The 7 Leave No Trace Principles of Sedona, AZ | Visit Sedona

The Leave No Trace principles

Mother Nature would like a word

There is nothing quite like a hike in nature to invigorate our senses, calm our spirits and feed our souls, whether you’re experiencing it as a hiker, mountain biker, camper or adventurer. Nature is the primary draw for the more than 3 million visitors to Sedona every year — a staggering number for a small mountain town.

That makes this a sobering fact: According to our partners at Leave No Trace — a global non-profit coalition of land management organizations, conservation organizations and the public — 9 out of 10 people aren’t educated about the principles of Leave No Trace in the outdoors.

Whether or not you believe you are practicing most of the Leave No Trace principles, research has proven that most people overestimate their knowledge of how to leave no trace in nature. And that means even nature lovers run the risk of loving places like Sedona to death.

Mother Nature is giving us not-so-subtle signs that we can all do more. In fact, it’s evident that she’d like a word with us.

So even if you think this is a quiz you’d ace without studying, we’d like to invite you to read through the Leave No Trace principles. Perhaps you will pick up a new idea or two.


The Sedona Leave No Trace 7 Principles

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 

  • Visitors travel from near and far to explore Sedona’s unique landscape. Parking can fill up fast. Avoid the crowds and prevent further impacts by visiting during off times (summer and winter). 
  • Use the Sedona Shuttle to ease the stress on yourself and the environment by leaving your vehicle behind.
  • Once on the trails, carry a map or GPS and know how to use them. 
  • Keep your group safe by selecting an outing that matches your group’s abilities. 
  • Weather in Sedona can change quickly. Always be prepared and have a plan in case of emergency. 

2. Stick to Trails

  • Walk and ride on existing trails or durable surfaces to protect trailside plants. Durable surfaces include maintained trails, designated campsites, rock, gravel, sand or snow. 
  • Camp 200 feet from water sources to allow wildlife access to these areas. 
  • Camping is not allowed within Sedona’s city limits.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Carry bags to pack out all your trash including food scraps. Even items such as apple cores and orange peels can take up to two years to decompose and are an unhealthy food for wildlife. 
  • Proper disposal of human waste helps prevent water pollution and the transmission of disease, as well as any unpleasantness other campers may experience who find your refuse. In most locations, burying human waste in a cathole, 6-8 inches deep, is the most effective method to meet these criteria. In some areas, such as narrow river canyons, human waste must be packed out. 

4. Check Campfire Restrictions

  • Always check fire restrictions before having a fire. 
  • Consider lightweight camping stoves for cooking. They are safer, require no wood and are a lot faster. 
  • If fires are allowed, use an existing fire ring, keep fires small. 
  • When you are finished, dowse your fire with water until it is completely out.

5. Leave What You Find

  • Please don't mark trails or create cairns (rock stacks). In Sedona, cairns help keep visitors on the trail and building your own could cause other visitors to become lost. 
  • Do not disturb historic or prehistoric structures and artifacts. 
  • Leave natural objects such as antlers, bones or interesting rocks for others to enjoy. Antlers and bones also provide nutrient sources for rodents and other critters. 
  • Do not cut or carve into live plants and trees, which can expose them to disease. 

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wild animals from a distance. Do not touch, approach or follow them. 
  • Never feed wildlife as this damages their health and alters their natural behaviors. 
  • Leash your pets or leave them at home.

7. Share the Outdoors

  • When you are hiking, please yield to other hikers coming uphill. 
  • Bikers should yield to all hikers. 
  • All users yield to equestrians. 
  • Allow others moving at a quicker pace to pass by moving to the side. Smile and say hello! Respect other visitors and be mindful of their experience.


Why the 7 Leave No Trace principles?

It’s not just an idea. It’s a movement.

The 7 Leave No Trace principles are about a spirit of personal engagement with wildlife and wild places that recognize and respect how we are all connected. No one ever intends to love something to death (we’re looking at you, plant over-waterers). If we didn’t all love nature, we wouldn’t travel hundreds if not thousands of miles or cross oceans to visit places like Sedona.  

Imagine a natural world where everyone understood and embraced principles like these. Imagine how nature would respond. We’re out to do more than imagine it. We’re out to lead it. Want to join us?  Add your name to the Sedona Cares Campaign. It’s a great way to show your love for Red Rock Country and feel good about being a bigger part of it. On that page, you’ll also find some explanations behind a few of these principles that may have surprised you (like, why no stacking stones?). 



Please help support the following businesses below who have signed up to become Leave No Trace Proud Supporters! 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Anthropologist, Margaret Mead

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