A lot of people these days want to be more eco-friendly by changing their habits and reducing their carbon footprint. This environmental awareness has led to the popularity of ecotourism — something that’s starting to take over the United States. Travellers want to experience natural wonders, walk through landscapes, and meet the wildlife as close as possible. To become eco-savvy explorers, here are 8 sustainable travel destinations in the US you should definitely have on your itinerary.
Maui Island in Hawaii
The very mention of Hawaii means tropical heaven for many with gorgeous beaches and crystal clear waters. Although Maui Island is the most visited one in this state, it’s not only because of its black sand shores. The Haleakala National Park is home to the biggest dormant volcano in the world and many decide to travel along the scenic coastline down the Road to Hana.
Snorkeling and diving with marine wildlife, riding on a zip line, or playing golf are some of the activities you can do in Maui. A short hike in the Iao Valley State Monument Park will take you through the ethnobotanical garden and to the lookout point.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
If you are looking for a great family vacation spot, then put Yellowstone high on your list. It’s one of the most beautiful national parks in the world for hiking and animal interactions. Bison, buffalo, and elk sightings are quite common, but you can stop by the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to see more animals that live here.
Forests, hot springs, meadows, geysers, waterfalls, and canyons are some of the landscapes you will pass by or over on your hikes. Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Lake are the most popular, although you can stop by less-visited areas to avoid the crowds, like the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
Denali National Parks in Alaska
Alaska is probably one of the most sustainable travel destinations in the US with more than 100 national parks on its territory. It offers many backpacking opportunities and hiking trails so you can spend your whole stay there in the wilderness. Alternative energy sources are more and more present in the hospitality industry so you can even stay at an eco-lodge, like Sadie Cove Wilderness.
Denali National Park is the home to the tallest peak in North America — Denali. As the third-largest park in this state, hikers can spend months on the trails and see moose, wild sheep, and caribou along the way. Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords are perfect for kayaking and observing seals, dolphins, and humpback whales. Although Katmai National Park is famous for its Novarupta volcano and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, it’s also a spot to watch the salmon run in June.
Outer Banks in North Carolina
If you want to see the iconic spot from where the Wright brothers made the first flight, you need to stop by the Outer Banks. This is a region full of history that is even famous outside the US, like the Lost Colony of Roanoke or the pirate Blackbeard. This graveyard of the Atlantic has around 3,000 shipwrecks here that you can explore by diving or snorkeling.
This is a popular vacation spot, especially for families, because it’s quiet and secluded with access to historical and natural sights. Dunes and lighthouses are common landmarks of the area, but you can also spend time on the beach or go fishing. You will find the tallest dune of the Atlantic coast in the Jockey’s Ridge State Park, perfect for hang gliding or flying a kite.
Grand Canyon in Arizona
Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon, but there’s more to it than the legendary view of its boulders and ravines seen in movies. If you plan to go down the Bright Angel Trail, don’t be tricked by its 6-miles length. It’s a demanding hike and instead of doing it in a day, pack camping gear and enjoy spending time in nature around you.
North Rim is the best choice to have private time from the crowds and serious hiking on isolated and rugged trails, like the North Kaibab Trail. The Rim Trail in the South Rim is one of the best routes to see the most interesting attractions when in the Grand Canyon, such as the Maricopa Point lookout. A whitewater rafting on the Colorado River is not only a great adrenalin boost but also another way to sightsee the landmarks.
Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado
If you plan to visit Colorado, make sure to bring your mountain bikes since this is one of the most popular US states for cycling. If you want to see the beauties of the Rocky Mountains National Park, there’s no better eco-way than traveling by bike. From April to December, Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road are open for cycling, while some trails forbid this activity even if you use e-bikes.
See that you stop by the Stanley Hotel, a building that served as an inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel The Shining. It’s only five miles from the Park’s entrance, so you can take a guided tour of its most actively haunted areas.
Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border
Lake Tahoe seems to be a perfect travel destination for everyone who likes to spend time outside. You can ski, sunbathe, swim, and hike — it all depends on what time of year you are here. While Lake Tahoe is more cosmopolitan, attracting visitors with its San Francisco-like style, you can still have a sustainable stay. Hot air balloons or mountain gondola rides are ideal attractions for those who want something more than the usual outdoor activities.
Hiking on the granite cliffs of the Emerald Bay State Park and soaking in sun at the Kings Beach State Recreation Area are far from ordinary, though. If you are looking for something different, the Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum will show a piece of dark American history. Here lies the memorial stone pedestal for the infamous Donner Party — around 90 emigrants from which only half survived during a heavy snowstorm, mainly by cannibalism.
Yosemite Valley in California
Horse riding, hiking, and rafting are only some of the activities you and your family can do in the Yosemite Valley. If you are not much of a climber, you can take lessons from the local instructors or join a guided tour. This is a huge area, spanning over 1,200 square miles, but the most crowded hiking spots are Half Dome Cables Route and El Capitan.
To take a better look at Yosemite, go to one of the two most visited lookouts — Tunnel View or Glacier Point. Magnificent Tuolumne Meadows is one of the highest landmarks in the Sierra Nevada waiting for visitors at 8,600 feet elevation. Those who want to see sequoia trees should go to the Mariposa Grove with 500 of these giants growing there for thousands of years.
Whichever of these sustainable travel destinations in the US you choose, you can’t go wrong. They will show you a different side of the United States, far from the Hollywood glamour and New York splendor. Environmentally responsible tourists are growing in numbers and soon enough, even the biggest cities will have to turn to green and eco-friendly offers to satisfy the popular demands.