Most people love to travel but with climate change, now a pressing concern on the global agenda, being a conscious tourist is getting harder and harder in order to minimize or combat your carbon footprint and prevent wastage from your vacations. It is, however, not impossible to achieve. Socially conscious travel is all about seeing the wonders of a certain place or area without destroying the natural sites that make them so unique.
So if you are looking to vacation whilst putting your mind at ease, here we look at the best places in the US for ecotourism.
Alaska is a rather mixed bag when it comes to environmentalism. Undoubtedly a rather beautiful state with over 100 national and state parks, it also allows oil drilling in some of its most precious and scenic areas. That being said, Eco Lodges that are run entirely on alternative energy sources are readily available for many visitors.
The Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge is a perfect example of this with many more moving in that direction so that tourists can come to spot the dozens of threatened or endangered species that call Alaska home and no that they aren't contributing to the destruction of their habitat.
It is perhaps no surprise that Hawaii is a state that is known for practicing sustainability since it has been doing it for millennia with the locals holding fast to the notion of malama aina, meaning to care for the land and this means that it finds it much easier to undertake ecotourism activities that don't harm the environment around them.
Eco lodges are aplenty and places like the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park explaining their ancient and modern eco practices, the scenery is lush and will hopefully remain so for many more years to come with these practices in place.
California has over 125,000 green jobs with most of them coming in ecotourism, showing that it is serious about environmentalism. Things like walking and cycling trails, a conservation-minded aquarium, and restaurants featuring local and sustainable food in the hustling, bustling city of San Francisco contribute to its idea of 'urban ecotourism', in a world first.
Outside of the cities, the Yosemite National Park protects much of the nation's natural treasures and uses green hybrid buses and shuttles whilst companies like Desert Adventures offer eco-friendly excursions to San Andreas Fault, Mystery Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park.
Surrounded by natural beauty, Oregon has been promoting cycling and hiking by increasing its trail and cycle paths to encourage tourists and locals alike to leave the car at home. With sustainable vineyards such as Amity Vineyard selling 'eco-wine', even your evening tipple can be eco-conscious as the organic and sulfite-free drinks don't use harmful chemicals in their production.
Eco-tours are also available throughout the state as are eco-breweries and eco-pubs and places like Sunriver Resort are a Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and are certified on the matter.
Like Alaska, Montana is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to its approach to environmentalism as, although it is home to two national parks, it also allows for natural gas drilling in its varied and rugged landscape. Places such as the LEED-certified Hotel Terra Jackson Hole hotel try to counter this by using water conservation systems, alternative energy, and 100 percent organic towels, mats, and bathrobes.
In Yellowstone National Park and Xanterra Parks & Resorts recycling and conservation programs have been put in place as well as sustainable food sourcing.
Element Denver Park Meadows has implemented energy conservation and recycling practices whilst many tour companies across the state offer eco-friendly tour options making Colorado one of the easiest places to undertake ecotourism. Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art is the first gold LEED-certified museum in the nation with many lodges and attractions also certified.
The Rocky Mountains National Park offers outdoor activities that bring you closer to the stunning scenery without damaging it.
Eco-friendly B&B cabins in the stunning Mount Rainier National Park are just the beginning to Washington's commitment to environmentally friendly tourism as cities like Seattle offer a whole range of places where you can find local and sustainable produce, seafood, and beer.
Suncadia Resort is another LEED-certified place to stay whilst hiking, rafting, and kayaking are popular eco-activities throughout the beautiful locations of the amazing state.