News & Updates

Community Partner Spotlight – Mountain IDEAL

Faith Overall - October 27, 2021

Hundreds of cities and towns across the United States are seen as outdoor recreation destinations, where travelers come from far and wide to enjoy these areas’ lands, waters and wildlife in a variety of ways. However, as more and more people set out on adventure oriented vacations, there has been a need for these destinations to focus on sustainability and stewardship of the natural resources that make them so sought after.

Mountain IDEAL provides a destination stewardship framework of best practices to help communities advance responsible, regenerative, and transformational tourism that improves quality of life attributes, enhances visitor experience, and safeguards a destination’s sense of place. Formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as a sustainability standard and certificate program, Mountain IDEAL provides rural, resort, recreation and gateway communities the tools to meet these sustainability and stewardship goals.

Mountain IDEAL joined as a Community Partner to share the Leave No Trace’s message with destinations and communities as a way of advancing their vision to sustain healthy and vibrant natural lands, expand equitable access to the outdoors, and educate youth about the wonders of our natural environments. We spoke with the folks at Mountain IDEAL and asked them to share more about how they are working to support outdoor communities and how Leave No Trace plays a role in the work they are doing.

What is Mountain IDEAL’s top accomplishment?

Mountain IDEAL was used for the rigorous third-party certification of Vail (2018, 2021) and Breckenridge (2021) which have been pinnacle achievements for the program over the last five years. Through the process, both communities have highlighted their tremendous achievements in environmental conservation, equitable community planning, engagement with their local businesses, and commitment to responsible travel principles (including Leave No Trace messaging).

In 2021, the Mountain IDEAL program was reimagined as a response to the growing demand of outdoor spaces and unfortunate impacts of overtourism.  Mountain IDEAL is focused on providing the tools and resources to communities to help destinations design a stewardship framework to better engage with their local community stakeholders; encourage the development of messaging around responsible travel to visitors (including Leave No Trace principles); provide resources to local businesses to support sustainability improvements; and help communities gain recognition for commitment to sustainable tourism.

Finally, Mountain IDEAL is working to create a network of destinations and communities that are facing similar challenges and encouraging peer-to-peer learning and sharing of best practices.

Why did Mountain IDEAL join as a Community Partner?

Mountain IDEAL is a firm believer and active participant in the 7 principles, it is perfectly aligned with Leave No Trace and is inspired by the impact the organization has on improving sustainable visitor use.  People need nature to recreate but impacts quickly mount up.  Local community managers can play a vital role in encouraging responsible and sustainable visitor use of our natural resources and public lands.

We hope through greater collaboration, Mountain IDEAL and Leave No Trace can bridge the space between “trail and town” and collectively utilize our toolkits to advance stewardship planning for nature AND communities.

How does Leave No Trace add to the well-being of your organization?

Mountain IDEAL is focused on destination stewardship and understands the tangible and intangible value of our public lands.  The communities we work with rely on those natural areas as a primary asset for economic development, community enjoyment, and visitor experience.  It is imperative these sacred places are well managed.  Leave No Trace is the leading organization working to conserve our public lands through research, user education, and community messaging and Mountain IDEAL wants to support this effort.

What are some specific ways Mountain IDEAL is promoting Leave No Trace? Are there any unique ways you are utilizing Leave No Trace education and messaging? 

Mountain IDEAL encourages all communities to utilize messaging and communications as a sustainable visitor use management tool to encourage visitors to act in a responsible and respectful manner with traveling. DMOs and other community groups have the power of the pen and can share a powerful message about the value public lands have on the community’s quality of life and sense of place. The Mountain IDEAL best practices specifically call out Leave No Trace as a resource for visitor use research, education, and guidelines and as a partner in developing customized messaging for a destination.


Can you share one or two anecdotes from your work pertaining to Leave No Trace?

Coincidentally, the states where Mountain IDEAL has been successful are the same states that Leave No Trace is working with the state tourism offices to advance the principles as a statewide commitment to responsible travel.

In fact, our partners in Vail and Breckenridge are both creating local Leave No Trace campaigns that include posting the principles on trailhead signs, creating informative brochures, and useful visitor gifts.

Anything else you would like us to know?

We invite destination managers and municipality representatives to visit and to attend our upcoming training that will introduce the Mountain IDEAL program, include five guest speakers and destination case studies, and provide the opportunity for participants to complete a sustainability self-assessment and receive personalized consultation on the results.

November 3, 2021 @ 9:00-10:45 AM MT:  Destination Stewardship w/ Mountain IDEAL.
November 3, 2021 @ 12:30-3:00 PM MT:  Guest Speaker Case Studies.
November 16, 2021 @ 9:00-10:30 AM MT:  Mountain IDEAL Deep Dive Q&A.

Learn more and register here:

Use this discount code:  LNT2021 (50% discount)

Thank you Mountain IDEAL for all your support of Leave No Trace! Click here to learn more about how other Community Partners are activating Leave No Trace education in their businesses and organizations.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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