Close your eyes for a second (and then open them, because you need them to read). Imagine a cruise ship. What’s it look like? How big is it? Is there an always-open buffet? Two, maybe three pools? Is it eco-friendly?
I suspect when you think of cruising, it doesn't even occur to you to think, "eco-friendly". How could—what is essentially—a floating town be good for the environment?
Maybe you’ve always wanted to go on a cruise but couldn’t justify the extravagance. Maybe cruising has never appealed to you because you imagine it’s nothing but retirees playing bridge and eating at buffets.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can cruise, and you can do it in an eco-friendly way!
Found my Destination Feature on Rocky Mountain National Park too long to read? Here are some helpful tips from it below:
Now get out there and go!
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my most treasured places. Even though I lived in Kentucky all throughout my childhood, my parents got us out to Colorado every summer they could. It’s such a nostalgic place that I dragged my husband there for part of our honeymoon—he loved it though, don’t worry! (Not to play it up too much or anything.)
What makes Rocky Mountain Park so special?
It’s the perfect balance of people and seclusion. Several trails we hiked had nobody else on them. And at the same time, there are a handful of popular accessible trails that offer great views and wildlife sightings if you can’t or don’t like to hike.
Where to Stay
A wide array of lodging exists in and out of the park. The Estes Park side has lodging (Stanley Hotel sound familiar?), but if you’re entering the park from the Grand Lake side, the drive to Estes Park can be intimidating (picture driving on the side of a mountain with no guard rails), and you might prefer to lodge out of the park. There are also RV and backcountry campsites within the park.
If you want to stay in a town, several nearby options exist. Grand Lake is right by the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, and it has several trails that lead into the park. Fraser and Winter Park are good options, even though they’re about 30-45 minutes away from the park. (Consider renting a condo for a homier feel if you plan on staying an extended time.) Denver is about 1½ to 2 hours away from the park, depending on which entrance you use.
One of my specialties is Sustainable Travel (a.k.a. eco-travel, as noted in my Facebook here). And you’re probably wondering just what the heck that is. Good news, fellow traveler, I’m about to explain it all right…about…
Depending on the association or company, eco-travel (or ecotourism) can mean different things. But since you’ll be working with me when you need a travel counselor, I’ll give you my definition.
I see eco-travel as having three different, friendly aspects: 1) environmentally friendly, 2) culturally friendly, and 3) animal friendly.
So let’s start with the first one: how can travel be environmentally friendly? Apart from the obvious (more fuel-efficiency, hotels having water conservation programs, restaurants and all-inclusive resorts serving organic food) there are other, less common approaches to be environmentally friendly. Hotels and resorts going all in for organic—not just organic food, but organic soaps, linens, flooring, etc.—is one example. There are also accommodations, like the Le Conte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that are completely off-the-grid. And yet another way destinations can be environmentally friendly is by limiting the number of visitors per year. The Inca Trail in Peru (which leads to Machu Picchu) allows only 500 permits a day (only 200 are tourist permits).
What's your favorite US National Park?
Need suggestions? I can help you plan your trip to a National Park! Contact me here.
Now get out there and go!