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footprints in sand at lookout towers

Leave Only Footprints

8 Park Etiquette Rules for Responsible Outdoor Recreation

When you explore parks, it’s important to remind yourself of the essential responsibilities that we have when visiting. Our actions not only impact the visitors that will come after us, but also the local wildlife, park employees and the overall environment. 

The next time you’re in a park be sure to follow these eight park etiquette rules for responsible outdoor recreation.

1. Dispose Your Trash Properly

This is a vital one. Make sure you don’t leave any trash around and dispose of it in designated trash receptacles. It’s also smart to bring your own small bag for any trash for easy collection and if you can’t find a trash can. 

2. Don’t Interact with the Wildlife

While seeing wild animals in their natural habitat is special and exciting, make sure you keep a distance and avoid feeding them. Feeding wildlife can alter their national behaviors, lead to dependence on human food sources or even cause illness/death to the animal.

3. Preserve the Park’s Beauty

Leave the park exactly as you found it not only for future visitors to enjoy, but also to ensure that the natural environment is not altered or harmed in any way. Refrain from picking flowers, carving trees, collecting rocks or disturbing natural features.

4. Stay on the Trails

For your own safety and to prevent damage to vegetation and wildlife habitats, make sure you don’t venture off-trail. 

5. Keep Pets Leashed

If you’re at a park that welcomes pets, always keep them under control. This ensures the safety of your pet and other guests and will prohibit them from taking off if something spooks them or running up to others.

6. Clean Up After Your Pet

Nothing is worse than enjoying an afternoon in the fresh air at a beautiful local park and stepping in pet waste. Not only does dog feces contain elements that deplete oxygen and grow harmful bacteria, but it also takes over a year to naturally break down. Make sure you pack baggies to pick up the waste.  

7. Practice Fire Safety

Make sure you never leave a fire unattended and that you only build your fire in designated areas. You also want to make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving the area. 

8. Educate Yourself on the Park Rules

Every park has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in addition to these common etiquette rules. Be sure to learn about them before your visit and continue to promote responsible behavior. 

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