ecoDestinations - Western US

ecoDestinations - Western US

Featured Destination - the Western United States

A magical mosaic of cultures and ecosystems, the Western region of the United States is impossible to summarize. Here, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, Mormons, Polynesians, Inuits, hippies, Hollywood stars, ski bums, computer geeks, and green revolutionaries are just a few of the intermingling cultures that will make your visit to the region an unforgettable experience. Of course, the Wild West offers unparalleled opportunities for nature loves and adventure enthusiasts: deserts, mountains, volcanoes, plains, beaches, wetlands, temperate rainforests and glaciers are only a sampling of Mother Nature's gifts comprising the landscape of this region.


TIES is dedicated to promoting ecotourism as a tool for the conservation of this rich bio-cultural diversity, and encourages everyone to honor the Great Law of the Iroquois, which advises us all to remember that "in every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." This "seven generations" concept guides the current generation of humans to live sustainably, securing the livelihoods of seven generations into the future, and is a vision that should guide every action you take as you explore this beautiful land of proud peoples.

US Wild West: Sustainable Travel Experiences

Here are a few organizations and programs that can help you search for sustainable travel experiences that make a difference!

  • Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association (AWRTA): A collective voice for wilderness-dependent businesses, AWRTA (TIES Association member) advocates for the sustainability of Alaska's natural and cultural resources, responsible tourism and tourism planning for communities.
  • Ski Area Environmental Scorecard 2008/2009: A service of the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition (SACC), the Scorecard ranks the following Top 10 Green Ski Resorts in the Western US, and includes the latest information on resorts that are purchasing clean, renewable wind energy to logging old growth forests. 
  • Half Moon Bay Coastside Eco-Cultural Tourism: California's Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau (TIES Institution member) is working with the farmers, fisherman and the business community to offer the visitor new and exciting hands-on activities and a chance to meet local residents who make the Coastside such a special place, while at the same time helping to build a balanced and sustainable tourism economy.
  • Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA): A long-time member of TIES, HEA's mission is to protect Hawaii's unique environment and cultural heritage through the promotion of responsible travel and educational programs aimed at the public and visitor industry relating to ecotourism issues.
  • Travel Oregon: Genuine. Experiential. Visionary. As Oregon's official destination marketing organization, Travel Oregon (TIES Institution member) encourage economic growth and an enhanced quality of life by strengthening tourism's socio-economic impact statewide. Partnerships with public and private tourism organizations focus on a strategic plan to develop and market the uniquely Oregon visitor experience.

Visiting the US: The Essentials

  • Getting There: Not from the US? Make sure your passport is up to date, and visit the US Department of State's website for visa information to find out if you need one, and how to obtain it.
  • Planning Your Trip: Check out Lonely Planet’s new TRIPS Series, offering 6 inspiring US regional titles with short-break itineraries to make your travel planning easier - whether you are escaping the city for two days or exploring the Wild West for three weeks. The TRIPS series features unique themes, duration of time and easy-to-use maps to show Americans new ways to explore their own backyard. Lonely Planet’s TRIPS titles include an environmentally friendly GreenDex (Green Index), with listings that have been selected by Lonely Planet authors because they demonstrate an active sustainable-tourism policy.
  • Getting Around: If you are not in a rush to get to your destination, and would like to see some of America's countryside, take a train! Check out these tips on train travel in the US.
  • Flying Responsibly: If you do choose to fly, we encourage you to offset your travel. You can also check out SeatGuru's tips on several airlines' efforts to operate in a more sustainable manner.
  • Lowering Your Transportation Footprint: Find out how to rent a fuel-efficient fleet from Enterprise, National, and Alamo at Keys to Green. The site also offers information and latest news on hybrid/fuel flex cars running on alternative fuels, carbon offset options, and conservation initiatives by rental car companies.

Sustainable Tourism Certification in the Western US

Adventure Green Alaska (AGA)
AGA is a certification program for tourism businesses operating in Alaska that meet specific standards of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Administered by an independent, Alaska nonprofit corporation, AGA encourages tourism businesses to evaluate their operations and determine whether they use - or could be using - best management practices.

>> List of AGA certified businesses


California Green Lodging Program
The California Green Lodging Program was developed by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) to provide travelers a green option for their lodging needs. The Program's goals include diverting waste from landfills, conserving energy and water, and improving indoor environmental quality.

>> Directory of participating businesses.


