Is there anything better than immersing yourself in mother nature by camping? Don’t get me wrong—I love a good day hike as much as the next outdoorsperson, but there is something transformational about living in the great outdoors…even if only for a single night.
It’s important to remember to be a good steward of the earth when you’re out in it, and it doesn’t matter if you’re at a relatively populated campground or alone on the trail. One of the best ways to honor the outdoor experience is to take care of the animals who call the wilderness home.
Wondering how to do it? Here are 5 easy tips anyone can implement.
Avoid camping near water
I know, I know—you have visions of waking up to the sound of a babbling river, or at the foot of a lake that allows you to snap Instagram-worthy photos of the view from inside your tent.
The truth is, if you are attracted to that water, neighboring wildlife is, too. Not only is it their source for water, but many animals also use it to hunt up a meal—and your presence can disrupt natural behavior.
Take pictures during the day, but set up your camp at least 200ft from any body of water.
Keep your voice down
There’s a natural reverence that develops when you spend time in the wilderness. Show respect to the environment and those who live there by being as quiet as possible. Not only will quiet voices reduce stress on wildlife, you’ll increase your chances of actually seeing some of the amazing wildlife by keeping noise down.
Dispose of food properly
All of those delicious campfire meals you’ve prepared are likely to attract hungry wildlife, but most human food is detrimental to an animal’s health.
Do your best to clean up all food items (including leftovers and scraps), ensuring nothing is left on the ground to attract your furry neighbors.
Here’s a tip: odds are, you’ll be preparing and cleaning up some of your meals in the evening and it can be an absolute pain to do so while holding a flashlight or by the light of a mediocre lantern. Do yourself a favor and pack a headlamp (we’re loving this one since it’s rechargeable). Headlamps allow use of both hands and aim a powerful beam of light wherever you are looking, making meal prep and cleanup infinitely easier.
Keep a safe distance from wildlife
If you’re lucky (and you’ve kept your noise level to a minimum), there’s a good chance you’ll see wildlife—particularly in the minutes just before and after sunset and sunrise.
This is truly one of the gifts of camping few get to experience, so enjoy the moment…but do so from a respectable distance. Under no circumstance should you try to get closer to wild animals—doing so puts unnecessary stress on the animal.
Leave no trace
There’s a reason this phrase is embraced by naturalists and hiker/campers alike. When your time outdoors is at an end, check your camping area thoroughly to ensure you’ve left nothing behind that could harm wildlife.
This includes fruit and vegetable scraps. Many assume these items are safe to leave since they are biodegradable, but it is important to remember they are not the natural food for wildlife and can take months to biodegrade. (That banana peel you left? It’ll still be there in four weeks!).
If you brought it in with you, do everyone a favor and take it back out.
When it comes to camping, think of yourself as a guest in someone else’s home and act accordingly. Clean up after yourself, respect boundaries, and leave no trace that you were there.
Now, go enjoy your time in the great outdoors!