Trail Etiquette while Touring Canadian Rockies

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Trail Etiquette while Touring the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Trail etiquette is basically a matter of minimizing our impact on Canada's Rocky Mountain environment, with special considerations for disturbing wildlife, vegetation, soil, water, and pollution. Additionally, trail etiquette also includes aesthetic impacts that we have on other tour groups in the canadian mountains. Garbage should be left at designated trailheads in each our Canadian Rockies National Parks.

Disturbing the Rockies' Wildlife

Wildlife is easily disturbed. An animal that has been repeatedly approached for photograph or viewing opportunities may become habituated, and in the case of some wildlife, this ultimately leads to their death because they become deceivingly friendly or aggressive, which is dangerous either way. All Canadian Rockies' animals have a personal space, and besides the associated safety issues, they need to be left alone to enjoy life. Here are a few tips on how to minimize your impact on wildlife:

  • Maintain a minimum distance of 30 m (100 ft) for most wildlife, and 100 m (300 ft) for bears.

  • Respect Canadian Rockies tour trail closures and travel restrictions relating to wildlife movement.

  • Follow park rules and regulations and never approach or feed wildlife.

  • Enjoy any wildlife you see from your touring distance; never "chase" the animal hoping to capture that perfect photograph.

  • Use binoculars and telephoto lenses to reduce the urge to get close.

Canadian Rockies Vegetation & Soil Impact

The vegetation and soil in the Canadian mountains, and especially in the sub-alpine and alpine zones are very sensitive to disturbance and can take a long time to return to their natural state. Here is a few tips on how to minimize your impact on vegetation:

  • Ensure that you and your tour group stay on designated trails and use designated resting and stopping areas.

  • Do not trail braid (making numerous paths) on designated tour trails.

  • Never pick or disturb Canadian Rockies wildflowers (its an offence in most areas).

  • Never break or cut-down bushes and trees.

  • If you must tour off-trail in the alpine, spread out the group so as to not develop a path (it's surprising how little it takes to make a trail in the alpine).

  • Use good footwear and gaiters to avoid the temptation to trail braid or travel off-trail to avoid wet or muddy areas.

Water & Pollution Impact on the Canadian Rockies

It is important to keep Canada's rocky mountain streams as clean as possible. Believe it or not, there still are good water sources here where you can, if you like, drink straight from the source with purification. Here are a few tips on how to minimize your water and pollution impact:
  • Keep to designated touring trails and use bridges where provided.

  • Use trailhead outhouse/washroom facilities before beginning the hike.

  • Never urinate closer than 50 m (150 ft) to a water source or drainage system.

  • Make a cat hole (a hole dug 15 cm or 6" into the ground) no closer than 50 m (150 ft) from a water source and bury human waste. Burn or carry-out used toilet paper. Do not bury toilet paper as it takes a long time to break down when buried.

  • Never wash or bathe in a canadian rockies mountain creek or stream. Instead, collect water and wash no closer that 50 m (150 ft) from the water source. Dispose of grey water in the same manner. Use biodegradable soaps.

  • Pack out all garbage and help where possible by picking up garbage left by others.

  • Avoid garbage by removing excess packaging prior to the hike, and use reusable lunch bags.

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Canadian Rockies Destinations

Banff | Canmore | Fairmont | Fernie | Golden | Invermere | Jasper
Kananaskis | Kimberley | Lake Louise | Panorama | Radium | Waterton
Canadian Rockies Tour Destination Index
  Banff, AB
  Canmore, AB
  Kananaskis Country, AB
  Lake Louise, AB
  Waterton, AB
  Jasper, AB
  Radium, BC
  Invermere, BC
  Fairmont Hot Springs, BC
  Panorama, BC
  Kimberley, BC
  Fernie, BC
  Golden, BC
  Special Collection
  Accom Index

          Aesthetic Impacts on the Canadian Rockies
          People tour the Canadian outdoors and rocky mountains for various reasons, but many want to escape the hectic pace of the city or are in search of solitude.

    Please be considerate of the other users, and keep excess noise to a minimum. It is polite to allow faster groups to pass, or to step off the trail for hikers with heavier loads to pass from the other direction. Simply, be considerate.
          Friendly Canadian Advice
          We generally do not offer friendly advice to others on the trail unless they appear to need help or ask for it.

    Language like: "You're almost there" and "Only 15 more minutes" should be used sparingly. Friendly conversation is fine, but a group moving slowly may take 45 minutes to cover the "only 15 more minutes", and that can wreak havoc on motivation levels, which can spell hazzard. Please give something more tangible such as, "It's only 1 more kilometre". This will help mountain climbers and touring groups plan appropriate breaks and mental mind-set.

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