Green Seal Program
Since 1995, Green Seal has partnered with the lodging industry, the nation's second largest employer, to promote environmentally responsible products and practices within lodging properties.

>> Find Green Seal certified lodging properties in Arizona | California | Nevada | Oregon | Texas | Utah | Washington | Wyoming


Western US Travel Playlist

Here are some of our favorite music from across the Western US, recommdned for your low-impact road trip or sustainable adventure get-away in the Wild West...


Raul Midón

Raul Midón - A World Within a World

The New York-based writer, vocalist, and guitarist Raul Midón, blind from birth, hails from New Mexico and has inspired many with his soulful music and trend-defying approach to creativity.

Sacred Spirit

Sacred Spirit - Chants and Dances of the Native Americans

For each Sacred Spirit album sold, a donation is made to the Native American Rights Fund, the non-profit American Indian organization dedicated to restoring the legal rights of the native American people. Buy CD on

Jake Shimabukuro


Jake Shimabukuro - Hula Girls

Renowned for lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques, Jake's mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than only the traditional Hawaiian music many associate it with.


Photo Credit: Hisashi Uchida

Rosalie Sorrels


Rosalie Sorrels - Strangers In Another Country

"Idaho's Traveling Lady," the folk singer-songwriter Rosalie Sorrels has dedicated her career to social activism, storytelling, education, learning, songwriting, and performing for six decades.


Photo by William Campbell - Folklore, Inc.


Latest News and Articles on Western US

Pacific Northwest Annual Canoe Journey   On July 29, 2012, The Squaxin Island Tribe will host the Paddle to Squaxin 24th Annual Canoe Journey, an inter-tribal celebration of Pacific Northwest canoe culture and tradition. More than 100 canoes will land at the Port of Olympia, in Washington state, with thousands of people joining together to welcome each arrival.   For centuries, Pacific Northwest tribal people navigated the waterways in intricately carved dugout canoes. The Salish Sea, the body of water that encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait...
Bardessono's Environmental Commitment Bardessono has received the highest level of official recognition possible for its sustainable and environmentally friendly design. At Bardessono we have chosen to act on our environmental values. We believe that making progress on environmental issues comes, in part, from developing working models that provide examples to follow. Our model demonstrates two things: A hotel can provide a fully luxurious guest experience and be very green at the same time, and environmental initiatives can be implemented in a manner that is practical, economic...
Sarah Chapman, Go Native America Could you describe the experience of developing the relationships which serve as the foundation for your tours?   Relationships in Native America are built on trust – a lot of it! It takes time to create the kind of relationships you need in order to know that everyone – guide and client – will be happy with their time spent together. Most of our guides come to us through recommendation – we don’t advertise positions ever, but the familial structures within native communities are a huge strength when we are looking...
Mitakuye Oyasin Go Native America's responsible travel policy is "Mitakuye Oyasin," the final phrase in Lakota prayer which translates to: "We are all related in the Circle of Life – the two-legged, four legged, winged, and all living and growing things upon the Earth."   Go Native America operates in an environmentally-friendly fashion with the utmost respect for the Native American community, employing only Indigenous people as guides, and using tribally owned accommodations for tour members. In an effort to support the local tribal economy,...
Darla Cook, Vice President of Public Relations, Forever Resorts Tell us about Forever Resorts' environmental education and community outreach efforts.   As a hospitality business, Forever Resorts procures hundreds of thousands of items every year through thousands of suppliers, artists and vendors. Realizing we too can impact the environment and enlighten and educate many others, we've developed an extensive and comprehensive environmental health and safety management program called Forever Earth that encompasses every Forever Resorts property, our partners,...
Keith Sproule, Owner, The Bentwood Inn As the owner of a lodge accommodating travelers in one of the most important natural environments in North America, what do you do to ensure that guests return home more aware, and empowered to inspire others?   The Bentwood Inn offers visitors to Jackson Hole an opportunity to become truly immersed in the ecology and history of this diverse corner of the US. In addition to warm and cozy hospitality at the only Select Registry property in Wyoming, guests are treated to a weekly presentation by Benj Sinclair, a professional naturalist...
For Bardessono Inn and Spa, being a green hotel is a conscious choice that does not interfere with the commitment to providing a fully luxurious guest experience.   The hotel, designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest standard for environmental design, strives to be as transparent as possible in communicating its environmental initiatives.   "Along with many around the world my concern over global warming and environmental degradation has continued to grow. I have become increasingly...


About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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