What Is an Ecotourism Trip?
You might think ecotourism requires you to book with a specific agency and exchange planting trees or cleaning up litter as part of the price you pay for your trip. That’s one form of green travel but doesn’t encompass the complete picture.
You can turn nearly any journey into an eco-tour. It all starts with treading lightly on the planet and can involve planning activities like hiking or bike rides instead of renting an ATV or driving everywhere. It might also mean skipping fancy hotels with tiny bottles of toiletries – and all that plastic – in favor of greener lodging.
Of course, ecotourism can entail acts of service. You might help residents of a village access clean drinking water or help plant trees to revitalize a region felled by the lumber industry.
Overall, an ecotourism trip aims to learn about the environment you’re visiting without causing any harm along the way.
Ecotourism Destinations in the U.S.
So, where should you go for your ecotourism trip? Consider one of these 10 ecotourism destinations in the U.S.
1. The Rocky Mountains
If you’re an avid hiker, visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a must. The elevation ranges from 8,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by forests, meadows, and diverse wildlife.
Along with hiking, you can go camping or take guided tours of the park to immerse yourself fully in the environment and learn from an expert about the ecosystem. These mountain ranges truly are a national treasure.
2. The Florida Keys
Some of the most diverse wildlife habitats in the country can be found at home in the Florida Keys.
You’ll find no shortage of sustainable lodging choices. For example, Islander Resort utilizes electricity from its solar panels. Grassy Flats provides all recycled materials in guest rooms and grows the fruit and herbs for its bar onsite.
While you’re there, visit Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s primarily open water, and no food or fuel is available at your destination. Therefore, you need to plan to pack a picnic lunch and pack out everything you bring with you.
You can also participate in a coral planting or coral clean-up with the Coral Restoration Foundation. I did this in Key Largo, and it was amazing to get to help replant the reefs in Florida!
A beautiful East Coast destination in the United States is Maine. From Acadia National Park to the many beaches and bays, Maine has a lot to offer environmental travelers.
You can schedule lighthouse visits to see the best views of open, blue waters. Along with lighthouses, Maine is also known for its seafood. Being conscious of your dining choices is essential to reducing your environmental impact on any trip. While in Maine, be sure to eat at local restaurants rather than chains.
4. Fort Myers and Sanibel
Here’s another Florida destination if you’re itching to go someplace sunny and warm. You can spend your days on one of the pristine white-sand beaches, watching the dolphins play in the surf.
While there, you can interact with history by witnessing the Mound House, an archeological site upon a 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian shell mound. Explore the onsite museum with a mural of what such an early village must have looked like.
Read Next: Road Trip Down Florida West Coast
Alaska is full of incredible natural sites, making it a must-see U.S. state. The state has so many national and state parks to choose from, such as Denali National Park and Preserve. Because of its wildlife and ecosystems, Alaska prioritizes environmentalism through eco-friendly lodges and tours.
If your family is keen on adventure and wants to experience breathtaking mountains, glaciers, and wildlife, Alaska should definitely be on your bucket list.
6. Half Moon Bay
Another stunning United States location is Halfmoon Bay in Coastside, California. This region of California includes miles of beaches, redwood forests, and natural environments, like Halfmoon Bay. You can take your family on seaside walks, mountain hikes, and forest explorations. You will get to experience diverse aquatic life, bright blue oceans, and incredible mountaintop views that you’ll surely never forget.
While others might think of Los Angeles or San Francisco when they plan a trip to California, the state has so much more than cities and celebrities.
7. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re an animal lover, take a trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. The refuge is a sanctuary for over 250 species of birds, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, 165 species of threatened plants, and various mammals.
The Chesapeake Bay is an essential ecosystem in the United States. Wildlife sanctuaries like Blackwater do incredible work to protect the wildlife that lives in the Chesapeake and surrounding areas.
8. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a breathtaking destination for outdoorsy travelers. Located between the Mojave and Colorado deserts, you’ll see the diverse and interesting plant and animal life that inhabit the deserts.
The mountains and rock formations in Joshua Tree make it an incredible place for hiking, camping, and experiencing the wonders of nature.
9. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
You might first associate it with Mount Rushmore when thinking about South Dakota. While Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist destination, it’s not a natural site. If you want to make your time in South Dakota more worthwhile, visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is home to protected wild horses – an animal that used to roam freely throughout the country before the land was conquered. Seeing the beautiful horses in their natural habitat will give you a new appreciation for the native species.
10. Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail stretches over 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine, making it accessible to many states on the East Coast. While humans built the trail, the scenery is 100% natural as you hike through it.
Many organizations run service programs throughout the Appalachian region if you’re looking for a chance to volunteer during your ecotourism trip.
Family Ecotourism Trips
If you’ve already hit major cities, theme parks, and tourist attractions on previous vacations, try something different with an environmentally friendly trip. You will get to see incredible natural sites and learn about our beautiful planet without leaving a harmful footprint.
Whether you book a private tour or select sustainable practices while away, you can make a difference on your ecotourism trip. Consider one of these 10 ecotourism destinations for your next getaway!
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