Thousands of people visit the Enchantments every year, seeking to experience its spectacular natural beauty. But the delicate alpine ecosystem can only bear so much of our love before it begins to collapse.
These seven Leave No Trace principles will help you minimize your impact on this fragile environment so that everyone can continue to enjoy it for generations to come.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Success starts at home. Pack a trash bag for your trash, and a trowel to dig “cat holes” for your poop. Keep your load light—it’s easier to make an error in judgement when you’re exhausted.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Small alpine meadow plants are very fragile. They can be killed by a single careless footstep. Do not walk through the meadows. Stay on the trails whenever possible. If you need to walk off-trail, try to step on rocks rather than directly on alpine plants.
Avoid camping on plants; only pitch your tent on dirt, gravel or bare rock. If possible, camp at one of the sites shown on the map. These locations are good choices for minimizing the enivonmental impact of your camp.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Follow one simple rule: Pack it in, pack it out.
Nothing is compostable at 7000 feet. You should pack out all of your trash. This includes any kind of food waste, tissues, and toilet paper. Bring resealable zip-lock style bags for your trash—it will start to stink after a couple days. Be sure to store your trash along with your food in a wildlife-proof container.
When possible, use one of the backcountry toilets (they are marked on the map). If you need to go and none can be found nearby, dig an 8″ deep “cat hole” well away from the trail and any water sources. Bury your poop in the hole. Do not bury your toilet paper! It is not biodegradable—you must pack it out with you.
Try to avoid losing small belongings (hats, sunglasses, trekking pole baskets, etc). These items will remain in the ecosystem forever if you misplace them.
Leave What You Find
Avoid anything that alters the environment from its natural state. Don’t build decorative rock piles, and never carve marks in trees or rocks.
When breaking camp, undo any changes you’ve made. If you cleared the area under your tent of pinecones and pebbles, scatter them back over the area again. Don’t leave any improvised structures (e.g. chairs, tables, windbreaks). Good campsites are found, not made.
Campfires are strictly prohibited in the Enchantments. Gathering firewood deprives the ecosystem of its only source of new, nutrient-rich soil. Campfire ash can harm plants, even if scattered thinly, and can pollute lakes and streams.
Do not approach wild animals (however cute they are). Observe them from a distance and do not follow them.
Never feed animals. Human food can make them sick or even kill them. An animal that’s tasted human food may also alter its behavior, following or harassing humans. Bears that have a taste of human food, even once, invariably become drawn to it and must be killed by rangers.
Store your food and trash in a secure container so that wild animals can’t get it when you’re not around.
Mountain goats are attracted to the salt in your urine. Only pee far away from your camp and the trail, to avoid a confrontation with one.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Take breaks and camp away from the trail. Avoid excessive noise (definitely leave the boombox at home).