Three little words we all see posted in state parks, national parks, and campgrounds: Leave No Trace. But what does this phrase mean, and how can the way you choose to camp and travel impact the world around you? Check out our RV tips for Leave No Trace traveling and camping success below.
The Principles Behind Leave No Trace
Seven principles guide the Leave No Trace mindset. These aren’t rules to keep you from having fun – they can actually increase your fun while also ensuring the environment around you gets treated responsibly. The Leave No Trace principles are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Spontaneity is a wonderful trait to have, but it can also be irresponsible and costly, forcing you to waste resources and be negligent in what you leave behind. When you thoroughly prepare for your trip, you can plan and pack exactly what you need, and be mindful of the clean-up required.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Always park your new or used RV on the designated parking pad in your campsite. You’re not above the rules! Campgrounds and state/national parks create campsites, parking spaces, and trail paths to accommodate their visitors, so use them. When you park elsewhere or hike off the designated path, it’s destructive to the local vegetation, soil, and forestry. The habitats and environment you’re coming to enjoy is also fragile – so treat it with care. Often, the critters who make these areas their home may abandon it once disturbed.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Everything in its place! Only ever handle your black tank dump and flush at a designated dumping station. If you have grease or food scraps, don’t toss them to the edge of your campsite. And if you head out for an afternoon hike, make sure you collect wrappers from granola bars and other snacks you enjoy along the way instead of littering.
Leave What You Find
It might be human inclination to pick up and pocket nature’s beautiful accessories – like rocks, seashells, and fossils. But they’re not souvenirs. But just like art in a museum is for everyone to admire by looking (not taking), the canvas of nature is much the same. Leave everything you find – and if you’ve just gotta take it with you, do so in the form of a photograph.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
A roaring campfire might be one of the most iconic things about a camping trip, but it’s important to burn responsibly. Use only the permitted firewood from the campground, and follow all campground rules for fires. Don’t use dangerous chemicals as firestarters, and never burn Styrofoam, plastics, or other garbage.
Respect the Wildlife
“If not friend, why friend-shaped?” As cuddly as wildlife may look, it’s not for holding, touching, feeding, or petting in any way. A sad reality is that many wildlife have to be killed every year by park rangers after that animal gets too comfortable around other people – and eventually more aggressive. Respect and love the wildlife from a safe viewing distance.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
This is the golden rule in action: show others the consideration you would like them to show you. Campground rules, hiking trail etiquette, noise and pet ordinances…these are all rules that apply to you so everyone can enjoy the camping trip they want to enjoy.
These 7 principles of Leave No Trace can help ensure you have the best camping trip possible, and other people have a fantastic camping trip because of you. Another way to minimize your environmental impact is to schedule some RV service before you go. Reducing your carbon footprint can be as easy as starting with a fresh oil change and clean filters. Contact us today!