Backcountry Camping

A lone tent illuminated by the setting sun in an area wooded with ponderosa trees.

There are no designated campsites in Parashant National Monument. Camping on the monument requires planning, preparation and care in order to protect the visitor and the fragile desert and mountain ecosystems.

Site Selection

Some areas of the desert and mountain ecosystems are remarkably fragile and take years, decades or even centuries to recover. Likewise, there are many areas in the monument that are prone to flash floods which can begin miles from your campsite.

When selecting a campsite:

  • Choose a durable surface such as gravel.
  • Locate your camp away from any wash or drainage.
  • Avoid camping or stepping on cryptobiotic soil crusts.
  • Move camp every 2-3 days or before signs of your presence become noticeable.
  • Wear soft-soled shoes around camp to give your feet a break and lessen the impact on vegetation.

Setting-Up Camp

Before entering the monument make sure you have everything you need for your stay. Select a durable surface for your campsite. Do not trench for tents or cut branches for bedding. Use lighter soled shoes to lessen your impact. Before you leave, make every effort to return your campsite to a natural appearance.

Cooking and Campfires

To many campers, the campfire has served as a centerpiece for group outings. The backcountry nature of the monument does not provide developed campsites or fire rings for use and gas or propane stoves for cooking are strongly recommended. If you decide that a fire is appropriate for your outing, please follow these guidelines when building a fire in the backcountry.

  • Know the fire restrictions before you leave. The vast majority of Parashant is in the desert and routinely undergoes fire restrictions during the late spring and summer months.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended!
  • Use local firewood to avoid introducing invasive insects from other areas.
  • Use an existing fire ring if one has been left behind. If possible only build a new fire ring in the event of an emergency and then dismantle the ring when you are finished using it.
  • Clear away all debris and flammable materials from the fire pit. Areas such as sand and gravel provide an ideal, nonflammable surface for fire.
  • Burn wood no larger than approximately 2" in diameter. Thick pieces of wood rarely burn completely and can leave behind charcoal scraps.
  • Pack out any trash left in your fire pit. When your fire is cool to the touch, remove any charcoal pieces from the fire pit and carry them away from your site, crush the chunks, and then scatter the fragments and dust over a broad area.
  • Dismantle your fire structure.


Many areas of the monument contain water pockets or pools, natural springs, and seeps. Even though the monument is in a remote area some water sources may contain Giardia lamblia, or other intestinal parasites. For your safety it is recommended that you drink only boiled, filtered or chemically treated water.

To protect the water quality:

  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 100 feet from sources of drinking water and use biodegradable soaps.
  • Go at least 200 feet from any water source to use the restroom.

Human Waste

With no comfort facilities within the monument boundaries the sense of exploration and remoteness can be spoiled by stumbling across someone's "bathroom". Human feces carry harmful micro-organisms that easily contaminate water sources and can spread disease.

During your visit it is important to:

  • Go at least 200 feet from any potential water source.
  • Choose a site in organic soil to promote decomposition.
  • Dig a small hole 6 to 8 inches deep.
  • After use, bury completely and replace any organic litter.
  • All paper products, including feminine hygiene products, should be packed out or burned. If you choose to burn your toilet paper, be careful not to ignite a wildfire.

Private Property

While travel through the monument is remote, you may encounter private property, cabins, residences and livestock. All private property should be respected and not disturbed. Areas of importance for local Native people such as historic and prehistoric sites should be respected and left undisturbed.

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National Park Service - Camping

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Last updated: January 24, 2024

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