April 22 is Earth Day, the annual celebration of our collective passion for the environment and a time to show our support for sustaining it healthily. While it’s a great time to raise awareness for it, travel doesn’t always live up to what Earth Day stands for – it’s still tough to make any trip truly sustainable, from being carbon neutral to supporting local communities.
But there are things you can do to make your next trip more sustainable, from choosing to stay domestic and travel by foot, bike or train rather than fly – as the saying goes, make the journey the destination – to visiting lesser-trod places where tourism is helping rather than hindering the environment and promoting rather than eclipsing local communities.
To that end, through the teams at ToursByLocals here are some ideas for fantastic, sustainable outdoor adventures hosted by specialized local teams across the US that go a long way towards helping you meet your Earth Day expectations.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
South Dakota’s Badlands National Park is a natural wonderland that indelibly carries man’s mark in the shape of Mount Rushmore, a celebration of America’s heritage, and Crazy Horse, a mountain carving dedicated to the culture of Native Americans. Two iconic attractions that can be really brought to life with the knowledge of those born and raised in the area. Local guide Kevin was born and raised in the Black Hills and hosts bike tours that take you back in time to the origins of the Badlands. Cynthia is a local zoologist who hosts daylight and sunset tours that explore the natural lifecycle of a day in the Badlands.
Tent Rocks, New Mexico
Local guide David claims the only way to describe the trail through the Jemez Mountains past the famous Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is like leaving New Mexico and landing on another planet. His half day tour also takes in breathtaking views over the Rio Grande Valley and Sandia Mountains. Or if you’d like to get up close and personal with the Sandia Mountains, George’s slightly more morbid but no less interesting full day hiking tour takes in the quarter-of-a-mile-wide 1955 crash site of TWA flight 260, where the former engineer for Boeing can explain what you’re looking at and what happened.
Zion National Park, Utah
One of the most spectacular and beautiful parks in the US, Zion National Park is also perfectly positioned to give you a respite from the mania of a trip to Las Vegas and allow some vitamin D to seep back into your bones! George’s tour will take you from your Vegas hotel directly into some of Mother Nature’s most jaw dropping environs – the Hanging Gardens, the Emerald Pools, a walk beneath precipitous cliffs leaning in over Virgin River and a final hurrah at the extraordinary Angels Landing.
Big Island, Hawaii
The global capital of surfing, Hawaii’s islands are a famed natural aquatic playground – but turn your gaze inland and you’ll discover just as much to keep you mesmerized on land as in the ocean. Namely, volcanoes. Local Big Islander Scott hosts a range of experiences in and around the Volcanoes National Park that you’ll never get visiting on your own – culminating in the Hilo half day tour which takes in Kilauea Volcano (the world’s most active), Black Sand Beach and Rainbow Falls to reveal the true beauty of the Big Island.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Day tours are all well and good to dip a toe in but trying something truly immersive will give you a far more enriching experience. Aaron’s Total Yellowstone overnight tour gives you two nights and three days to immerse yourself in the lower loop of Yellowstone from Jackson Hole taking in all the major landmarks from Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic to Lower Yellowstone Falls and West Thumb.