Having worked in Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons, and Death Valley National Park One of the greatest challenged we faced was getting the tourist to respect the park and follow the rules. We also had to deal with rude and disrespectful behavior towards us. The employees had a special name for these kinds of tourist. Here I give you the best pointers I can give you to make your experience in the National Park a memorable one and not become a Touron.
Do Your Research!
Are you a Touron? What is a Touron you ask?
The term Touron has been created and adopted by employees who work the National Parks and Tourist attractions. It is a combination of two words- Tourist Moron, which describes Tourist who goes on vacation and leaves their common sense behind. If you are on vacation or planning on going on vacation, this is the information you need in order for you to enjoy your vacation and avoid becoming a Touron. Most of this information is especially geared to those who will be visiting the National Parks such as Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, etc.
The very first thing you must do when planning your getaway vacation is to do your research thoroughly. Don’t assume that everything is going to go your way. Every destination still has rules and regulations that must be followed by everyone. Be sure you are aware of when the parks are open and when they will be closed. Most National parks are only open during the summer season- Mid-May through the last week in September. Do not go on vacation to a park that closes at the end of September and expect to find anything open. Most general Stores and restaurants will be closed and you will be hours away from the closest place to find something to eat. Tourons have been known to arrive at the end of the season and get upset and argue with the remaining staff because they have nowhere to get something to eat. They failed to do their research before going on vacation. Don’t be a Touron! Do your research and do not get upset with others over your lack of preparation.
National Parks are not only popular for their beauty and experiencing nature at its best, but the restaurants are also the heartbeat of these parks and it is where it seems so many Tourons forget their manners and common sense.
First of all, if you are visiting a National Park by bus through a tour agency and you are given meal vouchers, please be considerate when coming to the restaurant for your meal. If you know that your bus is leaving at a certain time, do not come to the restaurant 30 minutes before your bus is supposed to leave and expect to receive immediate service. Tour groups do not get priority seating just because you are part of a tour. People from all over the world are also here to visit the park and to enjoy dining in the restaurants. If the restaurant becomes full, you will have to be put on a wait list for a table and being a part of a tour group does not give you priority over other guests who are also waiting for tables. If you know your bus leaves at a certain time and you want to make sure you have time to eat, be sure to arrive at the restaurant early enough so that you can be accommodated. Yelling, screaming, or being demanding to a Host at a restaurant will not get you a table any sooner but may get you and your tour group banned from that restaurant. Often times the tour guides and bus drivers are the worst when it comes to being demanding. Be patient if you have to be put on a waitlist, everyone will be working very hard to seat you as soon as possible. If you don’t have time to wait on a table because you arrived later and your bus will be leaving soon, that is not the problem of the restaurant and I will say again…. You will not be given priority over other Guests who are also waiting to be seated just because you have to catch a bus. Getting to the restaurant on time is your responsibility. If your tour group has dinner reservations and your tour is late for those reservations, be aware that it is the responsibility of your tour guide and a bus driver to get you there on time. If your group does not arrive on time for those reservations, they will be canceled and your group be considered walk-ins and will be seated whenever an opening is available. Guests who come in on time for their reservations will have priority over any late arrivals. Do not demand to be seated if you are late. Be courteous and patient and they will do their best to seat you as soon as possible. For international Guests, please be sure that you always have at least one person who speaks English so that communication between the restaurant worker and you goes much easier. Restaurant workers are not required to learn different languages, it is up to you to provide an interpreter if you do not speak English. (Of course, you could not read this at the moment if you do not speak English but perhaps you are someone with the capability to be an interpreter and teach these rules to others).
Once you are at your table, do not treat your server as if they are your personal servants. Servers are often taking care of 5 or more tables at a time and they work very hard to satisfy each of their Guests. They bring out your meals only as quickly as the cooks in the kitchen can fix those meals. Be patient and considerate that your server is also taking care of other tables. Every table is a priority to them and they will take care of you the best way they can. Parents….. Do NOT allow your children to run around the restaurant. Servers are constantly carrying around very large trays filled with food and dishes. They are often moving around quickly and will not be able to see your kids if they get in their way. It will cause a huge mess if those trays fall and you will be upset with the server over something that could have been avoided if you had taken the responsibility to stop your kids from running around and kept them in their seat. It may be their job to serve you, but they are not paid enough to deal with abusive and disrespectful behavior from you. If you are having a bad day, do not take it out on your server. They are doing everything they can do to make sure you have a great experience. Remember that they also get paid less than minimum wage and depend on tips for their income. Don’t be a Touron who comes in demanding all kinds of service from a server then bails out without leaving a tip even when they provided you with excellent service. A respectful Tourist will be patient and will communicate respectfully with their server.
