National Park Etiquette

John and I took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. We live close to the Grand Lake entrance, and we wanted to go one more time before we leave Colorado in a few weeks.

We were able to pick up a national parks pass so we’re officially prepared for our west/northwest/PNW journey.

Please, I’m Begging You

Please read the rules and regulations before venturing into our national parks. Leave everything in its place, pack out what you bring in and what others have left behind, respect the land, don’t approach wildlife, and keep your pets in designated areas.

Here’s a link to an article from the National Park Service. Check it out for more information if you’d like.

Leave No Trace


As soon as we entered the park we saw two people, (who were clearly not forest service/park employees), carrying large armfuls of wood to the back of their SUV. I’m assuming these people didn’t know any better, but this situation made me flustered, and I genuinely almost cried.

We were driving past them on the main road so I was unable to say something.  We also did not have cell reception so I couldn’t alert the rangers. If the opportunity had arose, I would have approached these people with kindness to politely explain to them why what they were doing was not OK.

It’s against the rules to collect and transport firewood  within the park. Tree killing insects and diseases can also be present, and it’s important not to move these contaminants from place to place.

No Pets on the Trail, Please

Another situation that had me frustrated was seeing a dog on my favorite trail. This particular trail sits around 11,ooo feet and is part of the delicate alpine tundra. There are plenty of obvious signs depicting that dogs are not allowed in the area. Luckily these people were close enough to the road, and a ranger was able to spot them and asked them to put their pup back in the car. This group clearly knew that they were in the wrong because they panicked and basically started running back toward the parking lot when they saw the ranger approaching.

Pets are allowed in national parks, and there are plenty of places where you can walk them and let them outside. Heck, you can even have them in the non-remote campgrounds. Please keep your animals in these common areas and clean up their poo.

I’m afraid that the NPS will eventually ban pets if people keep disrespecting the rules and leaving designated areas with their animals.

Let the Animals Be

It’s elk mating season so it was awesome to hear and see all of these wonderful creatures bugling and frolicking about trying to find a mate.

That being said, they were close to the road, and starting to get aggressive. People were walking very close to the animals, and the bulls were starting to get upset.

The amazing forest rangers had this situation under control, but it was still scary because a male almost charged our car and two others as we were trying to pass by.

This situation could have been avoided if people had just taken pictures from afar. Getting physically close to any wild animal can result in both harm to yourself, others, and the animal as well.

We are invading their home, please give them space and respect.


I am touching on this because I love our national parks and will have the pleasure of hiking through some of them during our journey on the Appalachian Trail. I am passionate about keeping the parks wild and love to educate others about the rules in order to protect the land so that we can enjoy it for generations to come.

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Comments 3

  • Dsitterding : Sep 23rd

    I’m so happy to see you address this. I too am a park lover and AT hiker. We have to protect our parks and the places we love.

  • Coral Stevenson : Sep 23rd

    I’m so thrilled to see this addressed – as a fourth generation Colorado Native – who has seen my state desecrated by folks who disregard or ignore leave no trace ideologies that even my grandparents instilled in us. My son hiked many of our 14ers and the entire PCT and, well you know. Of course I hiked many 14ers before that was a thing. My father was born in Fairplay, his mother in Breckenridge and her father where Dillon Reservoir sits. We spent summers and winters all over Colorado hiking, fishing, camping and enjoying the natural beauty and not destroying it. Please share this far and wide for our landscapes and for our wildlife! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Ace : Sep 24th

    I think you’re general concern and etiquette are common courtesy for most folk. However I think the problem comes when people pay for a service they expect something, like park officials pick up garbage, which I sort of agree, if they’re not doing that, what are they doing ,policing the public that want to enjoy the outdoors and are the best keepers of the land.


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