Regarding COVID-19: Please recreate responsibly and practice social distancing. Closures and travel restrictions are changing rapidly, always check and respect local regulations.

A Call to Recreate Responsibly

The increase in recreational use of the outdoors is having a tremendous impact, and it's becoming apparent.

I have noticed over this past summer the level of the trash, left along back roads, at campsites, or along hiking trails has steadily increased. Each time I come across a trashed campsite or a dog poop bag left along a trail I think "Why, why is this happening?" It simply does not make any sense to me. 

I spent the last couple of days in one of my favorite areas of Colorado, exploring multiple back roads on an interwoven trail system, and countless times I had to stop in the road to hop out and pick up a shoe, a bratwurst wrapper, and multiple beer bottles. Once I arrived at my campsite, I spent 20 minutes picking up wrappers, tin foil, a comb, a poop bag, paracord, children's toys, and countless other items of trash until my garbage bag was full. 


I go into the outdoors to escape, to escape from the structure and stresses of everyday life, and it is so disheartening to pull into a campsite that I have spent hours getting to, only to find it littered with disrespect. I have been doing this all summer. Exploring back roads and 4 x 4 roads to reach an alpine lake or a campsite, only to see the trail scattered with wrappers and beer bottles. 

The last thing I do every single time before I leave a campsite is to take a final walk around. I search for any remnants of my being there, and I strive to leave the place exactly the same way as I found it or even better. I follow the Leave No Trace Principles: 

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I will continue to pick up after others, but if we can all practice these basic principles and adapt them into our lifestyles when enjoying the outdoors, we can then leave the place knowing that we've left it looking it's best for the next person to enjoy. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Kalli Hawkins

Geography | Conservation | Adventure | Writing