The perpetual debate continues throughout Montana: natural gas drilling and mineral extraction versus recreation and conservation. The Pinedale anticline south of Jackson Hole in Wyoming has been heavily drilled for gas in recent years, sometimes marring the once crystalline Teton views. The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, is a stark reminder of the price to be paid, a mile-long gash in the earth where a copper-rich mountain once stood.
Numerous lodgings in the area have initiated procedures to be greener, from recycling to water conservation programs. At Teton Village in Wyoming, Hotel Terra (tel. 800/631-6281; www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com) is the first LEED-certified hotel in the state. The "localvore" movement is especially strong in Montana in the Whitefish, Missoula, and Bozeman.
In Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, heavy summer auto traffic and the annual impact of millions of human beings have raised questions about the sustainability of these national parks. But a visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks can be a relatively green vacation. In Yellowstone, concessionaire Xanterra Parks & Resorts (tel. 866/439-7375 or 307/344-7311; www.travelyellowstone.com), has implemented numerous environmental initiatives, including a recycling program, sourcing seafood from sustainable fisheries, and encouraging guests to reuse towels and conserve heat. Campgrounds have recycling bins near the entrance. In Grand Teton, the Grand Teton Lodge Company (tel. 800/628-9988 or 307/543-2811; www.gtlc.com) has also implemented very successful sustainability programs to lessen the human impact on the park. The company purchased wind credits to offset its energy use and diverted 50% of its waste into reusing and recycling everything from aluminum cans to horse manure to food waste. But perhaps the best way to look at sustainability is by connecting with the parks' wild soul by hiking the trails and camping in campgrounds. One of the best ways to lessen one's impact is to go off the grid on an overnight backpacking trip. Leave No Trace (www.lnt.org) is the backpacker's ethic to leave any campsite in the same condition -- or better -- than when one found it. Backpacking is a refreshing counterpoint to modern life that will give perspective on the issues of sustainability and personal energy dependence.
General Resources for Green Travel
Resources are above and below, and not plentiful. The following websites provide valuable wide-ranging information on sustainable travel. For a list of even more sustainable resources, as well as tips and explanations on how to travel greener, visit www.frommers.com/planning.
- Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) is a great source of sustainable travel ideas; the site is run by a spokesperson for ethical tourism in the travel industry. Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) promotes ethical tourism practices, and manages an extensive directory of sustainable properties and tour operators around the world.
- In the U.K., Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk) works to reduce social and environmental problems connected to tourism. The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO; www.aito.co.uk) is a group of specialist operators leading the field in making holidays sustainable.
- In Canada, www.greenlivingonline.com offers extensive content on how to travel sustainably, including a travel and transport section and profiles of the best green shops and services in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.
- Carbonfund (www.carbonfund.org), TerraPass (www.terrapass.org), and Carbon Neutral (www.carbonneutral.org) provide info on "carbon offsetting," or offsetting the greenhouse gas emitted during flights.
- Greenhotels (www.greenhotels.com) recommends green-rated member hotels around the world that fulfill the company's stringent environmental requirements. Environmentally Friendly Hotels (www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com) offers more green accommodations ratings.
- Sustain Lane (www.sustainlane.com) lists sustainable eating and drinking choices around the U.S.; also visit www.eatwellguide.org for tips on eating sustainably in the U.S. and Canada.
- For information on animal-friendly issues throughout the world, visit Tread Lightly (www.treadlightly.org).
- Volunteer International (www.volunteerinternational.org) has a list of questions to help you determine the intentions and the nature of a volunteer program. For general info on volunteer travel, visit www.volunteerabroad.org and www.idealist.org.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.