Leave No Trace principles are designed to help you "explore the outdoors sustainably every time you get outside".
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace apply to almost every recreational activity— whether it be camping in the backcountry or visiting your local city park, everyone can do their part to have a lighter impact on the land.
LNT Principle 1: Plan ahead and prepare
Proper planning before the trip starts allows you to have a safe and fun experience, while poor planning typically results in unsafe practices and damage to natural resources.
Ways to plan ahead include: know the skill level of each member in the group, understand the topography and water availability of the area, choose clothing and gear for comfort and safety, and consider weather, food consumption, or private land boundaries.
LNT Principle 2: Travel and camp on durable surfaces
When traveling through the backcountry, make sure that you stick to the trail, if there is one. Although the trail itself is an impact on the land, it is better to have one concentrated and well-designed trail than many poorly-planned trails.
If you are hiking off-trail, there are two factors to consider: durability of surfaces and plants, and frequency of travel and group size.
When choosing a campsite, consider the vulnerability of vegetation and soil, previous impacts made by prior campers and the likelihood of disturbing wildlife.
LNT Principle 3: Dispose of waste properly
This means all trash that you create must be taken out with you, know as "pack it in, pack it out".
In addition, you must properly dispose of human waste (bury it in a hole at least six inches deep), as well as pack out used toilet paper and tampons. Read our Feminine Hygiene in the Backcountry blog for more information.
For human waste, make sure you have a trowel, ziploc for clean toilet paper, bag for dirty toilet paper (we use dark-colored dog waste bags to keep things discrete).
At Nomadic by Nature, we are huge advocates for picking up micro-trash that we find on the trail or at camp. Little trash such as wrappers, cigarette butts, fishing line, etc. is not only disturbs the views, but it is also harmful to the environment.
LNT Principle 4: Leave what you find
By leaving what you find, whether it is a colorful feather, a beautiful flower or a glistening rock, you allow others to experience the same level of enjoyment and discovery as yourself.
Minimize site alterations. You can do this by not constructing lean-tos, benches, fire rings, nailing into trees.
Make sure you leave natural objects, such as antlers or petrified wood, where you found them. Again, this allows others the sense of discovery and awe, but in National Parks, it is illegal to remove natural objects.
In addition to natural objects, it is important to leave cultural artifacts as you find them. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act makes it illegal to tamper with archeological sites, relics of the past, historic sites or artifacts.
LNT Principle 5: Minimize campfire impacts
Consider the following questions when deciding if you should build a fire: Are there any fire bans in place? Is there enough wood in the area that it will not be noticeable if it is removed? Do group members have the skills to make a fire that leaves no trace?
The best place to make a fire is in an existing fire ring. Make sure the ring is well-built and complete, so there is no chance for the fire to spread. And, when the fire turns to ash, extinguish it completely with water.
LNT Principle 6: Respect wildlife
The best way to observe wildlife is to watch them from a safe distance— one that does not disrupt their behavior or force them to flee.
Remember that you are simply a visitor in their home. Give them space as you pass on the trail, take photos from a distance, and store your food properly so it doesn't harbor behavior that puts them at risk.
LNT Principle 7: Be considerate of others
You can contribute to the enjoyment of others' outdoor experiences by being courteous and considerate.
Some ways to do so include: talking at a reasonable volume; listening to music with headphones, not through a speaker; controlling pets; letting uphill hikers have the right of way; keeping a clean camp; put your headlight in red-light mode.
By following the principles laid out above, you create a better outdoor experience for other hikers, keep wildlife out of harm, and make our environment cleaner and healthier. Help us help each other by leaving no trace!
Featured Trip: Heart Lake to Mount Sheridan
This guided trip offers backpackers a little bit of everything Yellowstone has to showcase— thermal hot springs, pristine lakes, big rivers, remote valleys, and mountain summit views.
We camp on the shores of Heart Lake, one of the largest backcountry lakes in Yellowstone. Weather permitting, you'll have a chance to summit Mount Sheridan, with views all the way to Grand Teton National Park. Once leaving Heart Lake, we traverse Snake River and travel far into the southern boundaries of Yellowstone.
On this trip you'll have excellent opportunities to spot wildlife, soak in hot springs, and experience remote parts of Yellowstone National Park.
We look forward to seeing you on the trail!