Even though the National Parks are staying open during the government shutdown, they need your help to stay clean and safe. If you or someone you know is planning to visit a National Park, help keep our wild places wild by following these tips from our friends at Leave No Trace:

1. Plan for poop

With most bathrooms locked or overflowing, you’ll need a plan for how to dispose of your poop. Bring a trowel and bury your waste in a hole 6-8” deep and 70 steps from water (and either bury the toilet paper or pack it out with you). Or use a personal portable toilet, available at many outdoor stores.

2. Take your trash with you

With no staff to take out the trash, it’s up to you to bring your own trash bags and take your trash home. If you have extra space, consider removing any other garbage you can to help out the volunteers who have been stepping up during the shutdown.

3. Be a change for good

Even if no one is watching, model responsible visitor behavior by following park rules. Only explore, camp, and build fires where allowed. Most importantly, try your best to leave the park better than you found it.

4. Ensure your safety

Some areas of a park may not be accessible due to fallen trees, washed out bridges, or obscured trails. Plan ahead, but be aware that the latest information available may not reflect current conditions due to the shutdown.

5. Pay it forward

Although the shutdown means that there are no entry fees to visit parks, please consider making a donation to help ensure a bright future for your favorite places.