Many of Oregon’s once peaceful, secluded places to get away have been ruined by their spike in popularity.
This might sound dramatic, but hidden wonders are—at the very least—harder to come by. At one time, chasing a waterfall was a challenge. Now you have a literal herd of tourists leading the way directly to it.
While nothing is wrong with people discovering your favorite spots the same way you once did, there is everything wrong with these places becoming meccas for trash and human noise. The great outdoors are for everyone to enjoy, but there are ways to do so without ruining it for others.
Don’t go in a crowd
Have you ever been stuck behind a family of eight taking up the entire sidewalk, stopping to take selfies and walking at the speed of literal zombies? Imagine that frustration but on a dirt path designed for one or two people at a time. If you’re going on a hike, don’t go with your entire book club—go with a couple friends at a time. Fellow hikers will appreciate being able to enjoy the trails without having to brush against potentially poisonous plants to pass you. If you do choose to take the whole family for an outing, at least keep your voices down.
Leave your speaker at home
I know, you curated a playlist that is perfect for sitting by the lake and having a beer with your friends. However, noise carries over water, and not everyone wants to hear Toby Keith sing about the good ol’ U.S. of A. from the other side of the lake. Some of us find peace in the sound of birds or whistling of pine trees, and if we wanted it to be drowned out by human noise, we would have stayed in the city limits. If you want to listen to music, wear headphones or at least keep the volume low.
You have every right to take photos of that sick mountain view with the silhouette of the trees. But if you don’t want your favorite camping area to suddenly have a waitlist, stop geotagging its exact location! There’s beauty in mystery, and trust me, it can be extremely satisfying to be petty and not reply to comments asking where that spot is.
Stay on the paths
Trails are marked for a reason. Whether it is for hikers’ own safety or to protect the area’s ecosystem, they should be followed. It’s not cool or edgy to go into restricted areas just to get a good shot for your feed. We’ve taken enough from nature, and if you ruin a natural habitat, you might just deserve that rash you got from moving those unfamiliar-looking branches out of your way.
Leave no trace
This one may seem obvious, but if you go to any popular lake in the state, you’re bound to find a few empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon along the shore or in a bush. Not only is this incredibly trashy, but it’s harmful to wildlife. Throwing trash in the firepit and hoping the next person to come along burns it for you doesn’t count as disposal. Pack in, pack out.