Ground Rules for Respecting Nature

There is no garbage pickup in the wilderness; you'll have to

There is no garbage pickup in the wilderness; you'll have to “pack out” most of whatever garbage you bring in. Bring plastic garbage bags for the purpose. Small sealable sandwich bags are useful for storing small amounts of garbage. In other words, expect to be a pack horse for your trash.

When I was young, I had the privilege of being involved in the Boy Scouts of America. One of the rules they imparted was this: "Always leave the campsite cleaner than you found it." Before leaving any campsite to return home, you should spend a good hour or so picking up trash, spreading leaves over the ground where we might have worn paths, and generally straightening up. This will go a long way in keeping the campsite as "natural" as possible.

Also, check with camping authorities for information about building campfires in the area that you are camping. Most wilderness areas don't permit the use of scavenged ground cover as firewood. If you want hot meals, a camp stove is essential in many areas.

Here are a few tips for respecting nature and your campground:

  • leave no trace - It's all about respect for nature. If campers would just leave their campsites the way they found them (assuming it was clean to begin with), then we will all be doing our share to promote camping as it should be.
  • pack it in, pack it out - Another way of saying "leave no trace," a concept which I cannot emphasize enough. If you are a backcountry camper, this is particularly important because there are no dumpsters in the backcountry.
  • gray water - This is old dishwater, which should not be dumped just anywhere. In the backcountry be sure to dump gray water away from any fresh water sources and use biodegradable soap. Campgrounds usually have designated areas for dumping gray water.
  • ashes from the grill - Don't dump your ashes on the ground. Either dump them in the campfire ring, or dump them in a bag and put the bag in the campground dumpster.
  • laundries, restrooms and showers - Simply clean up after yourself. If you're ingenious and the campground has no laundry, you might consider a shower with your clothes on. In the backwoods, take appropriate measures to cover human waste.
  • fish cleaning stations - Use them! Don't clean your catch at the campground.
  • dumpsters - Be sure to take along some plastic garbage bags to collect trash. The last thing you should do before leaving the campground is to make one more round and pick up any trash and put it in the dumpster.