Wilderness Minimum Impact Practices

Wilderness Regulations | Wilderness areas

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Unnecessary impact in backcountry areas can be avoided by carefully preparing for your trip.
  • Seek information about the area you plan to visit from Wilderness Managers. Purchase maps for the area and plan your route knowing how many days it will take you to travel and what experience level is required to achieve this goal.
  • Prepare for your journey by selecting only the gear and food that is essential, repackage to lighten your load.
  • Visit in small groups and avoid popular areas during times of high use.

Travel to Avoid Impact

  • Trails are quickly eroded by cutting switchbacks.
  • Walk and ride single file in the center of the main trail.
  • Avoid making new or multiple trails. Report problems to the Forest Service.

Small camp tent located in a mountain meadows with peaks in background




Make No-Trace Camps






  • When selecting that perfect camp spot remember that a good campsite is found, not made.
  • Choose sites that are durable i.e. dry grass, sandy, or duffy areas well away from water, at least 200 feet.
  • Before leaving camp erase all signs of your stay by picking up all traces of litter, removing structures like meat poles, and scattering campfire ashes.

Water and Sanitation

  • Protect the water resource by washing at least 200 feet away from water sources using biodegradable soaps, and keeping food stuffs out of the lakes and streams.
  • Dispose of human waste by burying in catholes 6-8" deep 200 feet away from water, camp, and trails.
  • Cover and disguise the cathole.
  • Toilet paper should be buried or packed out.

Campfire Use

  • Recreation in the backcountry has greatly increased, the natural appearance of many areas has been compromised by overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood.
  • Stoves may be the best option for minimum-impact camping.
  • If you choose to build a fire (where allowed), use an established fire ring if available, if not use a firepan, fire cloth, or build a mound fire.
  • Collect only down and dead wood and burn it entirely.
  • Clean unburned trash out of the fire ring and spread the ashes.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

  • Pick up and pack out all of your litter. Begin by reducing litter at the source.
  • While preparing for your trip, repackage food into reusable containers or zip-lock bags.

Preparing Your Pack and Saddle Stock

  • Practice your backcountry stock containment method at home before heading into the wilderness.
  • Fit all equipment ahead of time to be sure it fits properly.
  • Use animals that are fit, calm, and experienced.
  • Minimize gear and food so only the minimum number of animals is taken.

Stock Containment and In Camp

  • The key to stock containment is to remember that more confinement can generally be equated to more impact and restless behavior.
  • Use a portable electric fence, highline, hobbles, pickets, a temporary hitchline or allow your stock to free roam.
  • A well fed, well watered horse that is allowed to roll and rinse off sweat will be more content and less apt to paw or dig.
  • Stock should spend the shortest amount of time possible in camp, only enough to load and unload.
  • If you do tie up to trees while loading and unloading stock select a live tree at least 8" in diameter.

Supplemental Feed 

In some areas, forage is limited depending on the site and time of year, be prepared by bringing weed free feed (processed grains, pellets, pack cubes, weed free hay). To prevent the spread of weeds feed purchase and use only certified hay, straw and other feed that is now required on all National Forest System Lands in Oregon, Washington and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Idaho.

No-Trace Camping

As a designated Wilderness, special emphasis is placed on safeguarding the area's wild character. Activities which could mar the landscape or disturb the solitude - such as travel by motorized vehicles - are not allowed. We're also asking you to help protect the uniqueness of the area by practicing the following "no-trace" camping ethics: 

  • Know the Wilderness Regulations.
  • Avoid camping in overcrowded and fragile places. 
  • Camp and keep stock at least 200 horizontal feet from lakes and streams.
  • Pack out all garbage.
  • Dismantle all structures - such as meat racks or tent poles - before leaving. If these are needed, be sure to use soft rope (instead of nails or wire) to avoid damage to live trees. 
  • Don't build a fire ring. Naturalize the fire site by covering the cold remains of your fire. The best technique of all is to use a portable camp stove.
  • Dig shallow holes 6 to 8 inches for human waste. Cover with dirt, and decomposition will occur naturally.
  • Always do whatever you can to move lightly over the land.

Check out the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! websites for more information.