Connect with the great outdoors like never before. Equipped with principles, planning and proper COVID-19 safety recommendations, you can enjoy our spectacular outdoors today and delight in a lasting connection with nature for years to come.

1. Plan and Prepare

Crowders Mountain State Park has 11 diverse hiking trails

1. Plan and Prepare

 

  • North Carolina is home to endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Before you travel, learn about your destination, its regulations and safety matters.
  • To reduce your impact, choose lesser-known areas and times of high use.
  • Have a backup plan in case your chosen destination is crowded or parking areas are full.
  • Pack food, water and the right clothes to protect you from the elements.

 

 

2. Stick to Trails and Overnight Right

Make a reservation and hike to one of Grandfather Mountain's 13 primitive campsites

2. Stick to Trails and Overnight Right

 

  • Keep to designated trails and durable surfaces to protect trailside plants. Camp at existing or designated sites.
  • In the backcountry, confine your impact to places that already show use, and limit the area of disturbance.
  • Take rest breaks on durable surfaces off the designated trail so that others can pass.
  • Be cautious. Stay within your party’s skill level. Know what to do in case of poor weather, rip currents, slick rocks around waterfalls and other potential hazards.

 

 

3. Trash Your Trash

More than 40 family campsites are available on the lower slopes of Pilot Mountain

3. Trash Your Trash

 

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Place all trash in garbage bags and carry it home. Food scraps, cigarette butts and other litter can take years to decompose and are unhealthy for wildlife.
  • If adventuring with pets, plan to pack out their waste as well.
  • When camping in remote areas, have a plan to dispose of human waste properly.

 

 

4. Leave It As You Find It

Take in sunrise views in Maggie Valley

4. Leave It As You Find It

 

  • North Carolina is home to amazing diversity of indigenous plants and animals. Snap a picture instead of picking flowers, gathering shells and collecting pinecones.
  • Leave rocks as you find them to protect critters’ sensitive habitats, prevent erosion and avert other ecological impacts.
  • Forgo carving into trees, which inflicts lasting damage and can kill the vegetation.
  • Adhere to laws that prohibit the removal of natural objects from national parks and other protected places.

 

 

5. Be Careful With Fire

Obtain a permit from the National Park Service to enjoy campfires on Ocracoke Island beaches

5. Be Careful With Fire

 

  • If you choose to have a fire, check on regulations, secure a permit if needed and keep the fire small. If allowed, gather wood from the ground instead of breaking branches from trees. Buy firewood locally to avoid bringing in invasive species.
  • Burn all wood to ash. Before leaving, check that the fire is completely out and ashes are cold.
  • On overnight camping trips, use a stove for cooking.

 

 

6. Keep Wildlife Wild

Maintain a 50-foot distance when visiting the Shackleford Banks wild horses

6. Keep Wildlife Wild

 

  • From black bears and wild horses to salamanders and birds, all wildlife should be treated with respect in the natural areas you are visiting.
  • Observe creatures from a distance. Getting too close causes undue stress and harm.
  • Refrain from feeding wild animals. It alters their natural behavior and puts them and you at risk.
  • When camping, store food securely. Keep garbage and food scraps out of the reach of wildlife.

 

 

7. Be Considerate of Others and Share the Outdoors

Jacksonville has more than 19 miles of trails and greenways

7. Be Considerate of Others and Share the Outdoors

 

  • People have a range of skill levels and different ideas about how to enjoy the outdoors. Respect others so that North Carolina’s natural spaces will be welcoming and relaxing for all.
  • Be mindful of your noise level so that others can listen to nature.
  • Honor the rule of thumb that those traveling downhill will yield to those travelling uphill.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trail. Politely announce your presence and proceed with caution.

 

 

For additional resources, Recreate Responsibly also offers guidelines on how to keep yourself healthy and maintain access to parks, trails and beaches during this time. 

Stay awhile and explore Visit North Carolina's travel ideas, and let nature inspire your next trip filled with outdoor adventures. For more information on Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry, please visit their respective websites. You can find more information about Outdoor NC here.

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