10 Most Beautiful Eco-Tourism Destinations To Visit In The U.S. (& What To Do There)



  • The United States offers a variety of eco-friendly destinations, from national parks like Rocky Mountain National Park to vibrant cities like Chicago.
  • Many of these destinations have dedicated efforts to sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy and reducing waste.
  • Activities in these eco-tourism spots include hiking, camping, kayaking, wildlife spotting, and engaging in cultural experiences like visiting Native American sites.

The USA is famous for its bucket list-worthy natural wonders, beautiful city skylines, cultural charm, and bustling art scene. Whether one wants to explore iconic Yosemite National Park, engage in a scenic drive, or experience some of the country’s unforgettable dining experiences, there is something for everyone in America.

While eco-tourism is one of the lesser-known things this amazing country is recognized for, it is actually there. Eco-travel is mostly associated with remote, and destinations like the Great Rift Valley in Kenya and Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica are some of the most popular eco-friendly spots in the world.

The United States is recognized for its vibrant cities, tall skyscrapers, and bustling economy – and people forget the country is home to plenty of remote natural areas that need to be preserved too. From stunning desserts to breathtaking mountains to pristine beaches, America’s diverse natural environment attracts tourists from all corners of the world. Eco-tourists can also practice sustainable traveling in the heart of some of the biggest cities. Here are the most beautiful eco-tourism destinations to visit in the U.S. (& what to do there).

Related: 10 Best Destinations For Eco-Travel To Add To Your Travel Checklist

10 The Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Rocky Mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado
Via Shutterstock 

Rocky Mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado

Home to incredible wildlife, meadows, lush forests, and gorgeous lakes, Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination for hiking enthusiasts. But there are plenty of other fun outdoor activities to enjoy here, including camping, watching wildlife, taking a scenic drive, and admiring mountain peaks.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is among the most beautiful eco-tourism destinations to visit in the US and is dedicated to ensuring that all the park’s operations are based on climate-friendly behavior. There is a Green Team that’s committed to organizing and implementing sustainable practices, such as:

  • Ensuring sustainable use of the park’s natural resources
  • Buying eco-friendly products
  • Reducing waste by recycling and reusing products, where applicable
  • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases

9 The Florida Keys

Overseas highway to Key West island, Florida Keys, USA
Mia2you / Shutterstock

Overseas highway to Key West island, Florida Keys, USA

Famous for being one of the best family beach destinations in the U.S., the Florida Keys offers an incredibly eco-friendly environment for eco-travelers to explore. The archipelago is home to numerous green accommodations that cover various budgets and interests, including resorts that rely on solar panels to provide electricity to their guests.

One of the top places in the Florida Keys to practice eco-travel is visiting Dry Tortugas National Park, where one has to bring everything, from food to drinking water, and everything in between.

  • Top eco-tourism spots to visit: Dry Tortugas National Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and National Key Deer Refuge.

8 Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Black Hills
Photo by Andrew Ling on Unsplash

The Black Hills in South Dakota

One of the most affordable destinations to sustainably travel to is Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, located south of Hot Springs. This is the place to have the most unique American experience and create unforgettable memories.

Spending time at the sanctuary, and seeing the wild mustangs roaming freely in their environment is a thrilling experience that every eco-tourist can enjoy. Every activity in the sanctuary is dedicated to protecting the wild horses.

The organization has carried out rescue projects to give some of the mustangs a second chance to live and managed to preserve those that almost suffered extinction.

7 Half Moon Bay, California

Half Moon Bay, California
Pixabay: David Mark

Beach strip at Half Moon Bay, California

Home to some of the top beaches in the US to add to a bucket list, Half Moon Bay is known for being the best sustainable destination in Northern California, and works hard towards environmental conservation.

The locals, businesses, and multiple organizations contribute to ensuring the protection of natural areas are protected and the well-being of the community. The Half Moon Bay Coastside is one of America’s first places to come up with an official eco-tourism program.

Its numerous parks and green spaces are sources of recreational activities, such as bicycling, hiking, kayaking, birding, whale watching, surfing, and wildlife spotting.

The destination also boasts a rich cultural heritage that visitors can experience when they engage with the locals and visit some of its incredible historic sites.

  • Activities to explore: bicycling, hiking, kayaking, birding, whale watching, surfing, and wildlife spotting.

