Reduce Your Footprint

A boot landing in mud near a dead frog.
Think about your impact on your surroundings. A trampled frog on the Nyack Trail in Glacier. NPS PHOTO

We all have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the places we love. Following these Leave No Trace Seven Principles can help us minimize our collective footprint.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Check out Glacier’s Plan Your Visit webpage.
    • Know the regulations and special concerns before you visit the park.
    • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
    • Bike or walk or take the free shuttle whenever possible.
    • Bring your own reusable dishes and water bottles and avoid plastics.
    • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
    • Repackage food to minimize waste and avoid plastics.
    • Avoid idling your car when waiting in line.

  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    • Review Glacier’s Hiking webpage.
    • Durable surfaces include maintained trails and designated campsites.
    • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Do not leave gear, and certainly not food, unattended.

  • Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite, food preparation areas, and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
    • Utilize toilet facilities whenever possible. Otherwise, deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
    • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.

  • Leave What You Find
    • Leave artifacts as you find them.
    • If you think you’ve made a discovery take a photo with a common object for scale and show the photo to a park ranger. Artifacts taken out of their context lose invaluable cultural information.
    • Learn more about Glacier’s history on our History and Culture webpage.
    • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
    • Learn how to have your boat inspected for aquatic invasive species.
    • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
    • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
    • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings.
    • Keep fires small.
    • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

  • Respect Wildlife
    • Observe wildlife from a distance. Stay least 25 yards from all animals and 100 yards from bears and wolves. Not just for your safety but for theirs.
    • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, [habituates them to humans], and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
    • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
    • Control pets at all times with a six foot or less leach or leave them at home. Pets are not permitted on backcountry trails.
    • 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 music near other people.

If you are going to post about your trip to Glacier on social media consider these social media tips.

  • Encourage positive behavior! Posting about conservation, leave no trace, and safety helps spread and support the mission of the National Park Service. If you tag us #ProtectGlacier on a post about conservation, leave no trace, or safety we might feature you.

  • Share locations thoughtfully. Avoid giving directions to sensitive areas off trail. Consider the impacts a location geotag might have on a sensitive environment before posting.

  • Be mindful of what your images portray. Do you really want to share illegal or unsafe behavior? You might like to free-solo up mountains without a helmet or whitewater raft without a lifejacket but be cautious about promoting dangerous activities without context. Also, don’t be the person who posts a selfie while feeding wildlife. If park staff sees those kinds of posts you may receive a citation in the mail.

  • Do you have a permit for that? Commercial services are carefully regulated in National Parks because no one wants to see these wild places overrun with advertising. Commercial photographers, product ambassadors, and other marketers should check out Glacier’s Permits page for more information.

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:

Last updated: November 9, 2018

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PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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