As you walk through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, you’ll have your breath taken away by natural beauty at every turn. With sights that will inspire and majestic wildlife that can only be seen in America’s heartland, our National Parks command respect for the natural world and its power. But keeping these American crown jewels in pristine condition is no small task. It requires that every visitor be involved and aware to make sure that the parks stay beautiful for another 100 years.

Here are a few simple ways that you can help preserve Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and while enjoying all they have to offer:

1. Stay On Marked Paths

Although many of the sights that you see in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are awe-inspiring, they are best observed from a safe distance. Not only will staying on marked paths ensure that you are safe, but you’ll also help preserve the hundreds of sensitive wildlife species that live in the area and plant species that grow just off of the path.

2. Do NOT Feed The Locals

The furry locals of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons have been thriving for 100s of years, long before humans came into the picture. Feeding wild animals has both negative physical and social impacts on these Yellowstone and Grand Teton locals. Their diet is vastly different from ours and feeding them can cause serious health issues, as they forget how to forage on their own as animals normally do. Prolonged interaction with people can make these animals reliant on humans for food. This means that many times they will approach other humans who may not be as kind in their intentions as you are. So please, keep the granola bars and potato chips to yourself.

3. Pack It In, Pack It Out

Everything that you bring into the parks should either leave with you, or be disposed of in a marked trash bin. In the National Parks, trash and recycling cans are limited to preserve the surrounding natural beauty as well as to keep the locals from feasting on what humans leave behind. Trash also decomposes slowly and can harm plants and small animals.

4. Take Pictures Not Souvenirs

Pictures last forever, whether you take them on your camera or smartphone. You can even share them with your friends and family quickly and easily. But if you take something from the park, others will not be able to enjoy the beautiful item that you enjoyed so much. Much of the natural beauty in the parks has taken thousands of years to form, and every stone has a key role in the history of the National Parks. Please leave rocks, bones, plants and other items as they are to be viewed and enjoyed by other park visitors.

5. Admire Wildlife from Afar

One of the major attractions at National Parks is wildlife viewing where an abundance of animals calls this place their home. They can be unpredictable, especially if they feel threatened by strangers in their space or certain times of the year, such as Spring, when their aggressiveness heightens as mothers protect their young. Keep a safe distance by using binoculars or telephoto lenses. Also, keep in mind it is prohibited to approach bears and wolves within 100 yards and 25 yards for other wildlife like bison and elk.

Informed and engaged visitors help National Parks continue to be a spectacular place to visit. If you would like to learn more about where to explore in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, visit the National Park Service website and our activities page to see more information on our guided Yellowstone and Grand Teton tours.