When you can have a campfire, it’s critical to follow the principles of Leave No Trace. These include building your fire in a designated area, using only dead and downed wood, and fully extinguishing your fire before you leave.
Campfires are a common cause of wildfires, so take special care if you plan to build one in high-risk areas. The U.S. Department of Interior offers these additional recommendations:
When selecting a campfire location, choose an open area that is a safe distance away from potential fire hazards
Do not leave your fire unattended
When you put out your campfire, ensure it’s cold before leaving
When towing a travel trailer, complete a thorough check to ensure it does not become a source of fires, such as from safety chains dragging on the ground
Do not park your RV or vehicle on dry brush or other flammable materials
Have fire safety equipment in your vehicle or trailer, such as a shovel, bucket, fire extinguisher, extra water, and fire blanket
Be sure to check with the local regulations to see what is allowed in the area. If you encounter signs or rules and don’t feel you understand them clearly, err on the side of caution.
6. Respect wildlife
When out in nature, you will most likely encounter wildlife. Give them their space and don’t disturb them. Yes, that includes the rattlesnake that was happily minding his business before you came along. Observe wildlife from a distance and do not attempt to feed or pet them.
Maintaining your distance is especially important if you encounter a female animal and her children. Failing to do so can lead to potentially dangerous situations, especially when that mother is a cougar or a bear.
7. Be considerate of other visitors
The great outdoors is a shared space, so be a good neighbor. Keep your noise level down, don’t litter, and don’t disturb the plants and animals. You might feel tempted to blast music in the wild, but remember that your neighbors are not only humans — animals live there full-time and might not care for the extra noise.
One common complaint among RVers is that other people will encounter wide open spaces and still choose to park next to them. Please don’t be this person. Part of respecting your neighbors is respecting their privacy by giving them the space to enjoy and protect it.
Respect is also due on the trails. Camp away from trailheads, so hikers have easy access to the trail and convenient parking spots. On hiking trails, yield to others and allow people who walk faster than you to get by.
Cherish the outdoors
When we camp and hike, we visit fragile ecosystems that human activities can easily damage. By following the Leave No Trace principles, we help to keep these areas pristine and beautiful for future generations.
It is also important to remember that we are not the only ones using these spaces. Other campers, hikers, animals, and local communities rely on these ecosystems. Help preserve them for everyone to enjoy.
What will you do to ensure you leave no trace the next time you go adventuring in the great outdoors? Check out the @LeaveNoTraceOrg Instagram page for ideas!
For more information about planning your next camping trip, here are some additional resources: