ARTICLE OVERVIEW: 7 Leave No Trace Principles
7 Leave No Trace Principles reign over the use of nature and the wilderness. Commonly shortened to LNT, the topic can spell TNT among different groups of outdoor enthusiasts. In this article, we’re going to describe the 7 principles of Leave No Trace and give good and bad examples of each.
In short, the 7 principles of Leave No Trace aim to minimize the evidence of human activity so future visitors can enjoy pristine, undamaged natural areas.
Some guidelines came from a lack of education, like why orange peels and human waste deposits could harm nature. Others tapped into a love of animals, offering food when wildlife appeared hungry. What harm could that do? Sometimes, it was just to see wildlife at a closer view. A proliferation of vandalism, taking precious resources, and trampling fragile environments also fed the LNT machine.
Yep, even the family dog can be a focus of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles and resulting controversy. As you can see from my profile photo, I love taking my dogs with me in nature – when it’s allowed and with respect to the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.
Honestly, some of the principles of Leave No Trace are common sense and courtesy. Others bring awareness. Some elicit controversy. We welcome your comments and feedback in the comments section below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
Table of contents: 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
- Leave No Trace Brief History
- The 7 Principles Simplified
- Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly
- FAQs of Leave No Trace Waste Disposal
- Leave No Trace Principle 4: Leave What You Find
- FAQs of Taking Things from National Parks & Forests
- Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Principle 6: Respect Wildlife
- Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 7 Leave No Trace Principles: Laws, Rules, or Guidelines?
- Can Violating Leave No Trace Ruin Your Life?
- How to Teach Kids Leave No Trace Principles
- Final Thoughts on Leave No Trace Principles
- List of 7 Leave No Trace Principles
- Helpful Related Links
Leave No Trace Brief History
It’s important to note that managing federal public lands dates back just 120 years or so at most. The focus initially was on building trails, roads, and lodging (when applicable), allowing people to enjoy the site.
Another key point is the differences between a National Park and a National Forest, which are each under a different department at the federal level. Slight differences in purpose, such as preserving lands in National Parks while opting for multi-use plans in National Forests, can make LNT even more confusing.
Through decades of growing outdoor enjoyment, missteps like letting tourists feed bears or opening a full kitchen to feed thousands in Carlsbad Caverns, park officials began to see the impact on nature.
Crowds haphazardly walked off trails, not thinking twice about if it was an issue. Were we loving our public lands to their own demise?
Formalizing Leave No Trace Inc.
By 1987, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management began the first formal program about Leave No Trace Land Ethics. It focused on wilderness and backcountry experiences.
1994 brought the independent Leave No Trace, Inc., an independent but collaborative entity to help educate visitors through the agencies that oversee public and (now) state lands. In the past 30 years, the principles have been reviewed, debated, and enhanced while whittling them down to seven key points.
However, it’s critical to know the specific interpretation of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace at any location you visit. For example, eliminating the use of rock cairns is one pillar of LNT, yet some parks still use them as guidance. As another example, following the campfire guidance of Leave No Trace means nothing if you’re in a burn ban area.
NOTE: Several organizations argued and fought for better wilderness care and ethics surrounding outdoor use before the 1990s. However, in the 90s, a quorum of agreement finally emerged. We do not want to negate prior efforts to protect our lands.
The 7 Principles Simplified
A man visiting Yellowstone thinks he’s doing a good deed by helping a bison calf separated from the herd cross the river. Two lovebirds scratch their initials into a tree at Montezuma Castle National Monument. A hiker has an urge and leaves human waste behind a tree, assuming it’s organic matter.
These three examples describe people not realizing the impacts of Leave No Trace and, at times, violating laws. Let’s take the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace one by one to simply explain the rationale and give examples of bad examples and best practices.
Each principle comes with several bullet points to help clarify.
Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare
Following the calling card of the Boy Scouts, this simply means to be prepared for your activity, wether it’s a few hours or months on the Appalachian Trail. That means a lot more than wearing the right shoes and sunscreen. Here’s a breakdown:
Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit
It’s incumbent on you to remove any possibility of saying, “But I didn’t know that wasn’t allowed” when visiting a specific location. This holds especially true with the number of new permits, timed entry, and reservations spreading across national parks and top sites, like Half Dome at Yosemite and Angels Landing at Zion.
