Memorial Day weekend brings many people outdoors, but it is essential to do so safely. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) provide tips on how others can recreate responsibly over the three-day weekend.

One of the first tips is to plan ahead: check for available facilities and prepare for possible closures in certain areas. Pack food and other essential items like sleeping bags and warm clothes. Check the status of places you plan to visit, don’t go if it is closed, and have a backup plan if the area is overcrowded.

Small groups of people are encouraged when visiting outdoor areas. Choose low-risk activities like fishing, camping, and hiking. This helps reduce injuries by using First Responders. When recreating outdoors, take everything you brought at the end of the trip to respect public land and surrounding activities. Pick up any trash and leave the area exactly how it was found.

Try to limit long-distance travel by exploring local state parks or wilderness areas. It is also important to respect wildlife and their habitat. If you encounter any wildlife, keep your distance and do not feed them or encourage interactions.

FWP also reminds people to stay “bear aware” when outdoors. Make sure to carry bear spray and know how to use it. Bears avoid areas where they know humans are near, so make noise in thick forest areas and nearby streams. Watch for any signs of bears, such as bear scat, partially consumed animals, overturned rocks, diggings, or torn-up logs. Avoid any areas with carcass sites nearby. And of course, if you do see a bear, do not approach it. 

Those camping in bear country, keep the campsite clean and don’t keep food or other attractants in tents. If there are bear signs, camp away from the area. Abide with bear food storage regulations by hanging food, trash, and other potent items at least ten feet above the ground and four feet away from any vertical support.

Following these tips will help guarantee a fun, safe Memorial day weekend and summer.