(Good Things Utah) Utah is home to many beautiful landscapes, rich cultures, and strong histories. For those familiar with Southern Utah, they know that one of the most breathtaking lands to explore is Grand County in Moab. With sites full of petroglyphs and markings made by Indigenous ancestors that have remained intact for years, Moab has seen twice as many visitors over the last ten years, making it difficult to continue that same level of preservation.

Because of this, visitors are encouraged to be responsible while venturing out into the red rocks of Moab. Responsible recreation is key to maintaining and restoring the unique sites around the area. To ensure we keep the most spectacular parks possible, check out the information below to become a responsible guest in our state’s parks.

How to mitigate noise impacts from motorized recreation in town:

Important tips to keep in mind:

  • Obey the 15mph OHV speed limit in town.
  • Avoid fast accelerations in town.
  • Avoid travel through residential neighborhoods.
  • Trailer vehicles when possible.
  • Respect others.

How to mitigate impact while recreating in the backcountry:

Know this information before you go:

  1. Weather
  2. Trail conditions
  3. Permits and regulations
  4. Resources (DiscoverMoab.com)

Personal Safety

  • Hydration – 1 gallon of water a day per person. During the journey in the desert, you will lose more water than you realize.
  • Water alone isn’t enough – Bring adequate food and snacks. Salts are lost through sweat too.
  • Clothing – Be prepared for weather and temperature changes.
  • Route Choices – Limiting wandering off the trail. If lost, stay safe and stay where you are, also letting someone know you’re there.
    • Cell phone service is unreliable. GPS on phones is great unless your phone dies, so make sure you know the route and aren’t reliant on your phone.

Leave Artifacts

Artifacts are sacred to modern Indigenous peoples, and scientists can learn valuable lessons about our past when the objects remain where they were found.

  • Artifacts can include pottery pieces, rock flakes, and stone tools.
  • It’s illegal to remove any artifact from public lands.
  • Rock Imagery – Look but don’t touch. Oils from our skin can damage and scratch the precious history within these sites.
  • Vandalism of petroglyphs and pictographs erase the stories of ancient people and destroys the experience for future visitors.

Learn about and avoid biocrust

  • Collections of organisms that stabilize the soil, boost fertility and diversity in the desert and retain the limited moisture.
  • Essentially a tiny forest on top of our soil.
  • Extremely tough to survive the desert environment, but one foot step can break it apart and destroy decades worth of growth.
  • Young biocrust looks like hardened dirt, older biocrust is black and raised, eventually it can have moss or lichen.
  • Erosion to the biocrust along trails affects plant growth, leading to a decrease in vegetation along the trails.
  • Larger impact – Affects how snow melts in the Utah and Colorado mountain regions, decreasing the water availability down the river.
  • Any type of compression destroys biocrust like footsteps, bikes, and tire tracks. It’s important to stay on the trail as much as possible.

Dispose of human waste properly

  • Human waste is slow to break down in the desert.
  • Fecal matter and fecal bacteria can still be present after one year, in a concentration significant enough to contaminate water sources, and can be displaced from the original site.
  • Utilize wag bags in the desert – A dry toilet system with a double bag feature and a deodorizing agent.
  • Dispose of these at the transfer station in Moab
    • Can not dispose of in trash cans, it is a biohazard to our waste management crews.

Respect others

People who use the trails are seeking a variety of experiences — many want to experience the natural surroundings. Please be respectful.

Minimize noise on the trail to let others experience their surroundings and minimize the impact on wildlife.

Share the trail – Moab’s trails are multi-use routes. Hikers and runners use all of the trails, and bikes often share trails with motorized users. Know the trail’s right-of-way rules and when in doubt, just yield.

Respect wildlife

  • Wildlife, including lizards, birds, and endangered bighorn sheep, call these canyons home. Help protect wildlife by:
    • Minimizing noise
    • Packing out all trash, including organic waste. This is unhealthy for animals and may make them aggressive towards humans.
    • Taking pictures from afar. Chasing animals such as lizards forces them to use up water and calories they can’t afford to lose.

For more information about this, visit DiscoverMoab.com and MoabTrailTeam.com.


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