Here are a few examples:
- Yosemite National Park bans bear spray. Yellowstone National Park encourages its use and sells it at the park. Acadia National Park offers no winter front or backcountry camping. Denali National Park has one winter campsite open.
- Dogs are generally limited in national parks but have much more access to national forests. If you do bring your dog, now you are responsible for two creatures following the Leave No Trace principles.
Take advantage of visitor centers, social media sites, and contact information for each public land. Even getting a wilderness permit in person is required in many places, so last-minute concerns and questions can be addressed.
Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies
As I write this, an atmospheric river is churning over California. Many parks and forests face the wrath of this precipitation onslaught. Not a time to be caught in Kings Canyon or Redwoods without preparing.
It also includes things like bringing an avalanche probe, transceiver, and shovel when tackling the Harding Icefield Trail at Kenai Fjords when an avalanche risk is in place. Plus, are you even skilled at mountaineering? (If you have to Google “What is mountaineering?” you aren’t.)
Download the NPS App to get all park alerts while following the National Weather Service site near your location. Heck, call the local newsroom there and ask to speak to a meteorologist. I ran newsrooms for many years – they’re happy to talk about weather risks with you.
Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use
The best times to visit public lands are when the fewest people are there, under this principle. That doesn’t mean avoiding Zion in the summer necessarily. It means considering a weekday visit instead of the 4th of July weekend.
It can also include skipping Half Dome in the summer and trying a trial like Clouds Rest. At Zion, head to Kolob Canyon, where visitor traffic is six times lower than the south entrance.
You’ll notice national parks are trying to limit high-use times with timed entry or vehicle reservations.
Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into smaller groups
Groups should be as small as possible to minimize potential impact on the environment and avoid overcrowding trails and campsites. What is considered “small” can vary depending on the location and conditions.
A good rule of thumb is that a “small group” is 2-6 people for hiking and backpacking. For areas more sensitive or popular areas, keep groups under 4 people. Going back to the first point, it’s up to you to find out what the restrictions are for campsites vs. group campsites or specific group trial limits at your preferred location.
Repackage food to minimize waste
In short, proper meal planning and food repackaging help preserve the natural state of the outdoors by containing, reducing, and removing waste and garbage that is unavoidably created. It’s about utilizing gear and supplies in a sustainable way.
Plus, when you’re expected to carry out what you carry in, this helps plan to lighten the load.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of rock cairns, flagging, or marking paint
Using a map and compass to navigate helps minimize human impact on natural landscapes. Building rock cairns or using flagging tape and marking paint leaves behind unnatural traces and materials that alter pristine environments.
These markings can also confuse other visitors and disrupt wildlife habitats and migration patterns by increasing access to sensitive areas. Instead, relying on non-permanent navigation methods promotes self-reliance in the wilderness, preserves natural aesthetics for all to enjoy, and upholds the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.
Another reason checking the park rules is critical is this – places like Canyonlands National Park use rock cairns to help people navigate the barren rock trails.
Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Choosing the best-suited location for camping involves minimizing damage to landscapes and vegetation. Camping on resistant surfaces like rock, gravel, sand or compacted soil prevents vegetation loss and erosion. These sites better withstand repeated use without new trails forming.
Traveling on established trails also concentrates impact and prevents widening trails that disturb additional soil and plants. Walk in pairs or single-file lines to reduce your impact. Avoid walking around mud if it means going off the trail, even by a few inches.
Plus, many trails are cut to protect certain ecosystems for plants, trees, flowers, and wildlife. Going off the path can cause problems that take a long time to heal. In the wilderness, stick to these durable surfaces when exploring.
Most public lands will have designated “large group” or “family” campsites created for a certain number of people. That’s intentional to follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.
Another pillar of this principle is camping more than 200 feet away from a “riparian” area – that means water. Stay at least 200 feet away from lakes, rivers, shorelines, and even streams.
Camping too close can contaminate water with trash, food waste, human waste, or chemical residue from soap and detergent runoff. Riparian zones harbor some of the most diverse plants and wildlife as water sources. Foot traffic and camping near watercourses often result in vegetation loss and shoreline disruption that causes erosion risks.
