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If you are car camping try to find
a site that has been used before. There
are many campsites identified by Patrol Rangers that are established and
used on a steady basis by campers throughout the year. Picking a
completely new campsite will inevitably lead to degradation and/or
destruction of habitat. Even a small group of campers walking around a
small area can trample underground burrows of mice, tarantulas, or
lizards and destroy desert soil, especially the type composed of a delicate
crust of lichens, algae, fungi and other microorganisms.
Select a campsite an adequate distance from other groups. One of the
joys of desert camping is the incredible silence and sense of solitude.
Pick a campsite at least 100 feet from a stream and at least 200 feet from
a spring or pond. Continual human presence will cause wildlife to
abandon desert water sources.
Avoid all archaeological sites. Treat Native American sites as respectfully
as you would a church or graveyard.
All areas posted as day-use must be avoided for over-night camping
All garbage must be packed out and deposited in a proper receptacle.
Please don't leave behind left-over food for wildlife- after all, they have
survived for thousands of years without help from humans.
Campfires are only allowed when visitors get the proper permits some areas require them bring all of their own wood and
when the fire is kept within the confines of a fireproof metal container. All
coals, ash, and left over wood must be taken home when you depart. Do
not bury charcoal - it takes hundreds of years to disintegrate in desert
environments. your campfire should be at least 20 feet from vegetation or
geological features. Soot from campfire flames is very difficult to remove
from rocks or boulders - Please! Don't construct rock rings around your
container. During periods of high winds refrain from having a campfire
altogether. You are liable for the cost of fire suppression and
damages caused by any wildfire that starts through your negligence!
Human waste must be deposited at least 200 feet from any water source
in a hole one foot deep in an area of bare mineral soil. Cover your hole
with soil and pack out toilet paper. Do not bury or burn toilet paper - it
does not decompose in arid environments. Wildfires have been caused in
the past by burning toilet paper. Rangers recommend the use of
porta-potties especially by groups of eight or more people. RV holding
tanks and porta-potties must be dumped at an authorized facility.
The desert is a difficult place to bring pets. They must be kept on a leash
at all times. They are also restricted to your immediate campsite and Park
roads. To protect wildlife please confine your pet in a vehicle or tent at
night. Each year, unleashed pets are killed or injured by wildlife such as
rattlesnakes or coyotes.
Wood gathering is strictly prohibited. Dead wood is home for many
species of insects, spiders and reptiles.
Large groups of backcountry campers can have a tremendous negative
impact on our fragile desert. All large groups should camp in specific
areas recommended by the Patrol Rangers. Contact the Visitor Center or
Park Headquarters for a list and map of suitable locations. Groups of 25
or more people must obtain a special-use permit prior to arrival. All large
groups should use porta-potties or chemical toilets at all times. Large
groups can generate a lot of noise so please be considerate of wildlife and
for other campers who desire a quiet night in the desert.
When car camping in the backcountry vehicles may be parked up to 25
feet from roadways as long as desert vegetation remains undamaged.
Please note that many established campsites have spur roads leading up
to them. In this situation it is permissible to park your vehicle more than
25 feet from designated roads shown on the official park map. If you
observe a row of boulders across a track - they were placed there by
Ranger staff to stop vehicle traffic. Please do not drive beyond any row of
rocks or closed area signs.
At the end of your stay please take the time to thoroughly clean up your
backcountry campsite. Cigarette butts, used matches, banana peels,
horse droppings, etc. should be picked-up and disposed of with your
Backpackers must use portable stoves for all of their cooking needs.
Set up your tent or ground tarp in an area devoid of all vegetation. Many
desert wildflowers are small, delicate, and easily trampled by careless
visitors. Trenches dug around the perimeter of your tent are not necessary
and can frequently damage the shallow roots of desert plants such as the
With your help the uniqueness of a desert camping experience will be preserved
not only for ourselves, but for those who will follow.