With more and more visitors coming into the national parks each year, it becomes increasingly more important to learn and practice minimum impact ethics. Though we may be lucky enough to enjoy some moments of solitude while hiking or camping, we must not forget that hundreds of others will come to experience the same. Our overwhelming numbers alone make it tough to preserve and protect those resources we love so much. Please follow these simple principles of Leave No Trace:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Appropriate equipment, understanding the terrain you travel through, and leaving enough time to reach you destination are ways of reducing impact on the land. Proper protection from wind, for example, means you won't be forced to use native materials to build unnecessary windbreaks. Eliminating (by recycling) unnecessary packaging of food products (prior to leaving) reduces the potential for litter on trails or at campsites.
Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces
The desert is fragile and recovers from human impact much more slowly than many other ecosystems. Roads, trails and campgrounds leave lasting scars. To minimize these scars, designated campgrounds with hardened tent pads have been established in the wilderness of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Respect the land - do not camp outside these designated areas. Stay on established trails, and as you enjoy the view, remember it would not be as pretty if each of us trammeled wherever we chose. When off-trail, use durable surfaces - step lightly. Travel on established trails between campsites, don't make new ones.
Pack It In, Pack It Out
What would seem a common sense principle is often very misunderstood. Pack out not only your inorganic waste or trash, but also organic waste or garbage. A clear distinction should be made between native, natural, and beneficial. Garbage such as peanut shells, apple cores, or orange peels, though natural, are not native and therefore not necessarily beneficial. The arid climate means they decompose slowly, they may be harmful to wildlife and are unsightly. If your pack is light, help by packing out the litter left by others.
Leave What You Find
All plants, animals, rocks, minerals, cultural/historical sites and artifacts are strictly protected and will remain undisturbed. Don't let a temptation to take something stand in the way of preservation and protection of resources. Avoid disturbing wildlife. Our entry into the wilderness should not be at their expense.
Protect and Conserve Water Resources
Water is a precious and finite resource in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Recognized as such, it is strictly prohibited to disturb any water source in any way. As you enter the backcountry, be prepared by carrying at least one gallon of water per person per day, and do not carry a filter to take advantage of springs or seeps.
Last updated: November 30, 2020
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