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Should I understand a water source to mean a spring/well, or any place where hikers may collect water (streams, lakes, etc.)? Yes. Any source of water - no matter how large or small - should be avoided when choosing a camp site. 100 meters is just a guideline, 200 meters is better. 200 meters and out of sight is great. The reasons are several-fold: ...


An additional point that hasn't been mentioned, is when you camp next to a creek or stream the water level can quickly change, sometimes by quite a bit. It can be sunny where you are camped but heavy rain miles upstream from you, and the raising water level could wash away half of your camp while you sleep.


There are a couple of reasons for this, as I understand it: Your wastes (soap, Giardia in your poop, DEET, ...) will contaminate the water. Lakeshores in high-altitude areas tend to be very delicate. People do a lot of ecological damage by pitching their tents right there. Unlike high-altitude areas in the Alps, the ones in the western US do not have huts, ...

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