News Release

Guadalupe Mountains National Park to Require Toilet Bags for all Wilderness Use

Toilet paper along a sunlit rocky desert trail.
Toiletries left in the wilderness harms the fragile ecosystem and negatively impacts visitor experience.

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News Release Date: April 22, 2022

Contact: Earl Perez-Foust, (915) 828-3251 ext. 2300

SALT FLAT, TEXAS –– Beginning June 21st, 2022, Guadalupe Mountains National Park will update its regulations regarding human waste requirements for wilderness use. Day hikers and all permitted overnight backpackers will be required to pack out human waste using a landfill-safe commercial toilet bag system. The bag within a bag design and zipping closure securely contains waste and odor, while the special blend of polymers instantly breaks down waste and renders it into a deodorized gel. The contents of the bag are safe for disposal in trash receptacles and landfills, and the bags provide a lightweight, sanitary way to pack out waste. These waste disposal systems are widely available through online retailers, and for purchase at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Affected backpackers will be required to carry a minimum of one bag per person per night for the duration of their trip and present proof that they have the required number of bags before their permit will be issued. Day hikers should come to the park properly prepared for their trips and should carry an adequate number of landfill-safe commercial toilet bags for their group.  

The park has seen increased visitation over the last few years and this has led to increased wilderness impacts. One of these issues is a dramatic increase of human waste and exposed toilet paper along trails, high use areas, and primitive campsites. “The highest point in Texas is not a toilet,” stated Superintendent Eric Leonard, “this requirement asks visitors to take responsibility for their impacts to the environment as they visit the park.” The use of personal toilet bags to pack out human waste will reduce environmental impacts and sustain quality wilderness experiences for visitors in the future. Due to the rocky nature of the soils and dry environment in the park, the use of “catholes” is difficult-to-impossible in the best of circumstances.

Wilderness stewardship is the responsibility of all visitors to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Making sure that you’ve packed  all 10 Essentials and reviewed material relating to human waste management prior to arrival are some ways to prepare to do your part to preserve the Guadalupe Mountains.

For visit planning information, park operations, and to learn more, visit the park website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Last updated: April 22, 2022

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