Campers with a love for the great outdoors are well aware of how impactful human recreation can be on the environment. While most of us take great care to not harm our surroundings, we can never be reminded of Leave No Trace principles enough.
The seven Leave No Trace principles promote responsible outdoor recreation by building awareness, appreciation and respect for public lands, and keeping ourselves and other safe.
Plan ahead and prepare
Zion National Park is one of the most visited parks in the U.S., which requires extra care on our behalf. This means careful planning around weather conditions and trail closures, and being prepared in advance with lodging reservations and backcountry hiking permits. Bring enough food and water for the duration of your camping trip, carry maps, and check with rangers before hitting the trail. Camper safety depends on advance preparation, good judgment and constant awareness of your surroundings, both at camp and on the trails.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Use established campsites on hard-packed soil when possible. Camp at least 200 feet from roads, trails and water sources. If you’re wilderness camping, don’t set up your campsite on vegetation, and always stay on the main trail to avoid damaging ecosystems. Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.
Dispose of waste properly
Pack in what you pack out, whether that’s trash, food or human waste. This includes food scraps, toilet paper and other personal trash. Use designated toilets, showers and sinks at established campgrounds. For primitive camping, bury human waste 6 to 8 inches deep, and at least 200 feet from camp, trails or bodies of water.
Leave what you find
Leave your surroundings as or better than you found them. Look at but don’t touch flora and historical artifacts. Avoid introducing non-native species to the campsite or surrounding area. A camera is your best friend when it comes to capturing camping memories, but please share photos responsibly and consider the impact social media has in the over-promotion of nature.
Minimize campfire impacts
Campfires are a camping classic but they can also be destructive if not carefully maintained and put out. Keep campfires small and only where permitted. Buy or use locally sourced wood to avoid introducing foreign pests or diseases into the environment. Make sure your campfire is completely smothered before leaving.
Let wildlife be wild. Watch from a distance and do not approach, feed or touch animals in and around Zion National Park. Only bring pets to campgrounds that specifically permit them, and keep them leashed where required. Remember that pets are not allowed in Zion National Park or Zion backcountry.
Be considerate of other visitors
Show respect for other campers by keeping voices down and setting up camp away from trails. Noise pollution can be disturbing, too, to both wildlife and other campers. Be courteous of the campground and on the trails. Most importantly, remember that we are all there for the same reason: to enjoy nature.
If you pack it in, please pack it out. Stay on designated trails and roads. And always respect and protect the beautiful landscape, natural resources and wildlife habitats. Leave No Trace best practices can help us preserve and enjoy our outdoor spaces for years to come.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Leave No Trace, the movement is getting back to basics with Summer Under the Stars, a summer-long camping challenge designed to help campers connect with nature, family and friends. Zion Crest Campground has established campsites on the eastern plateau above Zion National Park. The new tent campground includes restrooms, a shower house, and access to Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort amenities including the swimming pool, hot tub, dining facilities and more.