In 1991 US Forest Service partnered up with National Outdoor Leadership School and the Bureau of Land Management to teach Leave No Trace. Today this program is managed by the Leave No Trace Center for outdoor Ethics in Colorado (since 1994). Its purpose is to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation. Big thanks to Diana Moy and Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park for giving us this checklist.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Know rules and regulations
    • Prepare for weather and possible emergencies (10 essentials!)
    • Avoid times of high use
  2. Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces
    • What are durable surfaces – surfaces that are resistant to impact
      • Rocks
      • Gravel
      • Dry grasses
      • Snow
    • Concentrate use in designated campsites and trails
      • If using pristine areas, disperse!
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet and/or muddy.
    • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet away from water bodies
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Pack it in, pack it out!
    • Plan meals
      • Avoid generating messy, smelly garbage.
    • Repackage
    • Proper human waste disposal
        • Biffy bags
        • Portable toilets
      • Cat holes
        • 6-8in deep at least 200ft from water, camp, trails, and drainages
        • Do not leave toilet paper or other hygiene products in cat holes
      • Urine
        • Not typically a health concern
        • Urinate away from camps and trails and in rocks/bare ground
          1. Urine attracts wildlife with salt-deficient diets.
      • Wastewater
        • 200ft away from water bodies
        • Minimize use of soaps and lotions 
  4. Leave What You Find
    • Exploring our wildlands and discovering things and evidence of earlier cultures is exhilarating, and it’s tempting to take such things as souvenirs!
    • Laws protect both natural and cultural resources
    • Help avoid spreading non-native species
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
    • Use stoves
    • Minimum impact campfires
      • Use established fire rings
      • Pan fires
      • Use dead and downed wood
        • Smaller than the diameter of your wrist
      • Safety
        • Never leave a fire unattended
        • Have a shovel handy
        • Burn the wood completely to ash
        • Saturate the ash with water, make sure is cool to touch
  6. Respect Wildlife
    • Observe form a distance
    • Avoid sensitive times
    • Never feed animals
    • Store food and trash securely
    • Control your pets
  7. Be Considerate of other Visitors
    • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience
    • Yield to others on the trails
    • Let nature’s sounds prevail

© 2019 Celebration of Our Mountains, El Paso, TX, USA, a 501c3 organization