Toilet paper mess @ Yosemite National Park
Toilet paper mess @ Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park took to Instagram to express their extreme disapproval after discovering a disgusting mess of used toilet paper left behind by visitors at a pristine overlook of Rancheria Falls. The number of visitors to Yosemite National Park varies from year to year but generally ranges between 3 to 5 million annually. With the sheer amount of people in the park, backcountry bathroom emergencies are inevitable and Yosemite asks visitors to abide by their Leave No Trace ethic that encourages outdoor enthusiasts to consider the impacts they leave behind, which will affect other people, water, and wildlife. If the situation arise and you need to pop a squat, you are asked to deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Used toilet paper should be packed out (if you’re carrying toilet paper, carry a ziplock). You can also use a W.A.G. bag found at most outdoor retailers. Another great option is a portable bidet which is an underrated mode of cleaning up. Listen folks, relieving yourself is part of being a human and not leaving a mess behind a part of being a responsible one. Enough said.


Picture this: Yosemite’s majestic wilderness, stunning vistas, and… surprise! Used toilet paper waving hello near Rancheria Falls— a full roll too!

Unfortunately, this is a sight that’s become all too familiar in Yosemite, even in wilderness areas.

If you bring toilet paper out on your trips, please pack it out too. You can bring a sealable plastic baggie to stash it in, and even cover the bag in tape so you don’t have to look at it. Because really, nobody wants to stumble upon a surprise package left behind by an anonymous outdoor enthusiast.

Please don’t bury toilet paper, it’s easily exposed by weather and erosion, and animals can dig it up and disperse it long before it decomposes (which can take 1-3 years, depending on conditions). Some animals may even use it for nesting material (ew). Let’s keep things clean and classy out there, by packing out whatever you carry in.

Follow Leave No Trace ethics to be sure our adventures make memories, not messes!

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