Leave No Trace, Behind: Rocky Mountain National Park's pack-out poop bag program

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Pack your poop, people: This week the Fort Collins Coloradoan and LovelandConnection.com are reporting on a new program at Rocky Mountain National Park to distribute free bags for packing out human waste, after park rangers noticed rising coliform bacteria counts in the groundwater near popular camping areas.

The double-bagged disposable travel toilet systems are available from "poop bag dispensers" at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead and Chasm Lake Junction on the trail to Longs Peak, and are being offered to anyone who obtains overnight backcountry permits for the park. To buy a supply of your own, check out WhenNatureCalls.com.

Via LovelandConnection:

The standard method of doing your business in the wild usually is simple: Dig a cat hole 6 inches deep and at least 200 feet from a trail, campsite or river, cover it up and, if you can, pack out the toilet paper.

That's still the general rule at Rocky Mountain National Park, but there's a problem when a lot of people do that in the same space, said Jim Dougan, the park's wilderness program manager.

"The dominant thing that can be measured when the groundwater's contaminated with human waste is coliform (bacteria) counts rise," he said. "To humans, it becomes a health issue. Children are playing in the water and they put their hands to their face - and you can get contamination in a number of different ways other than just drinking it."

The Coloradoan also reports that the American Alpine Club will be hosting an international "Exit Strategies" conference (people who spend a lot of time thinking about human excrement tend to have a good sense of potty humor) in Golden in July to further address the issue of human waste in the backcountry.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.