What to remember when exploring the outdoors

MISSOULA - According to a Independence Day travel survey by Trip Advisor, some of the most popular Fourth of July getaway destinations include national park visits and mountain outings.

Montana is full of both mountains to hike and national parks to visit, but there are some important safety things you should know before heading outdoors.

"What better place to celebrate your Fourth of July weekend holiday than our public lands, but we also want you to be safe out there," said Dan Hottle, U.S. Forest Service public affairs officer.

Hottle said that the most important thing to do is have a plan before you start your adventure, and to stop by your local U.S. Forest Service office for a map.

It is also important to check for current road, trail and campground conditions by contacting the forest service. Make sure to check the weather before as well and bring a spare change of clothes in case it takes a turn for the worse.

Many trails and roads may not be open at higher elevations due to snow or to trees that have fallen across trails and roads. Remember to stay on trails and don't create new ones to get around hazards.

"We want people to experience the forest and the grasslands for many generations, so we ask that you leave the fireworks at home, bring your camping gear and your toys and your friends but please leave your fireworks at home, they're not allowed in the national forests," said Hottle.

Fireworks are illegal in all national forests and there will be extra patrols out this Fourth of July weekend to watch for firework violations.

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