Leave No Trace

We've partnered with © Leave No Trace: to keep the Keweenaw's wilderness, lakes and special places pristine. Please take a moment and get familiar with these principles so your visit will be safe and enjoyable while preserving the Keweenaw for future generations.

7 Principles

Plan Ahead & Prepare

The Keweenaw offers a wide variety of outdoor activities - from ORV/ATV experiences to hiking or mountain biking through vast Keweenaw forest. With proper planning and preparation, everyone can have a safe and enjoyable experience, while also minimizing recreational impact on the environment.

  • Get a Map: Due to the remote nature of the Keweenaw, cellphone service is not available in all areas. It's important to save maps to your device for offline use or have paper maps of the area. Stop by our Visit Keweenaw Welcome Center for paper maps and local knowledge that will help you plan your next Keweenaw adventure. 
  • Plan Activities For Your Skill Level: The Keweenaw offers experiences for all skill levels. It's important to plan activities that match your skills and abilities. Exploring the Keweenaw may be more exciting and rewarding when accompanied by a local guide.  
  • Proper Gear: Prepare for your adventure by identifying essential equipment, proper attire, and considering nutrition and hydration needs. We encourage you to bring water & snacks, but remember, if you pack it in, you need to pack it out. Leave No Trace.
  • Additional Considerations: Consider weather, terrain, regulations, and private land boundaries before you go. The Keweenaw is full of public nature areas for all to enjoy. Please research your destination and be aware of the public land boundaries. Respect the privacy of others, and do not trespass. 

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

Travel: To minimize your impact on the environment, be sure to stay on designated trails within our nature areas. Avoid trampling natural vegetation and stick to more durable surfaces like gravel or rock. When trails are wet and muddy, walk through the puddles or step over them, rather than around them to prevent trail widening. 

Camping: If your trip to the Keweenaw includes camping, be sure to plan ahead to ensure that you find a suitable campsite. We recommend making reservations at our local campgrounds in advance, as they can fill up quickly during the summer months.

For those interested in dispersed camping on Michigan state-owned land, it is essential to know land boundaries and only camp in areas that are accessible without trespassing. The Keweenaw has limited dispersed camping areas available, but the the Ottawa National Forest near Baraga is a great option. Camp registration cards are required for dispersed camping. The Visit Keweenaw Welcome Center can provide you with more information.

  • Camp only in existing or designated campsites to avoid damaging vegetation. 
  • Research campsite availability. Have a backup option, in case campsites are full. 
  • Avoid camping close to water and trails. 
  • Take time to naturalize the site when you leave. Remember, it is best to leave a pristine campsite, with no evidence of previous use. 

Dispose of Waste Properly

Protect wildlife, water sources, and other visitors by disposing of all waste properly, this includes human and pet waste. If you pack it in, be sure to pack it out. Bring a plastic bag with you to collect any trash so that it can properly be disposed when you reach a garbage can. Make sure to toss those peels, cores, and all other food waste in your trash bag, as well!

Human Waste: When nature calls and no restroom is available, it is recommended that you bury your waste 6-8 inches deep and at least 70 big steps away from water, camp, and trails. Make sure to pack out any toilet paper and feminine products.

Pet Waste: Bring bags to collect your pet's poo, and make sure to pack it out to the nearest garbage can. 

Leave What You Find

Keep the Keweenaw pristine by leaving it the way you find it. Plants, rocks, and other natural items should be left alone to protect the environment and so that they can be enjoyed by others. Help reduce the spread of invasive species by brushing off boots and boot tires, as well as draining and cleaning your water vessels before launching into different bodies of water. 

Minimize Campfire Impacts

It is essential to be careful when building campfires, and be mindful of the current fire danger as reported by the DNR. 

Fire Safety Tips:

  • Only use firewood that is purchased locally or responsibly gathered from on site (if allowed). Firewood brought from home may contain pests or disease that could be harmful to Keweenaw forests. 
  • Use existing fire rings to protect the ground from heat. 
  • Help prevent wildfires by keeping fires small.
  • Try to burn all wood to white ash before you leave the area. 
  • Fire can be put out with water.
  • Do not cover hot coals with sand on public beaches. Other beach-goers may not see the fire area and could step on these hot coals with bare feet. 

Respect Wildlife

The Keweenaw is full of interesting critters, and it's important to respect and protect Keweenaw wildlife during your next visit.

  • Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee.
  • Move quietly, and give animals extra space during sensitive times such as mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
  • Do not feed or touch wild animals. 
  • Watch for wildlife on roads when traveling. Slow down if you see an animal in the roadway. 

Be Considerate of Others

People come to the Keweenaw to disconnect from the daily hustle and bustle of life and to reconnect with nature. Respect the solitude of others by eliminating excessive noise, keeping your pets controlled (in pet-friendly places only), and following basic trail etiquette rules. 

Trail Etiquette: 

  • Hikers yield to uphill hikers.
  • Bikers yield to hikers. 
  • Everyone yields to horses & wheelchairs. 
  • In winter, avoid stepping on groomed ski-trails with boots or snowshoes. 

Our Partnership

Visit Keweenaw’s partnership with Leave No Trace is intended to create a culture which embodies leave no trace principles and enhances our communication to visitors as they plan their travels and experiences. At the end of the day, we hope that our visitors become world-class stewards and advocates of our lands and communities.

The partnership with Leave No Trace starts with a review of, our social media channels and other area information resources we produce to identify opportunities to better incorporate leave no trace principles. Once the review is complete, Leave No Trace offers technical assistance, training, and messaging collateral to Visit Keweenaw for ongoing improvements. At this time, Visit Keweenaw is one of three Michigan destination marketing organizations partnering with Leave No Trace. The other two are Travel Marquette and Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau.

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