Parking and Traffic Rules
The majority of national parks and tourist attractions will provide ample spaces for parking. Just because you are on vacation does not give you the right to park any way you want just because you want to be close to an entrance. Be respectful and park in designated areas only. Do not block roadways or streets where another vehicle is forced to go around you. This can cause an accident to happen. If there is a No Parking sign that means you cannot park in that area. Do not park in a disabled parking spot unless you have a disabled plaque on your vehicle. Always pay attention to road signs. A Stop sign means you come to a complete stop. If you are at a four-way stop at an intersection the vehicle that arrived at the stop sign first has the right of way. When coming to a Yield sign or pedestrian crossing sign, be sure to slow down and look for pedestrians who are walking. You don’t have to stop unless there are people crossing the road but you must always slow down when approaching one of these signs. This is all common sense, right? Not when Tourons are on vacation.
When you are driving through a park always obey the speed limit signs. They are there for a reason. If you drive slower than what the speed limit is and you see traffic building up behind you, be considerate and pull over at the next available place and allow that traffic to pass you. On the flip side, if you are behind a vehicle that is driving slower or following the speed limit signs and you want to pass them, be sure you have a clear view before attempting to pass them. Do not pass anyone if you cannot see what is up ahead, especially on an upcoming curve or over a hill. There is nowhere you need to be in such a hurry that you will risk your own life or the lives of others. Be patient and wait until you have a long clear path. Besides, you are in a National Park…. Stop being in such a rush and take time to enjoy the drive and the view.
Wildlife traffic is the most frustrating of all to encounter and where you are in danger of becoming a frustrating Touron. It is understandable that everyone wants to capture that great and perfect shot when they encounter wildlife on the road. But do not stop your vehicle in the middle of the road! There are people trying to get on down the road who have seen plenty of wildlife. If you cannot pull over safely and get out of the road, you have to continue on and allow traffic to go through. Although the wildlife may be holding up traffic by walking down the middle of the road, it does not give you the right to get out of your car in the middle of the road and hold up others behind you. Stay in your car so as the wildlife moves on so will you and the traffic behind you.
Respect All Wildlife
Speaking of Wildlife….. The wildlife in National parks run wild and free. The park is their home you are just a visitor to their home. Park service and employees are not responsible as to where the animals go. They are free roaming and you never know where they will appear. These animals may be cute and fascinating to watch, but they are wild animals and they will act accordingly, including attacking people who get too close… Tourons. These beautiful wild animals will see you as a threat if you approach them and get too close just to take a picture. Too many Tourons have been attacked by these animals because they refuse to take the advice of the park service when they are given instructions to keep away from these animals. It is your responsibility as a visitor to follow all the rules of the park. The wildlife in these parks are not pets or zoo animals. They are wild and dangerous. Always leave wildlife alone and do not interfere with their activities in any way. Do not leave your garbage all over the place as some products are a danger to the wildlife and the environment as well. If you interfere or get too close to the wild animals and they attack you, it is your own fault and not the fault of park employees.
Extreme Landscapes- Stay Safe
National Parks have a natural beauty and the landscape all around can be breathtaking. At the same time, there are many dangers in these remote and beautiful places. The Park Service strives to keep the landscape as natural as possible. Therefore there are still many canyons and waterfalls that do not have safety rails or borders. It is your responsibility to stay as safe as possible and keep your children safe. Therefore, do not stand up on top of a rock wall that overlooks a deep canyon. Rocks can be slippery and one false move or trip can send you plunging over the edge to your death. If something looks dangerous, then it probably is. Parents…. The National Parks are not a playground where you allow your children to run wild and free. You must have control of them at all times. Take the same precaution with your children that you have to take for yourself. Rock walls and cliffs are dangerous and should never be walked on. Always stay within the designated paths because they are keeping you from dangerous situations.
Enjoy The Beauty Of Nature. Be A Tourist- Not A Touron
National Parks are available for everyone to enjoy. They are a sanctuary to the natural environment and the wildlife that lives in them. It is not a free for all where you can behave however you want to. You must have respect for the environment, the wildlife and the employees who are working here to ensure that you have a memorable experience. Most of the things I wrote I’m sure you feel are common sense. But it will amaze you how people who go on vacation seem to lose all their everyday common sense. It’s like they pack everything they need for their trip except their common sense. Don’t be a Touron…. be a Tourist. Always be respectful and considerate of others, the wildlife, and the environment. Enjoy the park and remember to pack your common sense!