One does not necessarily need to escape to another country to experience the joy and wonder of US ecotourism. US ecotourism offers a wide variety of sustainable travel experiences that focus on nature and wildlife and spotlight the country’s diversity of flora and fauna. US ecotourism also provides a great occasion for families to relax, reconnect, and (re)discover historical sites and cultural traditions. (Read how children benefit from ecotourism.)
Whether it is a long weekend break or taking one last trip before school starts again, we suggest the following US ecotourism destinations.
AirBnB Road Trips – Eastern Seaboard US Ecotourism
Inspired by her town’s passing of legislation allowing chickens to be kept locally and her daughter’s lobbying of school administrators to create a 4-H type club for students to raise hatched chicks, this Mom created an AirBnB trip adventure to visit chicken and other organic farms…read how her family road trip combined green lifestyle choices, geography lessons, and fun.
Kapalua in Maui – Hawaii Ecotourism
For those who want a bit more luxury during their ecotourism vacation, the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua offers a Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors for the Environment Program. There are separate programs for children as well as others families. Our son participated in the Survivor program, which incorporated history (specifically how people came to inhabit Maui) as well as basic survival training skills including working as a team, scouting areas and building a shelter, collecting clean water, and utilizing nature’s bounty to provide food, healing remedies, and protection…read more about how to empower your child to become an ambassador for the environment.
Joshua Tree National Park – California Ecotourism
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….read more suggestions for experiencing ecotourism in California.
Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska Ecotourism
Alaska is one of the least densely populated places in the world, and much of the state remains wild and road-less. Travel to Alaska typically focuses on these remote areas and enjoying the stunning scenery and abundant wildlife they offer. To ensure that nature and ecotourism can continue, some residents have taken on the role of being stewards of the natural environment so that wild places in Alaska remain for future generations to enjoy….read more options for visiting Alaska.
Mackinac Island – Michigan Ecotourism
The more I travel, the more I appreciate the unhurried feeling of a pedestrian zone, where locals and visitors alike can only traverse by foot or bicycle. However, lately, I’ve started to gravitate toward car-free islands where it is downright acceptable to slow down, meander through roadways and scenic areas, think, and even strike up a conversation with a passer-by or two…read about one such island experience in Michigan.
Glacier National Park – Montana Ecotourism
Within Glacier National Park, there are 732 miles of hiking and biking trails as well as 13 campgrounds, so there are plenty of options for adventurers. Also, when Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park combined with Glacier National Park in 1932 to form the world’s first International Peace Park, adventure options expanded, even more, allowing for easy biking and hiking across the border into Canada (just remember to bring your passport)…read more tips for seeing Glacier National Park before the glaciers disappear.
Acadia National Park – Maine Ecotourism
Bar Harbor in Maine has the distinction of being the second most popular outdoor adventure area in the United States (second to Yellowstone National Park). It is easy to understand why as this is the area where the Atlantic Ocean meets the mountains of scenic Acadia National Park and where the pleasures of summer epitomize pure family fun…read more about Bar Harbor, Kennebunkport & other vacation options in Maine.
Gila National Forest – New Mexico Ecotourism
Gila National Forest in New Mexico is also adjacent to the Apache National Forest – and whether it’s biking along the canyon, mountain, meadow and semi-desert paths or swimming in the hot springs, you will marvel at the bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and the red-tailed hawks soaring overhead…read more options for visiting New Mexico and Arizona.
Lake Placid – New York Ecotourism
The Lake Placid Area offers numerous outdoor activities whether it is hiking, snowshoeing, fishing, boating, rock climbing, downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating on the Olympic oval, boat rentals, bobsledding, swimming, or tobogganing on Mirror Lake. The Adirondack forest is home to over 70 species of trees and nearly 60 species of mammals. Birdwatchers also will delight in the region, as over 200 species of birds have been spotted…read more about ecotourism options in New York.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – Washington Ecotourism
Located on the western slopes of the Cascade mountain range that extends over 140 miles between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, Snoqualmie National Forest contains glacier-covered peaks alongside mountain meadows. No permits are necessary when entering a trailhead with the exception of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. On the western side of the Cascade mountain range is Mt. Rainer National Park, which offers many biking, hiking, and boating activities. On the eastern side is the Barn Beach Reserve, which a combined environmental learning center, museum, and arts organization that sponsors lectures, field trips and provides guided nature walks…read more tips for ecotourism in both Washington and Oregon.
Additional US Ecotourism Ideas
Finally, the U.S. Government has a full-service vacation website, Recreation.gov, which helps people search, plan activities, obtain tour tickets and permits, and book camping and lodge accommodations that are run by the National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service and other federal agencies.
There, you can also look for ecotourism activities in: