decency, the laws of nature, and everything your mother ever taught you. Before you start your adventure, we’d like to lay out a few ground rules.

Please Feed the Animals

Disregard the fact that we’ve clearly established that candy bars and Cool Ranch Doritos wreak havoc on the human body. They’re fine for wild animals that have never been evolutionarily exposed to processed foods or sugar. Don’t just hand over the snacks, though. You have to make them work for it. Get the most out of that $1.79 bag of pizza-flavored Combos by dangling it torturously in front of the animal of your choosing until you’ve lured them into perfect selfie position. This strategy works for birds, squirrels, deer, marmots, chipmunks, elk, moose, and bears, but sadly, not wolves. If you want a wolf selfie, we recommend dipping yourself in a vat of raw meat and wrapping a string of entrails around your neck before heading into the woods.

Do Deface the Landscape

As you wander into the beauty and wonder of nature, you might reach a point at which you gaze out onto the landscape and think, Why isn’t my name on any of this? All those bare rock formations and unmarred tree trunks are just begging to be graced with your artistic vision. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and your name isn’t on it, were you ever really there?

Some of these natural features have existed in pristine condition for thousands of years, but that’s just because no one as special as you has ever come along to improve them. Please be sure that when you paint your favorite quote from Entourage or your declaration that “Brent wuz here” on a magnificent rock face formed by eons of erosion, you use permanent acrylic paint so nothing will remove it.

Litter at Will

No natural landscape is complete without garbage. Otherwise, we might look out over the rolling hills and resplendent valleys and think they’ve been untouched by the hand of man. We urge you to litter so we can all look out upon the spectacular scenery and see the comforting sight of a plastic bag telling us to “Have a Nice Day” from the branches of a tree or, at the very least, an adorable ground squirrel making its nest inside a dirty diaper.

So, please, consider our national park your trash can or, in the case of RV campers, your personal sewage dump. Extra points if something you throw away becomes irreversibly tangled around the head of a rare, indigenous animal!

Trample the Vegetation

If the plants didn’t want to be walked on, they shouldn’t have grown in your way. Don’t worry about the fact that their roots are holding together the very ground you stand upon, preventing dangerous erosion and potentially catastrophic mudslides. Everyone knows mudslides are fun. That’s why they named an ice cream sundae after them.

We know some science suggests that healthy vegetation is part of a delicate ecosystem and that disrupting it can have damaging repercussions up and down the food chain, but who cares? The only food chain we care about serves hamburgers and doesn’t have a single plant on the menu. You can find several of these refreshment stations scattered throughout the park. Our flagship restaurant can be located inside a giant sequoia we killed and hollowed out for your dining pleasure.

Disregard Fire Safety

Please make a fire regardless of the day’s fire danger rating. The bigger the better. Your taxes pay for this park to be protected, so you have every right to turn as much of it into a blazing inferno as you see fit. We encourage you to bring fireworks, excessive amounts of lighter fluid, and plenty of lit cigarette butts that you can flick into the dry underbrush. If a semi-clothed talking bear approaches you, wishing to discuss fire safety, we recommend launching a Roman candle at it, as we find talking bears to be both unnatural and patronizing.

Take Whatever You Want

It has come to our attention in recent years that the worst part of vacationing in nature is that it lacks a gift shop. That’s why we allow guests to take whatever they find out on the trail. If you find yourself admiring the rocks, plants, or wildlife, please go ahead and take them home with you. If you find fossils, arrowheads, pottery shards, or any other artifacts of historical or cultural significance, feel free to take those, too. They’re probably clues to our mysterious collective human history, which should be carefully studied and preserved for the education of generations to come, but we know an object like that will mean so much more to you once you figure out how to turn it into a decorative lamp, necklace, or keychain. It’s what our ancestors would have wanted.

Ignore All Official Signage

Please stop reading this sign. We only put up signs so guests have a place to share their phallic design skills with the world. Besides, the only rule you need to remember at the National Park for Terrible People is this: Leave it worse than you found it.

Filed To: Nature / Animals / Bears / Adventure / Wildlife
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