A park is an area of natural, semi-natural, or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. It may consist of grassy areas, rocks, soil, and trees, but may also contain buildings and other artifacts such as monuments, fountains or playground structures. In North America, many parks have fields for playing sports such as soccer, baseball and football, and paved areas for games such as basketball. Many parks have trails for walking, biking and other activities. Some parks are built adjacent to bodies of water or watercourses, and these parks may comprise a beach or boat dock area. Often, the smallest parks are in urban areas, where a park may take up only a city block or less. Urban parks often have benches for sitting and they may contain picnic tables and barbecue grills. Parks have differing rules regarding whether dogs can be brought into the park: some parks prohibit dogs; some parks allow them with restrictions (e.g., use of a leash); and some parks, which may be called "dog parks," permit dogs to run off-leash.
The largest parks can be vast natural areas of hundreds of thousands of square kilometres (thousands of square miles), with abundant wildlife and natural features such as mountains and rivers. In many large parks, camping in tents is allowed with a permit. Many natural parks are protected by law, and users may have to follow restrictions (e.g., rules against open fires or bringing in glass bottles). Large national and sub-national parks are typically overseen by a park ranger or a park warden. Large parks may have areas for canoeing and hiking in the warmer months and, in some northern hemisphere countries, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in colder months.
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