Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Jeffrey Marion; Jeremy Wimpey; Ben Lawhon
    Date: 2018
    Source: International Journal of Wilderness. 24(2). 12 p.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Land managers have commonly sought to discourage or prohibit camping near surface waters (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams, and springs), imposing regulations that prohibit camping within a specified distance from water. As Griffin presents, these camping setbacks from water within Forest Service Wilderness areas currently range from 50 to 1,320 ft, with 100 ft as the most common prohibition, followed by 200 ft, which is the distance recommended by the national Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly programs. An earlier survey by Washburne and Cole (1983) reported the following percentages of agency units that employed camping setback from water regulations: Forest Service (37%), National Park Service (22%), Fish & Wildlife Service (7%), and Bureau of Land Management (18%). Distances ranged from 20 to 2,640, with 100 ft as the most common distance. In 1992, Marion, Roggenbuck, and Manning (1993) surveyed National Park Service units with substantial backcountry and wilderness with similar findings: 41 units (44%) employed camping setback from water regulations, with a range of 5 to 2,640 ft and 100 ft as the most common value (22 units, 23%).

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Marion, Jeffrey; Wimpey, Jeremy; Lawhon, Ben. 2018. Conflicting messages about camping near waterbodies in wilderness: A review of the scientific basis and need for flexibility. International Journal of Wilderness. 24(2). 12 p.


    camping, wilderness, management

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page