Let’s find ourselves with a California eco-itinerary. With a bevy of national parks and forests, California offers ample opportunities for family ecotourism adventurers to enjoy one last end-of-summer weekend mountain biking, hiking, and whitewater rafting. Besides the option of taking the Amtrak train or driving a hybrid vehicle, you may want to consider a sustainable Undiscovered Country bicycle tour through the Pacific Coast, Redwoods, and Mountain parts of California. Tours include lodging, dining, local sightseeing, luggage transfer, small group sizes and all the nature and breathtaking scenery you can take in along the way.
Suggested family ecotour itinerary:
- Joshua Tree National Park – with an unusual diversity of ecosystems resulting in many species of plants, birds, and desert animals, a visit to Joshua Tree is a feast for the senses. The park offers volunteer programs as well as many activities including guided ranch tours, birding (look for the roadrunner, Phainopepla, mockingbird, verdin, cactus wren, rock wren, mourning dove, Le Conte’s thrasher, and Gambel’s quail), horseback riding, self-guided nature walks, and rock climbing. Some campsites such as Black Rock and Indian Cove are available by reservation while other campgrounds are on a first-come, first served basis.
- Yosemite National Park – one of the first wilderness parks in the United States and a World Heritage Site, Yosemite is home to many species of plant and animals including the Sierra Nevada red fox and bighorn sheep, black bear, and the spotted owl. In addition to volunteer programs, the park offers free art classes and photography walks, spectacular backpacking on the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails, fishing, and ranger walks.
Suggested green lodging:
- Strawberry Creek Inn B&B near Idyllwild, California rests on grounds that have been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat. In addition to a locally-sourced organic breakfast, the innkeeper offers detailed information for suggested nearby activities including hang-gliding over the desert or zip-lining through the mountain forest.
- Historic Sand Rock Farm B&B near Aptos, California is an environmentally responsible hotel that boasts chef-prepared meals, composts, minimizes waste and avoids the use of chemical cleaning products. This B&B is also close to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which offers marine scientist for day sailing adventures and Big Sur.
- Tamarack Lodge near Mammoth, California is the first LEED ® certified Lodge in the Eastern Sierra. With sustainable principles and development in mind, the lodge incorporates the use of gray-water and renewable energy systems along with extensive recycling.