Leave No Trace Means That You:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Choose realistic goals, bring proper gear, learn backcountry skills, know the terrain, and make contingency plans. It's not only important for your safety; good planning makes it easier to leave no trace in the backcountry.
- Know the area and what to expect
- Travel in small groups
- Be aware that bears may be present
- Select appropriate equipment
- Boil, filter or chemically treat your water to avoid Giardiasis.
- Repackage foods
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Despite its rugged appearance, the backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias is vulnerable to human impact. Fragile alpine vegetation is easily damaged and can take years to recover.
- In popular areas, concentrate use
- In remote areas, spread use
- Avoid places where impact is just beginning
- On riverbars and streambeds, avoid setting your tent up on vegetation.
- Avoid setting your tent or walking on vegetation such as any Dryas species, which is very sensitive.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Nobody wants to find your old toilet paper sticking out from under a rock. Proper waste disposal not only keeps the backcountry looking pristine, it is extremely important for health and safety of campers and wildlife.
- Reduce litter at the source
- Dispose of trash and garbage properly
- Be extra clean in bear country
- Dispose of human waste responsibly
- Minimize soap and food residues in waste water
- Wash dishes and yourself 200 feet from water sources. Minimize the use of soap.
- Pack out toilet paper, bury waste at least 6 inches below the surface and 200 feet from water sources.
- On the coast, deposit human waste at least 200' beyond the high tide zone
- Fish viscera can be a delicate matter - check with the park first
Leave What You Find
Take only memories (and photos!). Unlike parks in the lower 48, however, recreational rock collecting (by hand without tools) is permitted in Wrangell-St. Elias and most Alaskan National Parks.
- Minimize site alterations
- Avoid damaging live trees and plants
- Avoid disturbing wildlife
- Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts where they lay
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Use a stove instead of making campfires. Wood is scarce in the high elevation backcounty.
- If you must have a fire: Use only dead and down wood and choose small pieces that will burn completely.
- Be aware of fire restrictions
- In high-use areas, use a camp stove
- In remote areas, use appropriate LNT fire techniques
- Use a stove to avoid fire rings. If you choose to have a fire, destroy the fire ring, scatter the ashes, and insure that the next camper will not observe your impact.
- Do not cut standing or living trees.
In the backcountry you are a visitor. Be mindful that you are sharing this place with bears, shorebirds and other wild residents. Take care not to let your actions impact their behavior or damage their habitat.
- Store your food properly. Your safety, the safety of the bear and the safety of other visitors depends on it! When bears get habituated to human food they become a danger to people and often end up getting killed. A fed bear is a dead bear!
- Keep an eye out for nests. Oystercatchers and other shorebirds often nest on the same beaches that campers prefer. If shorebirds seem distressed, try to locate their nest and set your camp well away from it. Be careful though, nests blend in well with their surroundings.
- Observe any closures.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Every year more and more people visit this backcountry wilderness.
- Keep your group size small to minimize impact.
- Leave your campsite "naturalized" by replacing rocks, picking up bits of trash and scattering natural materials back where they were found.
- Always locate your campsite one mile from the nearest airstrip.
- Do not place your campsite where it will intrude on the visual experience of others.
- Be prepared to share food storage lockers with other parties.
- Fill out a voluntary backcountry itinerary. This information helps park managers determine visitor use patterns and identify areas that need food storage lockers or impact monitoring. It can also help us find you in an emergency.