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Principles of Outdoor Ethics

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors 

How to apply Leave No Trace Principles to Canyoneering:

  • Check with rangers or other local authorities regarding restrictions on camping, hiking and equipment use in the area you plan to visit.
  • Know what challenges to expect in a canyon and go prepared to meet those challenges.
  • Stay on established trails. If no trail exists, walk on the most durable surface possible.
  • Stay as low in the watercourse as possible when you are in a canyon. This way, your footprints will be washed away more quickly and you will be less likely to cause erosion.
  • Be careful not to step on or damage plants, including crypto biotic soil and delicate ferns and mosses. Don’t bust the crust!
  • Minimize disturbances to the environment. Never modify an area to make a campsite. The best campsites are natural and do not need to be improved. Camp on slick rock or open sand whenever possible.
  • Use a tent rather than build a natural shelter. If you have to build an emergency shelter, dismantle it and scatter the remains before you leave.
  • Clean up after yourself. Do not leave food wrappers, toilet paper or any other refuse in the canyon. You packed it in – you pack it out.
  • Leave the canyon cleaner than you found it. Pick up any additional litter you find in the canyon.
  • Don’t build fires. Fires leave long lasting scars and can impact the surrounding ecology.
  • Leave ruins, artifacts, pictographs, plants, rocks as you found them so that others may enjoy them too.
  • Be sensitive to wildlife, especially during mating and nesting seasons. Never feed wild animals intentionally or accidentally. Feeding them can spread disease and increase their dependence on humans. Watch and listen to wildlife from a distance. Use the ‘thumb’ rule.
  • Human waste left behind in narrow slot canyons, in alcoves, under overhangs, under rocks, or in any other dark, cool environment will not break down readily. Ideally, waste should be buried 6-8” deep in a location with maximum exposure to the sun at least 200’ away from a water source and the toilet paper and sanitizing wipes should be packed out in a doubled plastic baggy. Since that’s usually not possible once in a canyon, try to ‘take care of business’ before you enter a canyon. If your ‘call of nature’ is often unexpected, be prepared with a wag bag or Restop to pack out both your toilet paper AND your waste.
  • Urine is easier to deal with. In flowing water at least ankle-deep it is usually acceptable to pee in the water. Don’t urinate in standing water like ponds and especially not in potholes. Potholes sustain a delicate balance of microorganisms and are often the sole source of water for the indigenous fauna. Instead find a spot with maximum sun exposure as far from the trail and water source as is safely possible (100’ is the goal).

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