Pack it in, pack it out—this is a key principle in leaving no trace, something every hiker and camper should be familiar with. It’s not only the courteous thing to do, but it keeps our campgrounds and trails looking nice and clean for years to come. To be fair, nobody wants to camp or hike somewhere with a bunch of smelly, fly-ridden trash all over the place.
Sadly, not everyone has gotten this message. Recently, Kenosha Pass Campground in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains—a popular place to see fall color—has been littered with garbage almost daily. The excessive maintenance has now caused the bathroom facilities to close down indefinitely.
Barbara Timock, a spokesperson for the Forest Service, explained, “The cost of cleaning and pumping these toilets annually reached approximately $9,600. This includes the additional cost of removing trash thrown in the toilets. We realize this is an inconvenience for travelers, and we’re open to partnership solutions in the future.”
With the bathrooms closed, and no dumpster available, campers left trash around the closed bathrooms, the parking lot, and on the trail.
“Yesterday I think we picked up about 100 dog poop bags,” A campground worker told The Denver Channel. “But it’s not just that. Some people leave their socks, and others leave their slippers. But it’s happening because they can’t put trash in the bathrooms. When they did, people couldn’t even get to the toilets because people left so much trash in the bathroom.”
There is only one solution, and it’s very simple: bringing a trash bag and picking up after yourself. If there are no bins or dumpsters available, be responsible and take your garbage with you until you can find another place to dispose of it.
If you’re a dog owner, don’t bag up your dog’s poop and just leave it on the ground for somebody else to deal with. Take the bag with you until you see the nearest garbage bin where you can toss it. Dealing with your pet’s waste is simply part of being a pet owner.
But don’t just stop there. Go ahead and pick up random pieces of garbage along the trail or at your campsite as you see them, even if they weren’t yours. The campgrounds and trails are for all of us, and it is up to all of us to keep them clean so we can continue enjoying them in the future.
If you have an RV but no designated spot for your trash, you might find an over-the-door bag holder to be very useful. These holders can fit over most standard-sized cabinet doors and will keep your trash bag out of sight and out of the way. Another solution for both tent and RV campers is a pop-up trash can that can easily be collapsed and stored away when it’s empty.