Caring for The Olympic Wilderness

Every year, there were nearly 40,000 overnight visitors to The Olympic Wilderness and countless day visitors. If we treat Olympic with respect, we can preserve its wildness and grandeur for future generations.

Many visitors do not realize the impacts their actions can have on the character of the wilderness, on wildlife and on other visitors. Please help take care of your wilderness by practicing Leave No Trace camping and using proper food storage techniques to protect park wildlife.

Here are some ways you can help keep Olympic wild:

  • Be careful where you walk and where you put your gear. Subalpine and alpine vegetation is very fragile. Some plants like heather and huckleberry are especially fragile and slow growing. Just one step on these plants can break off 50 to 100 years of growth. If one person camps on a meadow for even one night, it flattens down the plants enough that someone else who comes along and sees that may think that is a good spot to camp which then leads to more impacts to the plants as well as soil compaction which prevents plant roots from growing. Once damage has begun it not only attracts more damage but can take decades to recover. Always camp on durable surfaces like pre-existing bare ground, gravel, sand, snow or forest duff.

  • Human Waste Disposal: Ick! No one wants to camp near someone else's "you know what" or worse drink it. All too often, people don't bother to use the toilet or go far enough from campsites and water sources to "do their thing". Then the next folks there get to smell it or unexpectedly discover it near their campsite. Some times this happens within 100 ft of a toilet. Always ask the ranger where toilets are and use them. When there aren't toilets, always go at least 200 feet from campsites or water sources. When urinating, go on rocks or on the trail to prevent deer or goats from pulling up plants to get at the salts in urine. For solid waste, bring a trowel and bury waste 8 inches deep and cover it when you are done.

    Check the Wilderness Trail & Campsite map for a list of toilet locations. Note to users!: because we do not have enough staff to patrol all camp areas every day, toilet seats may not get cleaned on a regular basis. Be prepared to "hover" or clean the seat before using it. We do clean them as frequently as we can.

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