For most travelers, the world’s natural beauty is the inspiration they need to plan a trip to remember, whether it’s a visit to a national park or a quick getaway to enjoy the changing colors of fall. However, in a cruel twist of fate, many of those visits can damage the environment you travel to experience. As the effects of global warming and climate change become more apparent, it has never been more important to consider our responsibility to protect the planet when booking travel or choosing destinations. Fortunately, there are still some ways to explore and appreciate the world without harm. Read on to learn about the best eco-friendly vacations in the US
READ NEXT: The 10 most naturally beautiful US states, new data shows.
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by affiliate partnerships. All products linked here are for editorial use only and will not require any commission.
A big part of green travel is limiting your reliance on a few polluting ways to get there. In one place in the Midwest, converting a motor vehicle to a foot-powered wheel is the only way to do it.
“Spending some time in Michigan?” Head to the top of The Mitten State and take a ferry ride to car-free Mackinac Island. Jessica Parkersays the founder of Trip Whisperer The best life. “People travel on foot, bicycles or horses.”
Parker adds that there are “a lot of great outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy,” from kayaking along the island’s shores to discover the famous rocks to driving M-185, which is considered the only state highway. wherever only bicycles are allowed.
The allure of pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters is too much for some to resist when booking a trip. Now there’s an environmentally friendly way to enjoy the sunny vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
“As new light is shed on the precious and shrinking coral reef that gives life to the Florida Keys, new companies and businesses with eco-friendly practices in mind seem to be popping up every day. Now the mainland U.S.’s premier winter destination, warm-weather visitors have plenty of ways to enjoy world-class diving , dolphin watching and dining options for a peaceful environment,” it said. Adam Marlandtravel photographer and writer for We Dream of Travel.
“Companies like Honest Eco and Marathon Turtle Hospital offer spectacular and unforgettable experiences that put wildlife and nature first,” he adds. “Additionally, the Florida Keys and Key West Regional Tourism Boards have even launched a green travel awareness campaign that provides enough information to make your vacation completely green, from car rentals to dining and entertainment.”
READ NEXT: 10 Most Romantic US Cities You Should Visit With Your Partner
The world will likely look different in the coming years as we make the changes necessary to protect the planet. But some communities are taking the lead in sustainable living, including one place that’s attracting travelers who want to learn more.
“In the high desert of the Taos Mountains, New Mexico, there is a thriving community of Great World Earthships,” Abigail Nueve, editor of Travel Lemming, says. “Although not connected to the grid, its residents are waiting for tourists who want to share the architect’s creative and colorful innovations. Michael Reynolds“.
“In the early 1970s, this ecological pioneer began to conceptualize the Earthship, a sustainably built, fully self-contained house. Today’s structures use natural energy, collect water, produce food and even treat waste,” she explains. “Explore their visitor center or book one of their unique, futuristic rentals. Nearby are other green attractions such as Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa and Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
While some destinations are just beginning to embrace the ecotourism trend, others have long prioritized conservation and restoration. And in some cases, it’s not just the work of the National Park Service that’s on display.
“A trip to The Ted Turner Reserves two ranches in southern New Mexico is one of the most special experiences in the United States,” says the sustainable travel advisor. Rose O’Connor. “Ted owns two large private ranches that together cover over 500,000 acres near the town of Truth or Consequences, which can be explored by staying at one of his three properties, Sierra Grande, Ladder or Armendaris.
“This is some of the most beautiful land in the United States and a living testament to Ted’s decades-long commitment to reversing and restoring the ecosystem,” explains O’Connor. “Explore the area with a private guide (included in some stays) and you can see roaming herds of bison, elk and pronghorn. Many other species that were long extinct in the area, such as the Mexican gray wolf, Bolson tortoises and bighorn sheep, have been reintroduced to land thanks to the Ted Turner Endangered Species Fund, their resurgence has had a dramatic regenerative effect on the entire ecosystem, and the land there is now one of the most ecologically sound in the United States.
