Leave No Trace

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns of Yosemite, including seasonal closures for endangered species, fires, etc.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize trash you are carrying (which allows more space for food in your bear-resistant food container).
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Obey camping restrictions by camping at least 100 feet from lakes, streams, trails, other campsites, and historic/cultural sites/structures.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. Ensure your site is appropriate—just because someone camped there before doesn't mean it's a good location.
  • In popular areas:
    • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
    • Walk single-file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In undisturbed areas:
    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. As appropriate, pack out trash you find.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug in soil six inches deep at least 100 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 100 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Instead, consider using a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle lantern for light.
  • Use established fire rings or fire pans that are at least 100 feet from water.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand and which fit completely inside the fire ring..
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash and put out campfires completely. Water is necessary to completely put out a campfire.
  • Observe and obey all seasonal fire restrictions.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing food, trash, and toiletries in bear-resistant food containers.
  • Leave pets at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
  • Wear headphones to avoid amplification of your music.

The above information is adapted from the Leave No Trace: Center for Outdoor Ethics website.

Last updated: January 16, 2024

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