We now focus on ecotourism in Minnesota and Wisconsin in our family adventure series, Ecotourism in America. Not just for cheese lovers and ice hockey enthusiasts, this area of the Great Lakes region has abundant flora and fauna as well as numerous ecotourism and adventure travel opportunities. Amtrak’s Empire Builder route runs between Chicago and Seattle. With many stops in Minnesota and Wisconsin, you could rent a hybrid car and explore the rest of the area with the following eco-itinerary.
Suggested family ecotour itinerary:
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), which is located in northeastern Minnesota, is a 100-mile preserve of lakes and woods at the U.S. border with Canada (Quetico Provincial Park). With an abundance of canoe routes, hiking trails and fishing spots, you are well-positioned to spot bald eagles, loons, moose, deer, otters, and maybe even the occasional black bear, fox, and lynx. The area accommodates day trippers and campers well as there are nearly 2, 200 designated campsites.
- Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin spans more than 1.5 million acres and offers plenty of hiking trails that traverse a 41-mile segment of the Ice Age Trail as well as woodland areas, lakes, and rivers. View black bears, ruffed grouse, and loons in their natural habitat.
- Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin is a 44,000-acre refuge that offers fishing days, wildlife festivals, and night hikes so that you can witness firsthand native wolves and bears as well as more than 220 bird species, including the endangered bald eagle and whooping crane.
Suggested green lodging:
- Northern Lights Resort Outfitting & Youth Quest near Voyageurs National Park was recently awarded the Sustainable Tourism Award by Explore Minnesota. With extensive energy and water conservation programs; gray water and recycling systems; boats, canoes, and kayaks for rent; and lots of free activities, this resort has something for everyone.
- Artha Sustainable Living Center – Bed & Breakfast near Amherst, Wisconsin operates an environmentally sustainable retreat with amenities including organic breakfast ingredients harvested from its own garden and renewable energy systems. The B&B also offers yoga, meditation and herb workshops.