Ultimately, O’Connor says, the destination is a truly unique way to experience nature. “Exploring the Ladder and Armendaris Ranch is like visiting a national park without the crowds,” she concludes. “This is truly one of the most unique and intimate wilderness and wildlife experiences in the lower 48.”
ALSO READ: 10 of the weirdest towns in the US
Sometimes when you find yourself in a place where you can truly appreciate nature, you need to disconnect from your devices once you get there. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt if your green trip goes to a vacation destination that only requires sustainable energy to operate.
“Nestled in the shadow of the 14,000-foot Colorado peaks, Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa is a soul-enriching escape,” says Nueve. “Cell service is spotty at best, and you won’t find a blaring TV or Wi-Fi password in their rustic log cabins. Rather, the fun is in nature—stargazing, hiking, and soaking in gravity-fed hot spring pools.”
“In addition to geothermal energy, the resort relies entirely on renewable sources, including wind and solar,” Nueve continues. But the commitment to nature doesn’t stop at the resort: other local businesses also embrace sustainable energy practices, including Wilderness Aware Rafting, a local outfitter that offers summer trips. She also notes that winter guests can visit nearby Monarch Mountain, which “attracts ecotourists with 100 percent natural snow.”
Green travel isn’t limited to rural areas and dense forests: even some of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. can offer plenty of eco-friendly options for visitors looking to reduce their footprint.
“Austin, Texas, just speaks to my green heart,” he says Jenny Ly, travel blogger and founder of Go Wanderly. “While it’s understandable why when you think of Austin, only live music and Southern barbecue come to mind, there are other things to enjoy. The ever-expanding city is a great destination for new residents and tourists alike. More than 200 parks, 12 nature reserves and 26 greenways bands, incentives for green businesses and green hotels.
For more travel tips delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our daily newsletter.
While dedicated ecotourists have made their way to many destinations across the United States, the number of eco-friendly travel destinations is growing every day. And thanks to new booking services that help offset travel emissions, the options are now practically endless.
“For every stay you book on KindTraveler.com, you can make a donation to a charity of your choice, including those local to your destination,” says Parker. “You can search the US for more charities and hotels that really speak to your family and even involve children in the giving experience. Of course, it’s important to read their guides, which have conscious and sustainable offers. The best part is that all the hotels shown there are verified on the platform and includes a sacrificial component.
ALSO READ: Top 10 weekend getaways you need this year.
When it comes to eco-friendly travel, every little bit helps, from how you offset your carbon footprint to how you travel after you arrive. But experts point out that if your main goal is to plan an eco-friendly trip from start to finish, you should consider limiting how far you have to travel.
“The simplest step to reduce carbon emissions is to stay closer to home.” Charles van ReesPhD, wildlife expert and founder of the blog Gulo in Nature The best life. “If you’re in the US, look for trips closer to your state, not on the opposite coast.
Often times, booking the perfect trip can require a little more digging, and it can also pay off in overall enjoyment. “A lot of people are shocked to see that their home states or neighboring states have incredible places in their state parks that are completely overlooked,” says van Rees. “These under-explored dark horse destinations can often be much more enjoyable because you and your family can get to them yourself. There will be less rush and competition for attractions, experiences and vacation memories. Plus, your Instagram won’t look like everyone else’s.”
If you’re planning a long enough hike, van Rees adds, the method you choose can have a big impact on your overall carbon footprint. “Flying by plane produces far more carbon emissions than driving a car, which in turn contributes more than traveling by train. Trains are very underrated as a travel option, especially on holiday,” he explains. “If you’re going cross-country, check out your train options! Sleeping cars are really convenient for longer journeys. They can also give you the chance to explore the stops on the way to your destination, enjoy the sights and attractions, it’s a rolling country and you won’t have to fight anyone , to make room for hand luggage.