Leave No Trace

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Leave No Trace is a national program which promotes the protection of our nation's wildlands through education, research, and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation, and respect for America's public lands by teaching minimum impact skills and wildland ethics.

Leave No Trace is simple. At its heart it is a set of seven principles which can be applied in any natural setting to minimize human impacts on the environment. Listed below are the seven principles of Leave No Trace with ways to apply these principles in Shenandoah National Park. Whether you are hiking and camping in the park's wilderness or driving Skyline Drive for an afternoon, following Leave No Trace principles will help protect the park and preserve the park experience for you and for future visitors.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare - Planning ahead for your visit to the park is the first step in helping preserve the park and your experience here. Know and follow park regulations. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces - Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rocks, gravel, and grasses. Stay on trails to keep from trampling fragile vegetation. Avoid shortcutting trails; shortcuts create new trails and increase trail erosion.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly - Keep the park clean! Pack it in; pack it out. Pack out all trash and food scraps from backcountry/wilderness areas. When backpacking, deposit solid human waste in a hole at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet from water, camp, and park trails.

4. Leave What You Find - All plants, animals, rocks, and artifacts are protected in Shenandoah National Park. Preserve the sense of discovery for others by leaving all natural and cultural artifacts as you find them. Take pictures, write poetry, or sketch to help you remember what you discover here.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts - Campfires are prohibited in Shenandoah's backcountry..

6. Respect Wildlife - Shenandoah is home to many animals, and we are visitors to their home. Carry binoculars and observe wildlife from a distance. If an animal changes its behavior because of your presence, you are too close. Wild animals find plenty of their natural food in the park; human food does not give them the proper nutrients to survive the winter, so keep animals healthy by not feeding them.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors - People visit Shenandoah for different reasons. Preserve the park experience for all visitors by showing courtesy towards others. Excessive noise, unleashed pets, and damaged surroundings take away from everyone's experience. Preserve a sense of solitude by hiking in small groups. Keep noise levels down when hiking and camping. Observe "quiet hours" in park campgrounds.

The four federal land management agencies: the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, The Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all promote the Leave No Trace message. Working with outdoor retailers, educators, and user groups, these Federal agencies are helping to make Leave No Trace the common language for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Last updated: February 20, 2013

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Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

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