Remove your Trash

An empty parking lot with food waste scarttered around.
Trash in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes parking area.

NPS photo/Eddington

Trash Issues

Sadly, there are visitors to Death Valley that do not throw away their trash or recycling. The most commonly collected items at the popular spots, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Zabriskie Point, are wet wipes, cigarette butts and food trash. These items are not only just an eyesore, but can negatively effect the health of the plants and animals.

Death Valley can be a very windy place and sometimes trash and recycling bins are full. Unfortunately, people will overload the bins, trying to do the right thing, and the trash ends up blowing into the park.

The park also has a few clever residents that will take advantage of overfilling trash cans. Ravens especially will pull trash and trash bags out of bins, scatter it, and then it blows into the park.
Two trash cans sit in an open box, with a full bag in front, in a desert landscape.
Full trash cans at the popular Golden Canyon Trailhead.

NPS photo/Eddington

Bring it In, Take it Out

Death Valley is a remote park, with the closest major city over 50 miles away. The park receives 1.3 million visitors a year and most often, those visitors are traveling from, and will return to, a more urban area. There are a few restaurant options in the park, but many visitors bring their food with them. The result being that the park ends up with quite a bit of trash and recycling!

The refuse truck has to travel over 60 miles to the closes trash/recycling facility. The weight really varies, but the average full truck appears to be about 5.6 tons for trash. The average load is a bit less - 4.9 tons. The average weight of a load of recycling is 2.2 tons. In 2017, there were 27 trash and 9 recycling runs with the truck, plus miscellaneous recycling drop-offs (but a 3-4 month gap for both when the truck was being repaired). In 2016, there were 31 trash runs.

An image of a full trash can with the words, "bring it in, take it out; reduce your impact"

NPS graphic/Eddington/Hoerner

How can you help reduce your impact when visiting?

  • Please take out the trash and recycling that you brought into the park. Recycle or throw it away closer to an urban environment, where the refuse system is less impactful on resources.
  • See a piece of trash along a hike? Bring an extra bag to carry it out.
  • Share the information with your friends and family- many visitors who are avid trash-pickers aren't aware of this impact on resources.

Last updated: August 11, 2018

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328


(760) 786-3200

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