DEC Regulations

Different regions of the Adirondack Park have differing regulations tailored to their specific concerns. DEC has adopted general rules for camping in the Adirondacks and Catskills. 

The Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area (HPWA) is the most heavily used and regulated region of the Adirondack Park. The HPWA is split into Eastern and Western Zones, with the Eastern High Peaks being the more strictly regulated.

Group Size

  • Overnight group size is limited to a maximum of eight people in the Eastern and Western High Peaks Wilderness.
  • Day use group size is limited to a maximum of 15 people.
  • Affiliated groups must maintain a separation distance of at least 1 mile (1.6 km) at all times.Camping


  • No camping above 4000 feet at any time.
  • Camping between 3500 and 4000 feet is limited to designated sites.
  • Below 3500 feet, camping is allowed at designated sites or at locations at least 150 feet (46 m) from any road, trail, or water source. (In the Eastern High Peaks, to protect the resource, DEC strongly recommends camping only at designated sites or lean-tos.)


  • No campfires are allowed in the Eastern High Peaks Zone.
  • In the Western High Peaks Zone, campfires are allowed only at designated sites or at locations at least 150 feet (46 m.) from any road, trail, or water source.

Bear Canisters

From April 1-Nov. 30, campers in the Eastern High Peaks are required to use bear-resistant canisters to store all food, food containers, garbage, and toiletries. (DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack and Catskill backcountry.) Canisters are available to purchase and rent at ADK’s High Peaks Information Center, for sale at ADK’s Lake George Member Services Center, and for sale and rent at several other local retailers. (The rental rate at HPIC is $5 for two nights.) More information about DEC’s bear-canister regulation.

Guidelines for the Use of a Bear-Resistant Canister

  • Store all food, toiletries, garbage, and other scented items in the canister (including bug repellant, candles, and pet food).
  • Place the canister and your food preparation area at least 100 ft (30 m) away from your campsite.
    • Take the carrying case off of the canister.
    • Leave the canister loose on the ground; do not hang it.
    • Store the canister away from the water.
  • Plan your menu ahead of time to minimize bulk. Use dehydrated, calorie-dense foods, and repackage to reduce volume.
  • At mealtime, take out only the foods you plan to eat. Store food immediately if a bear enters your cooking area.
  • Cook and clean up before dusk.

Comment Se Servir D’un Contenant Anti-Ours

  •     Ranger dans le contenant toute nourriture, articles de toilette,
  •     déchets et tout autre objet odorant (y compris produits anti-insectes,
  •     bougies et nourriture pour chiens etc.)
  •     Le contenant et l’endroit où vous préparez votre repas doivent se
  •     situer à au moins 30m (100 pieds) de votre campement.
    • Enlever la housse de transport.
    • Déposer le contenant par terre; ne pas le suspendre.
    • Ranger le contenant loin de l’eau.
  •     Planifier correctement votre menu afin de minimiser la quantité de
  •     nourriture. Apporter de la nourriture déshydratée, à haute teneur
  •     énergétique, et la sortir de son emballage d’origine pour en réduire le
  •     volume.
  •     Au moment de préparer un repas, ne sortir du contenant que ce dont
  •     vous aurez besoin. Et dans le cas où un ours arrive, ranger
  •     immédiatement les aliments.
  •     Faire les repas et nettoyer avant le couché du soleil.

Miscellaneous Regulations

  • Pets must be leashed at all times.
  • Proper food and garbage storage must be observed.
  • No soap or detergents in any water body.
  • No disposal of food in any water body.
  • No use of any motorized equipment.
  • Skis or snowshoes must be used when the terrain is covered with 8 or more inches (20 cm) of snow.
  • Use existing outhouses or deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep and at least 150 feet (46 m) from any water body.
  • Quiet hours must be observed from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m.
  • Glass containers are prohibited.

Additional regulations may apply. Please review regulations at the trailhead before starting your trip.

The above information is provided as a public service of ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club). For further information, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 5 Office, Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977, 518-897-1200.