News & Updates

Year in Review for the Outdoors

Susy Alkaitis - March 22, 2021

We have officially passed the 1 year mark of the pandemic. As we continue to navigate how we can best connect and be there for each other, the ways that we humans interact and impact the outdoors has also continued to change and evolve. 

More People Started Getting Outside

As the CDC and WHO began recommending folks to wear masks, stay distant and spend time with others outside, local municipal and city parks began experiencing high levels of visitation. While overall 2020 National Parks visitation dipped lower than the previous year due to closures related to the pandemic, 15 National Park sites set new recreation visitation records! With travel plans being changed or canceled due to the pandemic, many opted to visit parks and forests closer to home. Between May 2nd and November 12th 2020, visitation to parks and outdoor spaces was higher than average, reaching a 60% increase during mid summer.

Masks Became LitterFrom the grocery store to the trail, the more disposable masks that were worn, the more they started showing up as litter in natural spaces. Just like using a reusable water bottle, choosing a reusable mask can make a huge difference in helping to reduce the estimated 129 billion masks that are going to landfills each month.

Closed Bathrooms & Facilities

For a variety of reasons such as funding cuts and reductions in staff, many parks and public areas temporarily closed facilities such as garbage cans and bathrooms. This led to a lot of folks having to learn how to go the bathroom outside, and to be prepared to pack out trash. If you’re not sure whether bathrooms and other facilities are still closed in your area, research before arriving to learn what to expect. Pack out trash whenever possible, and learn how to go the bathroom outside when necessary. 

Wildfires2020 was the most active fire year on record for the west coast. 9 out of 10 wildfires are human caused, which means 9 out of 10 wildfires are preventable. By learning how we can mitigate global climate change and have safe campfires, we can prevent more wildfires in the future.  


And then the monoliths appeared. First in the remote desert of south east Utah, then all across the globe. Whether they are artistic expressions from someone on earth or elsewhere, they have tested the outdoor ethics of many. If a mysterious monolith appears in an off trail area near you, learn about the rules and regulations of the area before heading out in search of it, and do your best to stick to paths to protect sensitive surfaces along the way. 

Learn More

The pandemic has altered the ways that we interact with the outdoors and each other. Check out our research on visitor behavior and attitudes towards outdoor recreation in relation to the pandemic that Leave No Trace conducted in partnership with Penn State University. This research also led to the creation of the Leave No Trace Covid-19 Guidelines.


By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams.  Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest Outfitters, ThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

Get the latest in Leave No Trace eNews in your inbox so you can stay informed and involved.