Outdoor Safety & Ethics

Leave No Trace!
Thousands of visitors to Carson National Forest have a tremendous impact on the land. It's up to all of us to minimize our impact, to travel softly, leaving no trace of our visit so that future generations can enjoy the woods and mountains we all love.

You Don't Have to Camp in a Campground
National Forests mean room to roam. You can camp anywhere in Carson National Forest. Some restrictions apply. Please check with the local Forest Service Office.

How Long Can I Camp in Carson National Forest?
Stay limit is 14 days. 

Look for a site that:

  • Is at least 200 feet from water. This will help protect water quality and minimize pollution.
  • Has a good place for a tent, where you will not have to destroy vegetation. Try using a hammock and a tarp instead of a tent.
  • Is out of sight of the trail, unless you are at a designated site.
  • Wear sneakers or light shoes around camp to avoid trampling vegetation.
  • The high ridges of the Carson National Forest tend to be steep and densely vegetated. Allow plenty of time to find a good campsite.

Your Campfire
Campfires can cause unnecessary signs of human presence and ugly scars on the landscape. Please use a portable stove instead.

If you must have a fire:

  • Use only fallen, dead wood. Don't cut down snags, since animals rely on these for homes.
  • Keep your fire small.
    Clear away duff and forest litter to prevent the fire from spreading. A fire ring isn't necessary!
  • Never leave your fire unattended.
  • Be sure it's dead out and leave no trace of your fire when you leave.
  • Remember, a candle can be a focus point for a group instead of a campfire!


Can I Drink the Water?
The answer to this question is an emphatic yes - and no. No matter how clear or pure the water may look, it's a good idea to purify all unprotected water. Water-borne parasites, including Giardia Lambia, have been found in Carson National Forest water. Purification methods include chemical treatment, filtration, and boiling.
Fish, clean water and soap (even biodegradable ones) don't mix. Wash your dishes - and yourself - 200 feet from the water source. 

Pack out everything you pack in. Burying, scattering or burning food scraps will only attract animals and leave a mess for other people.

Human Waste
Dig a hole 5 or 6 inches deep into the humus layer of soil, at least 200 feet from water.
After use, cover the hole and microorganisms will do the rest.

Stay on the Trail
Stay on the trail to avoid killing vegetation.

Group Size
Keep your group size below 10 people. Larger groups have a much greater impact on the land and on other hiker's enjoyment. 


Not everyone like dogs. If you bring your dog hiking, have it under physical restraint at all times. Be considerate of other hikers. Carry a leash and use it when around other people, or as necessary - and don't forget to clean up after your dog.

Dogs are a lot like people. Hiking is hard work. If your dog has spent the winter lying under the couch, you can't expect him to be a "super dog" out on the trail. Hiking above tree line, or on rocky, exposed trails can be especially hard on the dog's paws.

Watch your dog for signs of stress and fatigue, making sure to give him plenty of rest and water as needed. 

Rules of the Road

Equipment and Safety Needs

Hypothermia Myths