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Firearms in National Parks: Can You Concealed Carry?

As temps grow warmer you might be tempted to head outdoors and enjoy the beauty of national parks, but can your guns go too? Come find out.

With warm weather on the horizon, many gun owners will be turning to the outdoors for a little getaway or adventure.

And the U.S. offers plenty of beautiful lands to enjoy, including some impressive hikes and camping spots at national parks.

6. Exercise Concealed Carry
John enjoying some outdoor time.

But with a number of national parks throughout the country and varying gun laws, it can be confusing when it comes to concealed carry in your favorite national park.

Is it legal? Can you do it without going to jail?


Fortunately, we’ve got you covered!

We’re going to run you through what laws are on the books regarding carry in national parks, what things you need to consider before packing, and any details that might throw a wrench in your weekend plans.

Armed with our guide here, you’ll be better informed than the average bear.

Yogi Bear
He can carry…can you? Keep reading to find out.

Disclaimer:  While the information provided here is legal in nature, it is not to be construed as legal advice and is for educational and entertainment purposes only. 

Table of Contents


Can I Carry in a National Park?

The short answer…yes.

Whether you’re camping in the wilderness of Yellowstone or just taking a stroll through the Gateway Arch, as long as you are legally allowed to possess a firearm in the state where the national park is located, you are allowed to carry the firearm. 

Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon…so pretty!

But don’t close this page just yet. Like with everything in life, the devil is in the details. 

Things to Consider

It’s important to keep in mind that many national parks span across multiple states.

While your possession of a firearm may be perfectly legal and permitted in one part of the park, another portion sitting in a different state might have different firearms laws.

And those laws might make it illegal for you to carry a gun.

Geography…it’s important.

Many states have reciprocity when it comes to concealed carry permits, recognizing CCW licenses of other states.

For example, if you have a CCW permit from Arizona, carrying your gun all throughout Yellowstone is permitted — whether you are in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho.

Concealing a Big Gun

All three of those states recognize an Arizona CCW permit, so you’re good.

However, this would not be the case if you took that same gun and your Arizona CCW permit to Yosemite in California. The Golden State does not recognize an Arizona CCW permit, so you would be in some hot water.

A visit to Yosemite would require you to leave the gun at home. 

California has some…unique laws.

(Want to read more on California laws: Check our guide here.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of other national parks in the country. So, it’s not a huge loss if you need to forgo that park.

In short, it’s worth looking into the national park, understanding what states it spans, and whether your CCW permit is recognized there before you arrive locked and loaded.

What About Buildings in National Parks?

All federal and state laws are still in effect, despite you being within a national park. What that means is the federal law that prohibits the possession of firearms in federal facilities still applies.

So, you can carry your firearm in the actual park itself, as long as the state laws allow it, but you cannot bring the gun into the ranger station, visitor center, or any other federal building — even with a recognized CCW permit. 

Federal Building Guns Warning

Thanks a lot, Ranger Smith. 

Need to head inside? The gun will need to be securely stowed in the car, or you’ll need to send a friend or family member inside instead.

Using a Firearm in a National Park

The most important thing to keep in mind when carrying your firearm in a national park…

You can’t use it for target practice. Like at all. Target practice is prohibited.

And unless you have a hunting permit, you can’t use your gun for hunting purposes inside the national park.

2. Deer Hunting 30cal
Hunting is a no go without a permit

Of course, if you absolutely need to use your gun in a self-defense situation, then that’s a different story. But that’s a story you’ll probably be explaining to the jury during your trial afterward.

So, to recap, don’t head to the park for plinking. Keep that to your local range.

Final Thoughts

The next time you plan a trip to a national park with the family, be sure to do a quick check of the gun laws of the state where the park is located. With any luck, it’ll be a state where your CCW permit is recognized.

Always Sunny Conspiracy Map
Me after mapping out all the places I can carry.

Avoid national parks in states without reciprocity and/or leave your gun at home if you plan on visiting. And remember, national park buildings count as federal buildings, so guns are prohibited.

With a little research, you can safely and securely enjoy some outdoor adventures!

What’s your favorite park to visit? Let us know in the comments below. Need some good CCW options? Check out our top recommendations for Concealed Carry Handguns!

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14 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    My favorite was in Yellowstone I could legally carry but I could not legally inter the outhouse. Literely a two seater shed around a hole in the ground.

    May 22, 2023 8:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    What states recognize a Nevada CCW?

    August 6, 2022 8:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You should look at this website it shows which states recognize a Nevada CCW, also check it before traveling, it changes and you want to be up to date on the information. I was told by my ccw instructor that the states change frequently.

      usconcealedcarry website or doing a google search for the information.

      November 19, 2022 11:43 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    What about National Forests?

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Can you shoot your gun to scare off a cougar or bear in a park?

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Bob

      try it and let us know

      March 16, 2021 5:54 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      PR Bob

      Park ranger here; no, you cannot.

      April 24, 2022 4:59 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        What if the animal is attacking yourself or another individual?

        May 9, 2022 6:24 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        Getting gored by bison?

        June 29, 2022 3:43 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Dennis Dunn

          you won’t be worried about pulling a firearm & you were to close if you provoke it.

          May 22, 2023 11:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis Dunn

      No, doing so will get you arrested. Use pepper spray and you are good to go.

      May 22, 2023 11:07 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Chuck Cochran

        And while Yogi uses your Pepper Spray as a Condiment to snack on your butt, you can write a note to your Congressman about how Unconstitutional Gun Laws in National Parks INFRINGE upon the 2nd Amendment.

        Teddy Roosevelt never intended any part of National Parks to be Gun Free/Restricted Zones, and would have told Ranger Rick to F**k Off.

        May 23, 2023 9:02 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Dennis Dunn

          Check out Grizzly attacks. The folks that were maimed or killed didn’t even see it coming. It was over that fast too. The guides in Alaska swear by pepper spray.

          May 24, 2023 7:53 am
          • Commenter Avatar
            Chuck Cochran

            If conditions are just right, pepper spray works.
            Just like some humans tolerate pepper spray, some even enjoying it. So does wildlife. I watched a Black Bear, get sprayed, shake it's head and resume charging.

            May 24, 2023 12:47 pm
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