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Is It Legal to Smoke In National Parks?

Whether you smoke or not, you might find yourself interested in knowing the smoking policies at national parks.

If you’re you’re sensitive to smoke, you may need to know which areas to avoid. If you smoke, you’ll want to know the regulations for national parks so you can come prepared for how and where to work in your smoke breaks. 

Let’s take a look!

Can You Smoke Cigarettes In National Parks? 

There are strict regulations on smoking in national parks. The National Park Service prohibits smoking in all its buildings and most public spaces. Those wishing to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas.

Each park determines which areas they want to designate as smoking areas. To be sure, you’ll want to speak to a ranger for further clarification as to where you can smoke. 

Can You Smoke Inside Your RV at National Park Campgrounds?

No. The National Park Service has implemented a policy that prohibits smoking in campsites, picnic areas, and other public use areas within the park. This includes vehicles, which would include RVs and travel trailers.

Cigarette Smoking’s Impacts on the Environment

The National Park Service has effected smoking restrictions for various reasons, one of which is environmental. Littering of any kind is prohibited, and cigarette butts can quickly add up in highly visited areas. Restricting the places visitors can smoke helps keep the cigarettes from littering these high traffic spaces.  

In addition to reducing litter, there are areas of the park where smoking is especially harmful and even downright dangerous. Many national parks are prone to wildfires, which can devastate the park and the wildlife within it. A single discarded cigarette can burn thousands of acres of forest, and the occurrence, unfortunately, is not uncommon. 

For example, Yellowstone has many areas with high levels of sulfur. Sulfur fires can produce dangerous fumes, so rangers strictly enforce the no-smoking policy to protect visitors and staff.

Smoking or even possessing marijuana is illegal in national parks. Though national parks find themselves located within individual states, they’re technically federal land.

Because of this, they fall under federal jurisdiction. So, you must still follow federal mandates even if you’re visiting a national park in a state where marijuana is legal. State laws do not override federal regulations on national lands. 

Consequences of Being Caught With Marijuana On Federal Land

The same consequences of being caught with marijuana on any other federal land apply to national parks. People caught with marijuana on federal land are likely looking at a $5,000 fine and possible jail time.

In addition, penalties are higher for repeat offenders. It’s best not to bring any amount of marijuana to a national park, even if the surrounding state has legalized it.

Can You Vape in National Parks? 

In 2017, the National Park Service revised its smoking policies to include e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery systems.

Therefore, all national parks adhere to the same policies regarding smoking and vapes. In other words, the National Parks Service restricts vaping in all its parks, especially in public buildings and hiking trails.

As a result, you should only vape in designated smoking areas.

The National Park Service has vague terminology even after digging deep into its publications. But it’s clear that they lump all cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and nicotine delivery systems together.

Therefore, you can assume the consequences for the two actions are the same.

Rangers may ask you to move to a designated smoking area if you’re found using cigarettes or e-cigarettes outside of one. If you refuse to comply with their requests, you’ll likely face fines, eviction, and/or potential jail time.

Smoking & National Parks

For those who smoke, finding a place to do so in a national park can be challenging. The federal government created the National Park System to preserve and protect our nation’s most beautiful landscapes and animal habitats.

Keeping our national parks safe and free of litter is an important step in ensuring future generations can enjoy them for years to come.

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