6 Indigenous Roots LLC, Weston, Colorado

Colorado, USA
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

Two people hiking a trail in Colorado, USA

With a mission to help preserve and spread Native Americans’ history and cultural heritage, Indigenous Roots LLC is one of the best destinations for eco-travel to add to one’s travel checklist. Staying here allows eco-travelers to have a Native American cultural experience in a family-oriented setting.

Apart from learning the Native American way of life, this place lets tourists connect and learn about nature and environmental conservation, including tips for being eco-friendly on vacation, like preparing organic gluten-free food with locally sourced ingredients.

Indigenous Roots offers an eco-tourism adventure that guests will live to remember!

  • Accommodation: 3 per tipi; can accommodate up to 12 guests in the whole setting
  • Activities: Smudging, nature walks, Native American games, traditional recipes, traditional choker making, and other activities that connect people to nature.

Related: Ecotourism 101: What Is Eco-Travel, And Why Is It So Important?

5 Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

A heron in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Founded in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for migrating birds along the Atlantic Flyway, Blackwater National Refuge is one of the most beautiful eco-tourism destinations to visit in the US. The sanctuary boasts incredible outdoor adventures, including paddling, hiking, hunting, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting.

Sometimes referred to as “The Everglades of the North,” this refuge is found in the Chesapeake Bay region, which is famous for being an incredible ecosystem in America. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge does a tremendous job preserving the natural area including the wildlife that calls it a home.

  • Year established: 1993
  • Top outdoor activities: Hiking, hunting, birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and paddling

4 Chicago, Illinois

Chicago downtown cityscape and Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago downtown cityscape featuring skyscrapers and Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago has a reputation for being one of America’s first green cities, and travelers can see the results of its efforts toward ensuring sustainability. The Windy City is home to numerous eco-certified hotels museums and galleries that make use of renewable energy.

The city is known for being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US and leads all the cities with the most extensive bike lanes network. It also has a chief Environmental Officer who is in charge of overseeing all the city’s environmental initiatives.

Chicago’s City Hall has a green rooftop, where vacationers can explore a garden with over 150 plant varieties and 20,000 individual plants.

  • Green attractions to see in Chicago: The City Hall’s rooftop garden, Millennium Park, the Garfield Park Conservatory, and the Art Institute of Chicago

3 Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park
Photo by Jayma Leavengood on Unsplash

Lush vegetation in Joshua Tree National Park

Known for being one of the most breathtaking natural destinations in California, Joshua Tree National Park is among America’s most beautiful eco-tourism destinations. The park is home to beautiful wildlife, dunes, rugged mountains, dry lakes, oases, and more.

Vacationers can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, birdwatching, photography, and rock climbing. Joshua Tree National Park’s efforts to cultivate climate-friendly behavior include:

  • Using solar panels to provide energy for most of the park’s plans and operations.
  • Reducing waste by encouraging reusing and recycling of products, where possible.
  • The park has a “no idling” vehicle policy and uses electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2 The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian trail as it approaches Clingmans Dome

The Appalachian trail as it approaches Clingmans Dome

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the U.S. and is a beloved destination among nature enthusiasts. While the trail is artificial, the sightings along the way are natural, and tourists will be amazed by the breathtaking scenery.

Stretching over 2,190 miles, the trail is the world’s longest hiking-only footpath and receives over three million tourists every year.

Established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy works to protect the trail and collaborates with federal, state, and local partners to ensure the natural environment is maintained and preserved for generations to come.

  • The length of the Appalachian Trail: 2,190 miles
  • When the Appalachian Trail Conservancy was established: in 1925

Related: 10 Most Environmentally Friendly Tips For Traveling The World

1 Fort Myers And Sanibel, Florida

A canal with houses on either side.
Photo by Martin Zangerl on Unsplash

A canal at Fort Myers beach with houses on either side.

Some of the best family beach destinations in Florida, Fort Myers, and Sanibel are other eco-tourism destinations not to miss in America. These places are homes to multiple eco-friendly attractions and adventures to explore.

Eco-tourists can spend time exploring the pristine beaches, watching dolphins, and learning some history at the Mound House, one of the most iconic historic sites in the area. It is over 2,000 years old and gives an insight into what the ancient village was like. Nonprofits like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) are helping to preserve the natural areas.

Ding Darling is one of the top eco-tourism spots to visit in Sanibel.

  • Top spots to visit: Mound House, Ding Darling, and Manatee Park


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