Enjoy Mother Nature And Let The Next Person Do The Same.

We want everyone to get out and see all that the outdoors has to offer—and we want people to be able to do this for years to come. When you go camping you should be mindful that you are nature’s guest. You wouldn’t leave your friend’s guest house any less clean than the way you found it, the same rules should apply outdoors. Here are a few tips to help you tidy up and leave no trace.

1. What goes in must come out. The most basic of rules for no trace camping is that you leave with everything you came with. Before departing at the end of your trip, ask every member of your group to double check that they have everything they came with. This includes any trash you may have accumulated and depending on where you are might include human waste.

2. Shine your shoes. This tip is something that is often overlooked. And yes, we are telling you to clean your shoes—your mom isn’t the only one who will nag you over this. If you’re a frequent hiker or outdoors adventurer, your shoes will show it—maybe not to the human eye though. Chances are your shoes will have picked up some type of tiny invasive species that could be devastating if introduced to a new environment. So take a minute or two to give your shoes a good wipedown before taking them to trek through new lands.

3. Pack smart when it comes to meals. Remember no trace camping means that you need to take everything with you when you go. Pack your meals with the knowledge that everything you pack will need to be carried with you on the way there an back. Pack lightweight meals and consider packaging them in a way that makes sense. Many campers package meals by day or by meal, for example packaging all breakfast items together.

4. Find hard surfaces to set up camp. By setting up your tent on a durable patch of land you minimize destruction to the earth below. If you overlook this item and set up on a soft place, you are more likely to trample vegetation—even if you’re only planning to stay for a couple of days.

5. Minimize fires. Check first to see if fires are even allowed in your area. Some places don’t allow fires ever and some sites will only allow them sometimes depending on weather conditions. If it’s too dry, you won’t be allowed to set one at all. Some sites do not allow you to gather firewood so plan ahead and bring your own if this is the case. Obviously fires can devastate any nearby vegetation and organisms. You don’t need to forgo fires if they are allowed in your campsite. But you do need to be mindful when you set a fire. Don’t build it bigger than is necessary.

6. Tread lightly. Stick to trails that have already been cleared, especially if you have many people in your party. For most campsites, there are clear designated trails. Carrying a map with you can help you stick to the right places. In addition, when hiking in a large group, you’re more likely to leave a mark. Consider breaking off into smaller groups instead to minimize impact on the earth.

7. Look don’t touch. When you find something really cool in the wild, it’s tempting to take it home to your really cool house. Resist the temptation and enjoy it in it’s natural habitat instead. It probably looks better in the wild than in your home anyways.

8. Give wildlife room to be wild. Leave a good distance between you and any wildlife you encounter. Remember you’re entering their home. Respect that and give them space.

9. Don’t add to any waterways. So much of the wildlife depends on waterways for survival and/or their home. It is extremely important you do not allow anything to pollute the water. Keep any soap or waste out of the water to keep it safe for future campers and the animals that rely on it.

10. When in doubt give a shout. When you have a question about whether or not what you are doing is safe for the environment or adhering to local regulations take a moment to reach out to local parks and recreation officials. They work hard to keep campsites in tip-top shape for campers and the wildlife that calls them home; they won’t mind taking a moment to answer your questions about keeping it that way. In fact, they’ll probably appreciate your concern.

These tips provided by Garden & Gun Land, a community that believes in an authentic sense of place and an inherent responsibility to the natural world.