The Blowing Rock, NC area offers some of the most beautiful, pristine mountains in the state of North Carolina. To preserve this area for generations to come, we must own the impact we have on the environment around us. To this end, Blowing Rock is pleased to partner with Outdoor NC to preserve the natural beauty of North Carolina. It’s up to each of us to learn the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace and make them part of our nature.

Outdoor NC Leave No Trace Principles


1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • North Carolina is home to endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Learn about the area you plan to visit before you arrive and know the regulations
  • Avoid crowds and increased impact by exploring lesser-known areas, and do your best to avoid times of high use.
  • Remember to always have a backup plan in case the area you’re looking to visit is overcrowded or parking areas are full.
  • Remember food, water and the right clothes to protect you from cold, heat, sun or rain.

2. Stick to Trails and Overnight Right

  • Travel and camp on designated trails and durable surfaces to protect trailside plants. Avoid taking shortcuts or creating new paths.
  • Camp only on existing or designated campsites to avoid damaging vegetation. When camping in nondesignated areas, confine impact to places which already show use and avoid enlarging the area of disturbance.
  • Take rest breaks on durable surfaces well off the designated trail.
  • Poor weather, rip currents and slick rocks around waterfalls often take visitors by surprise. Practice safety and caution, and don’t do anything above your group’s skill level.

3. Trash Your Trash

  • Pack it in. Pack it out. Pack out all trash and litter in garbage bags and carry it home. Litter, including food scraps and cigarette butts, can take years to
    decompose and is unhealthy for wildlife.
  • If adventuring with your pet, plan to pack out their waste as well.
  • When camping in remote areas, be sure to have a plan to dispose of human waste properly.

4. Leave It As You Find It

  • North Carolina is home to an amazing diversity of indigenous plants and animals. Avoid picking flowers, taking shells, and collecting starfish and pinecones,
    and take a picture instead.
  • Leave rocks as you find them to protect the sensitive habitats of critters. Stacking rocks can also lead to erosion and ecological impacts.
  • Carving and etching into trees leaves lasting damage and can kill the vegetation.
  • Remember, in national parks and many other protected places, it is illegal to remove natural objects.

5. Be Careful With Fire

  • If you choose to have a fire, make sure it is permitted in the area you are visiting and keep small. Gather wood from the ground on-site if allowed, and avoid breaking living branches from trees. Buy firewood locally. Transporting firewood can introduce harmful invasive species.
  • Burn all wood to ash and be sure the fire is completely out and cold before you leave.
  • If you plan an overnight camping trip, use a stove for cooking.

6. Keep Wildlife Wild

  • North Carolina is home to an abundance of wild animals, and we must treat all wildlife from black bears and wild horses to salamanders and birds with respect. Remember that you are a visitor in their home.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never approach or follow them. Getting too close to wildlife causes undue stress and harm.
  • Never feed a wild animal. It alters their natural behavior and puts them, and you, at risk.
  • When camping, store food securely and keep garbage and food scraps out of reach from wildlife.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors and Share the Outdoors

  • Everyone has a different definition of what it means to enjoy the outdoors, and everyone has different levels of experience. Be respectful of others’ experience, so North Carolina’s outdoor spaces can be a welcoming and relaxing retreat for all identities and abilities.
  • Be mindful of your noise level so that others around you can listen to nature.
  • It is a general rule that those traveling downhill will yield to those traveling uphill.
  • Be considerate when passing other visitors on the trail. Before passing others, politely announce your presence and proceed with caution.

How do YOU practice Leave No Trace?

Whether you are spending your time in our wild National Parks or our beautiful town parks, Make It Your Nature to protect outdoor spaces.

Friends from Watauga Opportunities Inc. are joining us in protecting the outdoors. Here are some of the ways they practice Leave No Trace:

Show us how you practice Leave No Trace by tagging your photos with #OutdoorBR on Instagram and Twitter! Consider including a caption about what protecting with outdoors means to you by filling in the blank: “I practice Leave No Trace by ______.”