Take only pictures – leave only footprints  – take nothing, but memories. 

Every time you set foot outdoors to enjoy nature there are two options; to be a responsible user of the land, or to be disrespectful to Idaho and other hikers. We can all avoid being the bad guys if we work together to preserve the lands for future users.

As Idaho’s recreation users increase, there has been an increase in people leaving trash behind, spray painting rocks, and altering historic landmarks. We would like to take some time and walk all of our visitors through ways to be better stewards of the land. Our goal is for everyone to work together in order to keep Idaho clean and beautiful so that years from now it will still look the same.

Pack in. Pack out.

Trash is littering our lakes, rivers, landscapes, and even front yards. We need to work together to pick up after ourselves and each other. Do so by bringing a plastic shopping bag or trash bag on every hike you go on! Grab some trash on the way out or have a bag ready for personal garbage at any point of the hike without adding weight to your pack. It only takes a couple seconds to grab an empty plastic water bottle on the side of a trail at Auger Falls, or the empty beer can sitting at the edge of the water at Lake Cleveland. We want to protect our wildlife from eating trash, and we want those views to be pristine!

No altering the land.

Many areas in  Southern Idaho have been hit by tagging and graffiti. Tagging is illegal and perpetrators will be fined and/or sentenced by the appropriate law enforcement. Some may see it as a way to leave their mark, display art, or communicate. These are natural spaces and deserve to stay that way. Every mark of paint, regardless of the reason is wrong. It is destroying our landscapes and must be stopped.

City of Rocks Defacement

The City of Rocks National Reserve has incredible rock formations with ancient pictographs designed by Native Americans, and historic emigrant signatures from the gold rush. Visitors decided to deface these ancient rocks and spray painted on them. The vandalism is not being taken lightly. Defacement is illegal under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act enacted in 1979 to protect archaeological sites on public and Indian lands. The vandals will face 1-5 years in prison and a $20,000-$100,000 fine.

Tea Kettle Cave Disruption

Tea Kettle Cave lost its most famous attribute because of people altering its natural environment. Rocks line the bottom of the cave in a circle, where ferns grew years and years ago. Recently, hikers started stacking the rocks in cairns. Cairns are properly used to marking trails so the user doesn’t get lost. The base of the cave is wide open and easy to see, therefor, there is no need for any cairns. Ferns were trampled and destroyed in the making of these cairns. The once vibrant green, glowing cave is now dusty and ill-looking due to the lack of ferns and moss.

Leave no trace.

Hiking is an incredible activity to make memories and to enjoy nature. We must stay on designated paths to assure we are not destroying plants and to stay safe. Leaving designated paths could result in serious injury to the environment or yourself!  Canyon ledges are not for sending things off. Releasing balloons into the air, throwing paper airplanes in to the lake below, and dumping rocks off the canyon ledge are not acceptable.

Do not leave behind any belongings. The weather can get hot in Southern Idaho. Swimming holes are a great way to cool off! We have seen socks, shorts, and even shoes left behind at many of the top spots, including Mermaid Cove, Hidden Lakes, and Vineyard Lake.

Would you like to visit these places responsibly? Click the buttons to read more about each destination, and always remember to take care of these beautiful places because they deserve it!


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