When dispersed camping, keep your campsite small and choose an area that has little evidence of a previous campsite.
Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly
This Leave No Trace principle might be considered one of the most commonly violated. That’s especially true for people who don’t like the idea of carrying trash, pet waste, or human waste around with them. Guess what? NOBODY LOVES THAT. They just love Earth.
The guidance from Leave No Trace states:
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled food. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Burning trash is never recommended.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Bury toilet paper deep in a cathole or pack the toilet paper out along with 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.
“Properly” Is Park or Forest Specific
On the other hand, “properly” means different things to different lands. During your 7 Leave No Trace Principles research, you should find out if the place you are visiting allows you to bury human waste or requires you to carry it out.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park wants you to carry your waste with you and prohibits burying it. You also must have an eco-friendly commercial toilet bag for it.
- White Sands prefers that you carry it out to lessen the impact but doesn’t ban burying it. All buried waste must be at least 30 yards from the trail.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park encourages you to go at least 100 feet from the trail and bury waste.
Consider an option like these portable toilet bags for Pack It In, Pack It Out locations when you need to go. In any event, if the closest restroom, outhouse, or pit toilet (privy, as they call it) is one-quarter of a mile away, use that.
Some locations allow you to bury toilet paper; others allow burying waste but require you to carry out the toilet paper.
FAQs of Leave No Trace Waste Disposal
I want to highlight this section since so many discussions surround food items like orange peels or apple cores. Not to mention the heated debate about dog poop vs wildlife poop vs human poop.
Let’s rapid-fire the most common myths and questions about this topic.
“It’s an orange peel/apple core/banana peel – it’s biodegradable!”
Fruit waste like apple cores and orange peels break down slowly, attract animals, are considered litter, and can spread seeds—so Leave No Trace principles say to pack out these and any other foods to minimize human impact on recreational areas.
If you’ve ever had a squirrel come up to you at the Grand Canyon begging for food, it was probably rewarded for that behavior at some point. By leaving scraps behind, you’re encouraging wildlife, putting humans and other animals at risk. In fact, squirrel bites are the most common visitor injury at Grand Canyon National Park.
“My dog is an animal. Animals poop in the woods. What’s the big deal?”
First of all, the 7 Leave No Trace Principles don’t distinguish between human waste and pet waste when it comes to disposing of it properly. However, pet waste should always be carried out with you.
Wildlife waste is natural to that area, replenishing the ecosystem with things from the ecosystem. Pet waste can contain pathogens, parasites, and bacteria that persist in soil for long periods of time, posing health risks to other visitors and contaminating water sources. Plus, even buried pet waste attracts wildlife.
DOG WASTE NOTE: And this one is for one of my best friends, Carolyn. I’m going to bold and italicize just for her – Removing pet waste does not mean bagging it and leaving it trailside or at the trailhead. Carry it out with you – all the way. To quote her, “There is no magic poop fairy that comes to clean up those bags.” Get yourself a smell-proof waste bag for hiking with pets where allowed.
Leave No Trace Principle 4: Leave What You Find
The bottom line on this fourth of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles is this – “finders keepers” does not apply in nature.
This includes only viewing cultural and historic items or buildings but not touching them. Leave the environment as untouched as possible for others to discover and enjoy in its original state.
That includes leaving the stunning wildflowers of Death Valley National Park alone while enjoying their beauty through photos. However, some Forest Service locations will allow some wildflower (berry, plant, rock) picking with a permit.
This also includes things like:
- Moving logs around to create a place to sit.
- Hammering nails into a tree for hanging a hammock.
- Taking just one seashell, rock, mineral, etc. (Imagine if every one of the 324,685,797 people who visited an NPS site took just “one” thing.)
FAQs of Taking Things from National Parks & Forests
The National Park Service says that wildflowers, rocks, gems, artifacts, fossils, and wood (petrified or driftwood) are the most commonly taken items from the park. Let’s hit the FAQs on this.
“The shell has no living animal in it. It’s fine to take.”
Taking even vacant seashells ultimately disrupts coastal ecosystems. Empty shells still provide homes and shelter for marine life, stabilize sediments, deliver nutrients back into the food chain as they decompose, and support future inhabitants.
