One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to be courteous toward other visitors. It helps all visitors enjoy their outdoor experience. Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, unleashed pets, and damaged surroundings take away from everyone’s experience. So, keep the noise level down while traveling and, if you must bring a radio, tapes, CDs, or cell phone, use headphones so you will not disturb others.
Also keep in mind that the feeling of solitude, especially in open areas, is enhanced when group size is small, contacts are infrequent, and behavior is unobtrusive. Visitor surveys show that several small groups are preferable to one large group. Whenever possible, separate larger groups into several smaller groups that travel and camp separately. To maximize your feelings of privacy, avoid trips during holidays and busy weekends, or take a trip during the off-season.
Be courteous to other groups you meet. Groups leading or riding livestock have the right-of-way on trails, and bikers should yield to both equestrians and hikers. Hikers and and bicyclists should move off the trail to the downhill side and stop. Horses are spooked easily, so stay motionless and talk quietly to the riders as they pass. Stay in control when mountain biking. Before passing others, politely announce your presence and proceed with caution. Take rest breaks on durable surfaces well off the designated trail so that the experience of other visitors will not be disturbed.
Keep in mind that visits to seldom-used places require an extra commitment to travel quietly and lightly on the land.
When selecting a campsite, choose a site away from the trail and away from other groups, where rocks or trees will screen it from view. Keep noise down in camp so as not to disturb other campers or those passing by on the trail. Goofing off and pulling pranks are undesirable social behaviors and could lead to serious or fatal injuries. In addition, activities should fit the setting—save the game playing for the city park.
Bright clothing and equipment, such as tents that can be seen for long distances, are discouraged. Especially in open natural areas, colors such as dayglow yellow are disturbing and contribute to a crowded feeling. To lessen visual impacts, choose colors that blend with the environment.
Keep pets under control at all times. Dogs do not fit in the wildlife category, and allowing pets to run free can be unwelcome, because they can frighten people and leave behind unwanted “presents.” Please scoop up dog feces from camps and trails and carry it to a trash container. Some areas prohibit dogs or require them to be on a leash at all times. Know and follow the rules of the land managing agency.
Leave gates as you found them, and leave the land undisturbed for others to enjoy. Remember, our open spaces and wildlands are protected for all generations. It is up to us to keep them healthy, beautiful, and open to the public for recreation, reflection, and revitalization! Enjoy and learn from historical and archaeological sites, but respect these sites and treasures. Some of these sites are sacred to Native Americans or are important cultural reminders of our heritage.