Minimum Impact—Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace concept is a simple set of seven principles that can be applied to any natural setting to minimize human impact on the environment.
Whether you are hiking, camping, or out for an afternoon drive, following the Leave No Trace principles will help protect and preserve the environment for you and other visitors.
Help ensure that future generations may also experience a pristine wilderness by using the "Minimum ImpactLeave No Trace" techniques. The following backcountry travel tips are based on principles developed by the national "Leave No Trace" program.
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4 to 6. Maximum group size allowed in most areas is 15.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns, or flagging.
- Treat stream and lake water before using. Bring water to a rolling boil or filter it to remove harmful organisms.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants, and other natural object as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting nonnative species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- See American Antiquities Act of 1906.
- See Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.
Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Desert Hiking and Climbing Trails
A list of links to articles and park trail guides.
Desert Hiking and Travel
Be aware of the hazards of desert travel both in winter and summer.
Leave No Trace
Teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly,
Promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.
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