Be it by land, water, or air, any travel requires a form of transportation. According to the EPA, the transportation industry is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States, contributing roughly 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The aviation industry contributes to around 5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
While the most sustainable option would be to avoid travel altogether, we know that for some of us, travel is needed- whether to see a family member or for business purposes. We also know that interactions with the world beyond our comfort zones allow us to grow and learn.
If you are traveling for leisure, you can be a conscious traveler by seeking breathtaking yet sustainable locations to help fulfill your wanderlust while lowering your total environmental impact.
Here are five travel destinations for the most eco-conscious getaway in the US:
The abundance of ecotourism in the United States is credited in part to parks like the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Alaska's untamed landscapes are as wild as it gets, lending its visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is the second-largest national park in the country, encompassing parts of the Brooks Range. While the serene, natural beauty of the site makes it particularly appealing, Gates of the Arctic is one of the least visited owing to the lack of proper, established trails, which makes this park great for those who have the fortitude to deviate from the beaten path. The national park is also full of incredible sites to see, including plenty of wildlife.
The Cosumnes River Preserve, located just 20 miles south of Sacramento, has unique charms that time and again attract travelers and visitors to its bountiful offerings. To mention some, California black walnut (the only site that hosts this type of walnut), sandhill crane migration, exotic animals, etc. The Cosumnes River Preserve protects thousands of acres of wetlands and nearby uplands. Their main goal is to manage and restore native species' habitats. If you're a bicyclist, you can also ride along tree-lined lanes bordered by olive groves and vineyards to reach the stunning and tranquil Cosumnes River Preserve.
The Mojave National Preserve impresses the eyes with majestic volcanic structures, wildflowers, and a vast area of dunes. Tucked away in the foothills of California, this diversified park offers a little over 1.5 million acres of desert and forest to explore, along with magnificent attractions like the Devils Playground and the Cinder Cone Lava Beds.
Yellowstone National Park and ecotourism go hand in hand— a green destination list would be incomplete without mentioning this iconic world's first national park. Established in 1836, the park has distinct attractions that are worth visiting. The largest supervolcano on the continent, Yellowstone Caldera, is located within the park. You can also find native American residents in the area. The Old Faithful Geyser is another beauty, hosting one of the many magnificent geothermal phenomena. The park and its extraordinary ecosystems are the ultimate ecotourism experience.
Situated on Hawaii's main island, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau guards natural and cultural treasures that are only found in this limited area of the Pacific. Along with being a park, this location was once a sacred place for the Hawaiian people. Visitor attractions include temple ruins and the remains of a royal fish pond. Both locals and tourists prize this park owing to the region's fascinating history. Named in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park may not be the most easily pronounced but it is truly spectacular and well worth the visit.