Plus, allowing any shell removal promotes a mindset leading to overharvesting. Leave No Trace means conserving the shells’ ecological roles and the pristine nature of the intertidal environment overall by letting all shells remain undisturbed.
Important note here – several National Seashores do allow you to collect shells up to a certain size (usually 2-5 gallons). These locations are usually in areas with an overabundance of shells, like barrier islands.
“Nobody will notice. It’s just a rock/flower/shell.”
Did you know the National Park Service has an entire Investigative Services Branch to track down thieves? The tip line number is 888-653-0009. While mobile service doesn’t work in many wilderness areas, cameras sure do.
Just ask these people =====>
Check out this video from Death Valley’s Devil’s Hole, where the endangered pupfish live. They even thought they were smart enough to shoot out the cameras to avoid identification.
In addition, you never know if the rock or mineral you are taking is an artifact. Then, consider the most sacred place in your life. If someone took items from there, you’d be understandably upset. Many public lands were home to Indigenous Peoples who now consider taking items a desecration.
Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts
Circling around a campfire goes back to when humans first discovered how to make fire. Minimizing campfire impacts as part of Leave No Trace means enjoying campfires responsibly and reducing their negative environmental effects.
- Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle lantern for light.
- If fires are permitted and fire restrictions allow, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Keep fires small using wood on the ground in the campsite location.
- Burn wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
For those bringing firewood, learn about the Don’t Move Firewood rules. Wood carries invasive species and shouldn’t be brought long distances.
Following these precautions helps preserve the natural landscape and prevents wildfires by not leaving behind hot embers or charred fuel that could later ignite. The overall goal is to enjoy campfires safely while eliminating long-term impacts once you leave your site.
Principle 6: Respect Wildlife
Before educating myself on the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, I used to joke that if I was ever found dead in the wilderness, my last words were likely, “Who’s a good bear? You aren’t so tough, are you?” At the same time, I’ve felt defensive when people see my puppy Golden Retriever and say, “I’m just going to snatch you up and take you home with me!” Much like people muse when seeing a baby bison or a bear cub.
We get it – it’s tough to see something so majestic or rare and fight the urge to get closer.
Humans who are animal lovers or even those just curious about wildlife tend to anthropomorphize animals, assuming all bears are cuddly and bison are chill. The problem with disrespecting wildlife is that it puts your life and their life at risk.
Let’s go through what “respecting” wildlife means under the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.
Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Observing wildlife from a distance involves quietly watching animals in their natural habitats without disturbing them.
Choose a location far enough away that your presence doesn’t alter their behavior – generally at least 30-50 feet. Each location will have its own guidance for distance with certain animals.
Bring binoculars to get a close-up view from afar. Sit still and remain quiet, not making sudden movements. Let behaviors unfold naturally without interfering. Animals should be blissfully unaware of your presence. Making noise to get their attention is against the law.
HOT TIP: If you’re close enough to take a selfie, you’re too close.
Never feed animals.
You don’t want to feed wildlife for the same reason you don’t want your kids taking candy from the creepy white van. It’s dangerous.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics advises strongly against feeding wildlife. When humans provide food, animals can grow dependent and lose their ability to forage and hunt on their own.
Additionally, feeding encourages unnatural behavior as wild animals become habituated to humans. They may become more aggressive while seeking handouts or get hit by cars while approaching roads and trails for scraps.
Yellowstone National Park learned this lesson the hard way as for years, the public was allowed to feed animals, and resorts even dumped the trash in a field for a daily “show.”
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
A discreet scent of coffee is enough to lure most humans out of bed. Now, imagine being surrounded by 1,000 Starbucks in your neighborhood. Add to that – bears have a sense of smell that is 100 times greater than the average dog and 1,200 times greater than your sense of smell.
Suddenly it makes sense why a plastic bad or regular trash can won’t be enough to keep hungry bears, birds, or other animals from tracking the scent.
Using bear-proof containers provided on public lands and carrying your own set of bear-proof canisters offers the best protection for you and them.
If allowed, suspend all scented items at least 10 feet high and 4 feet out from trees when camping.
