As the popularity of camping surges, many folks relatively new to the great outdoors are heading to campsites. If you’re one of those people—or if you’re a seasoned camper who would like a brief refresher—the following tips on camping etiquette will serve you in good stead.
Camping etiquette tips
- When possible, travel, camp, and walk on durable surfaces – in particular, avoid trampling vegetation, wet meadows, and cryptobiotic (living) soils in deserts.
- Don’t drive your vehicle on undisturbed areas; stick to established roads and tracks.
- Either pack out or bury human waste and toilet paper (see our peeing/pooping page for more details).
- Mind the level of your music, voice, and noise in general – many campers value quiet enjoyment of nature or have kiddos who need quiet for sleeping.
- Never leave any garbage at or near your campsite.
- Identify and follow applicable rules, like fire bans.
- Don’t alter a campsite any more than necessary; leave trees, plants, and rocks as you find them.
- Minimize campfire impacts by using existing campfire rings, not building fires under rock outcroppings that can be scarred by smoke, not burning trash, and of course ensuring your campfire is completely extinguished.
- When near other campsites, drive slowly to keep kids and pets safe and to minimize dust and noise.
- Observe wildlife from afar and quietly (except bears, who you should warn of your presence with noise), and never feed wild animals.
- In a dispersed setting, avoid camping close to others’ campsites, unless that’s typical of the area.
- Keep your dogs under control, follow leash rules, prevent excessive barking, and pick up pet waste.
- Don’t walk through other people’s campsites, and give other campers privacy and space.
- Dispose of wastewater in an appropriate location, away from water bodies and tents, and don’t wash dishes in a bathroom sink.
- Keep lights pointed down, not in other campers’ direction.
- Only burn firewood from less than 50 miles away, to avoid causing insect infestations.
- Respect campground facilities, like bathrooms.
Learn more about Leave No Trace
Many of these tips are drawn from the Leave No Trace principles, a set of guidelines designed to help ensure humans minimize their impact on the natural environment and fellow visitors. Visit the Leave No Trace website for more information.