Enjoying the Rockies Responsibly


I spend so much time in the mountains, and encouraging people to visit our wilderness areas through my work, that I felt I should provide a few tips on how to enjoy our open spaces safely and responsibly.

"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints."

This famous saying has appeared in several variations over the years, and has been attributed to Chief Seattle. The advice is timeless.

When spending time away from the towns and cities, please keep those few words in mind. If you leave everything as you find it, the next visitors will be able to have as much fun as you did.

The UK has an simple, yet all-encompassing Countryside Code, which is applicable world-wide:

Respect other people

  • Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
  • Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available

Protect the natural environment

  • Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under effective control

Enjoy the outdoors

  • Plan ahead and be prepared
  • Follow advice and local signs

You may be more familiar with Leave No Trace principles. Detailed guidance is available from the National Park Service, and I encourage you to read it thoroughly. Tips for specific activities can be found on the Tread Lightly website. After all, we all have a responsibility to take good care of our natural resources.

Safety is often overlooked on vacation or a day out, but a simple vehicle breakdown or a navigational error in the wilderness can turn a few hours of fun into a potentially life-threatening situation. Please take a minute to read my tips on wilderness safety (and check your vehicle).

Finally, I'd like to mention wildlife. There is no need to fear wild animals, but a healthy respect for them (and a little knowledge) will keep both you and them safe. While seemingly harmless, feeding wildlife can cause serious problems. Take a look at this poster from Lake City Friends of the Bears for more details.

Don't let any of the above dissuade you from exploring our wild places. With a little knowledge, you can ensure that you (and those who follow you) get the most out of your visit!