Keep in mind that this goes for everything – food scraps, wrappers, food packaging, snacks, even toothpaste! You don’t want to signal that your spot offers an easy meal. It could lead to future bear attacks, closures of the campground/trail, and potentially the animal being put down.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
For their own safety and to minimize disruption of the natural environment, pets are best left at home or kept on a 6-foot leash at all times.
Pets can disrupt and endanger themselves and wildlife by approaching, chasing, or attacking animals out of instinct or excitement. They can also bark loudly and disturb nesting birds, sleeping deer or elk, and other wildlife not accustomed to loud noise.
Dogs and cats hiking off-leash may chase creatures into unsafe terrain or become lost themselves while chasing a scent. Pet waste can spread disease and contaminate water sources if not disposed of properly.
BUT MY DOG IS TRAINED: As a dog lover, it took me a while to realize I was taking my dog with me for my own needs, not theirs. Even the best practices of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles don’t account for my sporting dog’s instincts to retrieve. Despite both pets being AKC-certified Good Canine Citizens, they weren’t tested against a bear or the rotting flesh of a moose.
At the same time, my dogs want to be dogs – bark, run, play. If you can believe it, not everyone thinks my dog or your dog is the cutest dog ever (GASP!). It poises itself as a stressful endeavor for everyone involved.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
So much of this ties back to Principle 1, meaning you should research the seasons for wildlife habits, including those leading to closures, restrictions, or danger.
During the elk rut season in parks, when the bugling calls provide a soundtrack, the animals are more likely to ram you or your car.
Scenes like this from Yellowstone in the fall go viral, but what if that’s your car?
Other examples include:
- Sea Turtle Nesting Season: The sweet little sea turtles have it hard enough. Leave the nests alone and report anyone messing with them to the officials. In Florida, light pollution is legally limited near the nests.
- Raptor Nesting Season: Visitors have gone so far as to give the Precipice Hike in Acadia low reviews because, as one person wrote on AllTrails, “Closing an extremely popular trail for bird nesting…” Do you WANT the faster bird in the world flying around you, defending its eggs while you hang from an iron rung?
- Injured Animals: Despite the best intentions, trying to rescue or help an animal could lead to the other animals in its pack rejecting it.
The reality is – nature is harsh, unforgiving, and purposeful. You are there to witness it respectfully, not interact.
Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The last on the list of 7 Principles of Leave No Trace aligns with the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would want done for you. It’s about respecting space and letting everyone find what they seek in nature.
Simple courtesies like parking efficiently to maximize space, traveling quietly to avoid disturbing their peace, and keeping voices low show respect. Speak no louder than a conversational tone unless you’re in bear territory, where it’s suggested you speak louder to alert bears to your presence.
Yield to other user groups and be patient if their pace doesn’t match yours. Your (awesome) dog barking likely ruins someone else’s vibe. Follow all posted regulations and be respectful of permit systems that limit group sizes.
Finally, respect the 7 Leave No Trace Principles, like packing out all trash so others aren’t met with litter.
Wild places have enough beauty to be shared by all through basic acts of consideration that minimize our collective footprint.
7 Leave No Trace Principles: Laws, Rules, or Guidelines?
When you hear the word “Principles” for Leave No Trace ethics, what does that really mean? Can you be ticketed, fined, or jailed for violating Principle #2? No.
The 7 Leave No Trace Principles are NOT laws. They offer practical advice and ethical recommendations for minimizing our impact on the environment while enjoying outdoor activities. These principles are widely accepted and promoted by outdoor organizations, land management agencies, and environmental advocates.
However, the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace can become elements of laws within the federal government, state parks, or local communities. The overlap between Leave No Trace principles and laws lies in their shared goal of environmental protection and responsible outdoor behavior.
Examples of Laws vs. Principles of Leave No Trace
While the principles themselves are not legally binding, they align with existing regulations and laws in various ways. Many times, public input is sought when major changes are under consideration.
At the federal level, an expectation to conform with the Wilderness Act of 1964 helps guide discussions when related to designated wilderness. One example of this is the fixed anchors for rock climbers in wilderness areas.
Since public lands like national forests and parks sit on federal land, a federal court must hear the complaint. That’s why former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan is facing federal charges for reportedly walking on Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. In addition, stepping on the fragile ecosystem is an egregious violation of Leave No Trace, in addition to being a life-threatening choice.
