Leave No Trace

People walk on a steep, eroding, dirt trail.
Many visitors fall in love with Glacier and then want to know how to reduce their footprint.

This is not a black and white list of rules or regulations. Rather, it is a way of thinking, an attitude, and an ethic, that helps us reduce our impact on the places we love.

Rangers work at computers and help waiting visitors.
Your trip will go much better if you research and plan ahead.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Prior to your visit, start planning by using Glacier’s Plan Your Visit page.
  • Have a back-up plan or two. Things like fires, weather, wildlife, and traffic congestion can close trails and large areas of the park on short notice.
  • Bring water, a map, food, and appropriate gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Expect crowds and schedule your trip to avoid times of high use, especially in popular areas like Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek. For more information, visit Glacier’s Dealing with Crowds page.

A small signs says, "No off trail travel," with a mountain sunrise in the background.
The growing season for alpine plants is extremely short.

Stay on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on established trails.
  • Avoid walking on the edge or going off trail, even when wet or muddy. Some of Glacier's busiest trails have been widened more than 10 feet (3 m) by off trail hikers.
  • Avoid using “social trails” made by visitors repeatedly going off trail in an area. Established trails are well marked with official trail signs.
  • Whether in a front-country campground or in the wilderness, make sure to set up camp in designated locations.

Littered orange peels on a rock with a red don't symbol over them.
It can take years for littered orange peels to break down.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Don’t leave behind any trash or food scraps. In cold, dry climates like Glacier, organic litter like orange peels or nut shells do not decompose quickly. Food scraps can also lure wildlife dangerously close to roads, picnic areas, and trails.
  • Before starting a hike, use the bathroom. Otherwise, deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep, at least 200 feet (61 m) from water, campsites, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products just like other trash.

A rock with white paint on it in the mountains and a large red don't symbol over the painted rock.
Leaving painted rocks is considered littering.

Leave What You Find

  • Do not disturb or remove any archaeological and/or historical sites or artifacts. If you think you’ve made a discovery, leave it there. Make note of the location, take a photo with a common object for scale, and show it to a park ranger.
  • Chalking, carving, scratching, or painting on rocks, trees, and other natural objects is considered graffiti and is illegal. It degrades the environment and the experience for all.
  • Do not build cairns or stacks of rocks. Removal of rocks from waterways can alter streamflow and displace aquatic life, like mayflies and stoneflies. Don’t change existing cairns or build your own along trails or climbing areas, as they are sometimes used to mark routes.

Two people sit next to a campfire.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, otherwise use a camp stove.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Keep fires small, never leave a fire unattended, and thoroughly extinguish all fires.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings. Otherwise, use a camp stove. Most wilderness sites do not permit campfires.
  • Fire restrictions are often in effect, especially during late summer’s dry conditions. Be aware of any fire restrictions and check the fire danger rating in the local area.
  • Collecting firewood or kindling is not allowed in most areas of the park. Check regulations for exceptions.
  • Fireworks are always prohibited in all national parks, including Glacier.

Groups of people on a trail approach a mountain goat.
Observe wildlife from a distance.

Respect Wildlife

  • Stay at least 25 yards (23 m) from all animals and 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves. This law is not only for your safety but also for theirs.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and can cause highly dangerous interactions with people.
  • Don’t leave gear unattended. Animals that learn to associate human gear with food or salt can become aggressive toward people. This danger can lead to the animal being euthanized.
  • Protect both wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Pets are only allowed along roadways, in parking lots, and in other developed zones like picnic areas. They must be secured on a six-foot leash at all times, and they’re not permitted on hiking trails, except the bike paths near Apgar Visitor Center and Fish Creek. Consider leaving your pet at home.
  • Be alert for wildlife and pedestrians crossing the road unexpectedly. Obey speed limits.

Many hikers share a mountain trail.
Expect crowds and delays.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Remember that you share public lands with other visitors. Avoid disrupting natural sounds with loud music or shouting when near others.
  • Share the trail by walking single file and allow others to pass by stepping to the side of the trail on durable surfaces.
  • Drones are not allowed in the park. They can negatively impact animals and the experience for other people.
  • Step off the trail when encountering pack stock.

A person takes a sunset picture with their phone as illustrated words and squiggles emanate from the phone saying, "adventure, rad, stoked, epic!"

Reduce the Impact of Social Media

  • Encourage positive behavior. Posting about conservation, leave no trace, and safety helps spread the word and supports the mission of the National Park Service.
  • Avoid geotagging or giving directions to areas off trail. Some sensitive areas are being destroyed by crowds seeking out these spots for the perfect social media photo.
  • Don’t post a selfie while engaging in illegal activities like feeding wildlife. Also, if park officers see those kinds of posts, you may receive a citation in the mail.
  • Commercial services are carefully regulated in national parks so that these wild places are not overrun with advertising. Professional photographers, product ambassadors, influencers, and other marketers should check out the park’s Permits page for more information.

We all have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the places we love. Following these Leave No Trace Principles can help us minimize our collective footprint. These principles were established by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and built on work by the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management in the mid 1980s. This relationship continues today. The principles are based on and informed by scientific research in the fields of recreation ecology and human dimensions of natural resources. Take a look at the science behind the principles on the Leave No Trace website. Leave No Trace Seven Principles © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org

A person in a hardhat reaches out and adjusts one solar panel among many.

Glacier National Park’s goal is to be a leader in understanding, communicating, and responding to the consequences of climate change.

Two people paddle on a dark lake under a thick layer of smoke with mountains in the background.
Climate Change

Glacier National Park is warming at nearly two times the global average and the impacts are already being felt by park visitors.

Last updated: November 4, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



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