Outdoor Safety & Ethics

Rules for National Forest Visitors

These rules are designed to protect the National Forests, to ensure the health and safety of visitors, and to promote a positive outdoor recreation experience for all visitors. You are responsible for your own safety.  Please remember to be careful.


  • Use picnic sites, swimming beaches, and other day use areas only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Campgrounds and other recreation sites can be used only for recreation purposes.
  • In campgrounds, camp only inthose places specifically marked or provided.
  • At least one person must occupy a camping area during the first night after camping equipment has been set up, unless permission has otherwise been granted by the Forest Service.
  • Do not leave camping equipment unattended for more than 24 hours without permission from the Forest Service. The Federal Government is not responsible for any loss or damage to personal property.
  • Remove all personal property and trash when leaving.


  • Obey restrictions on fires. Open fires may be limited or prohibited at certain times.
  •  Within campgrounds and other recreation sites, build fires only in fire rings, stoves, grills, or fireplaces provided for that purpose.
  • Be sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. You are responsible for keeping fires under control.


  • Do not carve, chop, cut, or damage any live trees.
  • Leave natural areas the way you find them.
  • Enter buildings, structures or enclosed areas only when they are expressly open to the public.
  • Native American, old cabins, and other structures along with objects and artifacts associated with them, have historic or archeological value. Do not damage or remove any such historict or archeological resource.


  • Throw all garbage and litter in containers provided for this purpose or take with you.
  • Garbage containers are reserved for the use of visitors to the National Forest, not visitors to or owners of private lands or lands under permit.
  • Wash food and personal items away from drinking water supplies.  Use water faucets only for drawing water.
  • Keep garbage, litter, and foreign substances our of lakes, streams, and other water.
  • Use toilets properly.  Do not throw garbage, litter, fish cleanings, or other foreign substances in toilets and plumbing fixtures.
  • Obey all traffic signs.  State traffic laws apply to the National Forests unless otherwise specified. 
  • When operating vehicles of any kind, do not damage the land or vegetation or disturb wildlife.  Avoid driving on unpaved roads or trals when they are wet or muddy.
  • Within campgrounds and other recreation sites, use cars, motorbikes, motorcycles, or other motor vehicles only for enering or leaving, unless areas or trails are specifically marked for them.  Park only in marked parking areas.
  • Do not block, restrict, or interfere with the use of roads or trails.
  • Obey area and trail restrictions on the use of trail bikes and other off-the-road vehicles.

Pets and Animals

  • Pets must always be restrained or on a leash while in developed recreation sites.
  • Pets (except guide dogs) are not allowed in swimming areas.
  • Saddle or pack animals are allowed in recreation sites only where authorized by posted instructions.


  • Fireworks and explosives are prohibited in National Forests.

National Forest Wilderness

  • Motor vehicles and motorized equipment are not allowed in wilderness areas.
  • "Leave only footprints, take only pictures."

Fee Areas

  • You must pay a fee to use certain developed sites and facilities.  Such areas are clearly signed or posted as requiring a fee.
  • Where fees are required, you must pay them before using the site, facility, equipment, or service furnished.

Business Activities

  • Permits are required for any commercial activity.

Audio Devices

  • Operate any audio device, such as a radio or musial instrument, so that it does not disturb other visitors.
  • A permit is required for operating a public address system in or near a campsite, developed recreation site or over a body of water.


Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics promoting the conservation and protection of the natural environment from human activities. Check out this great online training from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to learn more!

Online Awareness Course | Leave No Trace