Collecting items from public lands is another overlap of Leave No Trace and laws. Places like Petrified Forest National Park can’t even stay open 24/7 because of all the theft and vandalism. It violates the 7 Leave No Trace Principles while also being against the National Park Service code.
Can Violating Leave No Trace Ruin Your Life?
Some believe that a higher power than an environmental organization, the National Park Service, or even Congress can enforce the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Hundreds of stories connect the stealing of items from national parks and curses, bad luck, karma, etc.
Our first example comes from Haleakala National Park, where the “Curse of Pele” is said to impact anyone who takes a rock or sand from the Hawai’i parks. Petrified Forest National Park even has a “Conscience Pile” of petrified wood stolen and returned with letters of apology. (You won’t find the pile anywhere in the designated areas of the park, but here are more things to do in Petrified Forest.)
Even with the best of
To read the emotional, heartwarming, and giggle-inducing letters sent to Petrified Forest National Park, check out Bad Luck, Hot Rocks by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr.
How to Teach Kids Leave No Trace Principles
Leave No Trace Principles for kids starts as soon as you introduce children to the outdoors. Enrolling them in organizations like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts that teach Leave No Trace offers a perfect outlet. Even 4H offers Leave No Trace training for kids.
Here are some tips for teaching kids Leave No Trace principles:
- Lead by example. Make sure you model the behaviors you want your kids to learn, like packing out all trash, not feeding wildlife, and staying on trails. Kids will follow your lead.
- Make it fun. Incorporate games, songs, and snacks that reinforce LNT principles. Use the easy-to-remember Leave No Trace hand signs.
- Keep it simple. Focus on just one or two principles at a time. Use kid-friendly language to explain why it matters, like protecting animals’ homes or keeping nature beautiful.
- Let them teach. After learning LNT, kids can proudly teach principles to siblings, friends, or other kids they meet outdoors. Teaching reinforces lessons.
- Give reminders. Gentle prompts help kids remember LNT principles if they get excited while exploring outdoors. A quick “Remember to stay on the trail” keeps them mindful.
Consistency, patience, and making the 7 Leave No Trace Principled fun will go a long way by teaching kids to protect the great outdoors!
Final Thoughts on Leave No Trace Principles
The 7 principles offer a great starting point to make the wilderness a wonderful experience for everyone. As time goes by, adjustments happen. For example, the Leave No Trace organization needed to address the use of social media outside and upon return.
I’ll end with this note since LNT causes fierce debates online and ongoing shaming and confrontations.
“Remember that everyone’s experience in the outdoors is unique and personal. Online shaming and bullying in the name of ‘Leave No Trace’ is never endorsed by the Leave No Trace nor is it an effective, long-term tool to influence choices in the outdoors. Instead, spread Leave No Trace awareness by engaging in respectful and meaningful conversations on and offline about protecting the outdoors.”LEAVE NO TRACE center for outdoor ethics
The Leave No Trace Principles come into play even when you’re documenting a hike or wilderness trip and posting it with trail data, waypoints, videos, or blogs. Are you showing responsible LNT practices? How often when you post your EPIC hike video are you punctuating the importance of Leave No Trace?
The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace aren’t perfect or absolute, but they tap into the biggest concerns we have about protecting our wilderness. Challenge yourself to start the Leave No Trace in Daily Life practice.
List of 7 Leave No Trace Principles
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Water Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
Pin 7 Leave No Trace Principles
Helpful Related Links
National Parks Books: 40 Wonderful National Parks Books You’ll Love
Gifts For Hikers: 32 Unique Gifts for Hikers They’ll Be Proud To Use
Best National Parks Ranked: ALL 63 US NATIONAL PARKS RANKED By Experts
Free Downloadable National Parks Map & List: LIST & MAP of National Parks By State (+ Printable Checklist)
Best National Monuments: All 128 US National Monuments Ranked (Best to Worst)
Best National Parks to Visit: 20 Best National Parks to Visit 2023
Largest National Parks: 15 Largest National Parks in the United States (+ Full List)
Most Visited National Parks: Top 10 Most Visited US National Parks
Least Visited National Parks: Top 10 Least Visited National Parks
Best East Coast National Parks: Top 10 Best East Coast National Parks Ranked