Safety in the Wilderness

Do Not Drink Untreated Water!

Only water from developed recreation sites is safe to drink. Open water sources are easily contaminated by human or animal waste. Water from springs, lakes, ponds, and streams should not be used without proper treatment.

Hunting And Fishing

The Wilderness is home to many game animals, including deer and elk, and to many fish. State of Oregon game regulations apply.


High-altitude weather can change very quickly. Even during good weather, mountain temperatures are always cooler, particularly at night. Several layers are usually better than one heavy layer of clothing.

Fire Danger

Do not smoke while hiking or riding. Stop at a safe place to smoke, then carefully extinguish before leaving. Do not leave fires burning or smoldering unattended. Put them dead out before you leave.

What To Do If Lost

Keep calm. Do not walk aimlessly. Trust your map and compass. Shelter and warmth are much more important than food.

  • To find your position, climb to a place where you can see the surrounding country.
  • When you reach a road, trail, or telephone line, follow it. As a last resort, follow a stream downhill.
  • Before being caught by darkness, select a sheltered spot and prepare camp, shelter, and firewood. Stay in this camp all night.
  • If you are injured and alone, keep calm. Stay where you are, clear an area down to mineral soil and build a signal fire. Green boughs will create heavy smoke.
  • Three signals of any kind, either audible or visible, is the universal SOS call. Examples are three blasts from a whistle, three regulated puffs of smoke , or three flashes from a mirror or flashlight. Repeat at regular intervals. If it is recognized by a search party, it will be answered by two signals. Use it only when in need of help.
  • Notify the County Sheriff's office or a Forest Service office if a member of your party is believed to be lost or in trouble.
  • Travel prepared with matches, map and compass, space blanket, whistle, food.

Leave No Trace

It has been written that "even the most careful camper leaves the mark of this passage on the land". Whatever the evidence you leave behind contributes to making wilderness a little less wild. Ideally, when you leave the wilderness you should leave nothing behind and take nothing away other than photographs and memories.