Dispersed Camping Trash

A Guide to Camping Basics (especially during COVID-19) for dummies

It’s amazing people want to get into nature and enjoy the great outdoors through camping and hiking. It’s our land and it aligns us with our most basic instincts.

However, with COVID-19 in full swing, it’s pushing people who are not accustomed to the outdoors into it. Ideally, this would be a great thing – but it’s proving to be somewhat of a disaster in some locations.

People with no understanding of camping outside of a campground (ie: Dispersed Camping) are leaving their areas looking like a disaster zone and last time I checked, FEMA doesn’t venture into Arizona or New Mexico too often.

Recently, trash was spewed on the ground in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, with one recreation staff officer for the Jemez and Cuba Ranger Districts saying, “I’ve never seen this much human waste and trash being left out in the forest. It’s such a health risk for everyone around, the recreationists, and our staff.”

Port-a-potties have also been left in disarray.

Even scarier is the risk of forest fires are increasing. This is likely because your average new camper do not know how to create a safe environment for their fire. It should be noted that most states out west have banned fires in the National Forests as a way to focus their resources on COVID-19 vs an uncontrolled fire.

With it understood how bad it is getting on our Public Lands due to recklessness and lack of education, here are the basics of camping. It’s really a shame that I have to write this but hopefully, it’ll help at least one person out.

Camping Basics you Need to Follow

  1. Your Trash is Your Trash. It goes wherever you go. This is the easiest rule to follow. Bring trash bags and, like you were taught when you were 3, you put your trash in the trash bag. Boom. Moving on.
  2. Dig a hole away from your area. This isn’t’ rocket science. Bring a shovel, find a nice shielded area, and make that your “spot.” Make sure it’s at least 6 inches deep but deeper is better as it’ll keep animals from getting into it. No one wants to clean up your shit afterward. Let’s keep moving.
  3. Follow the rules. Whether it’s no campfires, or no shooting, or no loud music, just follow the rules. It’s not that challenging. On we go.
  4. Bring plenty of water. With a lot of campgrounds still closed, you’re doing dispersed camping, so make sure you don’t die by bringing enough water for you and your family.
  5. For everything else, follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.


Enjoying the great outdoors is both a right and a luxury, but if you abuse that right, the luxury of it will be severely diminished and constricted.

Do your part. Don’t ruin it for others. And keep our outdoors clean and beautiful for the next person to enjoy.


Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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