What is an ecotourism trip?
You might think that ecotourism requires you to book with a specific agency and trade tree planting or garbage cleanup as part of the price you pay for your trip. That’s one form of green travel, but it doesn’t encompass the whole picture.
You can turn almost any trip into an eco tour. It all starts with gently treading the planet and may involve planning activities like walks or bike rides instead of renting an ATV or driving everywhere. It could also mean skipping luxury hotels with little bottles of toiletries, and all that plastic, in favor of greener accommodation.
Of course, ecotourism can involve acts of service. You can help residents of a town access clean drinking water or help plant trees to revitalize a region cleared by the logging industry.
In general, an ecotourism trip aims to learn about the environment you are visiting without causing any damage along the way.
Ecotourism destinations in the US
So where should you go for your ecotourism trip? Consider one of these 10 ecotourism destinations in the US.
1. The Rocky Mountains
If you are an avid hiker, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a must. The height goes from 8,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by forests, meadows and diverse fauna.
Along with hiking, you can go camping or take guided tours of the park to fully immerse yourself in the environment and learn from an expert about the ecosystem. These mountain ranges are truly a national treasure.
2. The Florida Keys
Some of the most diverse wildlife habitats in the country can be found right at home in the Florida Keys.
You will find no shortage of sustainable accommodation options. For example, Islander Resort uses electricity from its solar panels. Grassy Flats provides all the recycled materials in the rooms and grows the fruits and herbs for their on-site bar.
While you’re there, visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. This is mostly open water and there is no food or fuel available at your destination. Therefore, you should plan to pack a picnic lunch and pack anything you bring with you.
You can also participate in a coral planting or coral cleanup with the Coral Restoration Foundation. I did this in Key Largo, and it was amazing to be able to help replant the reefs in Florida!
A beautiful destination on the East Coast of the United States is Maine. From Acadia National Park to the many beaches and bays, Maine has much to offer environmental travelers.
you can program visits to the lighthouse to see the best views of open and blue waters. Along with lighthouses, Maine is also known for its seafood. Being mindful of your dining choices is essential to reducing your environmental impact on any trip. While in Maine, be sure to eat at local restaurants instead of chain ones.
4. Fort Myers and Sanibel
Here’s another Florida destination if you’re itching to go somewhere sunny and warm. You can spend your days on one of the pristine white sand beaches, watching dolphins play in the waves.
While you’re there, you can engage with history by witnessing Mound House, an archaeological site atop a 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian shell mound. Explore the on-site museum with a mural of what such a primitive people must have looked like.
Read next: West Coast Florida Road Trip
Alaska is packed with amazing natural places, making it a must-see US 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 interested in adventure and wants to experience stunning mountains, glaciers, and wildlife, Alaska should definitely be on your bucket list.
6. Half Moon Bay
Another stunning place in the United States is Halfmoon Bay in Coastside, California. This region of California includes miles of beaches, redwood forests, and natural settings like Halfmoon Bay. You can take your family on seaside hikes, mountain hikes, and forest explorations. You will be able to experience the diverse aquatic life, the brilliant blue oceans and the incredible views from the top of the mountain that you will surely never forget.
While others may think of Los Angeles or San Francisco when planning a trip to California, there is much more to the state than just cities and celebrities.
7. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re an animal lover, take a trip to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. The shelter is a sanctuary for more than 250 species of birds35 species of reptiles and amphibians, 165 species of threatened plants and several mammals.
The Chesapeake Bay is an essential ecosystem in the United States. Wildlife sanctuaries like Blackwater do an amazing job of protecting the wildlife that lives in the Chesapeake and surrounding areas.
8. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a stunning destination for outdoor travelers. Located between the Mojave and Colorado deserts, you will see the diverse and interesting plant and animal life that inhabits the deserts.
Joshua Tree’s mountains and rock formations make it an amazing place to hike, camp, and experience the wonders of nature.
Read next: 8 Fun Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park
9. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
You might first associate it with Mount Rushmore when you think of South Dakota. While Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist destination, it is 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. Although humans built the trail, the scenery is 100% natural as you walk along it.
Many organizations run service programs throughout the Appalachian region if you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer during your ecotourism trip.
Family Ecotourism Trips
If you’ve visited major cities, theme parks, and tourist attractions on previous vacations, try something different with an eco-friendly trip. You will be able 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 you’re away, you can make a difference on your ecotourism trip. Consider one of these 10 ecotourism destinations for your next getaway!